Christmas is about chocolate, cocktails and unbridled TV watching. Or at least it is round here. Yeah yeah, there’s the giving and the caring, and the feasting and celebrating. But there’s also so important goggleboxing to do. Square-eyes don’t get square by themselves you know.
So what’s in store for us? Pretty much the usual stuff, the obligatory Strictly, the traditional Christmas eve Bond, blabla pass the vodka. It can all be pretty much circumnavigated if you have a subscription to Netflix or Amazon or whatever. But what if you don’t? Well, don’t worry. We’ve had a look through the TV schedules and there’s something for everyone. You don’t have to resort to watching It’s a Wonderful Life for the gazillionth time.
We’re Going On A Bear Hunt 7.30pm Channel 4 Michael Rosen’s much loved children’s book has been animated. Stars Olivia Coleman.
Muppet Christmas Carol 5.50pm Channel 4 I’m reliably told that the Muppets stick surprisingly close to the Dickens original story. And who doesn’t love the Muppets?
Peter Kay’s Comedy Shuffle 22.05 BBC1 Waiting up for Santa? The best bits of Phoenix Nights and more, should keep you occupied while the varmints fall asleep.
Raymond Briggs Father Christmas 8.30am Channel 4 Settle the kids in front of this and go back to sleep for a little while
Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal 9.00am Sky2 Will keep everyone occupied while you pull yourself together and get over Santa’s hangover.
Polar Express 1.00pm ITV2 Children’s favourite, belief in Father Christmas is restored in an epic journey to the North Pole.
The Great Christmas BakeOff 4.45pm BBC1 Your last chance to get your BBC Bake Off fix before it hightails it over to Channel 4 next year.
Dr Who 5.45pm BBC1 Essential Christmas Day watching obvs. Apparently a good sprinkling of superhero references in this Christmas special.
The Last DragonSlayer 5.45pm Sky1 If you’re more of a fantasy family than a scifi family, check this film out. A little bit Pratchett, a whole lot of adventure
Call the Midwife 8pm BBC1 Special Christmas episode. Box of tissues at the ready.
Eastenders 9.30pm BBC1 The obligatory Eastenders disasters await: someone’s bound to be found out / get murdered / leave in a taxi, as Max Branning returns to the Square.
The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn 11am BBC2 Something to aim to get up for. Or watch it in bed with the kids. Or without them.
West Side Story 2.20pm Channel5 If you didn’t make it up for Tintin, surely you can drag your sorry ass to the couch for West Side Story?
World’s Strongest Man 2016 6.00pm Channel5 Action from the contest at the First Direct Arena in Leeds. Yeah, it’s traditional.
Revolting Rhymes 6.30pm BBC1 Animations based on poems of Roald Dahl. Features Dominic West and Rob Brydon
Captain America: The First Avenger 9pm Film4 Superheroes for older kids and big kids.
I had my first proper Christmas cocktail of the year last night. While present wrapping. A dirty martini. Allegedly, it was Churchill’s favourite cocktail. It’s really not much of a cocktail, but I’ve always been a bit of a gin-girl so it suits me fine. 4 parts gin to 1 part green olive brine. You can add a dash of dry vermouth, but I don’t bother. Shake over ice. I forgot to hold down the lid and ended up having to lick quite a lot of it up from the counter. Strain into a glass and serve with a couple of olives. If there’s any left in the shaker after the lid flies off. Want something a bit more, cocktail y (as oppose to spilt gin and olive brine)? Here’s a selection of vaguely Christmassy recipes to try.
The Refreshing One: Cranberry sea breeze punch
- Frozen cranberries
- 1litre cranberry juice
- 500ml vodka
- 400ml grapefruit juice
- 2 limes cut into slices
Pour the cranberry juice, vodka and grapefruit juice into a punch bowl or large jug and add lime. Add some ice and the frozen cranberries.
The Fizzy One: Sloe Prosecco Royale
- Crushed ice
- 50ml Prosecco
- 25ml sloe gin
- 25ml cherry brandy
- 1 sprig rosemary
Fill a glass with crushed ice and pour over the prosecco. Slightly bruise the leaves of the rosemary by rubbing lightly. Drop it into the glass. Slowly pour the sloe gin and cherry brandy into the glass so that they sink to the bottom.
Something Warm: Mulled white wine
Fancy something warm, but not a fan of red wine? Try this unusual mulled white wine.
- 750ml white wine
- 100ml madeira
- ½ lemon sliced
- 4 dried apricots
- 5 cardamom pods bruised
- 1 star anise
- 1 vanilla pod, split in half
- 1bsp honey
- A few drops of rosewater
Pour the white wine and madeira into a large saucepan. And the rest of the ingredients except the rose water. Bring to a simmer then strain into a jug. Stir in the rosewater before serving.
