Christmas on a villa holiday

Christmas In A Suitcase

Booking a villa holiday over the Christmas period is an excellent way to get the extended family together and to spend valuable relaxing time with children, grandchildren or just a group of old friends.  In this short article, we give you a few tips on how to make you’re your Christmas Day (or New Year’s Eve) celebrations go with a bang on your villa holiday.

Christmas Presents.

If you don’t have children with you, you may like to consider celebrating Christmas and exchanging gifts before you leave for your holiday or after you return. This needn’t limit the fun. With the right approach it can just add another great day, or at very least an evening, to your Christmas festivities.

If the thought of having no gifts to exchange on Christmas day leaves you cold, you could always reduce the collective luggage weight by opting for the ‘Secret Santa’ approach.

Secret Santa is a long-standing festive tradition in which members of a group all pull one name from their group out of a hat (or have name assigned to them any other random method). Their job is then to choose a gift for that person, and only that person. It is best to agree a maximum budget for the gift, which no-one should exceed. Technically, the identity of the gift giver should remain a secret and should never be revealed. However, guessing who selected the gift is often part of the fun.

When unwrapped and unveiled one by one at the dinner table, this can lead to a very enjoyable and entertaining spectacle. Fabulous fun for large groups and extended family holidays.  There are many apps available for organising your Secret Santa. Here’s one example that we came across www.secretsantaorganizer.com.

If you have very young children, you will probably want to take along a few gifts.

Think carefully about the weight, size and fragility of anything you intend to pack in your luggage. Also, think very carefully about any security issues that may arise. It may be difficult to explain that the brightly coloured rocket launcher in your suitcase is simply a child’s toy.

Wrapping Gifts

Airlines recommend that you do not not wrap any gifts before you fly. Airport security staff may unwrap gifts in your hand luggage or checked in bags, causing delays at security. And of course, leaving you with the job of rewrapping them.

Instead, pack wrapping paper in your checked in bags, and wrap your gifts after you arrive at your villa.  Don’t forget to pack a roll of celllotape. But even though your airline may permit you to carry scissors with blades less than 4 inches in length, it’s probably best to leave the scissors at home. Any well-equipped villa is sure to have a pair in the kitchen drawer.

Music

Yes it’s cheesy, but a few Christmas jingles always set the scene on the big day.

Be sure to take along a Christmas CD or two or better still, compile an online playlist.

If you go for the online option be sure to check the box to ‘download’ the tracks in advance just in case you have no WiFi at the crucial moment.

Christmas Outfit

Spread the word before you leave. Make sure that absolutely everyone packs a festive outfit to wear for the big dinner.

You can give this your own spin. Whatever you choose From Christmas ‘Hawaiian’ Shirts and Santa Hats to Red Dresses, White Shirts and Christmas Ties, it is a chance to generate a bit of extra Christmas cheer and get everyone in the mood. A common theme always makes for great photographs in and around your villa too.

Don’t let your plans become too grand, whatever you choose should be light and easy to pack, easy to find and not too expensive.

Decorations

We’re not suggesting that you drape the entire villa with tinsel and glitter. However, if you take a few lengths of tinsel and a handful of sparkly accessories, you will be able to wow everyone in the party with a beautifully decorated dinner table.

It is always an option to ask every member of the party to bring one item of decoration. Unveiling the collection of assorted decorations and arranging them around the villa could become an enjoyable and entertaining part of the celebration.

Games

Nothing is more festive than after dinner games. They are a great way to extend the celebrations and to bridge the age gaps. Why not take a long a few simple games to play after dinner. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need pack heavy or cumbersome board games. With a little research, you may be able to simply take along a pack of cards, a pen and some paper and a few notes/prompts to remind you of a handful of games and their rules.

Of course, on a villa holiday at Christmas there is always a chance that you will be enjoying dinner outside on the sun terrace, by the pool or even down at the beach, so you may want to adjust your game selection accordingly.

Whether you play wink murder, spoons, charades or name that tune, you’ll have great fun and create many, many memories

If you need a little inspiration, there are countless suggestions for games online but here are a couple of links to get you going:

Table Place Names

Carefully prepared and packed in your luggage, a pile of festive place names for the dinner table will add a special touch to the big event and allow you to carefully adjust the seating plan to ensure harmony or hilarity.

Skype or Facetime

If you have any family members who can’t make it on your trip or friends at home that couldn’t come along with you for any reason, why not gather round an iphone, ipad or latop and call them up live on video with Skpe, Facetime or any alternative.

There are various ways to make video calls these days. But whatever method you choose, it is best to agree a precise time in advance and to be sure everyone in your party knows when it is happening. Make sure you make the call precisely at the agreed time and all should go to plan.

This is a lovely way to share the festive cheer, have some fun and to share a bit of love at the same time.

Cooking

For some, cooking Christmas dinner seems like a military operation and an utterly unrewarding task. Whilst others thoroughly enjoy the hustle and bustle of the kitchen preparation and revel in the role of head chef and host.

If it is your thing, throw yourself headlong into the process and enjoy every minute.  But remember, there are no rules. You don’t have to produce the perfect, traditional Christmas dinner. This dinner is about the people and the connection between them.

