This is a kit to help you experience all the Christmas feels online or within your own home.
I’ve put the main resources right at the top so you don’t have to scroll through when you return, but an explanation follows below.
Download your digiChristmas printable resources:
- Advent calendar activities printable click here
- Advent calendar poems for printable click here
- 12 days of Christmas activities 12 days of christmas printable
- Favourite carols favourite carol lyrics
- Fodmap traffic lights cocktail menu according to my non-nutritionist understanding (I’m having trouble adding as a link so scroll to end of post)
This is how I’m boxing it up to send to my sister:
If you want to share photos of what you do with these resources #MicroCelebrations seems like a quiet hashtag to find each other on.
It would defeat the spirit of the printables if they were seen as a tick list to be completed in some sort of perfectionist whirlwind. Perhaps some days you only read the poem, some days you do the activity, and a few days you do everything.
This is a selfie of me with a previous DIY advent calendar, each day we stuck the poems to the fridge (with sparkly magnets I made with washi tape and magnetic tape) so in the end the fridge was covered by Christmas poems and no paper bags. Inside the bags were also Christmas socks, chocolate, band badges and I think jokey pencils:
Before the envelopes were opened:
Table of Contents
The need for Advent and liturgical rhythm
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5
We need festivals of spiritual and literal light more than ever this winter. Advent seems to me to have important psychological functions, whether or not you believe in the spiritual specifics. Cultivating a sense of hopeful expectation is a powerful antidote to uncertainty and fear. We are looking forwards towards a successful vaccine, as much as we’re being careful with hygiene and restraining ourselves from social events. This year it is particularly important to not side step all the emotional processes raised by advent and Christmas.
The rhythm of the church liturgical year, and other religious calendars, can create a sense of balance and holistic, ritualised experience. Feasts are balanced by more restrained fast times. Traditionally advent was more restrained than we tend to experience it now, it was building towards the 12 days of Christmas. It is a lot of Christmas to imbibe if you celebrate advent as part of Christmas and then also do the 12 days starting on Christmas Day. Most people tend to feel Christmas is ending when we get to Boxing Day.
When I was a child my favourite Christmas book was The Tree That Stayed Up Until Next Christmas by Robert Kraus, but I’ve never lived with anyone who wants to keep the decorations up past 6th January (after Twelfth Night). This year, without Christmas office parties and so on in mid December, you probably have an unusual freedom to choose the length and timing of your Christmas. If you’re impatient perhaps you decided to start Advent on the 14th November according to Celtic customs? You could concentrate on the traditional English Christmas Day-6th January timing. If you’re a hard core Christmastide lover you can keep going until Candlemas on February 2nd.
I’ve been thinking about domestic ritualised seasonal activities for a few years. Ideas around celebrating from home are as evergreen as Christmas trees for people housebound by energy limiting chronic illness, but there is a new relevance this year as the whole population prepares for a digital Christmas from our homes. No one will be attending large parties, going to panto, or carol services but we can have lots of micro celebrations at home, making each day Christmassy in a slightly different way.
Capturing the essence
Five years ago there was an excellent guest post on this blog on ‘capturing the essence’ by Sarah Caddick
“Put simply, it’s about identifying the enjoyable essence of a favourite activity and trying and to find a way to give ourselves that experience – despite mental and physical limitations.”
Sarah breaks down the activities she misses into their component parts to work out what it was she enjoyed and how she could adapt that experience to her current level of energy impairment.
If I apply this to advent and Christmas, for me the wide spectrum of emotions provoked stands out, as well as very sensory based experiences. For example, my other half bought me a pack of Milk Chocolate Almonds & Sicilian Orange and it immediately evoked Christmas evenings. If I am to successfully capture the essence of Christmas from home it would include:
Advent and Christmas feelings:
- Butterflies of excitement
- Sense of waiting in hope, more profound than excitement
- Indecision over presents
- Feeling glamorous
- Irritation with other people
- Bar humbug cynical episodes
- Fun and silliness
- Poignancy over the year ending
- Reluctance to return to normal life
- Smell of spices and citrus fruit
- Flickering flames of candles
- Metallic ornaments catching the light
- Singing carols with gusto
- Taste of turkey and cranberry, ginger, mulled wine, spices, nuts
- Listening to the same Christmas songs every year
- Being cosy with blankets and big jumpers when it’s cold outside
- Surfaces covered with glittering ornaments rather than messy clutter
All of these experiences are possible under lockdown conditions, though the social aspect of Christmas is most challenging and probably requires the most thought.
Suggested free, online activities to book
I’ve found these Christmassy events which are both free and online this year, although you will need to book a place:
Shelter carol concert 3rd Dec 7pm. If I remember correctly, they’re hoping to be the biggest carol concert ever.
Festive Fold-along. Origami. 9th Dec 6-7pm
Short and Sweet A collection of short plays (with a Christmassy tint). 10th Dec 7.45pm
Festive singalong 11th Dec 1pm
Miss Ruby Vs Yuletide Christmas Spectacular Quiz, free but donations to Terrence Higgins, 12th 7pm
Please comment if you know of other online festivities like this and I can add them in. Are there any online pantos or ballets?
