Whichever tier you’re in, Bextwixtmas days can still be rewarding

by Sarah ▪ 23 Dec, 2020

What is Christmas limbo?

Christmas limbo is that time between Christmas and New Year when everyone is too full of turkey, mince pies and Quality Street to be all that proactive or productive. Even at the best of times these days can become a listless no-man’s-land. And let’s face it – this isn’t the best of times!

Here at Gourmade, we know the value of food, family and fun – and that’s what Christmas limbo should be all about. When life gives us lemons, we don’t just make lemonade – we make a Sicilian lemon tart! It’s fair we know how to get the best from a situation, so we’ve put together a few ideas for getting the most from your Betwixtmas.

Get blown away

There’s nothing like a winter breeze for whipping some colour into your cheeks and some zest into your heart. A brisk walk by the sea, in the local park or wood – or simply around the block to check out other people’s Christmas décor – is a great way to start your Boxing Day. If you’re feeling adventurous, why not take an OS map and go somewhere new? If you’re on your own, you’re bound to meet some fellow ramblers to exchange cheery greetings (or shared grimaces about the weather!), while if you have kids it’s the perfect way to stop them squabbling over their toys and burn off some energy. You’ll also work off any lingering lassitude from overeating, making yourself ready for the next few days – and all the leftovers! It may be winter, but the sunshine still gives you vital vitamin D and helps keep low mood at bay. And even in Tier 4, this is a way to catch up with friends or family in person. There’s just no downside to outdoor time – so long as it’s not pouring with rain …

If you really don’t like walking, why not take up a new hobby like roller-blading or stand-up paddle boarding? Or find a scavenger hunt online – great entertainment for kids and adults alike. You could compete with distant friends and family and send photos of your finds! For the less active (and if you’re in a lower tier), it may be worth plugging in the outdoor heater or lighting a fire pit, and wrapping up in your thermals, so you can enjoy a natter and a cup of hot chocolate outdoors.

Bake away the blues

However inventive you are finding outdoor diversions, there’s no escaping the fact we’ll all be in our homes for much of the time. Baking is a balm to the soul, and creates a fabulous hands-on activity for children too. Why not try this easy flapjack recipe? There are only has four ingredients, it takes just half an hour from start to finish, and is suitable for young children to help with. The flapjacks keep well in an airtight container for a few weeks so, even if you have lots of Christmas goodies to work through, they won’t go to waste. What’s more, all the oats make them feel almost healthy!
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Preparation: 15 min
  • Butter: 5oz/125g
  • Brown sugar: 3oz/75g
  • Golden syrup: 3oz/75g
  • Oats: 8oz/200g
  • Optional: Chocolate chips, nuts or dried fruit
Preheat the oven to Gas mark 4/180°C/160°C fan. Grease a square (approx. 23cm x 23cm) or rectangular baking tin (approx. 32cm by 21cm). You can also line with baking parchment if you wish, or if the pan isn’t non-stick. You can also vary the dimensions – it will simply result in a different thickness of flapjack and you may need to adjust the cooking time accordingly. Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a large saucepan over a low heat until a dark gooey liquid is formed. Then add the oats and any extras such as raisins, nuts or chocolate chips, stirring until well combined. Pour the mixture into your baking tin and bake for 12-15min until bubbling and crisping at the edges. If you leave the mixture for longer, your flapjacks will be firmer and less sticky; a shorter baking time results in gooier treats. It depends on your preference! Leave to cool for five minutes, then score the mixture with a knife or spatula to create your portions. When the flapjacks are fully cooled, this will make it easier to separate them.

Get crafty

This is the perfect time to recycle and reuse. If you want to have some fun while being environmentally friendly, we’ve found some uses for old Christmas cards. There are lots of lovely ideas elsewhere online for using wrapping paper, too.
Gift tags
One of the simplest ways to upcycle your cards is to cut out sections of the design to make stylish gift tags for next year. Simply punch a hole and thread through some ribbon or shiny string. You can even jazz them up by using corrugated scissors for a zigzag edge, or adding glitter or sequins.

Using larger cards to create bookmarks is a fabulous idea – cheer up a bookworm friend in gloomy January with a homemade gift. The simplest option is to cut out, punch a hole and add decorative wool, but if you’re a dab hand with scissors you may want to try these lovely folded ones.

