Holiday at home: ideas for a lockdown non-getaway
By Helen Wright
Feeling low in lockdown? We have put together some easy and fun holiday at home ideas to cheer you up!
The Covid-19 pandemic has lasted waaaay longer than any of us expected. We were all hoping 2021 would be the year we could finally set off on our rescheduled holidays, but sadly that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen anytime soon. If you’re anything like me, you’d reluctantly settle for a holiday in your own home right now. It’s not Bora Bora, but we discovered a lockdown staycation is actually a really fun idea!
13 Cute holiday from home ideas for your staycation
We all know that travel benefits our mental health in so many ways. Leaving your comfort zone and doing something different can have a positive impact on your emotional wellbeing and provide just the boost you need to make it through these dark days. You may be surprised to find that most people don’t even need to leave their front garden to get out of their comfort zone. A different way of thinking, a bit of effort and a pinch of inspiration could be all you need for a brilliant break – from life.
Whether you decide to take the week off or just one day, we have 13 holiday at home ideas to make it count. Read on to turn your staycation into a slaycation…
HOLIDAY AT HOME IDEAS: TOP TIPS FROM YOUR LAST TRIP
Like any trip, some of our holiday from home ideas also require a bit of planning. The aim is to create a total break from reality, so you don’t want to end up running to the supermarket or the dry cleaners, doing DIY or having a last minute family feud about what the plans are. Decide what you want to do and be prepared in advance. This will not only cut out any stress, but will also help you fully commit to your holiday at home.
Cover image: Der Robert
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1. Make your house into a home-tel
For this post I thought a lot about what I love the most about checking into a hotel. There is nothing better than opening up your room and doing a little happy dance about how nice your surroundings are going to be during your stay. You might not be able to get a fully stocked mini bar and coffee machine into your bedroom, but there are things you can do to create the ‘hotel effect’.
START by making the bed (and tuck the sheets in really tight if you can. No, I don’t know how they do it either…). Make sure you have a good clean and tidy up in advance; can you imagine checking into a hotel room, only to find dust on the lampshade and dirty socks on the floor? Invest in some new bedding or bring out the fancy sheets and give your bed a staycation makeover. Think about the areas in which you will be spending your time and keep them tidy too. A romantic evening by the fire isn’t the same with a pile of kids toys or bundle of work paperwork in front of it.
In the bathroom, treat yourself to some fancy toiletries and a scented candle to set the scene and to make a change from your usual routine of Head and Shoulders and a bar of Dove soap in the shower. Finish up by adding a bunch of fresh flowers in a vase to brighten your room (and mood).
2. Plan some holiday outfits for your holiday at home
A lot of people dread packing for a holiday but I love it! Deciding on what I want to take and picturing myself having a grand old time on my holiday wearing it, plays a big part in the excitement of a trip. I usually pack while drinking Champagne and letting a faux tan set in (one must multi task darling!)
For these holiday at home ideas you won’t need a suitcase of outfits, but picking a few things to wear during your lockdown staycation will help get you in the mood. Choose and iron something nice to wear for dinner, daytime necessities for whatever you have planned, some stylish loungewear and a set of nice lingerie (or underwear), will save you stressing about what to put on during your house-holiday time. Plus, you don’t want to be pressing shirts or clothes during your staycation – you are on holiday after all!
If you have kids, set aside what you’d like them to wear too. Remember, during this lockdown they haven’t been able to go anywhere to show off their nicer clothes, so go for all the bits you have saved for ‘best’. No time like the present – especially when they might have grown out of them by the time we can travel again.
3. Prioritise a fancy breakfast
On holiday, breakfast is one of my favourite meals each day. Even just grabbing a quick bagel from a local shop beats my usual routine of a cup of tea and bowl of Special K. Getting up for breakfast gives your day a bit of structure on holiday, especially if you have lots to see and do. I even get excited by a simple hotel buffet, or used to, but it’s the extra special breakfasts that I really look forward to!
What’s everyone’s favourite brekkie in the house? Whether it’s chocolate-chip pancakes or eggs Benedict, or just the really good coffee, do an online shop in advance and get everything you need in the cupboard. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day – and not just for our holiday from home ideas! Of course, the downside is you will likely have to cook it yourself, but embrace the opportunity to have the whole family sat around the table – just like you do when you’re on holiday! You could even go one step further for the grown ups and serve brekkie with a glass of Bucks Fizz.
4. For a proper holiday at home, activate your ‘out of office’
For your mental health, this a simple, yet vital element on our holiday at home ideas list. Even more so now that many of us are working from home, the temptation to dip into work and check your emails or do ‘one little thing’ is more tempting than ever. With no boundaries between the work environment and the home environment, it’s much harder to switch off and fully relax.
