DO AND EVENT HERE COMES THE SUN
Solstice falls in the school holidays this year, so a trip to a stone circle to celebrate might be on the cards. At the time of going to press, Stonehenge is planning to open to all, and it’s a free chance to get up close to the mighty stones. Alternatively, you might find a lesser-known circle near to you or simply head to your favourite high spot to watch the sun rise. The solstice is the darkest day of the year, and a time to celebrate reaching the middle of winter – restrictions permitting, the people of Brighton can join the spectacular Burning The Clocks parade and in Penzance, the evocative Montol Festival includes guising, the burning of a sun effigy and skulls on sticks – but it’s also a chance to reflect on the beauty and magic of the season before the chaos of Christmas. Find more ideas for celebration here and here and read Glennie Kindred’s ideas to appreciate the midwinter stillness here.
DO HAVE A GIVING CHRISTMAS
Want to give back a little this Christmas? Caring Christmas is a volunteer-led initiative led by Yoopies. Many people will be isolated over the festive period, but this countrywide service already has more than 7000 volunteers ready to offer company, childcare, nannies or tutors for those in need. Want to lend your presence or feeling unable to cope? Find out more here.
Alternatively, if you’d rather give items or money than time, there are guides to what the Trussell Trust food banks need here, what’s appropriate to donate to refugees here and about Beauty Banks here.
EVENT MAGIC LIGHTS
Escape the chaos of the streets at Nottingham Contemporary’s solstice lights workshop. As a family, immerse, make, explore and be enchanted with the magical charm of light and shadows. Tuesday 21 and Wednesday 22.
DO HAVE A COOL YULE
If your family is anything like ours, Christmas fever is starting to inch from bright-eyed merry to full-on crazy. It can feel impossible to keep things calm and bright. We love these gentle tips to soothe the frenzy, while these techniques from around the world bring some new ideas to the parenting party (we’re going to try the finger holds idea which can be used wherever you are. Reading a wintery book together could also help you find your calm. We’ve rounded up some of our favourites here.
Finally, there are some great tips for making your Christmas less overwhelming for an autistic visitor here or for your own child with sensory issues here.
DO AND MAKE GREEN NIGHTS
Fancy celebrating the season a little differently this year? Perhaps you might find inspiration in other country’s festive traditions – find a round-up of ways different cultures celebrate midwinter here. Or celebrate Yule in the old way; find our ideas here. We adore bringing in red berried holly, deep green ivy and evergreen leaves to decorate our house at this time of year. Take a trudge around your garden, nearby wood or park to find bits to make your house cosy, welcoming, but with a hint of dark pagan tradition. There are some good hints for keeping your leaves fresh here.
This year, we’re going to make our own Yule log, try crafting this unusual Christmas star, and decorate our Christmas dinner table with these chic-but-simple glass bottle and foliage candle holders.
WHAT WE’RE READING How to lift your spirits if everything is a bit much ”Sometimes we can feel ignored when we feel low, but communicating what we need is a radical act of self-care, as other people have their own stuff going on and might not always be attuned to what’s going on for us.” Becky Barnes’ newsletter, The Uplift, is a spirit-raising whisper of positivity in your inbox each week. Read an example here and subscribe here
WHAT WE’RE WATCHING Robin Robin: Short and very sweet, this festive new animation from Aardman tells the story of a robin chick raised by mice. Perfect wintery viewing. Now streaming on Netflix