Christmas is going to be different this year. We've been banned from hosting large gatherings for months and a large family Christmas always looked unlikely. But now large areas of the country are under even tighter restrictions and we can only form a 'Christmas bubble' on Christmas Day.

Some people face the reality of spending this holiday season miles away from loved ones, with only their close family for support. How do you keep Christmas special when it 'doesn't really feel like Christmas at all'? And how do you keep it magical for young children?

Well, don't worry! We've got 11 festive suggestions to help you have a 'wonderful Christmastime' even in 2020. If you're struggling for inspiration, let us do the work for you!


Have a Christmas Present Treasure Hunt

If relatives have dropped presents off early this year, it's very easy to open them early as well. Young children can just about handle 'no' when asking to open their presents early - but how can you stop them from ripping off all that wrapping paper at 7am on Christmas Day?

Don't let such a tranquil scene become the site of chaos. Hold some presents back to keep the unwrapping under control!


Well, why not leave them clues to find their presents throughout the day? Spreading out the present opening is crucial, especially if they're used to opening presents in two or three sittings with family. You can even encourage them to dress up as pirates or detectives to solve the clues!

Pinterest  is a reliable source of ideas to help you get creative. You can make it as easy or as hard for them as you want. Or, if you don't have the time to create intricate clues, hiding some presents until later in the day is just as effective!

Either way, don't let their frenzied excitement create unwrapping mayhem. Encourage them to open presents slowly - because once they're gone, they're gone!


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Go on a Christmas Light Walk

Grottos may have closed and public Christmas light displays cancelled, but you can still find plenty of local festive cheer!


Festive christmas scene with lights on a house

You might not find anything as striking as this American scene, but UK light displays can be very magical in their own right! Photo by Juliana Malta on Unsplash


We love a light display and even more people are putting them up this year (and really, who can blame them?) So, why not wrap up and stroll around your neighbourhood once it gets dark?

The kids will love looking at all the lights and the fresh air might tire them out, making your life a little easier come bedtime. It's something magical to do in the run up to Christmas as well, especially if there are lots of light displays near you.

Remember to take facemasks with you, so the only thing you're spreading is holiday cheer.


Look Out for 'Santa Claus'

If socially distancing from Santa has upset your kids, they can follow his journey this Christmas Eve instead.

The ISS (International Space Station) is very visible on a clear night and there's a special 'Santa Tracker' every Christmas Eve. Check in on the day to find out when and where you can see the 'sleigh' passing overhead.

The ISS orbits the Earth every 90 minutes, so don't worry if it's too cloudy on your sighting. You'll likely get another chance to wish him luck!


Looking up at the night sky might be closest we get to Mr Claus this year, but it's better than nothing! Photo by Sid Suratia on Unsplash


Have a Games Night

For many families, board games are a staple at Christmas. But why not spruce it up this year? Leave Monopoly or charades alone and choose from whatever you have at home. Nothing is off-limits!

Everyone in your household can choose their favourite board or video game and compete for the title of Games Night Champion! Or, you can simply have fun playing a range of board games - or whatever else comes out of the wrapping paper!

For older households, why not re-visit university days with an evening of beer pong? All you need is a decent sized table, a ping-pong ball and the obligatory red cups full of beer - or perhaps something stronger!


Pj's & Films!

Pyjamas quickly became the go-to clothing item of 2020, and there's nothing better to wear on Christmas Day.

If you're not going anywhere, how about a movie marathon after Christmas dinner? Bring the duvets downstairs, change into matching Christmas pj's (if you have them) and watch away!

Choose your favourite family or Christmas films and play them all back to back. Of course, no movie night is complete without plenty of snacks. If you still have space after all those sprouts, of course!


Even with all the distance this Christmas, there's still plenty we can do as a family. Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash


Host a Virtual 'Taskmaster' Evening

Everyone's bored of Zoom quizzes by now, so why not add a twist? This is a great way to see your extended family on Christmas Day as well!

On the 'Taskmaster' TV show, Alex Horne sets comedians weird and wacky challenges and Greg Davies judges their efforts. Appoint your own family 'Taskmaster' to set the challenges and judge the results. Each task should have a short time-limit to keep the evening snappy.

And then let chaos reign!

Keep it accessible for everyone but set problems that encourage 'out-of-the-box' thinking. And, if your grandparents are up for charging around their house collecting as many blue things in a minute, all the better!


Put Together a 'Christmas Care Package'

If your family lives locally, but you still don't plan on seeing them this Christmas, why not give them a box of comfort items alongside their presents?

Everyone needs a bit more comfort after this year, and a 'Christmas Care Package' is a great way to show it. We've given you some ideas to get you started, but fill it with whatever your family likes.

Plus, a 'Care Package' makes a great 'thank you' to any NHS staff or teachers who deserve a lift after all their hard work this year. Or create one in the form of donations to local food banks or charities working with disadvantaged families this Christmas.

Spread a little love this year and help bring people closer together even while staying apart. That's something to smile about when you're snuggling up by the fire.


Christmas Baking!

After you and your kitchen recover from preparing Christmas dinner, why not bake some festive treats to enjoy in the run up to New Year's Eve?

Make your own Christmas cookies, gingerbread men or a fully-blown gingerbread house. Get the kids involved and make it a proper family project. The only limit is your ambition!


Mince Pies are a Christmas staple - fancy baking your own this year? Photo by Marina Hannah on Unsplash


Buy a Jigsaw Puzzle

High-quality jigsaws are quite affordable, so why not buy one for your family this Christmas period? It's a great way to spend time together and remove the presence of phone screens for a few hours.

Depending on the ages involved, there are plenty of puzzles to make it a proper challenge. 5,000 piece picture of baked beans anyone...?


Become a Mixologist For the Day

Not travelling at Christmas is the perfect excuse to have one too many drinks. And if you don't want to spend too much on pre-mixed drinks, why not challenge yourself to make your own cocktails?

You could compete against each other to make the best cocktail or take it easy and have a very fancy evening. Why not put on your best clothes and have a Roaring Twenties themed party for your household as well?

If you have kids, why not help them make their own mocktails so they can join in the party as well?

As always, please drink responsibly and never drive under the influence of alcohol.


Look good don't they? How about mixing up your favourite cocktails this year - or making something completely new? Photo by Arisa Chattasa on Unsplash


Think of Some Christmas Challenges

Some people had weekly challenges during lockdown, so why not do the same thing for Christmas?

Everyone in your household should think up an easily achievable, hour long task for everyone else and then judge the results. Why not challenge your household to learn how to floss, create the funniest TikTok or draw the best Christmas scene? The person with the most points at the end is crowned champion and wins a prize (a few less chores for the next week, perhaps?)

If you want it to last longer than one evening, you can increase the timeframe or the difficulty of the tasks. Get fun and creative, but keep it accessible for everyone involved. You could even extend a couple of the tasks to your whole family and judge the results on Zoom!


There are plenty of ways to keep Christmas 2020 fun and festive, even without a family get-together. You may have your own traditions that you can adapt for a smaller group. Whatever you do, make sure you stay safe and follow all of the Government's Coronavirus advice.


Most importantly, Merry Christmas from Book My Garage!