The pandemic on Covid 19 has been going on longer than we all expected. We were all hoping that 2021 would be the year we could finally take a delayed vacation, but unfortunately it looks like that won’t be happening anytime soon. If you were like me, you wouldn’t want to move into your own house now. It’s no Bora Bora, but we’ve discovered that blocking is a lot of fun!
13 fun ideas for your holidays at home
Life begins at your own front door (Image: passport-stamps.uk)
We all know that travel is good for our mental health in many ways. Stepping out of your comfort zone and doing something different can have a positive impact on your emotional well-being and give you just that boost you need to get through those dark days. You may be surprised to learn that most people don’t even have to leave their backyard to get out of their comfort zone. A change of state of mind, a little effort and a pinch of inspiration can be enough to give you a wonderful break – from life.
Whether you’re taking a week or just one day out, we have 13 ideas to help you relax at home and make it all worthwhile. Read on to turn your stay into an extermination….
IDEAS FOR RELAXING AT HOME THE BEST TIPS FROM YOUR LAST TRIP
Like any trip, the idea of a vacation away from home requires some planning. The idea is to create a total break from reality, to avoid having to run to the grocery store or dry cleaners to craft or to have last minute arguments with the family about what is planned. Decide what you want to do and prepare in advance. It will not only relieve you of stress, but it will also help you to completely relax at home.
1. Make your house a home – Tel..
For this job, I thought a lot about what I liked most about the hotel. There is nothing better than opening your room during your stay and doing a dance of joy at the beauty of your surroundings. You may not be able to install a fully stocked mini bar and coffee maker in your room, but there are things you can do to create a hotel effect.
Start by making the bed (and pull the sheets really tight if you can. No, I don’t know how they do it either). Pay attention to cleanliness and tidiness beforehand; can you imagine when you enter a hotel room only to find dust on a lampshade and dirty socks on the floor? Invest in new bedding or bring nice sheets and freshen up your bed. Think about the places where you will be staying and keep those tidy too. A romantic evening by the fireplace is not the same as a pile of children’s toys or a stack of work papers in front of the fireplace.
In the bathroom, treat yourself to luxury toiletries and a scented candle to set the tone and change up your usual head and shoulder routine, and in the shower to a bar of Dove soap. Finish with a bouquet of fresh flowers in a vase to brighten up the room (and the atmosphere).
2. Plan some holiday outfits at home
Many people dread packing for the holidays, but I love it! Deciding what to bring and imagining how I will spend a lot of time on vacation plays an important role in anticipating travel. I usually end it by drinking champagne and sunbathing (I have a few things to do, honey!).
You don’t need a suitcase full of clothes for this holiday at home, but choosing a few garments to wear during the lock-in will get you in the mood. Choose and iron something nice for dinner, daywear, whatever you have planned, elegant lingerie and a nice set of underwear (or lingerie) will save you the stress of what to wear at home – the holiday season. Plus, you don’t want to wear out your hair and clothes during your stay – after all, you’re on vacation!
If you have kids, also set aside what you want them to wear. Remember that during incarceration they had nowhere to go to show off their best clothes, so get all the pieces you saved for the best. There’s no time like the present – especially when they’ve grown too big to travel anymore.
3. Priority breakfast
Pancakes are always a good idea (Image: Le Robert).
During the holidays, breakfast is one of my favorite meals. Even a sandwich from the convenience store is better than my usual cup of tea and my Special K Bowl number. Getting up for breakfast brings structure to your vacation day, especially if you have a lot to see and do. I’m happy to enjoy the hotel’s basic buffet, which I was used to, but I’m really looking forward to the extra specials for breakfast!
What is everyone’s favorite breakfast in the house? Whether it’s chocolate pancakes, benedict eggs or just a nice cup of coffee, shop online in advance and stock your pantry with everything you need. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day – and not just for our time-out ideas! The downside, of course, is that you’ll probably have to cook it yourself, but take the opportunity to get the whole family to the table – just like on vacation! For adults, you can even go further and serve breakfast with a glass of Bucks Fizz.
4. For adequate rest at home, activate your absence.
For your sanity, it’s a simple but important part of our list of vacation home ideas. Especially now that so many of us work from home, the temptation to dip into our emails or do a little work is greater than ever. When there are no boundaries between work and home, it’s much harder to completely shut down and relax.
Even if you’re vacationing alone at home, make sure you schedule your time off and turn off your business calls before you turn off your laptop. The same goes for schoolwork, books and homework lists. If possible, keep them out of sight and out of mind. You wouldn’t fix the vacuum cleaner while on vacation in Tuscany, so you shouldn’t think about it while on vacation either.
