CHRISTMAS EVE DRINKS

Champagne Parfait Cocktail
This champagne parfait cocktail is a wonderfully bubbly, light and festive drink that is perfect for toasting at Christmas Eve dinner. Take your favorite champagne (or any sparkling wine, Prosecco, Brut…really anything with bubbles!), with a little bit of gin, your favorite fruit liqueurs and fresh berries to create a beautiful drink. The different berries (like cranberries or blackberries) will float at different levels, creating that classic parfait look.

La Vie En Rouge
La Vie En Rouge (“Life in Red”) mixes Grand Marnier, fresh cranberry juice (use the real stuff so it’s not too sugary!) and fresh rosemary for a wonderfully fragrant Christmas Eve cocktail. It is a very simple cocktail to make, making it perfect for a big party, but it’s bright flavor makes for a great after-dinner drink. Float a few real cranberries in the glass for an even more festive look.

Christmas Eve Hot Chocolate (for adults)
Are you the kind of person that loves to have a coffee after dinner? Well this recipe mixes coffee, chocolate and liquor–so how can you go wrong?! You can obviously make the coffee flavor stronger or weaker to suit your tastes (or use decaf so you aren’t up too late), or even add a little cream to the mix to create an even smoother and silkier finished cup.

Holiday Sparkler
Don’t want to spend your night mixing individual drinks? Then go for a punch bowl of the Holiday Sparkler! With Cava, fresh mint, triple sec, lime juice and cranberry juice, it’s a bright and festive Christmas Eve drink you can make the day before your party to let the flavors really develop. The Holiday Sparkler also makes for a great substitute for mimosas during Christmas Day brunch.

Mulled Wine
Also known as Glogg or gluwein, this spicy hot wine drink is perfect on a good Christmas Eve. All you really need is your favorite (and cheap!) dry red wine, Port wine, Grand Marnier, and a whole bunch of oranges and some cinnamon sticks! You can cook it up on the stove, or even make it in a Crockpot so you can keep it warm throughout the evening and ladle out glasses as needed!

Mistletoe Martini
The Mistletoe Martini is a mix of chilled cranberry tea (pick your favorite brand!, orange and lemon juices and vodka. A little bit of sugar cuts through the tart flavors for a bright and tasty Christmas Eve cocktail.

Eggnog
It wouldn’t be Christmas without a cool and creamy glass of eggnog. You can buy the eggnog from the store (or make it yourself if you’re feeling extra fancy!) With bourbon (and spice rum if you like) this smooth Christmas Eve drink is a classic for a good reason, it’s delicious!

PIGS IN BLANKETS

Everybody loves this traditional Christmas side dish and we’ve got three tasty twists including black pudding, butternut squash and chestnuts – you choose!

Ingredients:

  • 8 rashers smoked streaky bacon
  • 16 chipolatas

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Cut the bacon rashers in half. Wrap a piece of bacon around each of the chipolatas.

  2. Place on a baking tray and cook for 30-35 mins until golden.

THINGS TO DO AT CHRISTMAS

  1. Soak up the festive atmosphere at Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland. 
  2. See the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London decked out for Christmas with Hogwarts in the Snow.
  3. Discover how Queen Victoria spent Christmas as a child at Kensington Palace.
  4. Join the V&A‘s Victorian Christmas parties and make seasonal decorations.  
  5. Take a romantic stroll through the colourful Enchanted Woodland at Syon Park.
  6. Marvel at the magnificent Christmas tree at Windsor Castle.

Go ice skating in London

  1. Get your skates on at Somerset House‘s glorious 18th-century courtyard ice rink.
  2. Enjoy magnificent views of Henry VIII’s residence at the Hampton Court Palace ice rink.
  3. Skate in the shadow of the spectacular Tower of London.
  4. Glide around the Christmas tree at the Natural History Museum’s magical ice rink.
  5. Admire the London skyline as you skate around the rooftop ice rink at Skylight.

Sing Christmas carols

  1. Sing along to carols around Trafalgar Square’s world-famous Christmas tree.
  2. Support your favourite furry friends at the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home Carol Concert.
  3. Be part of traditional Christmas carols at the historic St Paul’s Cathedral.
  4. Join in with carols in stunning surroundings at the Royal Albert Hall.
  5. Enjoy carols and concerts at St Martin-in-the-Fields church.
  6. Belt along to favourite carols with the Barbican‘s afternoon of festive fun.  