Be prepared to break the rules and adjust the menu to make it easier for you to prepare and serve. It doesn’t really matter if you serve up burgers, pasta, seafood, curry or a beach barbecue buffet.

If cooking a big dinner is simply not your bag, why not consider the alternatives?

External catering may be an option in your villa. Whether you have food delivered or have dinner prepared by a visiting chef, it well be worth the additional cost.

Don’t forget that you can always book and enjoy dinner at a local restaurant. In which case all the tips above still apply.

Whatever you choose to do, think things through carefully in advance and you will soon be enjoying your best Christmas ever together in a luxury villa in the sun.

Check out our range of ‘Family Party’ villas

 

 

 

mosquitos in the medditeranean

How To Reduce The Risk Of Mosquito-Born Disease On Holiday

Diseases previously found only in the tropics have been discovered in European countries like Greece, France, Italy and Spain. A move that may concern those visiting Mediterranean beaches this summer.

The mosquito-borne disease include ‘Chikunguya’, a fever which causes fever and painful joints and ‘Dengue Fever’, a powerful flu-like virus. Whilst the risk of infection is still relatively low, travellers are being advised of the potential risk of mosquito bites and that they should take precautions to avoid them.

Here are a few simple tips to help you reduce the likelihood of mosquito bites whilst on your next holiday.

Avoidance of mosquito bites should always be considered the first line of defence against mosquito-borne infections.

There isn’t really a safe time

Different mosquitos bite at different times of the day. The mosquitos which spread malaria bite between dusk but the mostquitos which carry other diseases like Chikunguya and Dengue, tend to bite during the day.

Which means that bite-preventive measures are advisable at all times.

Insect Repellents

Although there are various insect repellents available , The NHS strongly recommend DEET N, N-Diethyl-m-tolumide above all others.

There are a few things to note about DEET.

  • A concentration of 20% DEET offers between 1 to 3 hours protection.
  • 30% DEET can offer up to 6 hours protection.
  • 50% DEET can offer up to 12 hours protection
  • Duration of protection DOES NOT increase with concentrations above 50%.
  • Concentrations above 50% should NOT be used on the skin
  • DEET is water soluble, so it must be reapplied after swimming
  • DEET induces a reduction in SPF, so a higher protection sunscreen should be used.
  • DEET should always be applied AFTER
  • DEET may damage man-made fibres, and plastics (watches, sunglasses, clothing).

 

Although they are not recommended above DEET by the NHS, Icaridin (Picaridin) and Lemon Eucalyptus (p-menthane 3,8 diol, or PMD) may be used but their protection is not considered as effective or long-lasting.

Clothing

Mosquitos cannot bite through loose fitting clothing so clothing which covers the skin is highly recommended where appropriate. Longs sleeves, high necklines and long skirts or trousers where possible. Exposed areas of skin should be covered with DEET (20% or above).

It is possible to buy clothing which is pre-treated with an insecticide which may further increase the level of protection. UK Travel Clothing brands Rohan and Craghoppers both have dedicated ranges of anti-insect clothing.

Mosquito Nets

Mostquito nets can offer enhanced protection from bites, particularly whilst sleeping. These can be even more effective if treated with an insecticide. Design and manufacture of nets varies, so it is important to check suitability, practicality and portability before you invest. Most nets are available as single or double bed options.

Remember that whilst mosquitos cannot pass through a net, they can bite through it. So don’t sleep with any part of your skin touching the net.

Room Protection

Check any door and window screens for holes and gaps. Try to keep the doors and screens closed at all times, not just at night.
Air conditioning can be an effective deterrent. Mosquitos are less likely to be attracted to a the room if it is.
Make sure any standing water is removed as it provides that perfect breeding ground for mosquitos.
Citronella Candles and plugin insecticide-emitting devices may have a small effect as an insect deterrent but they should never be relied upon on their own. Great care should be taken using candles indoors and they should never be used anywhere near loose clothing, soft furnishings or a mosquito net.
It should also be noted that candles, coils and plugins maybe trigger the symptoms of Asthma or other breathing conditions.

A Few Myths Busted

Finally, here are a few common fallacies that you should know the truth about:

  • Vitamins B1 and B12: There is no evidence that these vitamins do anything to repel mosquitoes.
  • Tea Tree Oil: There is no evidence that Tea Tree Oil is effective as a mosquito repellent.
  • Garlic and yeast extract: Whether taken orally or rubbed on the skin, there is no scientific evidence to suggest these do anything to repel mosquitos.

High Frequency Buzzers: Devices that emit high frequency sound waves, are completely ineffective against mosquitos. In fact, numerous companies selling these devices have been prosecuted and fined under the trade descriptions act.

Come Together & Celebrate in Style with Villa Retreats

So you’ve decided on a location and you’ve finally got everyone to agree on a date (completing that task in itself usually deserves a holiday!), now it’s time to decide how to make your celebratory get -together so spectacular that your fellow celebrators will be celebrating your own organising brilliance for years to come!

 

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Menorca – a peaceful alternative to the usual Balearic Islands

When holiday companies, travel writers and ‘normal’ people alike talk about sun-drenched Mediterranean destinations, they so often focus on the higher profile Balearic Islands of Mallorca and Ibiza. It’s much less common for Menorca to be referred to, which might be partly attributable to its modest proportions – its name literally meaning “smaller island”.
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