How to make this Christmas more Christmasy?
December 12, 2020 7:32 AM   Subscribe

We are hosting a small family gathering on Christmas day, in line with our government's COVID recommendations. We will be 5 adults and two children total (one preteen and one younger child). What touches can I add to the celebration to make this Christmas pariculary merry and full of Christmas cheer?

My ideas so far:
- I've bought stockings for everyone to fill with little goodies
- I will be making homemade eggnog
- A Christmas dinner incorporating everyone's favorites

How else can I turn up the Christmas spirit?

Just a note, none of us are particularly religious. We enjoy this as a purely secular holiday.
posted by Blissful to Human Relations (14 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
My parents always made us get dressed and eat breakfast before opening our presents. It probably served more to not decrease merriness, but.
posted by aniola at 7:49 AM on December 12, 2020


Christmas crackers, cheerful music, fire in the fireplace (or video of Yule log on some screen), presents for pets.....
posted by Ideefixe at 7:54 AM on December 12, 2020 [1 favorite]


You've got some great ideas so far.
Music for sure! We've been having fun finding interesting Christmas playlists on Spotify (seems to be something for every taste) or albums that hit the merry note, but aren't necessarily the same ol' (current hit is JD McPherson's Socks).
On getting dressed - maybe find out what people's traditions are if you don't already know? Then you can do it based on that. I always find it festive to wear your "special" Christmas pajamas if celebrating in the morning. I think I lobbied for the new Christmas-eve PJs thing when I was 8 or so :) but now that's one of the traditions that makes it feel like Christmas.
And candles!
posted by moogs at 8:10 AM on December 12, 2020 [1 favorite]


Games are big in my family after Christmas dinner--card games, board games, Exquisite Corpse! Uno and Apples to Apples come to mind as ones that work well for different ages. We also used to play a simple but exciting game called Spoons , similar to this one, which was always a huge hit! You can play with a regular deck of cards.
posted by pangolin party at 8:17 AM on December 12, 2020 [2 favorites]


French toast, cinnamon rolls, eggs in a frame...

Milk and cookies for Santa the night before, if your younger child is still doing Santa.

Homemade Christmas pudding that you set on fire?

Christmas crackers.
posted by 8603 at 8:36 AM on December 12, 2020 [1 favorite]


If you are a TV-on-all-the-time household (I was part of one of these growing up, and my in-laws are one currently, so no shade intended), put on a constant stream of Christmas movies or cartoons -- you can keep the volume low or muted if you are playing music--everyone knows how they will end anyway (spoiler alert: Christmas will be saved!). We had (and my in-laws still have...) a selection of VHS tapes recorded from the TV, but I am sure there are modern alternatives.

If you are less a TV-on-all-the-time household or you want to reduce the noise while playing a game you can put on one of the recorded fire places. They are strangely nice, even to this reformed TV addict.

If you have some free strings of lights, hang them around *inside*. Mr. chiefthe and I do this around the holidays and find it makes the room very cozy. You can often turn off all the rest of the lights in a room since the modern LEDs are so bright.

In-shell nuts and nut crackers. We bought a basket from nuts.com this year for ourselves that came with 3-lbs of mixed nuts and a nut cracker. It has been a great thing to have around the house and reminds me of X-mases past. (It looks like it is currently out-of-stock, but you can get a bag of in-shell nuts and a nut cracker from many sources...)

Fancy candy on every surface. When I was a kid, one of my aunts was big into making all sorts of random candy and would send out a box to us before x-mas. We had it out to nibble on throughout the holiday season. You could get a selection of fancy candies to try or that you have rarely and love, and put them out for folks to nibble on through the holiday.
posted by chiefthe at 8:55 AM on December 12, 2020 [4 favorites]


Yule log! On the TV or live. I've often gotten woodsmoke/festive candles to burn alongside the TV playing, and it really does add a sense of cosy.

Dinner by candlelight or string lights.

