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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!

Deck the halls

Christmas wreath

Got your tree up yet? Whether you went early and lit up your house so it can be seen from space or you’re just starting, this is the year to go big and bold. Each Christmas, I buy one or two new show-stopping baubles to add to the collection – think of it as a tinsel time capsule. But this year no room should be safe from fairy lights, foliage and baubles. Here’s our inside guide to the best local places to get the biggest tree you can find. Plus, if you’re not going out out then why not spend your time getting crafty and 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 early and local

indie store

If you haven’t started ticking off your Christmas list yet (who, me…?), 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 – including some fab Northants businesses. Check it out and start ordering, ASAP!

Try a new dish

xmas dinner

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. Pastures Farm in Yardley Hastings are offering online orders of cockerel and turkey breast joint as well as the traditional free-range Bronze turkey and Christmas geese if you’ve got a bigger bubble to feed.

Can’t be bothered to put together a Christmas menu at all? Let Burnt Lemon Chefs do the job for you! They’ve put together a Christmas Care Package and its got bells on. Included are drinks, Christmas crackers, a plating tutorial video link, beautiful menu for you table and sumptuous 3 course meal. All you need to do is collect, warm and serve. Oh, and remember where you put the corkscrew.

Stock your drinks trolley

Cocktail box delivery northants

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 mixologists extraordinaire The Ocassion Bar Co . (Make mine a Cranberry Moscow Mule.)

Fancy tipple with your pud? Try Blue Aurora’s Ice Wine, a beautifully sweet wine made from blueberries grown on Lutton Farm, right here in Northamptonshire. And if you’re swerving the booze this year, try Xachoh’s luxurious alcohol-free spirits, both available in our Indie Store.

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 nearby. Northampton’s fabulous Deco Theatre will be putting on a splendidly socially distanced performance of Sleeping Beauty set in in the enchanted land of Tumptonia. Showing from 11-24 December.

You can also see a totally different spin on the Sleeping Beauty story, 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

Blenheim Light Trail

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. Silverstone Circuit have launched the inaugural Lap Land. A spectacular display which you can view from you own car as you drive around the world famous race track pretending to be Lewis Hamilton (btw I’ve heard there’s a speed limit). Follow up your F1 dreams with a screening of The Snowman at the drive-in movie theatre right here at the circuit.

Waddesdon Manor over the border in 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).

Give back

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 many, many worthy causes to support, this year more than ever.

Ironstone Wellbeing Centre in Kettering are promoting all round goof ‘elf (geddit?) with a virtual fundraising event in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society. The annual Elf Day takes place on Saturday Dec 12 and participants are encouraged to dress up as cheeky elves to join online classes with all proceeds going to the charity.

We’ll also be donating to Northampton Hope Centre, which supports those living in poverty in order to tackle homelessness and provide emergency food and shelter. You don’t have to donate money, you can also give food and toiletries, or volunteer your time.

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 Jolly’s Toys in Thrapston are always happy to give recommendations based on what kind of games your family likes, but here at Muddy HQ we’re throwing down the Obama Llama gauntlet.

Dress up

Pleated skirt

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, give yourself a December detox if you feel the need and remember that in years to come, this will all be a distant memory. We’ll cheers to that!

Find more ideas here

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