Making Christmas Special The last couple of years have been difficult for everyone, and as the pandemic doesn’t seem to be over just yet, we thought we’d share with you some ideas to help you during the festive season. Christmas food Do you stick to your old favourites or get adventurous and try something new? Maybe it’s a special Christmas breakfast to start the day, a traditional roast with a Christmas toast or your favourite chocolates that are your Christmas treat – however you choose to celebrate Christmas, the food we eat is often one of the things we most look forward to. Perhaps you're looking for new ideas or ways to use up leftovers. The Internet can provide a wealth of inspiration, why not try these for inspiration? http://allrecipes.co.uk/ https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/ https://www.deliciousmagazine.co.uk/ https://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/recipes Or if you’re looking for some nostalgia there are five episodes of Fanny Craddock Cooks for Christmas available on BBC iPlayer. Christmas Reflections Why not take the opportunity to write or chat about Christmases gone by? Christmas is the perfect time to use the quietness of the season to reflect on memories and share stories. Perhaps you have a favourite Christmas experience to share or something which makes the festive period that extra special. Why not look back at old photos and share happy tales to help inspire others? The Christmas and New Year period is also a great time for thinking about the future – when Covid 19 is behind us – what are you looking forward to starting again? Have you started a new hobby during the lockdowns that you want to keep up? Do you have a New Year’s resolution you’d like to stick to? Why not make a plan and commit to how you are going to achieve it each day/week/month at a pace that is suitable for you? See Sam's films on Pacing and Goals to help. Entertainment Perhaps you’re missing the opportunity to join a carol service this year? Take a look at our Carols blog for some sing-a-long options or as well as the options on TV, check out BBC iPlayer for inspiration. Christmas Celebration is an hour of carols from churches across Scotland and Christmas Morning features carols with a gospel flavour. Or Carols from Kings is available on Youtube. Christmas films have been showing on TV since the Autumn, but if you’ve room for some more a search on the free and chargeable streaming services provides plenty of choice in all genres. If you’re missing getting out and about in the garden, why not check out these virtual garden tours of National Trust Hidcote, Waddesdon Manor, Monet’s Garden and Arundel Castle? Have a blast from the past and take a look through the BBC archives by decade or theme on their dedicated BBC Reminiscence Archive. To begin, simply select a Theme (such as Sport, Events etc.) or a Decade (1930s, 1940s etc.) and choose whether you wish to have Image, Audio or Video content. The results are randomised each visit, however items can be 'favourited' to return to later. Are you a fan of Countdown? Take part in your own game online. Explore the world and test your knowledge of landmarks in these online map games. If sudoku is your passion, why not play online and choose how hard your game is? Exercise Don’t forget to break up that Christmas telly with some exercise. It can be tempting to stay cosy when the weather is cold, but being active at a level which suits your need can make a big difference to brightening your mood. Wrapping up well and taking a walk is a great way to get some fresh air and to watch the season start to head towards spring, now the longest day is behind us. Take time to notice the bird song around you, are there new signs of green just waiting for 2022 to be announced? If it’s too cold to get out, don’t forget to get yourself booked into your virtual exercise sessions with the Centre for January and to make use of our work out at home exercise films. Santi, Alistair and Gene will all be impressed to hear you’ve exercised over the break. Catching up with friends and family We are all being advised to keep meeting up in person to a minimum over Christmas, due to the fast-spreading new variant. We know many of you may be having to change or adapt your plans at last minute if family members test positive and that this will be disappointing. Do keep an eye on the news for the most up-to-date guidance, with some elements around social distancing, where people can meet and how many people can meet changing from Boxing Day onwards. Increasing ventilation is encouraged when meeting people inside, as well as using lateral flow tests as close as possible before you plan to meet up. There are also a number of ways to connect with people in other ways too. Why not give someone you haven’t spoken to in a while a surprise telephone call? Write a Christmas letter or e-mail to someone, or arrange an online chat. Here are some of the ways you could connect with family and friends to have a video call: WhatsApp - This mobile phone messaging service enables a group of people to interact with each other and send photos too. A group of up to 8 people can video message as well. You just need the Internet, the app and the contact number of the people you want to link with in your smartphone. Zoom - Familiar to you if you've been accessing our live exercise sessions or our social events, but this tool can also be used to create video and audio meet-ups too. To set up a zoom account you’ll need an email address. Can be used for free for chats of up to 40 minutes. Facebook Messenger - You need a Facebook account to use messenger. This connects to Facebook account and allows you to contact 'friends' from you page. You can set-up group and 1-1 chats by written message or by video. Skype - One of the first tools of this type for video messaging. Can now be used without needing an account over the web. However, you spend the festivities we hope you have a safe and enjoyable time. We’d like to wish everyone a Happy Christmas and we look forward to seeing and hearing from you again in the New Year.