5. Plan a new journey every day
Finn likes to climb stairs and go exploring (Photo: passport-stamps.uk)
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this isolation (and from my children), it’s that there are miracles and curiosities everywhere, just waiting to be appreciated. Because we were forced to stay in our neighborhood, we discovered parks, cafes and local grocery stores, scenic walks, gardens and forests we didn’t know existed – all within a half hour of our home.
I have traveled all over the world with my children, which many people find stressful, but there has never been a more difficult year than this. As for most parents, finding new ideas to entertain and stimulate children with such limited options has been exhausting. However, it has forced us to live a simple life and indulge in old-fashioned activities such as building a cave, searching for treasure and exploring nature.
Finn’s scavenger hunt was fun (photo: Helen Wright).
Luckily for me, my kids are at an age where running around a lamppost is fun, and everything from climbing stairs to hiding behind a wheelchair basket is a game. With or without kids, plan your days ahead and do something different each day according to your neighborhood rules. It could be something as simple as trying coffee and cake at a different coffee house than the one you usually frequent, or trying a local dish that is not your usual meal. Take a bike ride or explore iconic buildings or favorite natural areas nearby and really enjoy it instead of walking down the street doing something else.
Instead of seeing your daily activities as a chore, make them fun; treat yourself to ice cream (or hot chocolate) on the way home, bring a nice bottle of wine to enjoy in your hotel room when you get back.
6. Buying souvenirs and supporting local businesses
This may be more difficult if your region is still completely isolated, but there are always ways to incorporate this idea as part of your vacation.
It’s not quite the same, but you can order holiday gifts online and get them ready for your blocked stay. If you have kids, small gifts can be prizes for completing scavenger hunts or for the fun games you host over the weekend. If you have a big trip, such as a trip to Walt Disney World, you can order appropriate gifts for your family to enjoy until the trip is over. Check out our articles on the best Disney books and the best places in the UK to buy Disney, Star Wars and Marvel products.
For adults, you can order souvenir glasses with engraving for the house. More elegant than your 2004 CANCUN mug, they remind you how much you missed hosting friends for a drink and a chat when Covid was closed. For families, matching pajamas is a good idea, but a custom baseball cap might be a step too far ….
When the shops reopen, it is best to support the local shops, which certainly suffered a lot last year. We discovered that our corner shop sells handmade cards, tea towels and tote bags made by local artists that make great souvenirs. Go off the beaten track; even if you don’t want a branded gift from your home town, they can give you fun and humorous gifts that you can send to friends and family across the UK.
7. Eating at the table – and planning the world menu
Traditional Spanish Paella prepared by @vickilaycock (Image: Helen Wright)
We’ve all had a day (especially during a lockdown) where we skipped the dinner table in favor of a fake dinner in front of the TV, but during the holidays you don’t eat on your lap, so avoid it at all costs when you’re away from home. Eating, especially during the holidays, is a social affair, and eating in front of the television discourages conversation and reduces the opportunity for families to share and build relationships. When couples decide to set the table for dinner, it feels like a night out, especially if you light a few candles and listen to music to set the mood. All of these things are not only great for relaxing at home, but can also do a lot for your mental health at very little cost.
If you are a foodie, you can dedicate your lunch and dinner to different dishes from around the world while at home. Consider a Spanish paella for lunch, an Indian feast for dinner and a box of gourmet French pasta to treat yourself to in the afternoon. If you can afford it, avoid cooking and have a different snack or restaurant delivered each night – no cooking and no laundry = vacation mode!
Don’t take it too seriously. One Saturday, after a football game in the park, we ate American hot dogs that we ate off cardboard plates, sitting on the kitchen counter. After a few hours, a glass of whisky and a dance in the living room reminded me of the night we spent in a pub in Kilkenny (it wasn’t much, but it was busier).
Major brands and restaurants have also published their own recipes, so you can make your favorite holiday treats at home. Discover this favorite theme park from Disney’s series Making Magic at Home – a truly delightful chili recipe created by Walt Disney himself. Universal Orlando Resort also talked about how they make apple sausage focaccia filling at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort (YUM). For vegetarians (and foodies), The Cheesecake Factory also gave us their recipe for roasted Korean cauliflower – and it’s a triumph.
He takes his own pictures now. Photo: Helen Wright.