Even though your holiday is just at home, before you shut down your laptop ensure you have set up your ‘out of office’ and switched off your work calls. The same goes for schoolwork and books, and domestic to-do lists. Where possible, keep them out of sight and out of mind. You wouldn’t fix the hoover during your break to Tuscany, so you shouldn’t even consider it during your lockdown vacation.
5. Plan a new ‘attraction’ each day
If there is one thing that I have learned from this lockdown (and from my children), it’s that there are wonders and curiosities everywhere just waiting to be enjoyed. Being forced to remain in our local area has led to us discovering parks, local coffee shops and delis, scenic walks, gardens and woodland areas that we didn’t even know existed, all less than half an hour from our house.
I have travelled around the world with my children, something that many often perceive as being stressful, but never has there been a harder year than this one. Like most parents, scrabbling around for new ideas to keep them entertained and stimulated with such limited options has been exhausting. However, it has forced us to embrace a simple life, enjoying old-fashioned fun such as den building, treasure hunts and exploring nature.
Luckily for me, my children are at the age where spinning around a lamppost is fun and everything from climbing steps to hiding behind a wheelie bin is a game. With or without kids, plan your days in advance and do something different each day within the rules of your local area. It can be something as small as trying coffee and cake from a different coffee shop than usual or sampling a local food that isn’t your ‘go-to’ lunch. Set off on a bike ride or do some research into iconic buildings or beloved nature spots nearby and actually go and appreciate them, rather than simply dashing by on the way to somewhere else.
Instead of considering your ‘daily exercise’ allowance as a chore, make it fun; treat yourself to an ice cream (or a hot chocolate) to walk home with, pick up a nice bottle of wine to enjoy in your ‘hotel room’ when you get back.
See how living in a camper van prepared our family for lockdown
6. Buy souvenirs and support a local business
This one might be trickier if your area is still in full lockdown, but there are still ways to implement this as one of your holiday at home ideas.
It’s not quite the same, but you could order some holiday keepsakes online and have them ready for your lockdown staycation. If you have kids, small gifts could form prizes for completing the treasure hunt or for fun games that you have set up during your days out. If you missed out on a big trip, say to Walt Disney World, you could order some relevant gifts for your family to enjoy until the real trip is rescheduled. Check out our posts on the best books about Disney and the best places in the UK to buy Disney, Star Wars and Marvel merchandise.
For adults, you could order some souvenir engraved wine glasses for your holiday at home. Classier than your ‘CANCUN 2004’ mug and they’ll be a handy reminder of how much you missed having your friends over for drinks and a gossip during the pandemic shutdown. For families, matching PJs are a nice idea, but personalised baseball caps might be a step too far…
If retail shops are open again, the best thing you can do is support local businesses that will almost certainly have suffered immensely during the last year. We discovered that our local corner shop sells handmade cards, tea towels and tote bags designed by local artists and they make lovely keepsakes. Think outside the box; whilst you may not want a branded gift from your home town, they can make fun, tongue in cheek gifts to send to friends and family around the UK.
7. Eat at the table – and plan a world menu
We’ve all had days (especially during lockdown) where we’ve ditched the dining table in favour of scoffing dinner in front of the TV, but you wouldn’t eat on your lap on holiday, so definitely avoid it during your holiday at home. Dining, especially on holiday, is a social affair and eating in front of the TV discourages conversation and lessens the chance for families to catch up and bond. For couples, deciding to set the table for dinner creates a ‘date night’ feel, especially if you light a few candles and play some music for atmosphere. All of these things are not only great holiday at home ideas, but they can do so much for your mental health while costing very little.
If you’re a foodie, you could theme your lunch and dinner during your holiday at home with different cuisines from around the world. Think Spanish Paella for lunch an Indian feast for dinner and a box of dainty French macarons for an afternoon treat. If you have the funds, avoid cooking altogether and get a different takeaway or restaurant delivery every night – no cooking and no washing up = full holiday mode!
You don’t have to take it too seriously – we had American style hot dogs for lunch one Saturday after a game of football in the park and ate them off paper plates, sitting on the kitchen worktop. After hours, a glass of whisky and a dance around the living room took me right back to a night we had at a pub in Kilkenny (that wasn’t that much bigger, but had a LOT more people in!)
Big brands and restaurants have also released some of their own recipes so you can create your favourite holiday bites at home. Check out this cult theme park dish from Disney’s ‘cooking up the magic at home’ series – a seriously delicious chilli recipe created by THE Walt Disney himself. Universal Orlando Resort have also revealed how they make their Apple-Sausage Focaccia Stuffing served at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort (YUM). For vegetarians (and foodies) The Cheesecake factory also blessed us with their Korean Fried Cauliflower recipe – and it is a triumph.
