Ralph James
Frosty park bench on a winters day

Home for Christmas: enjoying the spirit of the season where you live.

Even staying indoors is unlike any other time, with gatherings of friends and family eating their way towards the new year and looking forward to what it may bring. And with some extra time on your hands, the holidays are the perfect opportunity to try something new – from discovering a hidden talent, to exploring more of your neighbourhood, to making plans for the future.

So whether you’re hosting or visiting, staying in or going out, this week’s blog is full of ideas to enjoy the spirit of the season, right here.

Ignite your creativity.

Making things nurtures the soul in all of us, and there’s a real sense of accomplishment from enjoying your efforts. Whether it’s food, drink or something for the home, there’s a whole world to explore with online tutorials for anything you can imagine.


Summer hogs most of the headlines for cocktails, but winter concoctions pack just as much punch. Think seasonal variations on classic hot toddies, the artisanal mixology of hot bourbon cider, or the full-on festive frenzy of the Mistletoe Martini Cranberry Christmas Cocktail. Try them at home, or pop into local favourites, such as Island House, Reigate. Why not pop down to The Gin Kitchen, Dorking, where you can take part in their Gin Cocktail Masterclass?


Christmas desserts not only get your taste buds going long before you take a bite; they’re also fun to make: a perfect activity for kids, or an introduction to the oven for the cooking novice. The BBC Food website is packed with classics like gingerbread men and mince pies, or try diving into YouTube for more adventurous creations like Santa hat cheesecake bites, salty toffee fudge banana swirls, and brownie Christmas trees.


If you’ve never tried making something for your home, you’re in for a treat. Beyond Christmas creations like wreaths for the front door and striking table decorations, you might be surprised how easy and fun it is to make genuinely stylish home accessories. Hand-made candles, art and storage hacks can look as good as anything from a shop, and they come with built-in pride every time you look at them.

If you’re looking for some guidance in Reigate, join Renée, the Girl who Gardens, for year-round wreath-making workshops, or Leanne at Wildstone Floral also hosts private workshops if you’re looking to host one at home this season! You can find her at the Barn at Sollo on December 3rd for the Mum Club Reigate & Banstead Festive Wreath Workshop.

Discover your neighbourhood.

We’re all such creatures of habit, so how about mixing things up for a bit of local adventure?

Go for a stroll

Aside from heading to the shops, gym, or park how much of your neighbourhood do you really know? With everyone’s Christmas lights on, now is a charming time for a casual wander to see what else the area holds. Perhaps you’ll discover a deli or bakery you never knew existed, a pub you’ve been meaning to try, or even the road you want to live next.

Hold a scavenger hunt

While kids love searching for pine cones and leaves, how about a tongue-in-cheek lifestyle challenge for adults? Who can be the first to find a Volvo estate, a Farrow & Ball-painted front door, and a bay window with plantation blinds? We all know your road most likely has a community chat already, but if not, why not create a Whatsapp group for sending in your photos as you race to be the winner.

Walk on the wild side

Nature looks good at any time of year, but there’s something particularly special about a stroll in the crisp winter air when you’re wrapped up in woollies. Nearby Box Hill offers spectacular views across Dorking, and Reigate Hill follows closely behind. If you’re looking for a long, leisurely stroll, pick up your coffee from the Junction 8 destination coffee shop and follow the 11.5km Surrey walks trail. Don’t forget to keep a pot of mulled wine ready for your return!

Frosty park bench on a winters day

Find local magic.

Immerse yourself in the season as local cultural calendars fill up with Christmas events.

See the lights

Across our market towns there are plenty of light displays to visit. Don’t miss Reigate’s light turn on in early December, with choirs from Reigate Grammar School and the popular Christmas Fayre. Away from local illuminations and shop displays on the high street, many historic homes and public gardens have light trails and installations at this time of year. Among the most famous is Christmas at Kew, within an hours drive. Hever Castle also offers a magical light trail within its historic gardens. They make an enchanted evening outdoors for adults and children alike, with the chance to explore venues in a completely different way.

Go to a Carol concert

It doesn’t get much more Christmassy than a choir singing carols. Whether you love to join in with gusto or gently hum along, you’ll find carol concerts in all sorts of places, from the traditional setting and acoustic of churches, to town halls, music venues or simply on some steps.

