The Christmas hotlist: here's what to watch, read, play and more this festive period

Make the most of your days off with these seasonal selections, from the new TV releases to the books that will get you out of your reading slump
Getty Images/Westend61
Lily Pearson5 days ago

For all the fun that comes with a packed social calendar at this time of year, sometimes the short days and cold temperatures call for cosy nights in beside the glow of the Christmas tree. Plus, with days off and family visits on the horizon, there are going to be times when you might just need a little stimulation or entertainment to lure you out of that mince pie-induced stupor.

So whether you fancy a family trip to the cinema, want to catch up on the reading you wish you’d done throughout the year or are looking for a new game to try out after dinner – add these to your Christmas to-do list…

The games to play

If last year’s game of Articulate got a little too competitive, it might just be time to prevent the fallout and try something new.


Confident?, £23, Argos

This game doesn’t rely on specific knowledge, so it’s great for the whole family: simply answer the question with a range and if the answer is in there, you’ll get a point – and the person with the smallest range gets even more.

Pictionary Air

Pictionary Air, £23.99, John Lewis & Partners

To take Pictionary to the next level – and save on paper waste – try Pictionary Air. Download the app and cast onto your smart TV and you’ll be able to use the lightpen to draw. It records games too, so you might just capture some funny reactions, too.

Who in the Room?

Who In The Room, £18, Amazon
Who In The Room game

For something a little more risqué to play among friends, try Who in the Room? Each turn, a player picks a card and asks a question, and everyone must decide who in the room it most applies to. As the box says, you might just learn what your friends really think about you.

The TV to watch

If you're sick of repeats of Christmas specials from decades past, there's plenty to look forward to in the coming weeks – here are a few to look out for.

Vigil season 2

Vigil season 2, starts on BBC and BBC iPlayer on 10 December
BBC / World Productions LTD

When this first season of Vigil first aired in 2021, it felt so tense and claustrophobic it almost felt like you were trapped inside a submarine watching it. Now Suranne Jones is back on land for what is set to be an equally thrilling ride.

Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing – Christmas special

Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing Christmas special, on BBC and iPlayer soon
BBC/Owl Power/Ross Johnston

Few programmes are as wholesome as Gone Fishing. You don’t need to be an angler to enjoy Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse’s adventures around the UK’s fishing spots. This year’s Christmas special takes the pair to Scotland to learn more about Hogmanay tradition.

The Crown

The Crown season 6 part 2, out on Netflix from 14 December
The Crown/Netflix

The final part of the final season is coming, and we’re set to see Prince William’s budding romance with Kate Middleton and King Charles’s marriage to Camilla Parker Bowles played out on the small screen.

The movies to see

There's no better time to enjoy a movie night, whether you want to snuggle up indoors or venture out to the cinema.


Wonka, in cinemas 8 December

Timothee Chalamet’s foray into the world of Wonka is set to be one of this year’s biggest cinematic moments. While the need for another Chocolate Factory film has been hotly debated, critics are already heaping praise on the Paul King-directed prequel.

Fallen Leaves

Fallen Leaves, in select cinemas now

For something more arthouse, Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki's latest film is melancholic yet hopeful, and might just be a late contender for your movie of the year.

May December

Out on Sky Cinema and NOW TV, 8 December
Courtesy of Netflix

Julianna Moore and Natalie Portman star in this unsettling drama, loosely based on a disturbing scandal from the Nineties. Everybody’s talking about it, so it’s worth watching for that reason alone.

Advertisement Feature: What wine to drink this Christmas


The books to read

With more spare time at hand at this time of year, it’s a good opportunity to get out of your reading slump and catch up on your TBR. Add these to your list.

The Guest by Emma Cline

The Guest by Emma Cline, £18.99, Waterstones (Chatto & Windus)
Emma Cline/Chatto & Windus

The latest novel from best-selling author Emma Cline was the talk of the summer, with the ending dividing readers dramatically. The propulsive and tense read is just the sort of story that’ll pull you out of your dry spell.

The Bee Sting by Paul Murray

The Bee Sting by Paul Murray, £18.99, Foyles (Hamish Hamilton)
Paul Murray/Penguin Books Ltd

While fellow Irish writer Paul Lynch may have won the Booker Prize for his devastating and dystopian book, Prophet Song, finalist Paul Murray’s doorstopper novel, The Bee Sting, is the less depressing of the two and the perfect companion for wintry afternoons at home.

The Fraud by Zadie Smith

The Fraud by Zadie Smith, £20, Blackwell's (Hamish Hamilton)
Zadie Smith/Penguin Books Ltd

Zadie Smith’s first novel historical novel, The Fraud, explores the legacy of slavery in 19th-century England and a real-life court case from the period. As with much of the award-winning writer’s work, it will have you thinking about it long after you put it down.

The festive essentials to buy

Never underestimate just how much difference the little details can make. These festive accessories might just be the things you need to make your home feel cosy and Christmassy.

Diptyque candle

Limited edition candle, £67,

Transform a room instantly with a festive candle – this limited edition one by Diptyque is scented with pine and mimosa.

Reusable cracker kit

Not only will a set of reusable crackers help make your Christmas more eco-friendly, this pattern set – including a ‘cracker snap’ – offers a great opportunity to get crafty.

Make Your Own Reusable, Snap-able Christmas Crackers, £15,
Lucy Dorothy Art

Hot chocolate

What’s better than enjoying a hot chocolate by the fire during winter? This gingerbread-flavoured delight by Whittard has a delicious festive spice to it.

Limited edition gingerbread hot chocolate, £10, Whittard

Shop with The Wine Flyer this Christmas

When you shop at The Wine Flyer, you can collect five Avios on every pound you spend on wine, craft beer, spirits and non-alcoholic drinks.

Add the drinks you fancy to your basket, log in to your British Airways Executive Club account (or sign up if you’re not a member) and pay for your order. The Avios you collected will go into your Executive Club account.

Become an Avios millionaire

All you have to do is spend £50 with The Wine Flyer before 21 December 2023 to be in with a chance of winning one million Avios. You’ll automatically be entered into the prize draw.

Add your favourite festive tipple to the basket and pray for a Christmas miracle.

The lucky winner will be chosen on 23 December 2023. And there’ll be five runner-ups too – each winning 10,000 Avios.

Order now at and find out more about the competition.*

*Terms apply