Winter warmers: Seven reasons to be cheerful this holiday

Winter warmers: Seven reasons to be cheerful this holiday


This article started as six reasons to be happy, rose to nine, then 10 and is now, thanks to the new lockdown, back to seven again. Omicron may have paid for a lot of traditional winter holiday fun, but here’s a list of things you can still do to bring a little Christmas cheer into your life.

Are liquor stores crucial? We think so. Baby, it’s cold outside, as Dean Martin sang, which means it’s a perfect time of year to drink at home (in moderation). With limited evening options, you might as well spend the beer money on the best you can afford. Find a local night shop or delicatessen with interesting foreign beers, experiment with the devil’s drink, Korenwijn, or order a box of bubbles. This is not the time for discount Cava, folks – it’s Veuve Clicquot or ruined (see, you can even buy a box that says ‘Paris’ on it, for the fair price of going there).

We are convinced that the answer to all questions is cake. Buy yourself a Christmas cookbook – of course Delia, Nigella, Nigel and Mary are practically holy at this time of year, or you can find most of their recipes online (if you’ve cheap). Or try one of the latest additions to the DutchNews cookbook shelf: The Book on Pie (perfect for Christmas) and Dessert Person (and we highly recommend the author’s YouTube channel.)

If you are looking for some special ingredients from your home country, check out our guide to the best international food stores in the Netherlands. After all, grocery stores are essential.

When everything (you want to do) closes at 17.00, you have time for something tricky: why not make your own minced meat and minced pies (cake including a third) lard, or lard, is – sorry, vegetarians – the best). Invite two friends to stir up Christmas pudding. Make a croquembouche (The dessert person has a good recipe), a gingerbread house, a yule log! All you have to lose is your waist.

Refresh your Dutch
We are not going to many parties in the next six months, so refresh your Dutch conversational skills where you can or take an online course. A face mask is an ingenious excuse for any faux pas, because no one can hear what you are saying anyway.

Free fun
In the final lockdown, DutchNewsers became big fans of traditional things: board games, cards, fun and watching old movies. Forget chores; draw a beautiful view. Listen to Top 2000, or Top 4000 or one of the other lists of music you thought you had forgotten but which pop up at this time of year. Or try a new podcast: informative as 99% Invisible, entertaining as Hit Parade or even scary as The Magnus Archives.

Curl up with a good book
Stuck inside all evening is the perfect excuse to dig into a good book. Some things we’ve read: 12 Bytes by Jeanette Winterson, a collection of essays on the implications of artificial intelligence; The Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley, a book series about a naughty child detective; If We Were Villains by ML Rio, a murder mystery set in a theater school; Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney, the new hit by the Irish author.

We have lots of recommendations for books that take place in or involve the Netherlands. Book online from American Book Center. Not in the budget this year? Check out your local free little library

We do not have to give this a word, but we all know that the Dutch make things fit with their festive lights. Beautiful glasses filled with tealights, street exhibits, moody lamps and of course slamming half of Blokker’s Christmas selection across the front of your house. (Last year, the Amsterdam City Council said you can only cover 10%, which sounds like a fun challenge!)

The WielenpƓlle district of Leeuwarden has over the best decorations. Photo: Anton Kappers ANP

The Amsterdam Festival of Light will lose a bit of its appeal this year because there will be flaws … no light – at least after 6 p.m. But when the sun goes down at 16.30, you have half an hour to see at least a few of them in their glory.

You are almost too late to plant bulbs for next spring. Hopefully, if you are lucky enough to have a garden, you have not covered it all with tiles or artificial grass. Anyone can stick a few flower pots outside and buy some bulbs and soil. While we can not guarantee that your daffodils will show up year after year, our careful trials and errors reveal that even if you plant everything upside down, it will eventually find its way to the light. An encouraging message to all of us.

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The team would like to thank all the generous readers who have made a donation in recent weeks. Your financial support has helped us extend our coverage of the coronavirus crisis to evenings and weekends and keep you up to date with the latest developments. has been free for 14 years, but without the financial backing of our readers, we would not be able to provide you with fair and accurate news and features on all things Dutch. Your contributions make this possible.

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