It’s Chriiiiiiiistmas! It’s a wonderful time of year to spend with those that matter most and for many, it’s is about winding down after a long year of work and reconnecting with our loved ones. Much like a villa holiday in fact, so it’s occurred to me that it might be fun to combine both! Have you ever considered swapping the sleet for sun, and the oven turkey for a delicious barbecued bird? This is what I think a family villa Christmas might look like…
Escape the cold
Cosying up with the family around the fire does remind me of a traditional Christmas, but let’s face it, some winter sun and a heated swimming pool do have their own appeal right now. At one of James’ villas you’ve got all the space and freedom you need to put your own twist on the celebrations, perhaps start a new tradition or two, and basically have your most enjoyable Christmas yet. Why not dec up the palm in the garden, find a new spot for your stocking and don’t forget to let Santa know your change of address. Don’t worry kids, he’ll find you worldwide!
Barbecue your turkey
While I love a traditional roast, in my mind the gorgeous weather of a family villa Christmas calls for a barbecue feast outdoors. It’s even possible to cook a Christmas turkey on the barbecue! Once you’ve tasted the unique flavour of a barbecue-roasted turkey, you might not want to have it any other way.
Most regular-sized barbecues (like the one at your villa) can easily cook a medium (approx. 5kg) bird, and cooking a turkey in this way takes just a couple of hours (assuming you’ve brined your turkey the night before: see below). The cooking process involves putting a metal container of water in the middle of the coals of the barbecue and cooking your turkey with the lid closed, the vents open to ensure good air circulation. Inspired by the American tradition of barbecuing turkeys at Thanksgiving, the crispy skin and tender meat this cooking process produces has won me over!
While it’s cooking, you can spend your time roasting potatoes and delicious veggies in the oven. It’s no chore chopping on the terrace with a vino while the kids play in the pool!
Alternatively, embrace the barbecue lifestyle and put a twist on your Christmas dish. You can create tasty skewers using turkey, chicken, lamb, vegetables – or whatever you fancy eating at Christmastime. If you prepare chilled side dishes the day before, you can have a laid-back Christmas feast with ease.
How to Brine a Turkey
Brining your turkey is incredibly easy, and stops the meat from drying out during cooking.
First, mix 800g of salt with 10 litres of water in a container, until the salt has dissolved. Submerge your turkey in the brine and cover with foil. Leave in a cool place overnight, ideally for at least nine hours.
Remove the turkey from the brine and submerge it in cold water for 1 hour, changing the water every 15 minutes (after a dip and a drink?). When this is done, dry the turkey well with kitchen paper. Then it’s ready to go on the coals!
Fun and games
Spending time with the ones you love is the pinnacle of Christmas for many people – including me – and combining this with the relaxed, fun atmosphere of being on a villa holiday is sure to get everyone in the mood for some fun and games. Here are a few games to enjoy during your villa holiday:
Human Christmas tree
This game is great fun and is sure to get everyone laughing. Split up into teams of two (or more) and nominate one person to be the Christmas tree. The other members of the team have to decorate them using tissue paper, crepe paper, ornaments, tape, and anything fun you can find! As you’re at a villa, you might have to be a little *ahem* creative, and that’s where the fun comes in! The first team to decorate their human tree, or the best tree, wins (losers in the pool, right?).
Santa’s sleigh ride
Heated swimming pool? Check. Lilo? Check. Floating pool toys? Check. You’ve got all you need to recreate Santa’s sleigh ride! With one person sitting on the lilo and another (reindeer) pulling, the aim is to collect all of the floating pool toys in the quickest possible time ready for Christmas Eve.
As the above in the pool – and with lilos at the ready – split into two (or more teams). With one person on the lilo and another pulling the idea is to beat your opponent to the other side of the pool! This makes a great relay if you’re on holiday in a larger group.
Present hot potato
Wrap up a small present with several layers of wrapping paper, placing a smaller gift in between each layer of paper. You can add as many layers as you like and you’ll find the local markets and souvenir shops great for little holiday trinkets and sweet surprises. Sit in a circle and pass the present around, along with some Christmas music. When the music stops, the person with the gift gets to unwrap a layer.