It may sound simple enough, but don’t forget to take pictures of yourself and your family to bring these vacation home ideas to life. These may not be the memories you were hoping to make this year, but time is running out (although it certainly is) and you will never have the chance to be at that age and in that place or situation again. Your kids will still grow up a bit, you’ll still have your next scary birthday, and believe me, if you decide to erase that period from your memory, you’ll regret it. Your living room may not be the glamorous backdrop of Sydney Harbour or Cinderella Castle you had in mind, but photos of your healthy and happy loved ones may one day be a dream you want to return to.
9. Install your own bathroom
Installing a spa at home is a proven way to prioritize personal care and spend some time at home during the holidays. Don’t do things by halves, get in the mood for the whole show: scented candles, wine on ice, music, stacks of magazines or books, a luxurious bubble bath and (most importantly) kids, pets and other enclosed distractions!
Recently I was feeling exhausted, so I made this Vichy face mask and this yummy banana-scented hair mask at the same time, took a bath, drank the best Viognier from Aldi and ate cookies from Fortnum and Mason. In the background, Castle Pines was doing its thing, and the only stress I had was falling asleep and freezing water.
TOP TIP: Clean the bathroom before you go home. Nothing is more annoying than when your luxury bubble bath comes into contact with dirty taps!
Apply all your usual care after your bath (or, if you don’t have a bath, after a long hot shower with L’Occitane Almond Oil) : Facial oil, nail polish, moisturizing body cream and foot lotion, and take care of yourself like never before.
10. Happy Hour – Cocktail creation
Mickey Mouse food is serious business (Image: Pete Lee).
I don’t know about you, but we certainly drank our share of wine during this pandemic – small pleasures, right? It’s great for your mental health to celebrate small victories, especially at a time like this. Even if you just want to make toast so the kids go to bed on time.
Think in the box (Photo: Lucy Rainer)
Instead of looking for the same bottle of plums you always drink, why not create an elegant cocktail hour? Companies like The Cocktail Man offer delicious cocktails in a box, which makes for a luxurious gift, but who says you can’t treat yourself? Pretty little bags are perfect for making one of your decorating ideas a reality. Our friend Lucy recommends the Champagne Cosmopolitan, and I agree, it looks good! Go one step further and invest in a nice beverage trolley – call it another souvenir of your vacation!
11. See West End Show
Sitting in front of the television is probably a nightly habit during confinement, but don’t fall into old habits when you’re home on vacation. We can always catch up and get married at first sight, instead of watching other entertainment and movies that can be enjoyed as something far away.
The fantastic Mill of Hope Theatre in Manchester shows its productions online for a small fee per ticket, and its recent adaptation of the musical Rent has been a great success. That way you can enjoy live theatre and support the arts – another sector facing real challenges. The Southwark Playhouse in London also offers the opportunity to buy tickets for its weekly production parties. Across the Pond Broadway HD is a subscription streaming service that provides access to fantastic Broadway shows. And of course, if you have Disney+, you can watch the Hamilton epic!
Don’t forget to dim the lights, grab a box of Malteasers and a mulled wine in a plastic cup, and you’ll be in the West End in no time. But here the actors take a break if you want to go to the bathroom.
12. Read book
It’s not the same as lounging by the pool with the sun on your face, but blocking is the perfect time to enjoy the solitude of a good book. Don’t feel guilty if you spend your vacation at home doing something just for you and your spouse, or if the kids are probably sick of you anyway!
For a real holiday feeling, follow the story on a faraway journey, allowing you to dream of a walk on the sand, a holiday love or life in the big city. We asked our followers on social media to recommend books that scanned them with words, and from their recommendations we’ve compiled a pretty impressive list for you. Look at this. I also added an old classic that is one of my favorites. If you have one you’d like to add, tweet us or send us a message on Instagram or Facebook.
13. Ordering room service for the night
It takes some poetry, but one of my favorite things about staying in a hotel is ordering room service. If you can’t bribe your kids or neighbors to buy you a nightcap, you may have to be flexible – call it cooking yourself in your room….
Pretend you’re at a nice hotel instead of your usual evening routine and make yourself comfortable in bed with a few amenities. We recommend not taking your paella into the room and eating it on a platter, but a plate with cheese, olives and wine. Or you can sweeten the deal by making dessert in bed. Sharing cheesecake, spilling crumbs on the bed and watching late night reruns of Friends? Is that what hotels are for?
And that’s it. Your party at home is ready. Some of our take-home vacation ideas may seem overly complicated, but like the vacation itself, you’ll almost certainly get back what you put into it. This journey through your own home can only be a start to feeling better about being stuck in your own home. We can even make it a regular event – the more parties, the better, right?
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