The festive period is an important time for many of us and the UK Government has said it understands people want to be with their family and friends during Christmas, especially after such a difficult year. This is why, the government is changing some social contact restrictions for a short period of time. However, we must continue to take personal responsibility to limit the spread of the virus and protect our loved ones, particularly if they are vulnerable.

UK Government have said between 23rd and 27th December:

  • you can form an exclusive ‘Christmas bubble’ composed of people from no more than three households
  • you can only be in one Christmas bubble
  • you cannot change your Christmas bubble
  • you can travel between tiers and UK nations for the purposes of meeting your Christmas bubble
  • you can only meet your Christmas bubble in private homes or in your garden, places of worship, or public outdoor spaces
  • you can continue to meet people who are not in your Christmas bubble outside your home according to the rules of the tier you are meeting in (please note Birmingham is in tier 3 – very high alert)
  • if you form a Christmas bubble, you should not meet socially with friends and family that you do not live with in your home or garden unless they are part of your Christmas bubble

You should travel to meet those in your Christmas bubble and return home between 23rd and 27th December. Anyone travelling to or from Northern Ireland may travel on the 22nd and 28th December.

Read more about forming Christmas bubbles here and please ensure you adhere to government restrictions.

With that being said, there is still a lot you can do without physically meeting your loved ones.

Virtual activities you can take part in during the festive season

  • Do something nice for others – Tesco have said there isn’t a naughty list this year but that doesn’t mean you can’t be nice to others! Buy a Christmas present from a small business, cook dinner or bake a cake for your family, organise a Zoom party with friends, have a sort out of clothes and give these to charity and most importantly – be kind to yourself by taking this time to rest and relax without the worry of coursework or exams. Taking a long soak in the bath, meditating or doing yoga can really help with reducing stress. For information about mental health support at Newman visit our Mental Health Difficulties webpage.
  • Grab a hot chocolate and watch a Christmas film with family and / or friends – on Netflix (Netflix Party) or Amazon Prime Video (Watch Party) – students get a six-month trial or 50% off the regular price of Amazon Prime.
  • Enjoy an hour of arts and crafts with loved ones – setup a Zoom, Samsung Duo or WhatsApp Group video call and start knitting, painting, sewing, drawing, candle making, jewellery making, cross-stitching, Christmas decoration making or tie dying together. You can even spice it up by making this into a competition with a prize posted to the winner!
  • Visit a Virtual Christmas Market – one of the most popular holiday season activities is to visit a traditional Christmas Market, but because it isn’t possible this year, why not attend a Virtual Christmas Market (a recreation of a real traditional Christmas Market)? Visit: christmasmarket2020.com to find out more.
  • Organise a Zoom quiz and / or online Bingo game – have a family and friends Zoom quiz and Bingo night and the person who loses gives something to charity.
  • Make festive chocolate with family and friends virtually – lots of places offer festive virtual chocolate parties where you sign up, receive a chocolate kit in the post and join in a charismatic and entertaining Chocolatier on Zoom for a party! Check out: https://www.mychocolate.co.uk/corporate-and-team-events/festive-virtual-chocolate-party/ but also do your own research, as quite a few companies offer similar events.
  • Book a Virtual Escape Room – experience the thrill, fun and excitement of an escape room but in the comfort of your own home!

And don’t forget to post your Christmas cards to loved ones to show them that even though you cannot be together physically, you are still thinking of them. You’ll find a list of Royal Mail postage dates on the Royal Mail website. If you’re thinking of sending a parcel via Hermes, last sending dates for Christmas deliveries can be found on the Hermes website.

Managing stress around deadlines or exams

Many of you will be worrying about coursework deadlines or exams that take place in January, but to reduce your stress you can:

  • Create a realistic plan which lets you get your studying done but also gives you time to yourself to rest and enjoy the holidays.
  • Find a revision and / or coursework style that suits you whether that’s studying alone in a quiet room or having a Zoom / Samsung Duo / WhatsApp study session with friends.
  • Customise your notes by experimenting with colour coding, diagram and notes on postcards.
  • Make sure you understand everything, if there is a topic you are unsure about ask an academic before the Christmas break (most staff break-up on 18th December) or speak to a friend from your course.
  • Take regular short breaks every 45 to 60 minutes, doing some physical activity during this time can help you mentally.
  • And finally… ask for help – don’t be afraid to ask your Tutor, Learning Development Tutors in Student Support, mentors or friends or family for help.

Further information about tips on preparing for exams can be found on the NHS website.

What will you be doing this Christmas and what Christmas decorations have you had to make because you couldn’t get to the shops?! We’d love to hear – comment below.

From all staff at Newman University we would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!