Fancy some festive fun and entertainment around the web? There are hundreds of web sites about Christmas - here's just a selection of 50 to be going on with (just in case you have nothing else to be doing over the next few days...)
It's the North Pole, so it must have something to do with Christmas (rumour has it that's where Santa Claus lives). Visit Santa's Workshop, take part in a Christmas story, play games, and visit the toy shop.
Let's say that on December 20 you were to meet a friendly space alien. That is, let's say that his space ship discreetly drops him off in your back yard while you are looking out your window. You walk outside to meet the visitor, and you find out he's a pretty nice guy. His name is Gorg, he is wearing a costume that makes him look passably human, he speaks reasonable English, and he explains that his goal is to spend a week on the planet to learn about its people. He asks if you would consider being his guide for the week, and you decide to take on the job.
So you take Gorg around and start showing him your town. Since it is December 20, one thing is for sure -- Gorg is going to ask about Christmas. And he is going to ask a LOT of questions, because Christmas is a pretty complicated tradition.
So, how exactly does Christmas work?
Education and games all about Christmas, plus recipes and films.
You'd expect a site called "Merry Christmas" to be fun, and here are more games, MP3s of Christmas carols (like the well-known "Bring A Torch, Jeanette Isabella"), recipes, films, stories and traditions.
5. Holidays.net Christmas
A great big red page of stories, Christmas computer wallpaper, games, and more. All in a long line.
Santa's Net has brought together information about how different nations traditionally celebrate Christmas, plus how they say "Merry Christmas".
Here you'll find recipes for chocolate chip pumpkin bread, baked ham and other meats, gingerbread, biscuits, chocolate, and more. My stomach's rumbling just looking at the page...
How to make a paper bag reindeer puppet, paper plate angel, stars, handprint wreath, snowman, tree, or even polyhedra ornaments! Plenty of craft activities for smaller hands.
Despite the fact that this site appears on first glance to be an advert magnet, scroll down to find some nice Christmas activities including making a snowman, stickers, desktop images, games, and crafts.
After a while, the vari-speed Santa that flies across the screen is a tad annoying, but apart from that, here are Christmas jokes and riddles, word searches, games, and stories.
If you've forgotten to send real Christmas cards to your friends and families, maybe you can get away with a virtual one? If so, 123Greetings have a collection to choose from. Better add a Paypal gift, too, scrooge!
Lots of info about Christmas trees, including selecting and caring for trees in the home.
Find out how Finland celebrates Christmas, read stories and recipes, and look at the Advent Calendar.
Lots of stories and information about how the Victorians celebrated Christmas, including decorations, entertainment, cards, gifts, and crafts. Loads and loads of information here.
Don't ask about the electricity bill...
Read all about the First World War's legendary Christmas Day truce.
"This site is here to show those houses where the residents are likely celebrating a happy holiday, but have no sense of decency in how they choose to celebrate. We will show the garish, the ugly, the weird. For your own sake, and the sake of your neighbours, do not try this at home."
Find out what's happening over Christmas in the fine Scottish city of Edinburgh, like Christmas in Edinburgh's Grassmarket, Edinburgh's Christmas tree, and Edinburgh's Winter Wonderland.
19. Christmas Games
Play some Christmas games, including Evil Elves 2, Arctic Antics, and Snowball Toss.
"Christmas Tree growers will donate more than 11,000 Christmas Trees to U.S. troops and their families this holiday season. The Trees for Troops Program, sponsored by the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation, kicked off on Nov. 14, 2006, with the collection of trees in Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis, Ind. These trees will be shipped overseas to Afghanistan, Iraq, the Middle East and sailors in the 5th fleet in the Gulf."
Don't settle for one Christmas cookie recipe - take them all. Here are loads of cookie recipes for you to try, including Cookie Press Cookies, Filled Cookies, Fried Cookies, and Grandma Evelyn's Recipes.
Here's links to advent calendars, music, flora and fauna, stories, poetry, and humour.
23. Why Christmas?
Yes, I know many people who ask that very question. Well, here you can find out, including the Advent Podcast, plus information on traditions and customs, and the Christmas story. No, I mean the Christmas story.
24. Yule Love It.com
Yule Love It - geddit? Plenty of graphics and clip art to
tack jazz up your computer and surrounding area. Some of it's even quite good...
Some, erm, interesting Christmas musical arrangements here, both traditional and modern, all as MIDI, MP3 or WMA files so any half-decent computer can play them.
Probably a bit late for most people now, but this site really is trying to get back to the heart of Christmas rather than falling for all that commercialism that starts in September and goes on, and on, and on...
"Buy Nothing Christmas is a stress-reliever, and more people need to hear about it. You can change your world by simply putting up one of the posters (or make your own) in your church, place of worship, home or work. Be sneaky about it if you have to. The point is to get people thinking. It's an idea whose time has come, so get out there and make a difference!"
It probably won't catch on completely, but there's nothing wrong with sparking just a little contemplation about why this all happens in the first place (yeah, yeah, I know, hijacked Pagan festival...)
27. Christmas Carols
Here are lyrics and history for many well-known Christmas carols including Away in a Manger, Angels from the Realms of Glory, O Come All Ye Faithful, and While Shepherds Watched. You know you'll want a quick sing-song at some point over the next week or so...
Not sure what to make of this site. It appears to be a cat's guide to putting up an artificial Christmas tree. Ironic really given that in our house it's the cat that usually pulls the tree down.
