Here in the UK, we're back into another national lockdown, and if there's one thing I've learnt with all this time at home it's that there are special moments throughout the day. Often they go by unnoticed, but with a little thought and creativity these moments can become memorable and will form the fabric of our daily lives.

Here are a few tried and tested ideas if you're feeling the loss of cinemas, culture, cafes & restaurants. 

      1. Campfires in the garden

        Light a little fire outside if you can, in your garden or courtyard. You can use the base of a BBQ if you don't have a firepit. Cover chairs with sheepskins and blankets, wrap up warm with gloves and hats. If it's raining, I use a tarpaulin to create a cover in our tiny courtyard, there's something magical about being outside when it's raining. And I love doing things my little boy expects us to say 'no' to, often it's easier to say 'yes' and figure it out, the more silly & unexpected things are the more fun they become! Make hot chocolate, toast some marshmallows, tell jokes or stories around the campfire.

      2. Prepare for a pitstop on a wintery walk

        Pack a bag with a flask of coffee, take a couple of enamel tumblers with you, some freshly baked brownies or cookies, a blanket and a linen napkin or two. Go for stroll around your local park, or in the countryside and stop for a while in a beautiful spot. We often visit some woodland in the Slad Valley and have found a fallen log, we sit on a blanket on the log, and the stump makes the perfect little table for napkins & coffee & baked snacks. Natures own cafe. 

        hot chocolate in a flask with enamel mugs & cakes
      3. Restaurant night

        Choose an evening, Saturday night perhaps and make supper an occasion. You can do this with your whole family, lett children design a menu or place settings and encourage them to help cook and lay the table. Or, for something a little more romantic, wait until the children are in bed. Dim the lights, light candles, use a tablecloth and napkins - you could make a starter or a special pud, something you wouldn't usually do. Cook a new recipe, or if budget allows order a recipe box from your favourite restaurant (a few I have my eye on here, here and here). Play some records or create a playlist and take your time to eat. You could even get dressed up and play parlour style games with your family (watching The Crown reminded me of the game 'ibble dibble'!) 

      4. Weekend brunch

        Mark the weekends with pancakes or waffles (my go-to recipes are here, here and here). Encourage children to help cook, lay the table, make a big pot of coffee, perhaps grab a weekend paper from the local store and a comic for children. Put lots of toppings in bowls on the table so everyone can choose their favourites. Put some music on and all sit at the table together. I love slow weekend breakfasts, I'm more lenient on rules and manners at breakfast time, and love the humdrum of everyone doing their own thing while all together. I'll be reading the food section of the weekend paper or a short story in the New Yorker, my partner will be reading New Scientist and my little boy will be playing lego or drawing. Breakfast is always more relaxed and slow. I like the table to be messy and full, coffee on tap, each of us looking up from what we're doing to share something we've read or made. Doing this reminds me of our trip to New York a couple of years ago, where everyone goes out for a slow brunch at the weekends.weekend brunch with the family

      5. Movie night

        Choose a time, perhaps a Friday night to mark the end of the week. If you have little ones, ask them to make movie tickets, make popcorn and serve in small bowls or a paper bag. Gather blankets and sheepskins to make it cosy, light a fire perhaps or some candles, dim the lights. If you have a projector, use this instead of the TV - we have movie nights in our kitchen, moving the furniture around, the change of room makes it seem more special and different. Leave your phones aside, so there's no temptation.

A short note: I have a small family, just me, my partner and my 6 six year old, so these ideas come from my personal perspective, but I hope they can be adapted to your situation and budget.

And of course, I'd love to hear your ideas and things you do to make the every day that little bit more special. 

January 07, 2021 — Alice Paling