Christmas bunting
Get started on next year’s decorations and make some Christmas bunting. Simply use a triangle stencil to draw and cut out triangles from your cards. Then put a thin line of glue along the top edge, so the triangles are pointing down, and attach a long ribbon. Once the glue has dried, you can hang and admire – or pack away for next year! If crafting isn’t your bag, devote some time to another hobby – or take up something you’ve been meaning to for years. You may gain much-needed peace from focusing on something alone, but if you thrive on company, there are lots of online apps and groups to keep you motivated. Start (or finish) a novel, learn a language, play an instrument, arrange flowers, build and paint models … the choice is endless!

Games night

Here’s where family and friends really come in (even if it is via Zoom). Quizzes are maybe the simplest way to go – but even these can be given a twist or theme to keep things interesting. Why not have a dressing up, karaoke or dancing round? Or make a music round with a twist by playing them backwards?

There are also plenty of online tools available for playing team games like Charades, Pictionary, Articulate or Who Am I? We’d probably open a bottle, too, but even without the bubbly, these games are always a riot!

Creative leftovers

You may well have found yourself with more turkey and trimmings on your hands than anticipated. The silver lining is a freezer full of delicious grub. Here are some ideas for what to do with different ingredients (you’ll find recipes online). But first, for an all-rounder, why not try this recipe for potato, turkey, sausage and stuffing pie!
Turkey and ham
Roasties, veggies, pigs, stuffing and extras
Christmas puddings

If you were due to go somewhere else for a turkey dinner, it may be time to crack out the Gourmade stash from the freezer! A warming Beef Bourguignon or Butternut Squash Lasagne will go down a treat.

Make plans

On occasion this year it’s felt as though making plans was an exercise in futility, but that’s not so. Spending some quality moments taking stock and thinking about goals and possibilities is a great way to rekindle a sense of purpose and control. It’s also fun to imagine how you’ll reinvent yourself next year whilst unashamedly still having chocolate for breakfast and staying in your PJs all day. If you’re anything like me, you usually make more plans than you can realistically complete in just one year, so use that tendency but designate different goals depending on different eventualities.

You might decide to save a holiday fund, but invest it in a high-end tent if a hoped-for foreign trip falls through. If you want to take dance classes, consider a back-up option – virtual classes at home, yoga – or something totally different (start your own podcast or scrapbook all your photos, perhaps). Maybe you want to apply to university. Pick your favourites, but maybe consider choosing some online courses as well, and explore ways to pick up skills if you choose to defer. If you want to change career but don’t feel it’s the time, look at your CV and see how you can jazz it up in the extra time.

Kick back

Most of us don’t get a lot of time to ourselves, and maybe you don’t want to spend your precious holiday time improving yourself! Even if you do, still try to set aside some of your Christmas limbo just for you. Take a warm bath, meditate, re-read your favourite book, or binge on festive feel-good films. Are you a sucker for romances like Love, Actually and The Holiday but your partner turns up their nose? Do you maintain that Die Hard is a Christmas flick? Or do you need a fix of a classic like The Snowman, Home Alone or Miracle on 34th Street to feel you’ve had a proper Christmas? Whether you like a tear-jerker (It’s a Wonderful Life, anyone?) or a madcap comedy (everyone likes Elf … right?) these days are the time to really spoil yourself. And we can recommend a Gourmade pud to max out the indulgence factor. For wintry nights, you can’t go wrong with Sticky Toffee Pudding or a Rhubarb & Strawberry Crumble.

Pat yourself on the back …

Finally, now is the time to congratulate yourself on all your achievements of the year – and don’t say there aren’t any. Whether you’ve had to juggle working from home with home-schooling children, master new technology, brave a public workspace or simply learn how to stay indoors, it’s been a tough year and you’ve made it through. Here are a few more things for which you can award yourself a gold star.
Helping out a friend, family member, neighbour or stranger.
From picking up shopping to sharing a socially distanced film night via WhatsApp, you’re likely to have helped someone else this year just by being there. If you’re a parent, remember all those activities you devised to keep the little ones amused and let yourself feel proud, bypassing the screen-time guilt.
Learning a new skill
Perhaps you began baking over lockdown and mastered sourdough. Or maybe you got your hands dirty in the garden. You might have experimented with your cooking, taken up crochet or embraced wild swimming. Whatever you’ve tried – even if you haven’t kept it up – it’s done you good.
Planning ahead

Finally, thank your former self for stocking your freezer with Gourmade’s Macaroni Cheese & Bacon (or whichever your favourite is). If you haven’t already, it’s not too late: make an order now . Sometimes, filling the time is surprisingly tiring and you deserve a break!

The Gourmade team wishes you a relaxing and pleasurable festive season, and look forward to building our community and blog in 2021. Merry Christmas!