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December 2016

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Guys. How the hell are we at the end of 2016? At times it felt like we were never going to get here. But we made it through the craziness and it’s time to start looking ahead to the new year. 2017 should, by all accounts, be a doozie as well. So in the quiet few days before the madness starts all over again we wanted to take a look back at 2016, partially out of nostalgia, and partially because everybody on the internet is legally obliged to do this now. Take a look at your Facebook Newsfeed on New Years Eve if you don’t believe me:

HowNow Highlight #1: My Dad Wrote a Porno

It’s not that our workplace is inappropriate, but My Dad Wrote a Porno is literally all we’ve been listening to at the office all year. And this is why we don’t have an HR department.

HowNow Highlight #2: Lisbon

I mean, really.

Team HowNow had a few days in Lisbon after this year’s Web Summit. We had a chance to see the sights, eat a lot of fish, and pose for our album cover photo at every available opportunity. Now all we need to do is write the album.

HowNow Highlight #3: Fleabag

If you give me three seconds, I will brag to anyone about how I already had the play script and new about Fleabag years ago. But for the rest of the team it was a revelation – hilarious and heartbreaking in equal measure.

HowNow Highlight #4: Trapped in a room with a zombie

In this immersive game you solve clues in order to escape a room, while also being chased by a zombie. We may or may not have been so bad at the clue solving that the zombie had to help us. Either way, it was scary and amazing, and we did not get out alive.

HowNow Highlight #5: House of cards

I have to confess to not having seen this myself, but when asked how I should describe House of Cards in this post, the rest of Team HowNow told me to write “It was the best fucking TV show ever”. So I guess I should get on that.

HowNow Highlight #6: Kothu Kothu

If you like great food and happen to be in Croydon you need to check out Kothu Kothu at Croydon Box Park. It’s so good it’ll make you forget you’re in Croydon, and that’s not an easy task.

HowNow Highlight #7: The chicken connoisseur

We love nothing more in life than chicken shops, so we’re pretty sure the chicken connoisseur is our soulmate. We’re all about doing your own thing and not listening to other peoples’ opinions, but we would 100% check out any chicken shop he recommends, anywhere in the city.

HowNow Highlight #8: Nandos

As previously mentioned, Team HowNow have a healthy enjoyment of chicken. Pretty much every Friday this year has seen us at our local Nandos, dreaming of the day that one of us gets a black card. Maybe in 2017. Hint hint, Nandos.

HowNow Highlight #9: The Missing

It. Was. So. Good. The weeks after I recommended this were the only weeks of the whole year I felt like I had any street cred. Do I need to get over it now? Absolutely. But it totally makes the list.


So what were your highlights of 2016? Anything that should have made our list? We’re already on the lookout for awesome things to check out in 2017…

So you’ve left things a little bit late for Christmas this year. It’s totally fine. It happens to the best of us. But the thing is, every time you turn on the TV or look at your phone you’re confronted by images of perfectly-planned, efficiently-schedule Christmases, and you can start to feel like you’re the only person in the world who’s slightly messed up. That is never true. People are busy, and loads of people are knocking Christmas out of the park at the last-minute. There’s no reason why you can’t be one of them.

Last-minute Christmas gift ideas:

Personalised mug

This tutorial from Designer Trapped in a Lawyer’s Body is specifically for a (super-cool) dotted pattern. However once you have a sharpie and a hot oven at the ready you can create pretty much anything. If you’re in a real last-minute panic and using mugs from home, though, don’t forget to make sure they’re plain and available for use.

Personalised tea-towel

There’s a bit of a theme developing here. But guess what? If you’re doing everything last-minute, personalised gifts are a great way to look super-thoughtful regardless of how much planning time you actually had. All you need is some fabric and some fabric paint or pens, as Lana Red Studio demonstrates perfectly. In fact, you could always expand this and create t shirts or cushion covers too. The possibilities are endless.

‘Night in’ set

This post from Smashed Peas and Carrots is actually for an ice cream sundae kit, but why stop there? Add a DVD , or some bubble bath (let’s be honest – we’ve all got unused bubble baths from Christmases past) and you have the makings of the perfect night in.

Other last-minute Christmas things

Cards

These great DIY cards from Pinjacolada are super-easy to make if you forgot to buy any. The great thing about making cards instead of picking up the last pack they had available in Paperchase is that (again) you look incredibly thoughtful. Plus, these cards just look great anyway.

Decorations

This post from DIY Enthusiasts has loads of fantastic ideas for how to create great Christmas decorations and centrepieces. They might not be specifically designed to be created at the last-minute but there are a whole bunch of ideas you can pull off with items you probably already have at home. You’ll look like a domestic goddess in no time.

So there you have it. Unfortunately there’s no way (that we know of at HowNow HQ) to fast-track the cooking of a turkey. However, pretty much everything else Christmassy can definitely be accomplished last-minute. And if all else fails, sprinkle a bit of glitter around and give everybody an extra glass of wine. They’ll never even notice the difference.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is nearly upon us. It’s great to be able to spend a whole day with your nearest and dearest, but when the turkey’s all gone and the conversation’s started to die down in favour of you being given the third degree by your great aunt, you might find you need a quick distraction. Any game in this selection is the perfect way to make that happen. However, you probably won’t want to play Cards Against Humanity with your great aunt. Unless she’s awesome.

