Category Archives: Christmas

Posts about everything Christmas and the festive season

Movies to get you through the holiday period

Watching TV or movies is an important December holiday ritual for many people; and practical too, when you are too lethargic  during a food coma, or if harsh weather discourages you from venturing outdoors. We have great suggestions for your viewing pleasure, whether you prefer classic Christmas movies, or DVD box sets for binge watching, or inspiration for new year’s resolutions!

Movies to celebrate Christmas

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Region 1, US & Canada)

The Harry Potter films may not be everyone’s idea of a Christmas movie, but they are terrific at evoking the beauty of wintry Christmases.  The most Christmassy of them all is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – which contains the Yule Ball scene, with its spectacular snowing-indoors setting, gorgeous costumes, and the romance and tragi-comedy of teenage hormones – what’s not to love?  With a classic quest, friendship, comedy, mystery, pathos and impressive visual effects, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is great fun for kids and adults alike. Region 2 DVD (Europe) is here and Blu-Ray here.

Life of Brian (Region 2, Europe)

Life of Brian is the perfect Christmas film for those with a more wicked / cynical sense of humour, or those who scoff at more sentimental, shiny visions of Christmas.  This deeply-irreverent story about Brian of Nazareth, born next door to Jesus on the same day – is a terrific satire that lampoons religion, politics, gender relations and just about everything (and everyone) else. Enjoy Life of Brian as an impressive display of Monty Python’s comedic skills, or even for its notoriety (it was considered blasphemous, and was banned in many countries).  One of my favourite Christmas movies. Blu-ray available here.

Box sets for Binge Watching

Outlander Complete Seasons 1, 2 & 3 (Region 4, Australia & NZ)

Based on the novels by Diana Gabaldon, Outlander is a bit of a hidden gem – highly regarded but somewhat under-publicised. Despite this, the show (and the novels) have amassed a big and active fanbase, whose passion matches that shown onscreen.  In Outlander we see Claire, a nurse in World War 2, accidentally travelling back to 1743 Scotland, where she meets Jamie, a Highlander embroiled in the Jacobite risings.  Claire and Jamie’s tender love story, against a background of history, political intrigue, adventure and stunning Scottish scenery makes for gripping drama. This DVD set collects all of Seasons 1-3, while Season 4 is under production and there are four other books in the series to be dramatised. A Region 2 version (Europe) and a Blu-ray are also available.

The Handmaid’s Tale Season 1&2 Box Set (Region 4, Australia & NZ)

The award-winning The Handmaid’s Tale offers a combination of powerful performance, beautiful cinematography and topical subject matter.  It is one of today’s most talked-about dramas – the dystopic world it envisions resonates eerily with the current political climate, and its striking visual style has entered popular culture and become part of the vocabulary of protest.  Season One is an admired adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s original novel, while Season 2 extends beyond the original story to explore the origins of Gilead, and the complex relationships between key characters.  This new-release box set covers all episodes to date.  A Region 2 version (Europe) is also available.

DVDs for calm

The Ghan: Australia’s Greatest Train Journey (Region 4, Australia & NZ)

The Ghan: Australia’s Greatest Train Journey is a 3-hour documentary, where front-mounted cameras show this iconic train’s journey from Adelaide to Darwin, as well as archival footage that explains the railway’s construction.  (A 17-hour unedited version was also broadcast on national television)  The Ghan is Australia’s first contribution to Slow TV, a concept most prominent in Norway, where extended broadcasts of real-time train journeys, knitting and wood-stacking are popular.
With no dialogue or plot, but stunning scenery, The Ghan’s journey is immersive, hypnotic and relaxing.

Walk with Me (Region 1, US & Canada)

A documentary about quietness, mindfulness and contemplation sounds like a welcome antidote to the hectic excesses of the holiday season.   Walk with Me shares glimpses in the life and teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, and Plum Village, the monastic community he founded in south-west France. Thich Nhat Hanh is instrumental in introducing mindfulness to the West; this film shows how he, and his disciples, live mindfully in the present.  The meditative quality of Walk with Me is further enhanced by Benedict Cumberbatch, who intersperses his narration with sonorous passages from Thich Nhat Hanh’s writings.  A Region 2 DVD (Europe) is also available.

The Best Last-Minute Gifts (including Great Vouchers!)

Two weeks till Christmas and still shopping for gifts?  Thanks to online shopping, you can access retailers from around the world, who can get your gift to your loved one in-time, even if they’re overseas.  Booko can help you compare stock availability and delivery times across a range of retailers – and don’t forget that express shipping may also be available. Just head to the Booko website, make sure the country flag at the top right hand corner is displaying your required destination (click on the flag to display and change options), then search for the item you want.  Booko will display prices and availability in the results table.

More details about buying for overseas deliveries are in our handy guide here.

 

Booko can help you find the best prices and fastest shipping for books, DVDs, games and even jigsaw puzzles ! Here are some more last-minute gift ideas:



Slow Down and Grow Something : the Urban Grower’s Recipe for the Good Life by Byron Smith and Tess Robinson

Gift this to your loved one, and you may be helping them check off several life goals at the same time.  Both gardening and cooking are great for our wellbeing – encouraging us to slow down, get outdoors and live in the moment.  Slow Down and Grow Something combines the horticultural skills of Byron Smith and cooking skills of Tess Robinson to offer us lots of tips on how to create your own food oases – whether you have a big backyard or just a few pots in an apartment.  Then make the most of your harvest with delicious recipes that you can enjoy on your own, or share with your friends (another boost for our mental health!).

Guinness World Records 2019

The Guinness World Records makes a classic gift – this is a perennial favourite for school-aged children!  Kids just love quirky and amazing facts (and reading them will quietly broadening their knowledge of the world).  It is also a thoughtful choice for reluctant readers – kids who find it difficult to enjoy “chapter books” or novels may enjoy the short, easy-to-dip-into format, the non-fiction focus and the colourful, lavishly illustrated pages.

Azul board game

The eye-catching Azul board game is the well-deserved winner of this year’s Game of the Year (Spiel des Jahres) award, and has been described by game reviewers as an “Instant Classic”.  Azul’s beautiful visual design is inspired by the intricate patterns on azulejos, Moorish decorative ceramic tiles from Spain and Portugal.  Azul is an abstract strategy-based game that is governed by simple rules, yet delivers surprisingly complex game play.  This family-friendly game is suitable for 2-4 players, aged 8+.

Sushi Go!

Sushi Go is a popular card game that is easy to learn and fast-playing, great for kids on their own, or multi-age groups such as family gatherings.  Make the most points by collecting different types of sushi and desserts!  The cards are colourful, with cute sushi characters, and come in a sturdy metal tin that is perfect for taking along on holidays.  For 2-5 players, aged 8+.

The Elements by Theodore Gray 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle

Theodore Gray’s The Elements is a coffee-table book that combines the best of science and art – it is a tour through the chemical elements of the periodic table, in a stylish format, lavishly illustrated with photographs of objects associated with each element.  This million-copy bestseller has inspired two sequels (Molecules and Reactions), apps, jigsaw puzzles and even quilts!  This 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle shows the full periodic table as displayed in the book.  The finished item measures approximately 92cm x 41cm.

Gift Vouchers / Cards / Certificates

Gift vouchers/cards/certificates can be a real life-saver when you have no time to shop – vouchers are emailed immediately upon purchase, either to you for printing, or directly to the recipient. So all you need is a few minutes to click through and complete the purchase!  Delight children with the ability to “go shopping” for exactly what they want; or introduce a loved one to the huge range on offer in an online bookstore.  Booko has a list of bookstore gift voucher options here.