Crimbo Limbo: Ten Free Ways to Enjoy the Most Aimless Time of the Year

We’ve all felt profoundly adrift in the week between Christmas and New Year’s before. But not this year! Here are 10 fun, free ways to make the most of that strange post-Christmastime limbo.

1. Squeeze the Final Bit of Juice out of Christmastime

As a child, I would get overwhelmingly excited for Christmas, be euphoric Christmas morning, underwhelmed by the evening, and invariably deflated in the days following. While my emotional regulation skills have improved somewhat since then, that ‘It’s over already?’ feeling still lingers. If you have a similar issue at home, try to taper off Christmas slowly and avoid the swift drop in festivity.
You’ll have cycled through the classics by this point, so watch a Christmas movie you haven’t seen before. Draw a March Madness bracket and pit Christmas songs against each other to determine the ultimate melodic masterpiece. Do some caroling karaoke via Youtube (caroloke?). Don’t let the wonder die just because the presents are open and the food has been served.

2. Have a Screen-Free or Clock-Free Day

A screen-free day can be eye-opening, as even the cosiest family traditions can involve a classic movie. Not today. It’s time for board games, charades, doodling, and books in blanket forts. You will get bored, enjoy the novelty of it! The point here is to luxuriate in time.
If you want to challenge yourself further, hide the clocks. Get up when you want (or when the cat demands to be fed), eat when you’re hungry, and rest when you’re tired, probably after you’ve watched the sun go down. It can feel hugely nostalgic, as the last time you were so thoroughly unmoored from time itself was likely a sick day in childhood.

3. Hit the Road

The weather outside is (statistically) unlikely to be frightful all week, so get outside and explore. These are the shortest days of the year, and if you work standard office hours, you’re unlikely to see much daylight again until at least late February; make the most of the crisp winter sunshine and pearly afternoon light. If you need inspiration, check out our blog for festive strolls from a few years ago, or our recommendations for the best riverside walks.

4. Play Chef

The big Christmas meal is done - now it’s time to have fun and get creative with whatever food remains.
Grab a carton of eggs and swirl those leftovers into a quiche. Melt the remnants of your cheese board into a fancy mac and cheese. Everything looks like a nail when all you have is a hammer, as the saying goes, and when you’ve had the forethought to pop a roll of puff pastry in the freezer, there’s not much that can’t become a tart filling. Or keep it classic with a Bubble and Squeak - BBC Good Food has recipes for both meaty and vegetarian options.

5. Make a 2024 Predictions List

Grab a sheet of paper (or your phone, but there’s more pomp and circumstance in a hard copy). Make sections for friends, work, celebrity, sports, or whatever is relevant to your life, and play fortune teller. Be as specific and granular as possible in your predictions. Great fun to do with a friend or partner, hilarious to look back on and weirdly satisfying when you get something right.

6. Get a Headstart on your New Year’s Resolution

While this might be the least fun suggestion, on the list, hear me out. For most of us, Jan 1st is the worst time to start a new habit because you’re hungover, shops are closed and life doesn’t feel quite real yet.
Two of the most popular resolutions, Dry January and Veganuary, both require a dose of willpower to maintain. Going Cold Turkey can be very motivating - in the short term. But habits require consistency. So practice drinking a Sprite at the pub or making a tofu scramble before the stakes are high, and you’ll be more likely not to pack it by January 3rd.

7. Declutter and Donate

Okay, maybe this is the least fun suggestion. But attempting to declutter when your schedule is as crammed as your closet is a special kind of hell you should avoid putting yourself through at all costs. If you’ve been rushing about cleaning for company, you’re not going to have been sorting out the old clothes in the attic.
You have the time to do so now, use it and your future self will thank you. Donate unwanted items to charity shops, and if you have little ones, introduce them to the idea of ‘one item in, one item out’ as they will likely have just acquired a small mountain of shiny plastic toys.

8. Read Ghostly Tales Around the Fire

There’s nothing cosier than huddling around a blazing fire. If you have a fireplace or a fire pit in your backyard, this one is a no-brainer. If not, be sure to check the rules around bonfires in your local area here before you set anything alight.
If you’re in a flat or it’s too cold or raining outside, dim lighting and a selection of candles on a baking tray will work just fine. Make like the BBC and get some Christmas ghost stories going. Don’t have any books to hand? LitHub compiled a list of 20 spooky stories you can read for free online, from classic authors like Shirley Jackson and Agatha Christie to more modern fare.

9. Visit a New Museum

We all know the Ashmolean and the Pitt Rivers, and if you have children, chances are you know the Story Museum too. But what about the Roald Dahl Museum? Or The Solidiers of Oxfordshire Museum? Or Witney Blanket Hall? Learn some local history and perhaps visit a new cafe while you’re at it. Reward yourself with a cinnamon bun, you’ve earned it by being cultured and resisting the couch’s pull.

10 - Go for a Wild Swim

The Old Fire Station’s alternative Christmas show this year, Glacier, was a tender and wryly moving play about the agonies and ecstasies of wild swimming, particularly during the colder months.
Why not swim some invigorating laps in those character’s shoes? Sure Swimmer has a list of the best wild swimming spots in Oxford here. That said the pastime, while increasingly popular and inarguably refreshing, is not without risk, so be sure to bring a friend and follow the council’s guidelines at all times.

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