Suggested DIY advent calendar kits
Free printable advent calendar https://thelovelydrawer.com/free-printable-advent-calendar/
And another DIY version is http://hopingforrocketships.blogspot.com/2015/11/diy-advent-calendar.html (which also has an activity printable if you need a child friendly version).
On Amazon and eBay you can find lots of kits, usually under £10 but they seem to be selling out of some options:
NB you need a full advent calendar kit and then half of a different one for the Twelve Days (or of course you can fill the 12 days after the 12th December or think of another method!). This is how I’m doing the 12 days, just folded and clipped to present tags:
Drinking with Saint Nick: Christmas Cocktails for Sinners and Saints by Michael P Foley new from £12.49 this is where I got some of the cocktail suggestions. It was the only advent related book I could find that had the tone I was after.
At Home in Advent: A domestic journey from Advent to Epiphany by Gordon Giles £7.37. I’ve not read but “Focusing on the everyday stuff we typically associate with this time of year, including some things not so festive, he reflects on their spiritual significance, meaning and message in today’s world. Beginning with chapters on journeying and travel, the book moves though major Advent themes of expectation, waiting, mortality and hope to the joy of incarnation and salvation.”
Hallelujah: Cultivating Advent Traditions With Handel’s Messiah by Cindy Rollins new from £7.49 I’ve not read this either but it looks relevant.
Having easy access to lots of festive music can definitely help create different Christmas atmospheres. You can listen to Spotify for free but it will have ads. You can get an ad free Premium 3 month trial via PayPal or 1 month free directly through Spotify. You can listen through smart speakers, echo dots or possibly your TV.
Favourite carols Our Spotify playlist. Folk and choral versions of some of the best Christmas carols, see carol lyrics sheet
Grumpy Christmas our Spotify playlist. Embracing the grumpier, more cynical side of Christmas. Not suitable for children
Festive cocktail party our Spotify playlist. Relaxed Christmas party remixed for grown ups. Retro lounge, jazz, latin beats, swing, trip hop.
Classy Christmas Spotify playlist by Glenn.strycker. Classic Christmas jazz, lounge, old-time, 1950s-60s, and other Christmas cocktail party music
A Folksy Yule our Spotify playlist. Folk and more traditional Christmas songs.
O Antiphons Spotify playlist by siagianpradipta. Gregorian chants for 19th-23rd December
winter solstice our Spotify playlist. Not-very-Christmassy long party playlist put together for the Solstice. Retro, pop and electro swing.
12th Night our Spotify playlist. A playlist for Twelfth Night celebrations including a mixture of themed and unrelated music, more rock/indie/Britpop than other playlists. Starts and ends quiet and gets livelier in the middle- made for a previous in-person party.
chant choral our Spotify playlist. Classical music,
A department store Christmas Spotify playlist by Eric Paul Johnson. It’s like Christmas shopping at a department store in the 1960s!
Christmas Favourites Spotify playlist by Bruce Driscoll. Favorite jolly Christmas songs all in one place. Get yer egg nog and ugly sweater on.
Wintry North wind our Spotify playlist. Winter but not Christmas themed folk.
12 days of Christmastide our Spotify playlist. Unusual Christmas songs for when you’re bored of the overplayed ones.
Disco Forever Spotify playlist. Disco classics.
Please suggest your favourite playlist as a comment.
Bob River’s Twisted Christmas from John H
Christmas a go go (new Christmas music)
Suggested Christmas films and TV
Suggested all-the-Christmas-feels social media accounts
Advent Where I am (sharing daily photos) Facebook group
My Christmas decorating and hosting inspiration pinboard
My assorted collection of advent and Christmastide inspo from youtube
Please add christmassy accounts you recommend as a comment.
Suggested websites misc
Catholic liturgical year with recipes and activities
Celtic advent (starts 14th November)
12 days from Creative Commons prayer
Suggested DIY advent calendar fillers
- Wrapped biscuits and chocolate
- Spirit miniatures
Example quirky Covid Christmastide invites
In honour of the Feast Day of Thomas Becket (patron saint of hounds, hawks and those who have lost their horses) and other people who think they’re always right, please join us for a socially distanced dog walk on 29th December at 10am at…
You are invited for coffee and candles
for St Lucia’s Day, the Festival of Light
Sunday 13th December 4-5pm
Bring yourselves and a candle or fairy lights
Dress code: if possible wear white (or pink for joy) and be in the dark until 4:15
Please join us virtually for St Stephen’s Day stew
1-3pm 26th December
Bring: your own stew, ready for 1:30pm
Dress code: Christmas jumpers, onesies or seasonal pyjamas
Fodmap Traffic Lights Cocktails
I’m not a nutritionist but from reading a bit about the fodmap sugars in alcohol and mixers I think this is a reasonable traffic light system. It will depend on how sensitive you are how much you can tolerate (some people may only tolerate one medium drink). Glucose or standard refined sugar is ok if you only react to fodmaps, but a lot of energy limiting chronic illness people are also sensitive to sugar, so that’s worth keeping in mind too.
Medium fodmaps cocktails