Watch Christmas films at a winter cinema

  1. Cosy up on a beanbag and enjoy a classic film at Southbank Centre‘s hidden winter cinema. 
  2. Venture though a beautiful ball pit river on your way to a festive screening with Backyard Cinema. 
  3. Snack on popcorn at Luna Cinema‘s beautiful screen in the grounds of Kensington Palace.
  4. Watch Christmas films in sumptuous surroundings at the Rivoli Ballroom‘s pop-up cinema. 
  5. Find the secret garden at the South Place Hotel and be rewarded with a festive cocktail and seasonal movie. 
  6. Enjoy a luxurious cinematic experience featuring films, fizz and a three-course meal at One Aldwych

Enjoy a quirky London Christmas

  1. Treat yourself to a delicious meal at one of London’s quirkiest restaurants this Christmas. 
  2. Watch teams in fabulous fancy dress run through Covent Garden in The Great Christmas Pudding Race.
  3. Tuck into festive food during the Aeronaut pub’s Christmas cabaret and be dazzled by acrobatics, fire performers and a virtual reality room.
  4. Join Professor Brian Cox and Robin Ince at the Hammersmith Apollo for their annual Christmas mash-up of science, comedy and music. 
  5. Venture to The Vaults and find the Prince’s masquerade ball in a land where fairytales, the bizarre and wine collide.
  6. Discover if Sink The Pink and their team of queer adventurers can save Planet Trash at the Pleasance Islington‘s Christmas show. 

Get cosy in a Christmas winter pop-up

  1. Tap your heels together and arrive at the Queen of Hoxton’s Emerald City rooftop bar for green cocktails.
  2. Enter an adults’ playground at Winterland, with hot tubs, beer pong and fondue.
  3. Re-enact festive scenes from the hit TV show and visit the holiday armadillo’s grotto at FriendsFestive.  
  4. Get cosy in Coppa Club‘s heated igloos decorated with twinkling lights.
  5. Sip on gin in The Winter Forest at Broadgate Circle and listen to live music while surrounded by snow-dusted pines. 
  6. Soak up views of Tower Bridge from the cute winter terrace at The Tower Hotel.
  7. Try highly ‘grammable Christmas cocktails at Henrietta Hotel‘s winter pop-up bar. 

Explore London Christmas markets

  1. Sip on mulled wine and look for gifts at Southbank Centre’s Winter Market. 
  2. Find unusual crafts and tuck into seasonal treats with Christmas by the River at London Bridge City. 
  3. Explore antiques and jewellery under pretty lights at Greenwich Market. 
  4. Browse the wares of independent British retailers at Westfield London‘s Christmas market. 
  5. Go green and join in festive workshops at the Zero Waste Christmas Market
  6. Find gifts and festive treats at more than 100 stalls at the Christmas Fair at Chelsea Physic Garden. 
  7. Wrap up warm to browse the glitzy market stalls at Christmas in Leicester Square. 
  8. Amble around Kingston’s Christmas market, overflowing with foodie treats, lovely decorations and handmade crafts.
  9. Look for stocking fillers at more Christmas markets in London

Find Christmas activities for kids in London

  1. Take the little ones to the magical Snowflake Grotto at Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City.
  2. Help the elves at the Royal Albert Hallget the toys ready, before meeting Father Christmas in his sleigh.
  3. Enjoy a magical blend of pantomime and circus in Goldilocks and the Three Bearsat The London Palladium.
  4. Make Christmas crackers, toys and wreaths at the Museum of London Docklands.
  5. Find Santa in a vintage vehicle at the London Transport Museum and make Christmas decorations to take home.

EDITORS WEEK

It has finally arrived, Christmas week is officially here and I am now starting the wind down ahead of picking the baton back up in January and seeing what we can do with the good ship MANPEDIA.

I’ve been learning that keeping your head down and cracking on is without question the most effective way to make progress. No Bells or whistles, screaming for attention or setting up platforms of ill conceived notions (yes historically massively guilty on that front). I find now that it simplifies things, you remove the expectations and premature opinions and judgements from others. Not that either of those things should ever be on your radar anyway. Do things for you and how you want them done.

The ground I have made up applying this logic is staggering and it’s only here that I’ll mention it otherwise this whole piece is pointless!

So, Christmas. A place for me and my tiny and regrouping family to enjoy each other’s company, eat some delicious foods and have a good laugh. Enjoy the down time and keep watering the seeds that have been sewn for 2020.

Merry Christmas to one and all. Yes, even you..

SD

CHRISTMAS SONGS

50. John Fahey

The First Noel

Tiring of the fact that no one wanted to buy albums of experimental American primitive guitar music, but they bought White Christmas every year, John Fahey recorded an album of Christmas instrumentals. It was, by a margin, his bestselling record. Atypical of his work, but beautiful.