Is it a drink or is it a pudding? : Nutella Frangelico
- 50ml double cream
- 1tsp Nutella
- 150ml whole milk
- 25 g milk chocolate chopped
- 25ml hazelnut liquer (Frangelico)
- 1 tsp chopped hazelnuts
Whip the cream till thick then fold in the nutella. Try for a marbled effect.
In a saucepan warm the milk until simmering. Take off the heat. Add the chocolate and stir till melted. Return to the heat to warm through. Add the Frangelico
Pour the hot chocolate into a mug and add the whipped cream. Sprinkle with the toasted hazelnuts.
The One With A Rude Name: The Blow Job Shot
You’re supposed to drink this without using your hands. It could get messy. Infact, it will definitely get messy.
- 15ml Baileys Irish Cream
- 15mils Coffee syrup
- Whipped cream
In a shot glass, layer syrup, Baileys then cream. Drink in one go, no hands, or however you like.
Have fun, drink responsibly x
The Aspiration and the Reality
Christmas is supposed to be a joyful time. An occasion for love and togetherness. But we all know the reality can be so so different. Enforced socialising, financial stress, being cooped up together. It can all put huge pressure on relationships.
We watch happy families in films and TV adverts. We aspire to be those families. But we all know our Christmas is far more likely to be bored farting in front of the TV and a few disappointing presents. Far more Royle Family than John Lewis. And you know what, I’m OK with that.
Coping with Christmas
It’s just a couple of days. You don’t need to bottom the house, or get new decorations, or a new sofa. You don’t need to buy enough food to feed the entire town. Just plump up the cushions and follow our 5 Point Plan On How Not To Kill Your Grandma.
Your Stay Out Of Jail 5 Point Plan
1 Remove all knives from the house
It’s harder to kill someone when there’s no weapons! Seriously though, choose not to pick a fight. We all have a family member who annoys us. If they truly are trouble makers, don’t invite them. Or uninvite yourself. But Great Aunt Bessie going on and on about nothing: just let her ramble and leave the room.
2. Solitary Confinement
Enforced socialising is rubbish. Make some time to be alone. Walk the dog. Tidy the cellar. Sneak off to the attic for a cheeky snooze. Even just 20 minutes to yourself will make all the difference. Set an example and let everyone else do it too. Teenagers want to slope off to their bedrooms to play with their new gadgets. Let them – they’ll be far less grumpy. And younger children might benefit from time to themselves too.
3. Family Therapy
There’s no better way of metaphorically shoving a dummy in everyone’s mouth than a great Christmas film. If you’ve got to that point where everyone’s over tired, over stuffed, over talked and drunk, then open a box of chocs and stick the telly on.
Doing everything yourself? This is no way of coping with Christmas. You will wear yourself ragged. And everyone will treat you like a servant. Or they’ll be resentful that they don’t get a look in. By the end of the day, you’ll be ready to strangle someone. Share out the jobs. Make people feel involved. Give yourself a break.
5. Calm down!
Being a control freak at Christmas is a sure fire path to murder. Forgot the holly? Got the wrong napkins? Cat ate the giblets? IT DOESN’T MATTER!
Merry Christmas, have a good one!
We have scoured the internet, to give you the DYP Gift Guide. We’ve gone mostly for independent businesses. And we’ve aimed for some unusual and unique gifts. If you can’t find some inspiration here, we’re sure you will on some of the websites we’ve mentioned.
The DYP Gift Guide
Gifts for Travellers
Scratch The World Print We found this fabulous concept map from Maps International. It’s the perfect gift for anyone intent on conquering the world. Whenever you visit a country, you can scratch off the gold coating to reveal the country beneath.
The Yorkshire Beer Experience If someone’s grounded for the winter, how about a virtual trip round God’s Own County in beer? A kit with lots of different Yorkshire ales.
Gifts for Babies
What do you get for the little person who doesn’t even understand Christmas yet? They’re probably going to prefer playing with the box and the wrapping paper anyway.
Teething Ring How about something useful like this teething ring from Little KG Boutique. It’s pretty too, and doubles up as a rattle. Very handy.
Wooden Shape Sorter Or a handmade, personalised wooden toy, like this shape sorter from Auntie Mims.
Personalised Silver Plated Baby Spoon For the baby born with silver spoon in it’s mouth, how about a personalised keepsake to treasure as baby grows up.
Gifts for Parents
You know what mums need? Time off, of course! So how about an experience. There’s a tonne of art and craft days at http://www.experiencedays.co.uk , as well as plenty of other experiences. Red Letter Days have vouchers for hobbies, crafts, food and drink, dance and music experiences and more. We also looked at what our colleagues at Not On The High Steet were offering. We found, amongst other things, a Harmonica lesson, a luxury chocolate tasting evening, and an alpaca walk and fleece felting experience.
