5 ways to do Christmas differently this year

We all know Christmas will be different this year – but that doesn’t mean the big day can’t be just as special. This festive season, leave your old traditions at the door and bring these new rituals into the fold…           

To say that 2020 has been quite unlike any other year would be something of an understatement. 

As the world has grappled with the coronavirus pandemic and ever-changing restrictions on working, travelling and socialising, our lives have undergone profound change like never before. 

But at the same time, we’ve also seen a remarkable burst of creativity, proving that joy can be found in the little, everyday things

While it’s unclear what restrictions might be in place come Christmas, we do know that the festive season will look different this year as curfews and limits on social gatherings remain in place. 

That being said, Christmas definitely isn’t cancelled – in fact, this year, the circumstances provide a great opportunity to embrace new ways of celebrating. 

So, if you’ve ever felt like your Christmas is stuck in a rut, now’s the time to rewrite the rules. 

Feeling inspired? Follow the five tips below to make this Christmas one to remember…

1. Celebrate virtually

It’s going to be a very virtual Christmas, and not only because of all the online shopping we’ll be doing in the place of a dash down the high street. 

With limits on social gatherings in place, it’s looking likely that get-togethers at Christmastime and beyond will be a much smaller affair – but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate with all your favourite faces.

It’s worth checking in with your close circle to see who’ll be having a solo Christmas, and organising a video call so no one feels alone.

And if you’re really organised, you can still set up a secret Santa – you’ll just need to get your online orders in early, to avoid any postal pile-ups.

Then if you can’t face the prospect of any more Zoom quizzes, festive or otherwise, what about tuning in to a virtual carol service from the comfort of your own home? 

This year, many churches, organisations and charities will be live-streaming their carol concerts online, from Shelter’s candlelit concert of readings, reflections and song, and Marie Curie’s inaugural carol concert with seasonal readings by celebrity guests, to Salisbury Cathedral’s much-loved Christmas Day service

2. Raise a glass to new traditions

From warming hot toddies to citrusy spritzes, the aroma of a festive winter drink always makes it feel like Christmas. 

But while we all have our favourite tipples, many of us rarely get the chance to mix up a fancy cocktail in between the frenzy of shopping, decorating and preparing the big Christmas dinner. 

This year, however, we have the chance to do holiday drinks differently.

Case in point: a light, fizzy cocktail. Not only do they go with whatever menu you have planned for Christmas dinner, but they perfectly offset the rich flavours of the different courses.

If you love a classic G&T, upgrade your cocktail with a Gin Fizz, a refreshing-tasting mix of Gordon’s London Dry Gin and prosecco, topped off with lemonade and elderflower. 

Fancy something cosier for after dark? 

The Hot Pink cocktail, crafted from Gordon’s Premium Pink Distilled Gin and raspberry cordial, makes a beautifully warming alternative to mulled wine. 

Simply garnish with a cinnamon stick, star anise and a sprinkling of fresh raspberries and enjoy.

3. Embrace a new culture

One of the beautiful things about Christmas is that the holiday is celebrated differently around the entire world, so if you fancy shaking up the festive season, other cultures hold a fount of inspiration.

If you discovered the joy of crafting during the first lockdown and are on the lookout for new projects to pass the time, making a Tió de Nadal is sure to bring a smile to your face. 

The cheerful log-on-legs, which translates to ‘Christmas Log’ in English, is a Catalan present-bearing character usually filled with nuts, dried fruits and sweets, and will look picture-perfect if you’re building a festive window display. 

Or, if you’re of the opinion that you can never have too many decorations, take inspiration from Ukrainian culture, where sparkling, web-shaped decorations made from paper and silver wire are hung on Christmas trees as a symbol of good luck.

Then, instead of working your way through a family-size tin of chocolates, satisfy your sweet tooth with Polish makowiec (poppy seed rolls), German christollen (cake with dried fruit and marzipan) or Spanish polvorones (a crumbly shortbread made from flour, butter and sugar). 

They make brilliant homemade gifts, too – that’s if you don’t devour them all first…

4. Try an alternative to turkey

Christmas Day is nothing without a feast, but this year, the spread might be a little smaller as many people will be celebrating in family groups of up to six, or even solo if you’re socially distancing.

If that’s the case for you or your family, it’s a great time to switch up the traditional turkey and trimmings, especially if you’ve free rein to get creative in the kitchen.

Love the idea of a low-key lunch? Tray bakes are a saviour for fuss-free dishes and minimal washing up – a roast chicken or glazed ham with seasonal parsnips and carrots are delicious alternatives for your main course, and go brilliantly with a fresh green salad for leftovers, too.

If you’re vegetarian, a cheesy, golden-brown cauliflower wellington, or Christmas nut roast with mushroom gravy are packed with flavour. 

Fancy something completely different? Then try a warming chilli con carne, a comforting bowl of pasta, or a hearty homemade moussaka to pretend like you’re in the Mediterranean, even when it’s cold outside. 

If you’re spending Christmas by yourself, good news: you can eat whatever you please, including chocolate cookies for breakfast. Result.

5. Think of others

If the pandemic has shown us one thing this year, it’s the value of kindness

During lockdown, a wave of thoughtful initiatives aimed at supporting local businesses, helping vulnerable citizens and keeping the community connected took off, bringing people together in unexpected and beautiful ways. 

This Christmas, there looks to be more of the same community spirit, with people looking out for one another even while keeping their distance.

Since this is also the season of goodwill, you might also consider asking relatives to make a donation to a chosen charity instead of buying you a gift, or even spending a smaller sum on yourself and donating the rest to a good cause. 

There are so many small acts of kindness that can make a real difference to people in need, from buying a Christmas dinner for a homeless person and making a donation to your local food bank, to sending handwritten letters (particularly charity cards) to elderly neighbours and signing up to a telephone befriending service to combat the loneliness experienced by older people at this time of year.

Doing good actually makes us feel good, and you may well make some new Christmas traditions along the way.

However you’ll be celebrating, Gordon’s Gin is the perfect drink to add some sparkle to your festive season.

Want to make a Hot Pink for yourself? Just add 50ml Gordon’s Premium Pink Distilled Gin and 25ml raspberry cordial to a heat-proof Copa glass and top with 125ml boiling water. Garnish with 2 raspberries, a star anise and a cinnamon stick and serve. Contains 1.9 units of alcohol.

Or for a Gin Fizz, add 50ml Gordon’s London Dry Gin, 50ml prosecco, 75ml lemonade and 25ml elderflower cordial to a Copa glass filled with ice and stir well. Garnish with the lemon slice and serve. Contains 2.2 units of alcohol.