49. The Sonics

Don’t Believe in Christmas

The Sonics believed some folks liked the taste of straight strychnine, so of course they didn’t believe in Christmas. What happened when they stayed up late to try to catch a glimpse of Santa? “Well, sure enough, don’t ya know / The fat boy didn’t show.” Cheeky so-and-sos.

48. Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler

Christmas Day (I Wish I Was Surfing)

Sounding much more like Ash than Emmy the Great – and the loudest, most raucous thing on their 2011 Christmas album – this is a song that sounds joyous, but is really about the desire to escape, to anywhere that isn’t cold. So long as it’s not alone.

47. Little Joey Farr

Rock’n’Roll Christmas

Rock’n’roll and rockabilly are a treasure trove of Christmas novelty numbers (try Marlene Paula’s I Want To Spend Xmas with Elvis), but we’ve only got room for one. So, given Christmas is all about the kids, bless their souls, let’s have a song by an actual kid who promptly disappeared from the pop world.

46. Lou Rawls

Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town

One imagines this would be the soundtrack to Don Draper’s Christmas – as creamy as eggnog, with a supple swing that’s nagging but not unobtrusive, it’s exactly the sound of an idealised Christmas from the 60s. Rawls made a ton of Christmas albums, but his first from 1967 is the best.

45. Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi, Rudy Sarzo & Simon Wright

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

How would Christmas sound reimagined by Black Sabbath? Almost exactly as you would imagine, to be honest. The most oddly foreboding of all the big Christmas songs suits the grinding and roaring. And it helps, naturally, that it contains a reference to “Satan’s power”.

44. Saint Etienne

I Was Born on Christmas Day

From fire and brimstone to prosecco and chocolate, bursting with optimism for the winter: “Getting groovy after Halloween / Mid-November, got back on the scene / I’m so glad that I just got my pay / I was born on Christmas Day!” A song as sweet as a selection box.

43. The Free Design

Close Your Mouth (It’s Christmas)

Probably the song that goes on in Don Draper’s apartment after Lou Rawls, when the hip young kids have arrived. “Get to know the people in your house,” they sing. “You might like them.” Draper knocks back a whisky, raises an eyebrow and shakes his head.

42. Sally Shapiro

Anorak Christmas

A gorgeous bauble from the mid-00s wave of Scandinavian music that crossed electropop with the feyest indie. Sally falls in love on a Tuesday before Christmas, “at a gig with a band that we both liked”. But will she end up by herself “or in the perfect kiss”?

41. Solomon Burke

Presents for Christmas

The king of rock’n’soul pitches himself somewhere between a revivalist preacher and Santa Claus: “We want to give out a present to everybody this Christmas! All around the world for every man, woman, boy and girl!” he exclaims in the intro. One of the few artists whose spoken sections routinely rival the songs (track down a copy of Soul Alive! if you don’t believe me).

40. Joy Zipper

Christmas Song

Blank-faced and affectless, here’s Christmas for the shoegazers from the duo briefly toasted at the start of the last decade. Kevin Shields and David Holmes produced, and you can bet Beach House were listening.

39. Neil Halstead

The Man in the Santa Suit

Truthfully, this version is only here because the Fountains of Wayne original – an homage to the Kinks’ Father Christmas – isn’t on Spotify. But what a perfect, sad song: “And he’s a big red cherry / But it’s hard to be merry / When the kids are all laughing / Saying: ‘Hey, it’s Jerry Garcia.’”

38. The Everly Brothers

Christmas Eve Can Kill You

The Man in the Santa Suit is a laughfest compared to this Everly Brothers number from 1972, about a hitcher alone the night before Christmas. Organ and pedal steel sound like the wind whistling through the trees as our hero trudges on: “The sound of one man walkin’ through the snow can break your heart.”

37. Santo & Johnny

Twistin’ Bells

Do we need cheering up? I think we do. Thank goodness, then, for the twangy guitars of Brooklyn duo Santo & Johnny, the gaudy, overlit shop window that contrasts with the stark loneliness of the Everly Brothers.

36. Run-DMC

Christmas in Hollis

Hip-hop hasn’t been a huge source of Christmas songs, but Run-DMC were on top of it back in the first golden age. What would you do if you found Santa’s wallet on Hollis Avenue? It’s a perennial question. Run decides its best to post it back; he is rewarded for his honesty.

35. Shirley & Dolly Collins

The Gower Wassail

Two of the greatest British folk voices combine for a drinking song that, if we’re honest, is unlikely to be ringing out in pubs this Christmas. The asceticism of the British folk tradition can be a useful astringent amid the sleigh bells and tinsel.

