So here we are again. Outside there are plans to dust off your dancing shoes at the Christmas party, and stock up on toilet paper rolls and boxes of chocolates for the long nights ahead.
With a “staggering” increase in Covid cases accelerated by the spread of the Omicron variant predicted by medical advisers this week, many fear they will have to face Christmas again in not-so-splendid isolation.
So what can you do to prepare for a brilliant Christmas – even if you or someone in your household is positive for Covid and needs to self-isolate during the holiday season, or if Christmas is canceled again?
Eat drink and be happy
You are going to need food and drink. Many. Buy now or repent at your leisure. Now’s the perfect time to whip up that extravagant cake you’ve been dreaming of, or finally use the sourdough your boring friend imposed on you after the first lockdown.
Jo Elgarf, an urban preparer who could frankly be forgiven for being a little smug at the moment, suggests putting a packet of chicken or veggie alternative in the freezer with Brussels sprouts and frozen roasts, just in case. And buy chocolate: “If the worst comes to the worst, and you sit there all day eating a box of roses, is that really such a bad thing?
Food writer Jay Rayner has one main tip: order from a Baileys crate. He adds, “Plan your Christmas dinner around the idea of filling the fridge with goodies for the days to come. And stock up on bites. If your house doesn’t have Christmas trees and cheese-flavored Twiglets, it’s not even Christmas.
Other stellar suggestions Guardian readers on Twitter include eating a Christmas dinner of pigs in blankets dipped in Camembert cheese because you can, making hot chocolate bombs or, failing that, make sure you have a list of take out that deliver on Christmas Day .
It’s personal care season
Christmas, even a good New Year, can be a time of increased stress, loneliness, and struggle for many people. Professor Vivian Hill, a registered psychologist and member of the British Psychological Society, suggests enjoying a secluded Christmas, free from myths about what Christmas “should be”.
“Think about the authentic characteristics of a really good Christmas for you and try to plan how you might recreate them if you have to stay home,” she says. “Doing something special for yourself and for the people you are closest to is really essential. “
Take a bath, take a long walk, stay in your pajamas, make sushi – do whatever you want, basically. “Christmas traditions change and develop over time,” says Hill. “Recognize that there are other ways to celebrate.”
Plan your family benefits
For many people, Christmas is about overeating with family and friends. If that’s not possible, maybe open presents together via Zoom in the morning, keep the camera on during lunch, and schedule a half-cut argument with your brother around 5 p.m. You can always spend your extra time inventing a machine with which you can make a cracker. An industrial bull clamp will do the trick for those lacking in imagination.
To temper your sadness, console yourself by thinking you’re doing the right thing, says Hill. “Maybe your gift to friends and family is to recognize that you are a risk and stay away. “
Gifts you might stop giving
Have you already bought all of your freebies? Otherwise, don’t panic and immediately turn to Amazon, says Tim Lane of Ethical Consumer. “There are many ethical online retailers that are great options for last minute giveaways,” he says. “Or just buy less. If you want to consume ethically, cut back and maybe organize a secret Santa Claus with your family as an alternative.
For the best organizing points, you can wrap and exchange gifts right on your doorstep with family members who live close enough now, just in case. If they live in different parts of the country / world it is probably too late. Don’t worry, at least you have the perfect excuse.
On the 10th day of isolation my true love gave me – a wanted game console and a long, ruthless book
A bonus of a lonely Christmas is all the extra time to sit around chocolate orange and watch festive movies. Great suggestions from Guardian readers for passing the time include creating as many anagrams as possible from the different Covid variations, reading War and Peace, chuckling with virtual concerts with Always Be Comedy, creating of a Christmas themed mystery game to free Santa Claus and gifts, knit, craft and make a personalized puzzle of a thousand pieces of your family while listening to Toto’s Africa. Or you could have kids. In this case, lock the bathroom door.
It’s not all about you, you know
It really is not. Many Guardian readers, selfless souls as they are, suggest keeping others in mind rather than just feeling sorry for themselves. Buy additional products during festive storage to drop off at the food bank like those run by the Trussell Trust or simply donate; call a senior to chat via Age UK, Independent Age, Re-engage or Opening Doors; purchase a toy for a vulnerable child through The Toy Appeal or Family Action; buy a gift for a woman or child fleeing abuse with Refuge; write to someone facing injustice in the world through Amnesty International’s Write for Rights campaign. This, my friends, is the true spirit of Christmas.