Various comedic prose here, including "Santa's Bad Day", "Santa Must be a Woman and Here's Proof", and "Twas the "Net" before Christmas (A Computer's Perspective)". OK, you'll have to judge for yourself if this really is humour or not...
30. Planet Christmas
"As a kid, everyone remembers that one house that really went all out for Christmas. If you want to be that house for today's kids and make the memories that last a lifetime, PlanetChristmas is here to help. This is THE place to learn from others how to create great Christmas displays for you and your community."
Hmmm, have they visited site 17?
A very simple page with a very simple aim - collecting together various Christmas stories. Includes links to the full versions of some classics including Dickens' "A Christmas Carol"
Well, I haven't counted them to make sure they're all there, but here's a page with 350 ways of saying "Happy Christmas and New Year" (or close). I was going to say 'but no Cornish' until I found it: "Nadelik looan na looan blethen noweth"
I don't think they're interested in the ones sitting on Christmas dinner tables across the nation, either.
The 107th annual Christmas Bird Count season is under way; tens of thousands of volunteer birders are scouring their designated areas in over 2000 circles throughout the Holiday season.
Unfortunately this is just for the Americas.
Christmas for littler people: a storybook, Christmas hide-n-seek, and colouring pages.
This Kent junior school has put together a page all about how Christmas is celebrated in England, including all important subjects like Mince Pies, Pantomimes, and Wassailing. Oh, and the birth of Christ, too...
View The White House Christmas Tree:
The tradition of a placing a decorated tree in the White House began in 1889 on Christmas morning during the Presidency of Benjamin Harrison. The President's grandchildren, young Benjamin and Mary McKee, led the Harrison household into the second floor Oval Room to take a look at the first White House Christmas tree, which was lit with candles. Filled stockings hung from the mantel, and presents, candy and nuts were distributed to family and staff. President Harrison gave turkeys and gloves to his employees, and he received a silver-dollar-shaped picture holder from his daughter, Mame Harrison McKee.
37. All Christmas
Here's stories, quotations, carols and songs, and the Nativity story.
The complete text, joy that it is to read it on a computer monitor.
It's a mock-up of Victorian London - in San Francisco of course. And if you can't get there, there's photos of the Christmas fair.
Plenty of meat-free alternatives for the Christmas season, including Beetroot & Pomegranate Halo Soup, Courgette Christmas Candles, Orgasmic Orange Liqueur Puddings, Lime & Coriander Swedish Stars, and Fig & Walnut Mince Pies with Vanilla Swedish Glace.
Charts the true story of Carson Williams, an Ohio electrical engineer who rigged up synchronised Christmas lights.
Interesting information about a Victorian Christmas, with good images and prose.
A collection of over one hundred Christmas-themed music scores that can be printed out for playing on a musical instrument. Includes audio files.
A web page about the Charlie Brown movie:
In 1963 producer Lee Mendelson made a short documentary about Charles Schulz called A Boy Named Charlie Brown. It included a few minutes of animated Peanuts scenes by Bill Melendez, who had animated the kids for a series of Ford Motor commercials, and music by jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi. Sadly, no television network wanted to air it.
But in 1965, after the Peanuts made the cover of TIME magazine, an advertising agent for the Coca-Cola company who had seen the Schulz documentary called Mendelson. The agent asked if Mendelson had thought about creating a Peanuts Christmas special. Mendelson fibbed that he had; the following day, he and Schulz came up with the story.
Links to Christmas recipes, stories, games, printable activities, and handmade gifts.
46. Christmas 2.0: Subverting the Holidays with Re-dubbing [Probably NSFW]
If you hold to the true values of both Christmas and innocent movies, then you probably won't like this page - a whole bunch of films have been re-dubbed with some quite unconventional endings. YouTube has a lot to answer for:
Yes, Christmas traditions pass from generation to generation. But 2006 finds Santa visiting some very naughty children playing with YouTube, digital editing software, and a wicked imagination. They’re dreaming of a Christmas that’s web 2.0 — with networked audiences re-interpreting all the classic holiday specials. Or maybe they’re just returning the holiday to its pagan roots.
Some festive Windows screensavers and wallpapers including winter scenes, snowmen, trees, penguins, and other scenes. Requires Internet Explorer, too, apparently.
Take it from me, carols were never meant to be played on guitar! But if you like a challenge, here's the place to find tabs for your favourite classics.
Ahh, some high brow discussion (what, on the Thursday before Christmas?) about the humble Christmas tree:
Some have traced the Christmas tree back at least as far as the Prophet Jeremiah who wrote the book Jeremiah in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). Opposition to the Christmas tree was strong in past centuries. The early Christian Church in the third century strictly prohibited the decoration of their houses with evergreen boughs. The decorated Christmas tree only caught on in the mid-19th century. Modern-day opposition continues: some condemn the Christmas tree because they believe it to be a Christian symbol; others condemn it because they believe -- incorrectly -- that the custom of cutting down a tree, erecting it in the home and decorating it is a Pagan custom. 1 For many people today, it is primarily as a secular symbol of hope for the New Year and the future return of warmth to the earth. Its future is assured in spite of opposition.
Some very useful tips on how to snap Christmas lights, accompanied by some great pictures.
30 Last Minutee Tech Gadget Christmas Stocking Fillers