34. Tracey Thorn

Snow in Sun

Originally from Scritti Politti’s sublime 2006 album White Bread, Black Beer and reworked by Thorn on her gorgeous album Tinsel and Lights – which is enough to qualify it as a Christmas song – here is a featherlight breath of winter to freshen your face.

33. Mahalia Jackson

Go Tell It on the Mountain

You can’t really have Christmas without acknowledging that someone significant was born on 25 December – and not just Bob Stanley of Saint Etienne. The queen of gospel wants you to spread the news far and wide, and she imparts her message with due gravitas.

32. Big Star

Jesus Christ

Big Star’s Third is the least likely album to contain a Christmas song, but amid the desperation and despair was this huge burst of fervour. Did Alex Chilton mean it? Was it a joke? Its effect is magnified by the music that surrounds it on the rest of the album.

31. Calexico

Green Grows the Holly

Gorgeous and stern, and undoubtedly the best adaptation by an Americana band of any poem written by Henry VIII. The horns bloom, like the flowers of the song, turning something indisputably English into a desert lament.

30. Jimmy McGriff

Winter Wonderland

McGriff opens with a squall of organ that doesn’t lead you to believe Christmas is coming anytime soon, then takes Winter Wonderland at such a leisurely pace that it takes a moment to recognise it. (If you like this, try Jimmy Smith’s Christmas ’64 as well.)

29. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings

Ain’t No Chimneys in the Projects

When you live in poverty, certain logistical problems come to mind. Namely, if you’re in a big public housing block, how does Santa get the presents underneath the tree? A fabulous addition to the long line of socially conscious soul and funk Christmas music.

28. Sons of Heaven

When Was Jesus Born?

We all know the answer, but when it’s posed this beautifully, in such impeccable close harmony, the obviousness of the question can be forgiven. There are many versions of this, but it’s a hard song to do anything but beautifully.

27. Thea Gilmore

Listen, the Snow Is Falling

Yoko Ono’s is the original version and Galaxie 500’s rendition is more celebrated, but Thea Gilmore gets the perfect ratio of iciness to wonder – it sounds like a Christmas tree, if such a thing were possible. The 2009 album Strange Communion is highly recommended.

26. The Temptations

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Oh, wrap yourself in the blanket of those glorious voices! Motown took Christmas seriously, with the result that you could probably do this list entirely from Motown tracks. This one gets selected because what is really a fairly dismal song is transformed by a perfect arrangement.

25. Clarence Carter

Back Door Santa

Pure Christmas filth. Back Door Santa can “make all the little girls happy / While the boys are out to play.” But don’t mistake him for Father Christmas: “I ain’t like old Saint Nick / He don’t come but once a year.” I dare you not to dance, though.

24. Ramones

Danny Says

Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight) is better known as a Ramones Christmas song, but the sublime Danny Says gets the nod, qualifying on the grounds that the desperate, lonely band are stuck on the road deep in winter and “it ain’t Christmas if there ain’t no snow”.

23. Cristina

Things Fall Apart

No matter how bad your Christmas is, it’s not as bad as Cristina’s. Mind you, given it’s the early 80s New York art underground, she was probably forbidden from liking something so bourgeois. Even a party can’t cheer her: “I caught a cab back to my flat / And wept a bit and fed the cat.”

22. Joni Mitchell

River

Joni Mitchell is bereft, too, on this gorgeous piano ballad, when Christmas just makes her mourn her relationship and flee Laurel Canyon for her home in Canada, where there might be a frozen river she could skate away on, away from everything.

21. David Banner

The Christmas Song

Completing the mini-run of joyless Christmases, here’s the most joyless of all – when the only way to pay for Christmas is to rob and deal and kill. The climactic “jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way” is not intended as cause for celebration.

20. Lindstrøm

Little Drummer Boy

Hans-Peter Lindstrøm takes almost 43 minutes to assemble a Christmas song – from electronic squiggles, through the martial drumbeat, to the melody coming in at eight minutes. It then spends a further 25 minutes warping and mutating, picking up and discarding musical phrases, before exploding orgasmically in its final 10 minutes or so.

19. William Bell

Every Day Will Be a Holiday

It doesn’t actually mention Christmas, but gets counted – and not just by me – as a Christmas song because of the little horn lift from Jingle Bells, for it being about being lonely waiting for his baby to come home (presumably for Christmas), and because its B-side was Please Come Home For Christmas. It’s also a fabulous piece of Stax soul.

18. Belle and Sebastian

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

On the 2000 charity album It’s a Cool Cool Christmas – which was pretty strong – Belle and Sebastian took on the most beautiful of all the Christmas hymns. Something so delicate suited them. Also recommended: El Vez merging Feliz Navidad and Public Image.

