How to save Christmas 2020
Christmas cancelled? Not on our watch! It might look a little different this year, but here's how to make the most of the festive season in 2020.
There’s no question that this Christmas is going to need a slight rethink – after all, many of the things we take for granted just aren’t going to be possible this year. But instead of lamenting what could have been, here at Muddy we’re embracing the change and looking on the bright side. No more rubbish office parties, or trying to accommodate 5,000 different dietary requirements for Christmas lunch or running yourself so ragged that you start the new year in need of a holiday. Instead, this is the year of starting new traditions, focusing on just the important things, and looking forward to a bright, shiny new 2021. Onward!
Buy early and local
If you haven’t started ticking off your Christmas list yet, now’s the time! Getting ahead of your shopping will a) make you feel like some kind of super-organised genius, and b) ensure that you have plenty of time to post presents to friends or relatives you might not be able to see over the festive period.
Instead of getting sucked in by the lure of Amazon Prime, this year (of all years) is the best time to support all your lovely local indies and small makers, who sorely need a boost after the retail nightmare of 2020. We’ve made it mega easy for you with our Muddy-curated round-up The Indie Store – check it out and start ordering, ASAP!
Try a new dish
With only a few of us allowed to meet up on Christmas Day, you might want to give the massive turkey a swerve this year (the perfect excuse if you’ve never been a huge fan but wanted to avoid rocking the boat of tradition up until now). Your local farm shop or butcher will be able to advise you – for example, Kings Farm Shop in Aylesbury are offering online orders of ducks (to feed 4) and Christmas geese (to feed between 6 to 8), as well as prepped small turkey breasts (to feed 3 to 4) and smoked and unsmoked Christmas gammon.
Can’t be bothered to put together a Christmas menu at all? Let Ravenous Beasts do the job for you! Delivering through South Oxfordshire, Oxford and West Bucks, they’ll put together an oven-ready starter, main course and dessert in a handy package for you. I’ve already got my eye on that New Year’s Eve menu…
Stock your wine cellar
Once you’ve ordered in all your delicious Christmas food, it stands to reason that you’ll need something nice to wash it down with! As we’re less likely to be playing taxi service/designated driver this year (praise be), make the most of staying in and splash out on some excellent wine to keep all to yourself. LEVIN Wines has put together an specially curated Muddy six-pack to see you through the season – just use code FESTIVE for a £40 discount and free shipping. More of a spirits kinda gal? I’ll be ordering in ready-made cocktails from Oxford-based connoisseurs Bearded Viking. (Have you ever heard of something more Christmassy than a Chocolate Orange Old Fashioned? Thought not.)
Book a panto
The classic panto is one of those traditions that some people would rather eat a kilo of Brussel sprouts than miss (“Oh no it isn’t!”, etc), so we’re glad to hear that performances are still happening around the counties. Our top pick is socially-distanced show Sleeping Beauty, starring Lee Mead, Claire Sweeney and Suzanne Shaw at Milton Keynes Theatre. Performances kick off from Sat 19 Dec and run until Sun 10 Jan, with seats split into bubbles. Prefer to watch your panto from the sofa? Oxford’s Creation Theatre are putting on real-time showings of The Wizard of Oz over Zoom to a live audience – which means you can yell at the characters while wearing your PJ bottoms.
See the Christmas lights
Indoor attractions might be thin on the ground this year, but there are plenty of excellent light shows to keep the spirits lifted and the little ones entertained. Waddesdon Manor in Aylesbury, Bucks, is bringing back its fabulous Winter Light Trail and Manor Illuminations from Thur 3 Dec to Sun 3 Jan (pre-booking essential), while Blenheim Palace in Oxon will also be running its incredible Light Show from Fri 4 Dec to Sun 3 Jan, with new additions for 2020 (pre-booking essential).
Haven’t managed to snaffle tickets to one of the biggies? There are plenty of light trails around the counties, including the Haddenham Festive Trail, running between 6-8pm from Sat 12 to Thurs 31 Dec, illuminations at Fairytale Farm in Chipping Norton, Sat 5 to Thurs 24 Dec (pre-booking essential), Festive Illuminations at Missenden Abbey from Thurs 3 to Wed 23 Dec (pre-booking essential), and Waterperry Winter Trail near Wheatley, up until Wed 23 Dec.
If 2020 has proven anything, it’s the importance of being kind, so a little extra charity contribution this year is sure to be appreciated more than ever. There are plenty of local charities with projects to get stuck into – I’ll be donning my best Lycra to help out Helen & Douglas House’s Race from the North Pole.
DIY your decor
You’ve got time in lockdown, so why not add a handmade touch to your decs this year? These socially-distanced Christmas wreath workshops are a great way to spend a festive weekend (it beats getting crushed at the local shopping centre or getting stuck in an online queue), or you can turn your hand to one of the activities on Kirstie Allsopp’s brand new Channel 4 show, Kirstie’s Christmas: Quick and Easy Craft.
Buy a great board game
Because there’s only so many times you can play charades before murder is on the literal cards. The experts at Oxford board game cafe (yes, that’s a thing) and online shop Thirsty Meeples are always happy to give recommendations based on what kind of games your family likes, but here at Muddy HQ we’re partial to a little Santa Banter.
After a year spent in pyjamas and elasticated waists (jeans? What are those again?), we’re taking any opportunity to don velvet and sequins – even if it’s for a Zoom call with the extended fam. Treat yourself to some new threads for the big day and you’ll feel at least 50% more festive – we promise.
Keep calm and carry on!
Let’s face it, Christmas can be stressful enough without the anxiety of a global pandemic factored in, so this year you absolutely have permission to write the whole thing off. Strip back anything you don’t deem essential, limit family visits if it’ll keep you sane, try and get some vitamin D where possible, and remember that in years to come, this will all be a distant memory. We’ll cheers to that!