Decorations both in the house and outside, the more twinkling lights the better. cookies freely available (usually around now my family would start making cookie dough to freeze, so you can have instant hot cookies whenever) Fancy nuts that you need to crack open and a bowl of clementines along side them.

Hot chocolate or mulled apple cider (with or without booze, with or without a candycane) in the evenings, or Peppermint tea after too rich a meal.

Breakfast prepared the night/day before so no one is doing much cooking in the morning. (Baked oatmeal or french toast or strata are all delicious and can be quite low effort)

For the adults, add a magazine to the stocking, either a gag gift, or something relevant to their interests, so that the morning can be spent with light reading, snacks (nuts, cookies) and calm for the adults.
posted by larthegreat at 9:16 AM on December 12, 2020 [2 favorites]


Good suggestions above. If you can get hold of them, candle chimes are fun to have around for the youngers. (Buy extra candles, though somehow I always wind up having to shave down the candle ends a bit to get them to fit in the holders.)
posted by gudrun at 11:04 AM on December 12, 2020


To me a big part of Xmas is ambiance: pine scent (or mulled wine, orange and clove, etc), the sounds (movies on in the background or Christmas music playing), a crackling fire if possible or at least cozy clothes and blankets, the people (being with family in one way or another- phone, zoom or in person), the food of course (either something that follows tradition or just something special you wouldn’t usually do), and the glow of lights and candles.

The last part is buy-in. Participants have to all somewhat agree to try and make it christmassy; to hang out and play a board game, tell stories, sing along to a song, etc. If you’ve got all the above but everyone is just sitting and staring t their phones it’s pretty much the same as any day to me.
posted by raccoon409 at 11:06 AM on December 12, 2020 [1 favorite]


If you're going to have people tumble straight out of bed, slippers or socks for cold feet, plus a Santa hat or similar for those of us with terrible morning hair. That way picture taking is less fraught.

I am very anti-matching-outfits, because I'm picky about what I wear, but you could gift everyone a matching scarf or socks and get fun pictures.

A good Christmas Day visit to me is adults chatting after a good meal, nice music, and kids playing with their gifts outside/in another room.
posted by emjaybee at 11:31 AM on December 12, 2020 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: Thanks for the great answer so far, please keep them coming!

I just want to clarify that we are only spending Christmas day together. They'll be coming over a little before noon and leaving after dinner. Everyone lives close by. And the kids are my niece and nephew, not my own!
posted by Blissful at 11:49 AM on December 12, 2020


Lots of holiday music. Ex., a friend's playlist on youtube
Yorkshire puddings, which are popovers, traditional, and delicious
Plum pudding, which is a type of Christmas/ fruit cake, and which my family marinates in whisky/ rum/ brandy, the douses with Everclear on the day, and serves flaming. The table has only been set on fire once.
Make or buy Christmas Crackers, also British traditional, fun, cheesy - you must wear the paper crown.
Look up some silly games to play, or get some puzzles, so you can do group activities.
If people are a bit sluggish after a big meal, take a nice walk.
A friend got a soilly covid mask that lights up, I don't have the info, but it's a funny gag gift. Silly gifts and stocking stuffers are good at getting the mood going.
Implement a rule that wearable gifts, with a broad version of wearable, must be worn, to some giggles.
Christmas Eve is great for traditional music, a nice late meal, and enjoying kids being a bit wound up.
I love singing carols, and will be doing that.

I posted a related ask.me, with many good answers.
posted by theora55 at 1:07 PM on December 12, 2020 [2 favorites]


Make an iphone video of everyone saying something about the occasion and the circumstances. Give everyone some prompts ahead of time so they can think about what they want to say, maybe about hopes-fears-wisdom-lessons learned-unexpected gifts-things you miss the most and don't miss at all-future plans...
posted by headnsouth at 3:24 PM on December 12, 2020


Adding some diy food might be fun. Like fondue, or a chocolate fountain or s’mores made by candle.

Or make orange pomander balls
posted by MadMadam at 6:50 PM on December 12, 2020


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