17. The Staple Singers

Who Took the Merry Out of Christmas?

The Staple Singers are worried: too many wars, too much space exploration means people are “searching for light and can’t seem to find the right star”. Jesus isn’t just another baby boy, they warn. So show some respect. Glorious.

16. The Watersons

Sound, Sound Your Instruments of Joy

Just listen to the voices: this is Christmas as it must have sounded when it was a religious festival in the depths of winter, rather than an excuse to rack up debt. Make your own fun! Maybe weave an Action Man out of three pieces of straw! And yet it’s so beautiful.

15. Eartha Kitt

Santa Baby

We’re into the start of the big songs now, and Eartha Kitt’s contribution is the precise opposite of the Watersons’ vision of Christmas. She wants a sable, a convertible, a yacht, a platinum mine … She wants every sensation. And what’s Jesus got to do with anything?

14. Otis Redding

White Christmas

Who knew the most famous Christmas hit of all could be so emotionally wrought? Where Bing Crosby sounded as if he was fondly pondering his Christmas, Otis sounds like he’s breaking into a sweat trying to will it into existence through sheer force of desire.

13. The Pretenders

2000 Miles

Sometimes simple is best: Robbie McIntosh’s guitar playing on the Pretenders’ 1984 hit is a model of folk-rock restraint, taking from the Byrds, and offsetting Chrissie Hynde’s voice and lyric with a sense that everything, somehow, is going to be OK.

12. Bob Seger and the Last Heard

Sock It to Me Santa

“Santa’s got a brand new bag!” hollers Bob Seger, who was a Detroit R&B shouter years before he became a heartland American beard rocker. Sock It to Me Santa is a fabulous explosion – garage rock and soul brought together into something made for the best bar in the city on Christmas Eve.

11. Wham!

Last Christmas

A big Christmas hit that was unlike previous UK seasonal singles – it wasn’t wrapped in sleigh bells, there was nothing consciously novelty about it. Perhaps George Michael had been paying close attention to some of the great US Christmas soul singles, because this was a heartbreak song that just happened to be set in December.

10. Darlene Love

Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

A Christmas Gift to You from Phil Spector codified the sound of Christmas: maximal, filled with signifiers of the season (there is nowhere sleigh bells can’t be draped). Darlene Love’s Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) was the standout on a record on which the quality didn’t drop from start to finish.

9. Wizzard

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday

Roy Wood’s enduring contribution to the season owed a huge debt to Phil Spector – there’s almost certainly a kitchen sink section at work somewhere in the mix – but it transcends imitation by its sheer verve. It was recorded in summer, with the studio air conditioning turned down to make everyone feel wintry. Attention to detail, right there.

8. Slade

Merry Xmas Everybody

Christmas 1973 brought not just Wizzard but the most enduring of all British Christmas singles. Forty-six years later, people still bellow “It’s CHRISTMAS!” in Noddy Holder’s face, which, apparently, gets a little wearisome. The whole thing was Jim Lea’s mum’s idea – why didn’t Slade have a song they could release every year? She got her wish.

7. Donny Hathaway

This Christmas

It wasn’t a hit at the time, but took off when it was included on a 1991 reissue of the 1968 Atco compilation Soul Christmas. To which you can only say: why did it take the world so long to notice? It’s a Christmas song that stands up regardless of the season. And according to the publishing body Ascap, it’s now the 30th most performed Christmas song of all time in the US.

6. Tom Waits

Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis

Probably not one to play when you’re unwrapping the presents. A character study that begins grimly, then offers hope, as the narrator says things are getting better – before ripping the rug away without ceremony. Do you want to know the truth of it, she asks: “Charley, hey, I’ll be eligible for parole come Valentine’s day.”

5. Marvin Gaye

Purple Snowflakes

A song so beautiful it’s almost otherworldly – Marvin Gaye’s flawless falsetto, the unexpected chord changes, the sense of mystery. Yet it’s wrapped up in the most comforting of Christmas imagery – chestnuts roasting, blankets of white – without ever explaining why the snowflakes are purple.

4. The Waitresses

Christmas Wrapping

Like Cristina’s Things Fall Apart, Christmas Wrapping was originally written for the Zé label’s 1981 compilation – the most punching-above-its-weight Christmas comp ever. It’s a fabulous stream of consciousness, during which Patty Donahue talks herself from wanting to miss Christmas to knowing she can’t miss Christmas, that bursts into joy at its horn refrain.

