As December approaches, you can almost smell the Christmas season in the air. Your trip to the local shops now suddenly has a familiar backing track of seasonal jingles.
Coca-Cola trucks traverse the nation, John Lewis prepares to make families feel extra emotional with a new advert cut to a catchy pop cover, and a year’s worth of dust gets blown off baubles and ornaments as a tree takes up its annual place of pride in the living room.
As you begin to get into the Christmas swing of things, and you consider a lengthy and potentially hefty list of gifts, you should remember that spending time with your children and grandchildren this winter could be a gift within itself.
Read on to discover six winter activities that you should consider adding to your schedule this Christmas season.
1. Take a trip to the theatre and enjoy the pantomime
The pantomime has been a winter staple for centuries. In the age of home entertainment systems, video games, and an over-attachment to our phones — pantomime can seem like a blast from the past.
It can be lively and entertaining for young ones to get involved in participatory theatre. They can do all the things they’re usually told not to do, like speaking up from the comfort of the audience with calls of “they’re behind you!” or “oh no they didn’t!” and taking part in a musical sing-along.
Donning your Christmas jumpers, warming your bellies with a hot chocolate, or a mulled wine for the adults in the group, and enjoying the jolly chaos of memorable characters can be an amusing way to get into the Christmas spirit.
2. Get creative with a Christmas-themed arts and crafts session
Arts and crafts can be a great way of bonding with your children or grandchildren, as well as fostering their creative tendencies, and having a wide range of mental wellbeing benefits.
There are family workshops often advertised, in which you can channel your inner artist alongside your loved ones, while also getting to meet local families.
Otherwise, you can set up an arts and crafts table in the comfort of your home. The kids can create a range of Santa, snowmen, or reindeer-inspired art pieces to adorn the fridge door.
Some other exciting activities could involve making homemade Christmas tree decorations, personalised Christmas cards, wreaths, DIY Christmas crackers, or holiday masks.
You might look a bit silly covered in glitter and spatters of paint, but your children or grandchildren will love every minute of it.
3. Embrace friendly competition with a board games night
This one should perhaps be approached with a degree of caution. Many a family feud has been born out of a Monopoly game gone wrong.
But for many of us, board games nights around the family table, are a defining winter memory.
We laugh, shout, cry, smile, and shake hands across the battlefields of Scrabble, Cluedo, and Risk.
The board game market offers many options nowadays. So, picking up a few fun additions to the collection and gathering the family around the table for some festive competition could be a great way to spend a particularly cold winter night.
Games like Cranium are a must-have addition with a fun medley of activities including charades, trivia, clay moulding, blind drawing, and other challenges that will have the family up and about in a competitive clamour.
4. Put on your apron and do some festive baking
What is it about the winter season that brings out our inner sweet tooth?
As much fun as it is to stock the fridge with all manners of puddings and confectionery, it could offer a great opportunity for spending time with your children or grandchildren, by wrapping an apron around your waist and taking part in some festive baking.
You can whip up all kinds of sugary creations together, perhaps dusting off a classic family recipe, or showing your loved one that you support their vegan diet with a specialist recipe you’ve uncovered.
There is also a whole range of Christmas-themed cookie cutters and edible decorations that you can add to your kitchen set-up, which will bring joy to your little ones.
5. Strap on your skates and hit the winter rink
It’s hard to gauge if we’ll get a white winter or not and if it’ll be possible to build a snowman or take part in frosty activities.
However, most city centres have seasonal ice rinks that pop up as part of their winter offering. So, it might be worth a trip with your family and strapping on some skates to enjoy the chilly thrills of the local rink.
Elsewhere, there are specialist venues that have indoor skiing opportunities and snow, so your children and grandchildren can still enjoy the cold and cobble together a snowman, regardless of the weather outside.
6. Soak up the sights and smells of a German market — and watch the Christmas tree lighting
The German market, or Christmas market, is home to all kinds of seasonal smells, sights, and other delights.
While finding an authentic German market in the UK can be difficult at times, there are some great examples in cities like Birmingham that are well worth a visit if you’re happy to endure the Christmas crowds.
Otherwise, most local Christmas markets will likely have an offering of seasonal treats such as hog roasts, mulled wine, and roasted chestnuts. And right at the centre of the festivities — a towering Christmas tree.
It can be a unifying family experience to head down to the Christmas tree on the night its lights are first turned on and let your children or grandchildren bask in the winter atmosphere.