• Buy a Christmas tree as soon as Sinterklaas is over. Each year people seem to be more and more in a rush, afraid that the neighbours will set their tree up first. This often leads to funny situations of having a tree which has lost half its needles by the time Christmas has arrived. And on Christmas, with the merest of touches, the remaining needles also fall down.
• Visit Eindhoven Winterstad and take part in the all the fun winter activities. There’s the Ice Sculpture festival, where tonnes of ice are displayed as works of art. You can try your hand at ice skating in the rink at the Markt and enjoy some hot chocolate in the bar. Or take a thrill ride on a rubber tyre down a ten metre high snow ramp near the Catharinaplein. Finish off by visiting the Kerstmarkt nearby to have some glühwein and crepes. (www.eindhovenwinterstad.nl)
• Take part in the ‘Torch Procession for Tolerance’. Starting from Wilhelminaplein at 6 pm on Christmas eve, join hundreds of fellow Eindhoveners as they make their way through the city centre holding torches to signify peace, unity and harmony. (www.fakkeltochteindhoven.nl)
• Pray for snow, in vain.
• Tolerate your family and friends.
• Have a ‘Gourmetten’ party. Invite your friends and family for dinner, but don’t cook for them. Instead provide them with bread, sauce, vegetables, small pans and even smaller pieces of meat. Let them all prepare their mini-meals in mini-pans. A good Gourmetten party is one where the guests have to cook their own meals for at least one hour.
• Spend Christmas indoors. Not much choice, with the weather the way it is.
• Complain that it’s not a white Christmas.
New Year’s Eve
• Spend a lot of money for a ticket to enter any of the clubs on Stratumseind that are so crowded you hurt people just by turning around. Highly recommended for foreigners from big, crowded cities who are feeling homesick.
• Buy fireworks and light them up at midnight. The Dutch love bursting firecrackers on New Years Eve. You can walk around the city and watch an estimated sixty million euros go up in smoke and light.
• Go to Extrema’s New Years Eve Party at Strijp-S. Great music, good DJs and a whole lot of fun. (www.extrema.nl)
• After partying all night, you can go to The IJzeren Man 2008 (www.ijzerenman.com). Start the New Year by taking a plunge into an ice cold outdoor swimming pool. After all, if you fall into freezing water on a cold winter day, things can’t get much worse the rest of the year, right?