3. Low

Just Like Christmas

Low’s 1999 Christmas EP – released as a “gift” to fans – was one of the most unexpected seasonal delights: ascetic indie band embracing the season without irony. Its lead track was a joy, the discomfort of touring reminding them of when they were young, and it feeling just like Christmas. Just two verses, and a repeated refrain – perfect.

2. The Pogues

Fairytale of New York

There’s almost nothing left to be said about Fairytale of New York, a song that has been impossible to avoid for more than 30 years. Such is the strength of the songwriting and the grace of the performance that, despite the overexposure, it feels fresh every single time. That a scrappy folk-punk band produced something that will endure as long as Christmas itself is a real Christmas miracle.

1. Mariah Carey

All I Want for Christmas Is You

The best Christmas songs should only work at Christmas. They should make you feel festive, in the same way that the 174th repeat of The Snowman does. They should work anywhere – in shopping centres, in bars, pumping out of PAs in gig venues after the band has gone off, on the radio in a cafe, in your home or on your headphones. All I Want for Christmas Is You is all of those things. It’s a shameless pastiche of Phil Spector that’s so brazen and joyful and simple – it took Carey and Walter Afanasieff only 15 minutes to write – that it transcends its lack of originality. It’s the rare modern Christmas song that has become a standard, and deservedly so.

CHRISTMAS ALTERNATIVES

Christmas can be maddening. Between the endless barrage of tacky songs, rampant commercialization, and saccharin sentimentality, some of us can’t wait for it to end. 

Others have taken a bolder stance, however, and created new holidays for themselves. These holidays are celebrated with varying degrees of seriousness and good humor, but do offer alternatives to Christmas and the issues many people have with it. From the secular to the silly, here are five of the best. 

The Winter Solstice

Representing the shortest day of the year and the beginning of a long trudge back to days with reasonable amounts of sunlight, the winter solstice has been celebrated since time immemorial. Recently, the holiday has been taken up again by a wide variety of people for an even wider range of reasons. Those who celebrate it include neo-pagans, non-theists, and those in need of a break from Christmas. 

Celebrations can vary dramatically. Common practices include feasting, attending secular parties, undertaking elaborate rituals of rebirth, and gathering at Stonehenge to watch the sun pass by. The hemispheric event that prompts the holiday has been used by many cultures for their holidays, and the people turning to it today continue a long tradition of making it their own. 

Newtonmas

On December 25th many people celebrate the birth of a man whose radical thinking changed the world forever, who showed humanity the light and lead us into a new age. While many have turned away from his thinking, the influence he had on the world is unmatched by another other thinker, sage, or prophet. 

That man was Isaac Newton. Were you expecting somebody else?

Dating back to a meeting in 1890, the holiday is only half serious. Named by The Skeptic’s Society when they realized they needed another name for their annual Christmas party, celebrations including wishing people “reason’s greetings,” eating apples, and gifting others science related items. Since Newton’s birthday is technically on January 4th on our modern calendar, some celebrate the holiday over ten days. The following for the holiday is growing, and it was once featured on The Big Bang Theory. 

HumanLight

A holiday explicitly created for humanists who wanted an alternative to Christmas, HumanLight dates back to 2001. Created by the New Jersey Humanist Network, the holiday has attracted some attention over the years and has a decent following. This year, at least 18 large celebrations are planned.

Typically observed on the 23rd , the holiday is celebrated anyway you want. Holiday co-founder Gary Brill tends to celebrate with family, but others exchange science books and throw large festive parties. There is a general agreement that candles should be burning, and the event should be open to everybody. While many people are happy to have a secular alternative to Christmas, some non-theists have written on why the holiday might be a bad thing; showing that every holiday has a Grinch. 

Holiday

The Flying Spaghetti Monster reaches out to Adam. 

The winter festival of the Pastafarians, this tongue-in-cheek holiday lacks any official date and is often considered to last from late November to early January. It also doesn’t have much in the way of formal practices, so followers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster may do as they please. This is fitting, as the church rejects dogma. The wiki for the church does encourage eating a feast and having an orgy. 

Several leading officials of the Pastafarians have erected holiday displays at state capitals and are celebrating the increasing acceptance of their faith as evidenced by people saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Marry Christmas.”

Festivus

 

Created by the father of television writer Dan O’Keefe, Festivus was made famous by its appearance in the classic Seinfeld episode The Strike. The television form of the holiday was created in response to the commercialization of Christmas and is celebrated by many people today both for a laugh and as an anti-consumerist statement. It is typically observed on December 23rd. 

There is no tree, only an unadorned aluminum pole (since tinsel is distracting). Other celebrations practiced by the orthodox include the “airing of grievances” and “feats of strength.” More than a few people celebrate the holiday, which has a website. Not least among the people who celebrate is former Wisconsin governor Jim Doyle, who gave his pole to the state historical society

CHRISTMAS PARTY RULES

The festive season is a time for celebration, good times and just a little over-indulgence – and why not?