8. Take pictures
This one might sound pretty basic, but don’t forget to take some photos of you and your family putting these holiday at home ideas into force. They might not be the memories you hoped to be creating this year, but time doesn’t stand still (even though it certainly feels like it) and you’ll never get another chance to be this age and in this place or situation again. Your kids will still grow up a bit more, you will still have your next dreaded birthday and, trust me, if you choose to erase this period of time from your memory, you’ll regret it. Your living room might not be the glamorous back drop of Sydney harbor or Cinderella Castle that you had planned, but photos of you with your loved ones looking healthy and happy may one day be the dream destination you wish you could go back to.
9. Set up your own spa-throom
Creating a spa at home is a tried and tested way to prioritise self-care and have a bit of ‘me time’ during your holiday at home. Don’t do things by half, get set up with the whole show; scented candles, wine on ice, music playing, a pile of magazines or books, fancy bubble bath and (most importantly) kids, pets and other distractions locked out!
I was feeling frazzled recently, so I indulged with a Vichy face mask and this deliciously-smelling banana hair mask simultaneously while soaking in the tub, drinking Aldi’s finest Viognier and eating biscuits from Fortnum and Mason. In the background, Castle Pines did their thing and the only stress I had was falling to sleep and the water going cold.
TOP TIP: Clean the bathroom before you holiday at home. There is nothing more annoying than your fancy bubble bath coming into contact with grubby taps!
After your bath (or if you don’t have a bath, a long, hot shower with L’Occitane Almond Shower Oil), line up all the usual spa treats; face oil, nail polish, body moisturizer and foot lotion and pamper like you’ve never been pampered before.
10. Happy Hour – create a cocktail party
I don’t know about you, but we’ve definitely done our fair share of wine drinking during this pandemic – small pleasures, right? It does wonders for your mental health to celebrate the little victories, especially during a time like this. Even if you just want a toast to getting the kids in bed on time.
Instead of reaching for the same bottle of plonk you always drink, why not create a classy cocktail hour instead? Companies such as The Cocktail Man provide delicious cocktails in a box, which make a gorgeous gift for someone – but no one says you can’t treat yourself!
The gorgeous little packages are perfect for executing your holiday at home ideas. Our friend Lucy recommends the Champagne Cosmopolitan and I have to agree, it looks pretty good! Go extra, extra and invest in a cute drinks trolley too – just call it another souvenir from your lockdown vacation!
11. See a West End show
If you’re anything like us, sitting down in front of the TV is likely a nightly occurrence during lockdown, but don’t fall into old habits during your holiday at home. You can catch up on the soaps and Married at First Sight anytime, instead look into other entertainment programmes and films you could enjoy as something slightly different from the norm.
The fantastic Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester are streaming their theatrical productions online for a small ticket fee and their recent adaptation of the musical, Rent, was a huge hit. By doing this, you can enjoy live theatre and support the arts – another industry that is really struggling.
The Southwark Playhouse in London also offers the opportunity to buy tickets to streams of its productions, which change weekly. Across the pond, Broadway HD are a subscription streaming service, giving you access to some of the amazing shows on Broadway. And of course, if you have Disney+, you can watch the epic Hamilton!
RELATED POST: If you are a fan of Broadway and West End musicals, you might enjoy our post on how to travel around the world with some epic Musical soundtracks
Just be sure to dim the lights, have a box of Maltesers and a warmish wine in a plastic cup and you’re instantly transported to the West End. Although here, the performers will pause if you want to nip to the loo.
12. Read a book
It’s not the same as lounging by the pool with the sun on your face but lockdown is the perfect time to enjoy the solitude of a good book. Don’t feel guilty about spending your holiday at home doing something that’s just for you, your other half or your kids are probably sick of you anyway!
For a real holiday feel, go for a story set in a far off destination, so you can daydream about yourself wandering in the sand, having a holiday romance or navigating life in a big city. We asked our social media followers to recommend books that have whisked them away with words, and on their recommendations we compiled a pretty excellent list for you to choose from. Check it out here. I have thrown in some old classics too, some that are my absolute favourites. If you have one you would like to add, Tweet us or drop us a line on Instagram or Facebook.
13. Order some late night room service
This one requires a little poetic license, but one of my favourite things about staying in a hotel is ordering room service. Unless you can bribe your kids or neighbours to bring you in a nightcap, you might need to be flexible with this one – lets call it room self-service…
Instead of the usual evening routine, act like you’ve checked into a nice hotel for the evening and get cozy in bed with a few home comforts. We’re not suggesting you take your paella to the bedroom and eat it on a tray, but how about a fancy cheese plate along with some olives and wine? Or, sweeten the deal by taking dessert to bed. Sharing a cheesecake, spilling crumbs on the bed and watching late night repeats of Friends? That’s what hotels are for right?
And that’s it – your perfect home holiday is sorted. Some of our holiday at home ideas might seem like too much effort, but just like great holidays themselves, you will almost certainly get back what you put in. This voyage around your own home may be just the departure you need to feel better about being stuck indoors. We might even make it regular thing – well, the more holidays the better, right?
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