Enjoy the entertainment

The festive break brings an explosion of seasonal distractions every year. Head to the Dorking Halls this year for a thigh-slapping Cinderella pantomime and atmospheric fairy tale, or enjoy outdoor attractions like pop-up ice rinks and Christmas markets for an inescapably magical time. Hampton Court Palace offers pretty lights and hot chocolate, in under a 35 minute drive.

Redhill Town Christmas 2022
Redhill Belfry Christmas Decorations 2022

Visit a local Christmas market.

Well known for it’s festive markets, Dorking and Reigate host must-attend events for those who love creative, quirky or traditional gifts and food. Our market towns know how to host Christmas in style.


Perhaps the highlight of the Reigate calendar, Reigate Business Guild’s Christmas Fayre will take place early in December. Now in its eleventh year, Church Street will be closed so that the Fayre can provide a day of entertainment, along with stalls selling food, drink and gifts. The event will culminate in the switch-on of the Christmas Lights at 4.30pm, accompanied by Reigate Grammar School’s talented choir singing Carols. The busiest day of the year in Reigate and a wonderful way to kick start the Christmas Season.


Mole Valley District Council (MVDC) will officially unwrap Christmas in Mole Valley this year with town centre events in Dorking on Thursday 1 December 2022 (6.00-8.30pm) and in Leatherhead on Saturday 3 December 2022 (10.00am-4.00pm), with Christmas shopping, festive food and drink, live music and family fun entertainment. In addition, throughout the season Dorking’s creative maker’s markets, hosted by passionate locals Rob and Jason, are cosy affairs bursting with homemade gifts and tasty treats.

Christmas Fairy lights at Dorking office
Local Dorking Shop
Reigate Christmas Fayre 2022

Make changes at home.

This list wouldn’t be complete without some property-themed tips, and the holidays are the perfect time to use your home in different ways, or give it a different look.

Deck the garden

Gardens are often forgotten at this time of year, but they’re ideal for magical winter gatherings. With light strings overhead, an outdoor heater and a rich supply of blankets, all that’s left is to invite your friends and ply them with hot Christmas treats for a memorable night under the stars.

Make a den

If you’ve got children, how could you turn your home into an adventure full of fun? From a floor full of cushions for rolling about, to sheets over the dining table to make a cosy hideaway, kids love to feel they’ve discovered a secret new place. And when they’ve gone to bed, you can revive your inner child.

Get a new look

Whether you’re gearing up to sell or updating your décor for an on-trend start to the new year, you’ve got some extra days this Christmas. With no less than three bank holidays between December 25th and January 2nd, there’s plenty of time for shopping and doing to be fresh and ready for 2023.

When indoors this season.

If you’ve got guests this Christmas, try these tips for being the perfect host.


Has it ever been easier to discover new music, replay old songs and share your favourite artists? To ensure that everyone gets to hear something they love, invite anyone who’s coming to stay to make their own Apple Music or Spotify playlist. Or if you’re worried about clashing tastes, play it safe with ready-made Christmas playlists from the platforms.


Collapsing into an armchair after too much food is almost as traditional as turkey and cranberry sauce, and there’s nothing like Christmas telly to aid digestion.

Beyond the likes of Strictly, Bake Off and Doctor Who, the choice of what to watch – and the potential for argument – is bigger than ever. To help you keep the peace, streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime allow multiple users on a single account, while their lists of Christmas watching have something for everyone: perfect if your home is split between Disney and Die Hard!


Did you know there are at least 1,000 different card games alone? What better time to discover and master a new favourite? Or for something more 21st century, and to involve your friends and family from around the world, why not hold an online pub quiz with Kahoot? Even if you can’t all be in the same place, you can still share good times.

Christmas Tree

Volunteer for a local cause.

The stand out thing about our community is that we like to give back. With many families struggling as energy prices and interest rates rise, we know that the challenge to deliver even a simple family Christmas will be bigger than ever. Santa Stork is here to ensure that no child in our community has to think that Santa has forgotten them.

Reigate based charity, Stripey Stork, launched their Santa Stork campaign again in October this year. Why not do something fun to fundraise this season?

Find out more about Santa Stork here.

Renewed Hope East Surrey are based on Shrewsbury Road in Redhill, and are open on Christmas Day to offer those in need a warm, safe space, with hot food, a shower and games. Why not volunteer for a couple of hours?

Wherever you’re spending the festive season, Ralph James would like to wish you a very merry Christmas that’s filled with joy and laughter.

As the song goes: it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Redhill winter frosty bench
Redhill winter frost

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