If you’ve worked hard all year long, the festive season is the perfect time to let your hair down with friends and family and spread some well-earned Christmas cheer. And love it or loathe it, the annual Christmas party is a festive tradition nearly as old as Christmas puddings, chestnuts on an open fire and falling asleep on your sofa in front of the Queen’s Speech. Bliss.

Whilst a festive get-together is a great way to thank and reward employees for their hard work over the year, it can be a time of trepidation for those who really don’t enjoy the festivities. And, whilst having a great time is the aim of any get-together, for some a little too much fun can all be a little too much…

Workplace culture is littered with tales employees who told their boss what they really thought after one too many Sambucas, or the employee who thought it’d be a great idea to drive home after ‘only a couple of drinks’. We wouldn’t recommend either, by the way.

On the other side of the coin, we also have to consider inclusivity; taking into account the employees who may find the pressures of social gatherings difficult, don’t celebrate Christmas or simply want to do their own thing.

So, what’s the best way to approach Christmas parties? To keep you all on the straight and narrow, and to help you avoid being ‘that person’ who becomes a Christmas party ‘legend’ for all the wrong reasons, we’ve put together 11 essential rules of the work Christmas party.

RULE 1: TURN UP!

Whilst having a Christmas party is a fantastic way to reward employees, as we mentioned earlier, some people simply don’t like the festive season or don’t want to spend their precious free time involved with their work – and that’s fine! But, showing up for even just a brief period will show your commitment to the organisation and a willingness to be part of the team. And we’re not talking a 10-minute ‘Hi / Bye’, either.

Take some time to engage in conversations with colleagues and take a moment to thank the organiser for their efforts. If you’re really not able to attend, take the time beforehand to let the organiser know you can’t make it and thank them for the invite – don’t just leave your invite un-responded to in your inbox or simply ‘declined’. After all, if you were the one organising the annual work’s party, we’re sure a little thanks can go a long way!

RULE 2: DON’T FORGET, YOU’RE STILL TECHNICALLY AT WORK

Not wanting to be party poopers here, but just because you’re dressed up in your finery and out of the physical workplace, you’re still technically within the work environment, so the same rules of your organisation will apply. 

Whilst you may have had a little Dutch Courage, it’s definitely not the place to discuss your job role, wages or grievances you may have. And just as important, don’t talk shop or complain about your colleagues – this is a time to celebrate, enjoy and socialise; not an opportunity to vent about your job or the people you work with.

RULE 3: GET TO KNOW YOUR COLLEAGUES

This more relaxed and casual environment is a fantastic opportunity to network with your colleagues, some of which may work in different locations. 

Successful networking offers the chance to let your colleagues talk about themselves whilst you listen and learn – plus get to know them a little better and maybe even have some fun, too.

“If you’re still fairly new to an organisation, the Christmas party is a brilliant opportunity to build potentially great relationships with the people you’ll be working with every day.”

RULE 4: FANCY DRESS? OR “FANCY” DRESS?

This rule’s a pretty simple one but can mean you avoid an embarrassing faux pas when making your entrance: Always check the dress code! If the dress code is ‘Fancy Dress’, there’s no harm in just clarifying if that means a nice tux or party dress before you go dusting off your Halloween Batman costume…

And anyway, it’s always better to be over-dressed than under-dressed, right?

RULE 5: GETTING YOUR GROOVE ON

When you combine good times, alcohol and music, dancing is pretty much an inevitability – and who are we to deny you that pleasure! If you’ve got the opportunity, feel free to get your best shape-throwing, dad-dancing moves out for everyone to see – after all, who doesn’t love hitting the dancefloor every once in a while? But in seriousness, there’s a couple of rules you should keep in mind.

Don’t get too smoochy with you colleagues or too over-zealous with your dance moves – you really don’t want to risk either an injury or, even worse, a sexual harassment claim against you, consensual or not? 

When you’ve had a few to drink, it might seem like a good idea to flirt with the boss or your colleagues, but really, just don’t!! Don’t get up close and personal; so that’s no kissing, cuddling, over-zealous hugging, heavy petting or cannonballs.

RULE 6: KNOW YOUR LIMITS

Whilst it’s nice to have a glass of wine or two, please know your limits and be responsible with your drinking.

Whilst drunken behaviour might be OK with your friends, at the works ‘do’, it’s definitely not acceptable. No-one wants to be passing out in the toilets, sick on the dance floor or having to rely on others to look out for their own wellbeing.

