For many of us, Christmas is already likely to be looking a little different this year. Whether the current lockdown restrictions are eased for the holiday period or not, as gathering with larger groups is discouraged lots of us are already looking for ideas for a scaled down Christmas.

Some may be feeling a little relieved at the opportunity to ditch the big preparation and stress that can come from catering for a large gathering, but I know that many will be feeling a little deflated as usual plans are put on hold.

Whether you are relishing the opportunity of a more simple day, or just want some ideas that will make it just different enough to try and avoid comparison, here’s our ideas for enjoying a different celebration.

Thinking Beyond the Turkey

Let’s talk turkey. While the traditional choice for Christmas dinner, one of it’s biggest draws is the fact that it’s generally large enough to feed quite the crowd. But, if this year you’re entertaining just yourself, or as a couple or small family – why not ditch tradition and go with something else?

If you want to keep the traditional roast – there are some great, smaller alternatives such as duck, guinea fowl, or even a small goose – all of which are packed with, dare we say, a bit more flavour than the customary turkey. Or, if you’re perhaps having Christmas dinner just for two, why not consider your favourite cut of steak, or some tasty lamb shanks?

Perhaps you really want to think about doing something different when it comes to eating at Christmas. If you’re fed up of being in the kitchen for hours on Christmas day, why not think about a takeaway – you can order on Christmas Eve, and (safely) reheat for the day itself.

If you love to cook, but want to do something different, a great idea is to try Christmas dishes from around the world. Or take a look in your kitchen cupboards to discover those herbs, spices and sauces that may have been overlooked and come up with an exotic menu.

Take a Walk

christmas aWhile we don’t quite know what will happen this year – the chances are that you may find a gap in your traditional Christmas day routine. For example, if you usually go for a pre-dinner tipple in the local pub, or enjoy a visit to neighbours.

If you’ve got spare time on your hands that you want to fill with something different, why not plan a Christmas day walk? In a town? Take a stroll around your neighbourhood and admire the festive decorations. For those who are more rural, a romp through the countryside can help to really build an appetite for the main event. And a bracing coastal walk is the perfect way to wake yourself up after a festive feast.

Change Your Timings

Is it decreed that Christmas dinner must be served at 2pm on Christmas Day? No it’s not. If you’re feeling a bit down about changed plans this year, it can be a great idea to change the routine. If you want to eat your dinner at 7pm, go for it!

Or try having your main meal on Christmas Eve instead, and spend Christmas Day enjoying those nibbles that are abundant. Think smoked salmon for breakfast, and slowly demolishing a cheeseboard throughout the day – with the obligatory chocolates thrown in


Meet online

Whether lockdown is still in force or not, many families have already made the decision not to meet as usual this year. Whether to avoid travel, or to protect older members of the family. But not being together in person doesn’t mean being completely isolated.

One thing that we’ve learned throughout Covid is that there are a raft of ways to meet online – and if we are missing our usual gatherings, recreating as best we can via the wonders of Zoom or Facetime can build back those connections.

Usually play Trivial Pursuit post dinner? Gather online with a board each! Meet with friends in the evening? Get on Zoom with your favourite tipple.


Embrace the change

This year has been incredibly difficult for many, and it may feel like having your usual festive celebrations interrupted is just the icing on a very bad tasting cake. However, if for whatever reasons you do need to change your Christmas plans, the best tactic is to plan for it, and embrace it for what it is.

So take the time to think about what you really enjoy, and put time aside on Christmas Day to do it. Take that nice long bath, or binge on that series you’ve saved. While our ideas for  a scaled down Christmas won’t work for everyone – think about what makes the day special to you.

While it may not be the same, take this one year to step back and see what it is you really enjoy about the day, and make that your priority.