Holiday Activities from Home

Feeling festive with nowhere to go? Me too—but don’t worry, Christmas is best enjoyed at home anyway. If you need a bit of inspiration to get into the festive spirit, I’m here to help! Here are a few of my favourite at-home holiday activities:

Gingerbread making

Here’s the thing: sometimes gingerbread is nigh-on inedible. This is because many gingerbread recipes are designed to make durable construction material. Will your gingerbread castle stand up? Yes. But you might also break a tooth.

This recipe is not for constructing. It’s for gingerbread people, gingerbread ornaments, or even just to spoon onto the baking sheet for drop cookies, if you really just want the festive flavour. Don’t have a cookie cutter? That’s fine, you can just use the lid of a jar, or anything else that will give you a nice, easy-to-decorate shape (or maybe the gingerbread smell will be too tempting and they won’t make it to the decoration stage. This is also fine.)

  1. In a bowl, vigorously mix together ¾ cup (170 grams) softened butter with 1 cup (200g) sugar (either granulated or caster is fine)

  2. To the same mixture, add 1 egg, along with ¼ cup (85g) molasses—that’s black treacle if you’re in the UK.

  3. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients

  • 2 ¼ cups flour (274 g)

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • 1 tsp ginger

  • ¼ tsp cloves

  1. Gently combine wet and dry ingredients until just mixed. We want to be gentle with the flour, so no need for vigorous kitchen theatrics here!

  2. Okay, you’re not going to want to do this, but listen, THIS STEP IS CRUCIAL. Chill your dough. Wrap it up in some cling film and chuck it in the fridge for at least an hour—preferably more like three. I know, you just want cookies. But if you go straight to baking, then two things will happen: 1) your cookies will not hold their shape - you will have blobs. Blobs are not festive. 2) the gluten in the flour won’t have a chance to relax, and the cookies will be tough rather than melt-in-your-mouth. I know which I’d prefer…

  3. After your dough has been chilled (did you not chill it? Go back. Chill the dough. I’ll wait.)

  4. Okay, now that you really have chilled your dough, it’s time to preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 F) and roll out your gingerbread! Sprinkle some flour on a nice large surface—either a big cutting board if you have one or a very clean countertop—grab your rolling pin, and roll away. Christmas music optional, but encouraged. The same goes for hot chocolate. Once your dough is roughly the thickness of a 1£ coin, go ahead and cut out your desired shapes.

  5. With your masterpieces prepared, it’s time to bake the cookies at 180 degrees Celsius (350 F) for 6-8 minutes. Set a timer and check after 6. You’ll know they’re done when they’ll be a wee bit darker and just beginning to brown at the edges.

  6. If you’re going to ice your cookies to decorate them, I’m sorry to say that you must let them cool completely (ideally overnight), otherwise your icing will melt right off. There are a million icing recipes on the internet that will do the job just fine, so I’ll not throw my hat into that particular ring—except to say that you probably want a buttercream.

  7. Once the icing has cooled, you’re free to arrange them around the house as decorations—or you can simply eat and enjoy.

Ornament / Snowflake Making

All you need is scissors, scrap paper, and an open mind…

Many of us have probably made paper snowflakes in primary school, but in case you need a refresher, a quick search on YouTube will provide more than enough inspiration. Here’s a slightly more involved one, or you can always go rogue and just see what happens. 

Another potential ornament material is tin foil, which many of us have around the kitchen. Here’s one tutorial which requires a few other materials as well, here’s one you can make with some sharpies, and here’s one using mostly tin foil (admittedly, a lot of it). 

None of these quite doing it for you? Ask the internet—there are million craft bloggers who are desperate for you to try their projects!

Card-Writing

This year has been the worst, right? Let’s brighten up each other’s days with some cards. If you’re not feeling crafty, go ahead and send a letter. Otherwise, why not make a card

Find a New Favourite Holiday Album

If you’re my mum, it’s Michael Bublé season. If you’re me, it’s Carols from King’s season. But maybe we could all broaden our horizons, and listen to some hilariously bad music in the process—nothing’s more hit or miss than a holiday album! 

If All Else Fails: Get Cosy.

Grab a blanket, some hot chocolate, and a novel. Warmth and comfort are key features of the holiday season!

Stay warm, be well, and keep the tea / hot chocolate close by! I’m off to bake some gingerbread...