Also, mixing booze with office gossip is not a good idea.  Try not to declare your undying love about a colleague, or cry on the shoulder of your boss.

Pace yourself, try not to drink on an empty stomach, drink slowly, sip your cocktails, drink lots of water between rounds, and note the old adage, the ‘grape and the grain’ do not mix.

RULE 7: WHO’S GOING TO DRIVE YOU HOME?

Have a great night and lots of fun; but just like knowing your limits, always keep in mind when it’s time to leave and also, how you’ll be getting home. Have you arranged a lift home? Or have you booked a taxi? Making sensible arrangements beforehand can prevent any unforeseen problems and ensure you arrive home safely, but above all, if you’ve had a drink, leave the car at home or at the office and never drink and drive.

RULE 8: RESPECT YOUR ENVIRONMENT

Now, we appreciate that you’re all consenting adults, but if the party is held on your premises, don’t go for a romp in the MD’s office – no matter how great an idea it may seem at the time! After all, you wouldn’t want any embarrassing interruptions now, would you?

Don’t get caught kissing in the stair well, don’t get caught using the photocopier for inappropriate copying and above all, make sure all your equipment is securely locked away… if you get our meaning…

RULE 9: DON’T CALL IN SICK

If your work’s Christmas Party is on a school night, no matter how hung-over you might be the next day, don’t call in sick.  We all know what’s wrong with you and you’re not fooling anyone!

On the other hand, if you feel fine – great! But, always be aware that it takes around 1 hour for your body to break down 1 unit of alcohol. So, if you’ve indulged in some festive shots over the course of the night, you may well still have a lot of alcohol in your system when 9am rolls around, meaning driving into work may be out of the question.

If you know it’s going to be a heavy night but you have to be in work the next day, don’t take any risks. Book a taxi or alternative transport into work the morning after.

RULE 10: USE SOCIAL MEDIA WISELY

It’s not always a good idea to post photographs of the evening’s shenanigans onto social media.  Do you have permission to post your colleagues photo?  They may have told their partners, they were working late, or have been invited to a posh restaurant with the management team… Not that we’re condoning telling porky pies, obviously.

Don’t betray their confidences. Don’t let their friends and family see them dancing on the tables in drunken frenzies – always save your posts for when you’ve got a clear head or if you know for certain you’re OK to share.

RULE 11: SAY THANKS

Last but by no means least, always thank the organiser and your boss for hosting a good festive party; either at the party itself, or after the event. There will have been someone who will have organised the food, the drinks, the venues and the festivities, so letting them know they’ve made a great night for everyone really will go a long way.

PICKING A CHRISTMAS TREE

When to buy your real Christmas tree – and how to choose

  • Do buy early. All Christmas trees are felled at the same time, so there is no point in delaying.
  • Do think twice before buying from a pop-up tree seller. They’ll disappear as fast as they appear, so you won’t be able to return dodgy goods.
  • Do measure the room heightbefore you go out – and don’t forget the extra room the stand takes. Your tree has to fit!

The major garden centre chains started to sell Christmas trees in late November and, although many will consider this too early to buy a tree, the truth is that it’s a case of the earlier the better.

“There’s no benefit at all from waiting into December,” warns David Mitchell, Wyevale Garden Centre’s Christmas tree expert. According to Mitchell this is because all the trees get cut at the same time, in early-November; their distribution is then drip-fed over the following weeks. It is therefore better to get there early and start caring for and feeding your tree, rather than letting it sit on a pile with all the others, yearning for the water it needs to stay healthy.

On the BCTGA website, you can put in your postcode and find your local Christmas tree farm, along with the types that they stock. Pop-up Christmas tree sellers will also be out in force during the coming weeks, but it is generally wise to go with a BCTGA member who will be available to help you out should you encounter any future problems with your tree. 

You should be looking for a British-grown tree as its carbon footprint will be substantially less than one that has been transported from mainland Europe. Importantly, it will also be fresher.

Room height is very important. “A lot of people can get carried away and get something too big for the space and forget that the stand adds an extra 20cm at the bottom,” says Mitchell. “It’s quite an easy mistake to make and you might find that you have to cut the top off, which then gives you a conundrum in terms of where are you going to put the fairy.”

Generally speaking, people look for one of two shapes: tall or wide. The wide, bushy types are more popular in continental Europe, especially in Germany, the Christmas tree’s home. Here in the UK, we are more into tall and slim, possibly due to the fact the average home size is four metres squared smaller.

The slimmer profile also lets more light shine through the tree branches. And, with Christmas baubles getting ever heavier, they can hold decoration all the way up to the top branches.