Heads Up

It’s a much more high-tech version of a classic game that involved sticking post its on peoples’ heads, but this time it’s in the form of an app. There are expansion packs being added all the time, so you’ll never run out of rounds to play. You’ll get a chance to see exactly how bad your nearest and dearest are at everything from accents to singing, so it has everything you could possibly need in an icebreaker.

Jackbox Party Pack

If you liked Blankety Blank or Call My Bluff, you’ll love Fibbage. If you like Pictionary, you’ll love Drawful. The Jackbox Party Pack is a high-tech take on classic games which involves everybody participating using their phone. You’ll need a central screen so it’s a great option for families where turning the TV off is not an option.

Speak Out

It’s this year’s hottest game, and it’s been sold out everywhere for weeks. The basic premise is that everybody takes it turns to have their mouths held open with dentist equipment. They then have to repeat phrases to the other players. Tey obviously sound ridiculous, there will presumably be a bit of drooling going on, and it’s going to be really funny.

Dobble

The most frustrating (in a good way) card game you will ever play. It’s a bit like a cross between snap and Where’s Wally. There are eight symbols on each card, and there’s always one that matches. Lay your cards in a pile like in a game of ‘snap’, and the first one with none left wins. If you manage to avoid tantrums while playing this on Christmas day you’re a better person than anyone on Team HowNow on a Friday afternoon.

The Tin Foil Game

An underrated classic, this game tests the artistic abilities of your family and friends. Pull the name of an object out of a hat and then sculpt that object using one sheet of tin foil. Think it sounds easy? It’s definitely not. There’s a reason all of the Romans chose to make sculptures out of marble.

Linkee

Another game causing controversy in the halls of HowNow HQ. Linkee involves answering questions, and finding the connections between the answers in order to win cards. The first team to pick up enough cards to spell out ‘Linkee’ wins. It’s part Trivial Pursuit, part a massively dumbed-down version of Only Connect.

Cards Against Humanity

The perfect card game for terrible people (ie. all of us). It’s rude, it’s gross, and it give everybody a chance to show themselves at their worst. Points are scored for being funniest, which means nobody can ever agree on who should win, lending an air of unexpected jeopardy to proceedings, which is always a bonus.

Pie Face

It was the super-popular board game for Christmas 2015, which means by now it’s probably just about back in stock again. It’s like Buckaroo, but with fewer horses, more whipped cream, and a bigger cleanup operation. More to the point, it’s a family friendly game, so it is nowhere near as sexual as it just sounded in our description.

Charades

Officially one of the biggest causes of family arguments in the past decade. That’s not technically a fact, but it does seem to cause a lot of conflict. It’s a great way to find out who in your family has never seen even the most mainstream of movies, who can’t understand basic instructions to be quiet and, more importantly, who’s had way to much of the Christmas punch to be rolling around on the floor reenacting The Matrix.

So what game will you be playing on Christmas Day or any of the lazy days following it?

The festive season is here again and everywhere you turn, people are buying stuff to get them into the Christmas spirit. We’re talking decorations, gifts, and all of the things you never knew you needed. But what if you want your Christmas to be more individual? That’s where craft projects come in. Luckily for you, we’ve scoured the internet and come up with some of the best simple festive crafts to make your Christmas stand out from the crowd.

Paperback Christmas Trees

Book purists, look away now. This festive craft project involves a fair amount of destruction. However, if the book is boring (because, let’s be honest, some of them are) and you’re never going to read it again, why not turn it into something pretty that’ll brighten up the room during the most wonderful time of the year? It’s also an excellent replacement if your flat is too small for a Christmas tree. And let’s face it, whose isn’t? Find the full tutorial here.

Wooden Sled Ornament

This is a great festive project to try with the kids. It’s also a great festive project to try if you spent the entire summer eating Twisters like there was no tomorrow and you need a way of hiding the evidence. It requires very little in the way of materials and will ensure that your tree looks unique rather than having the same old baubles as everyone else. Find the full tutorial here.

DIY Mason Jar Snowglobe

If you need a unique gift for that annoying person in your life who always gets you something really thoughtful and/or handmade, this might be it. Of course, we love that person. They’re a great person. But they’re difficult to buy for. So how about making one of these instead? They can display it proudly, and you could even make a personalised scene that’s relevant to their interests. Find the full tutorial here.

DIY Peppermint Candy Bowl

DO you love giving people sweets for Christmas but constantly find yourself wondering how you can make the process more unique, and also slightly more sticky? This is the festive project for you. It’ll take a little bit of effort, but so does anything good. And you know it will totally be worth it when your friends see your handiwork and think you’re a genius. Find the full tutorial here.

Wine Cork Reindeer

We all drink wine. There’s no hiding it, so we might as well embrace it. If you’re the fancy sort who buys wine with corks (or live in America where corks are still a thing) it’s worth hanging on to them so that you can have a go at making these super-cute critters. It’s also a good cover for when your kids ask you why you’ve been drinking so much. “I’ve been collecting art supplies for you, Timmy, god.” Find the full tutorial here.

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Which Christmas craft projects can’t you wait to try this year?