This week has to be my favourite of the year. The holiday atmosphere is tangible – families are enjoying time together, people are on leave or away on holiday, children are occupied with their stash of new gifts and in South Africa we are blessed with sunny, summery days which are spent outdoors – in the garden, on the beach or next to the pool!
Here is my list of Top 10 things to do in the week between Christmas and New Year…
1. Pay a visit to the beach (but not on Boxing Day or New Years Day in SA!)
You don’t have to spend the whole day there, this might not always be possibly or wise – especially if you have small toddlers and the sun is blazing! An early morning swim, an mid-afternoon dog walk, evening sundowners – choose the time of day that suits you and spend just a few hours enjoying the sand and surf.
2. Braai, braai and braai again
After the large festivities of Christmas, keep meal times relaxed and what better way to do this than to embrace the humble South African braai (barbecue!) All that’s required of you is to prepare a few fresh salads and make sure you have some ice-cream in the freezer!
3. Catch up on a bit of DIY
Start the year feeling like you are on top of things around the house. Paint that wall, fix those cupboards, hang the pictures, treat your outdoor furniture. Set the kids up with a few outdoor activities and just aim to tackle one task for the morning. The feeling of accomplishment is huge!
4. Spend some time as a family
After the manic few weeks leading up to Christmas we often tend to ignore the little ones or plonk them in front of the TV so we can just finish one more thing on our to-do list. Make this week a time where your prioritize your nuclear family! Put on the sprinklers and let your kids run amok in the buff, let them swim as much as they want and join them instead of always watching from the side! Get out the Singstar or Wii and plan a family tournament or go traditional and haul out the board games and spend an afternoon playing Monopoly or Risk or Twister.
5. Watch a feel-good family movie
Or your favourite Christmas movie, or a good weepy. Lie on the couch with the lights dimmed and fix a huge bowl of popcorn and enjoy your make-shift cinema where you can wear pajamas or your sarong and no one will look at you any differently!
6. Organize your New Years Eve
Whatever your plans, whether you are heading out for a big night on the town, a private party, a quite night in or dinner with friends ensure you are prepared with your snacks, food and drinks. Don’t leave it to the last minute to head to the shops. People act like they are stocking up for a hurricane on New Years Eve so avoid the shops! Plan to purchase your booze and bubbly a few days ahead. Also remember that if you are going to be drinking away from home to organize a designated driver or book a taxi service to lift you home.
7. Head off for a day trip or outing
Especially for those, who like myself, don’t leave town during this week…. I am blessed to have all my family and in-laws right here in Cape Town but this means we generally are always in town for this week which can make me feel a bit left out while everyone heads off to their holiday destinations! Plan a day trip or two and enjoy exploring neighbouring towns, lounging under the oaks on a wine farm, visiting some furry friends at an animal park or sanctuary, pick some cherries or strawberries, have a fun-filled family day at a theme park, ice rink, nature reserve or water slide. Go camping for a night or two – even if it’s down the road or in your own backyard! In and around Cape Town the opportunities are plenty!
8. Catch up with old friends who you haven’t seen for a while.
Plan a low-key gathering with a chosen few, a lazy lunch out at a lovely restaurant or invite everyone you know over for a huge bash. It doesn’t have to be on New Years Eve. Choose any meal for a chance to reconnect with the people who make you laugh.
9. Reflect on the year gone by…
What were your highs? and lows? What would you do differently next year? What changes to you want to make? Who do you want to see more of (or less of!). Who do you need to forgive or make amends with? A debrief of your year can be really helpful in making peace with your circumstances, family, friends and starting the New Year with a clean slate!
10. Plan ahead
The New Year is just around the corner and soon life will be manic once again so this week is the perfect time to sit down and make a few plans for the coming year. Not only your New Year resolutions (which you are possibly more likely to stick to if you put a bit of thought into them) but also the practical aspects of life that will be changing with the start of the New Year – maybe it’s a new job or school for your child which requires a new route for your morning commute, it might be stocking up on school supplies, arranging your weekly schedule for lift clubs, extra murals, nannies, cleaners, gardeners. Sit down with a weekly, monthly and yearly calendar and plan out when the school holidays are, important family birthdays, when you want to take leave and don’t forget a few other important occasions that often get forgotten – a weekly date night with your partner, once a month girls night out, one on one time with each child, and especially a weekly time slot for just you to fill as you like – a facial, a bookshop browse, a movie with no interruptions!
There you have it – my Top 10 suggestions to get the most out of your week. Whatever you are doing this week I hope it is a wonderful, blessed one filled with rest, relaxation and rejuvenation!! Remember to make time to revive your weary body and mind before it starts all over again!!!
images: Kathryn Rossiter (taken at Beaverlac)