Have your Christmasses become a bit matchy-matchy? Change things up with these tried-and-tested tips for having a deliciously different holiday this year, says Anna Hart
Many of us eagerly anticipate Christmas, but then find the social whirl stressful and overwhelming. It's amazing how quickly we feel off-kilter when we're separated from elements of our normal routine - like yoga class, your morning jog, a veg-packed lunch, your weekly Homeland-and-pedicure ritual - that keep us sane the rest of the time. Thankfully there are some cracking apps to help you keep your healthy habit ticking over through the holidays, wherever you are. Yogatoday.com offer a 30-day free trial subscription to their extensive catalogue of yoga classes, so sign up and get bendy before breakfast with the family. And the brilliantly user-friendly mediation app from Headspace offers a 10-day introduction to meditation, with a new 10-minute class every day. Give it a shot over the holidays and you'll start 2014 with an amazing new zen-making routine. (And a raging voice-crush on Andy, the voice of Headspace. You've been warned.)
The festive (not to mention freezing cold) season can be tough and lonely for homeless and disadvantaged people, and therefore volunteer opportunities abound. In London, Newcastle and Edinburgh, Crisis run Christmas Centers providing the homeless with food, support, shelter and much-needed treats. They need 8,000 volunteers to make this happen, and you can either sign up as a general volunteer, or register your special skill (everything from nursing to dentistry to makeovers). Elsewhere, contact your local Salvation Army, who run homeless shelters and need your help. You get off the sofa and that delicious warm fuzzy feeling from helping others, so it's win-win. And if you get the volunteering bug, check out do-it.org.uk for year-round opportunities across the UK.
If you just scribble your name after the printed message and fire off your cards without a thought, you're missing a trick. These days it's rare to get something other than utility bills via snail mail, so make your cards count with personalised, heartfelt messages. Pro Tip: A glass of red wine and some non-annoying Christmassy tunes should get you in a suitably sentimental and semi-literary mood.
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