Home Alone. The Holiday. Home Alone 2. If anything gets you in the Christmas spirit quicker than mince pies and mulled wine, it’s movies.
While cosying up to watch films with the fam might be a Yuletide tradition, though, screening the same flicks every year is a front-row ticket to surefire festive lethargy.
Banish blockbuster boredom with this A-list motion picture kit: from streamers to soundbars to pocketable projectors, it can't improve the acting in A Christmas Prince, but it can make your cinema grotto great again. Just add popcorn.
Kodak Luma 350 (£370)
As Joey Tribbiani once asked, “You don’t own a TV? What’s all your furniture pointed at?” The answer, if you find this pocket-sized DLP projector in your stocking come Christmas Day, is anywhere you fancy.
Lightweight, wireless and sufficiently bright for sundown showings, Kodak’s handy shiner is also small enough to stash in any satchel. Sure, its resolution can’t rival that of a full-size setup, but with Wi-Fi, HDMI and USB on-board, as well as an audio output and the ability to cast 200-inch images, it’s ideal for flinging Friends at the nearest white wall.
JBL BAR 2.0 All-In-One (£160)
Half of cinema is in the sound. Case in point: Gladiator. Without Hans Zimmer’s accompanying score, that opening scene is just a well-funded reenactment society having fiery fun in muddy field.
No space or budget for a full speaker setup? Don’t mute the movie magic: this understated soundbar from JBL packs blockbuster bang for buck. Connected to your telly, its virtual surround sound and punchy bass will rapidly embarrass your TV’s tiny drivers. And, once the movie’s over, on-board Bluetooth means you can stream the soundtrack again ad infinitum – centurion outfit optional.
The Shining 4K (£20)
Big fan of Stanley Kubrick’s legendary take on Stephen King’s The Shining? You could ruin Christmas Eve by reenacting Jack Nicholson’s infamous axe-wielding scene while dressed as Santa, sticking your face through the door and yelling “here’s jolly!”
Or, for a less scarring but no less scary celebration of both SKs, you could screen this extended cut of the horror flick in 4K. Stunningly remastered in Ultra HD, the extra resolution brings new levels of terrifying depth to a movie that was already renowned for its spine-chilling attention to detail. One to watch with the Christmas lights on.
All-new Amazon Fire TV Cube (£110)
What’s small, square and packed with enough to entertainment to see you through the whole holiday season? Your trusty Only Fools & Horses DVD box-set might fit that description, but it’s not a patch on Amazon’s cube of streaming dreams.
Attached to your TV, this little black box will bring joy to your watching world. Capable of streaming 4K content from a host of services, fire up Prime Video or Netflix and you’ll get full Dolby Atmos support. Alexa’s on-board, too, so you can heckle for recommendations before giving the command to dim the smart lights.
LifX Z Strip Starter pack (£80)
Lighting can make or break a cinema room. One wrong bulb and the whole motion picture mood is broken. Don’t risk incandescent disappointment: stick this smart lighting strip in your viewing den for total glow control.
Each two-metre strip is made up of eight distinct LED segments. Pick a single shade from the 16 million available in the app or blend tones across the zones for truly box-office atmosphere. Save scenes, choose themes and control it all with your voice via Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant like you’re the Lord of Light – only less of a fire hazard.
Dorothy The Colour of Cinema (£30)
Silver the screen might be, but movies are a truly technicolour experience. From the neon nights of Blade Runner to the popping pinks preferred by Wes Anderson, even cinematic black comes in 50 shades.
Celebrate the art of big-screen saturation with this motion picture colour wheel. Each hue around the circle represents a film with a tone in the name – think A Clockwork Orange, Black Panther, Green Book. Great as a poster, even better when you need a swatch for your cinema room repaint.
Roku Express (£30)
Unless you’re a massive fan of ice hockey, no little black puck can offer more entertainment than Roku’s straightforward HD streamer.
Connected to your telly via HDMI, it’ll play nice with a whole host of free and paid streaming services – from iPlayer to NowTV to Netflix – while the whole thing is simple enough that even first-timers will be able to utilise the search function to find when the next Maple Leafs game is showing.
Cinephile: A Card Game (£12)
Sure, you might like films, but can you name a movie that starred both Seth Rogen and Patrick Swayze? If you can, Cinephile is for you. If you can’t, Cinephile is also for you.
A deck of 150 cards which each feature an actor, Cinephile can be played five ways – all of which involve demonstrating your Hollywood knowledge. Naming as many of a single actor’s films as you can? Easy. Finding a link between two actors in six flicks or fewer? That’s expert stuff.
Oh, and the answer, if you didn’t know, is Donnie Darko. One for the next round.