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.
But while cosying up to watch films with the fam might be a Yuletide tradition, screening the same flicks every year is a surefire ticket to festive lethargy.
Banish blockbuster boredom with this A-list motion picture kit: from streamers to soundbars to portable projectors, it can’t improve the acting in Father Christmas Is Back, but it can make your cinema grotto great again. Just add popcorn.
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max
An open fire might be fine for roasting chestnuts, but it’s an Amazon Fire you need for 4K Chrimbo content. Stick the Fire TV Stick 4K Max in the back of your box for sharper screenings. Besides serving up Ultra HD pictures, it works with Wi-Fi 6 routers for more stable streams. It’s also 40% more powerful than the standard 4K Fire Stick, so the Alexa remote should locate Love Actually more swiftly than ever.
Philips Hue Play Gradient Tube
Turning the big light off used to be enough to set the scene for cinema club. But in a world where 16 million shades of ambient light exist, a simple dimmer switch just won’t cut it any more. For tones to match your favourite flicks, stick this illuminated tube beneath your TV. Available in two sizes, it syncs with scenes on screen and splashes complementary colours on the surroundings. Perfect for movie immersion, unless Pitch Black is on the billing.
Joseph Joseph Popcorn Set
No movie night is complete without the salty crunch of popcorn. These silicone cups allow you to make a batch that’s just enough for two hungry film buffs. Simply pour in kernels up to the line inside, fold over the lid and stick them in the microwave – no oil or butter required. When they’re puffed and ready to munch, the lid will pop up to reveal the cinema snacks inside.
Asus ZenBeam Latte L1
Competition for control of the TV is never fiercer than during the festive period. Sick of visiting relatives commandeering the remote? Stick this coffee cup-sized shiner beneath the Christmas tree to throw a watch party on any wall. Resolution is limited to 720p, but the picture stretches to a sizeable 120in. Plus it’s got Harman Kardon speakers built-in – so you won’t need headphones to drown out the sound of rival flicks from the next room.
The Overlook Hotel Buff
Wearing a mask wouldn’t have protected Jack from the bad juju at the Overlook Hotel, but this versatile face covering can at least keep a chill wind at bay. Patterned to match cinema’s most famous floor covering, it’s the perfect buff for Kubrick fans. Plus it’s significantly more breathable than wrapping carpet around your face.
Sonos Beam 2
Still using your TV’s flimsy speakers to soundtrack movie nights? Spoiler alert: they’re rubbish. Fix your sonic experience with the second-gen variant of Sonos’ powerful soundbar. A similarly styled sequel, the Beam 2 delivers more cinematic audio thanks to Dolby Atmos, HDMI eARC and a processor that’s 40% faster than before. Unwrap it on the first day of Christmas for five Class-D amps, four full-range woofers, three passive rads and a centre tweeter (in a pear tree). Alexa and Google Assistant are on board to field your trivial enquiries, while TruePlay tech uses the microphones on an iOS device to tune sound to suit the room. Just the ticket for a meatier post-turkey screening of a A Muppet Christmas Carol.
Alfred Hitchcock: The Definitive Collection
Christmas flicks can often feel samey. Add some Hitchcock thrills to the viewing schedule with this 20-film box set from the Master of Suspense. Including Vertigo, North by North West and the extended version of Psycho – plus a whole load of extra bonus features – it’s not an especially festive collection, but it should at least keep you guessing well into the new year. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the legendary director’s cameos.
LG Eclair QP5
Not everyone wants a speaker the size of a railway sleeper sitting in front of their TV. For cinematic sound from a smaller oblong, add LG’s Eclair to your sonic setup. At less than 12in long and 2in tall, the dinky thing is as compact as soundbars come, yet it still supports Dolby Atmos DTS:X. There’s no chocolate topping, but the Eclair’s 3.1.2 channel setup and 320W power should ensure blockbusters still sound pretty sweet.
Lego Home Alone House
Think Disney’s Home Alone reboot is a filthy animal? For a remake that’s more faithful to your festive memories, assemble this Lego version of the McCallister mansion. Comprised of 3955 pieces, the hefty home opens up to reveal cinematic scenes in each room – from Kevin’s solo party to Harry’s blowtorched bonce. Once you’ve built the booby-trapped abode, a cast of five minifigs – including the Wet Bandits and shovel-toting Old Man Marley – can be deployed to film your own miniature sequel.
A dedicated movie room might be the dream for committed cinephiles, but not everyone has the space for a full sound setup. Keen for a mini cinema? Roku’s compact Streambar combines the skills of a 4K streaming stick with surprisingly powerful soundbar audio to embarrass your TV’s speakers. So you get sharp flicks and stronger kicks in a single compact package – no big kit necessary.
Blockbuster Party Game
Blockbuster is to millennials what LaserDisc was to Nineties kids. If you’re one of the former, the appeal of a blue and yellow movie trivia game in a thick plastic container could be puzzling. If you’re one of the latter, the throwback packaging will provide an instant dose of video rental nostalgia. There’s a buzzer round and a set of cinematic charades, so pretty much anyone can play (even if they’ve never seen a tape). And you don’t have to rewind it to go again.
Shonky Wi-Fi is the enemy of steady 4K streams, but megabits-per-second will be the last thing on your mind with this Panasonic box attached to your telly. Ultra HD Blu-ray is still the sharpest way to watch your favourite films and the DP-UB820EB is the top disc-spinner for the job: support for HDR 10, Dolby Vision, DTS:X and Dolby Atmos means it delivers the best sound and vision in the business. You’ll just need to upgrade the rest of your home cinema kit to match.
Back to the Future Wireless Charging Mat
Sure, Doc Brown’s Flux Capacitor turned his DeLorean into a dimension shifter, but what good’s a clock-stopping car if your phone battery’s flat and you can’t pap a throwback snap for Insta? This Back to the Future charging pad doesn’t pack quite the same power as the famous four-wheeled time machine, but there’s still something pretty futuristic about bringing your blower back from the dead without the use of wires.
A Chronology of Film
Most film fanatics can’t be torn away from the screen for long enough to eat something other than popcorn. If the movie lover in your life can just about bear to, sticking a copy of this book in their stocking might finally give you a chance to use the remote. The coffee table timeline spans the history of cinema, from the invention of the moving image through to today’s big-budget blockbusters. Organised chronologically, it picks out key films, contemporary trends and technological advances, while exploring the changes across genres. It also features plenty of pictures to keep visual learners entertained.
TIE Fighter Desk Lamp
Desk a little on the dark side? Allow the Empire to illuminate your workspace with this TIE Fighter lamp. Standing 60cm tall, the Star Wars shiner can’t be seen from a galaxy far, far away, but it will add themed glow to your space den. Tired of Imperial paperwork? Play with the posable stand to pretend your pilot’s in a dogfight with an X-Wing. Or for those with an allegiance to the Rebel Alliance, there’s a Millennium Falcon version available.