Gifts for the Ethically Minded and Over-stuffed
So many of us just have too much stuff already. How nice would it be to share the Christmas love with individuals and communities that really need it. Oxfam have vouchers that will buy a goat for a rural family or provide winter warmth for a refugee, or a toilet for a village, and much more. Good Gifts have vouchers that help people set up micro businesses, buy text books, provide baby clothes etc. That’s just how all encompassing our Gift Guide is!
Gifts for Music Lovers
If you have a music-lover to buy for, look no further than Guitar Geekery, with mugs, tshirts, posters and more.
Or the best of musical biographies in the Rough Trade shop. Or some vinyl from an independent record store. To find a local one in the UK, search here or for the USA search here. They aren’t definitive lists, but they’re a start.
Gifts for Foodies
True foodies are a bit tricky. Do they really want a kit? They probably have half the ingredients already. And they’re probably sinking under a mound of recipe books. But what about something a bit unusual? Make your own bacon perhaps? Or cheese?
Yorkshire’s finest, Betty’s do vouchers. Treat someone local to a posh afternoon tea, or a choice from the Betty’s mail order service for those further afield.
Gifts for your Lover
Ahem, well, it depends doesn’t it. Romantic, sexy, practical ? Well, here’s something cheesy. Or should we say chocolatey. A Romantic Chocolate Gesture from Morse Toad.
What about some gorgeous jewellery. We like this pendant by Kaila Jewellery, if Santa’s reading this, nudge nudge. And who doesn’t want a swish new watch eh? This Zoom Beat Watch from Maxout is something a bit different.
Gifts for Children
Children can never have enough books. In our humble opinion. Whatever they’re in to, there’s a book for that. The Book Trust gives exhaustive lists and ideas for all ages and interests. Have a browse. What could be better!
Gifts from DYP
Of course no DYP Gift Guide would be complete without including DYP gifts too! Lots of cheeky mugs, prints and teatowels.
Just 17 days to go, it’s time for some serious Christmas preparations. Need a new sofa? Deep-cleaning the house? Forget all that. Boil it down to the essentials. Booze, cards, tree, food, presents. Who cares about the rest?
Here’s eight things you should do right now to prepare for Christmas.
- Do your online shopping. Remember last year when you ordered everything last minute and had to explain to the kids that Santa had broken down on the motorway? Last date for Royal Mail posting is 21st But you know your parcel will get stuck at the depot for three days. Come on, how much stress do you need?
- Get your cards written and sent. What, you’re not sending any this year? Aww man, not any? Here’s five good reasons why you really should. The earlier you send them, the more likely you are to get some in return, hehe!
- Book your supermarket delivery slot. Guess what, Tesco’s delivery slots are ALL TAKEN for the week before Christmas in our area. Already! Arghh! ……. ‘scuse me while I do my order….
- … I’m back. Bake and freeze some Christmas deserts this weekend. Make up some mince pies and freeze them in their tart tin. You can bake them from frozen. Great for those emergency last minute guests. Or how about making up some Christmas icecream? There’s a recipe here http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/78600/christmas-pudding-ice-cream but you can mix the fruit and spices into ready-made icecream to speed things up.
- If you haven’t already got your Christmas tree, get it now. Who hasn’t spent days driving round town looking for the last tree. And not finding one. And having to cut out a tree shape in green paper and stick it on the wall? Oh, just us then.
- Wrapping paper. Have you got? It’s surprising how long it takes to wrap presents. Unless you’re a bloke/cheat who just bungs everything in gift bags. Anyway, start doing it now, and save yourself drinking time on Christmas eve.
- Hide the sweets and chocolate. Places that have proved childproof in this house: inside flour packets, behind the most dull looking books, in my sock draw. Nowhere else is safe. Plus, if you forget, that makes a nice surprise sometime in the future.
- And get into the Christmas spirit. Come on, you know you want to. And if you can’t find any, try the wine instead.
DYP favourite Local Businesses: Tomorrow is Small Business Saturday. It’s a campaign to support, inspire and promote small businesses across the entire UK. Encompassing a great celebration and a shift towards buying local and being more aware of where your products come from, who makes them and are they ethically made.
My, it’s busy at DYP headquarters this month. But that hasn’t stopped us from producing a fabulous new range of Hygge Christmas cards. And in the spirit of Hygge it’s come about with a lovely collaboration with a great friend.
If you’ve not yet heard of Hygge (pronounced hue-gah) it’s a Danish word that describes simple pleasure, comfort, and good times. It’s all about being with friends and family, cosying up, happiness, kinship and simpleness. Well, running a greetings card company is not always simple and cosy, but we do thrive on friendship and family. So we were thrilled when a friend got in touch with a proposal.
The fabulous papercutting artist and all round good egg called us to see if we wanted to collaborate with her. How could we say no? Her designs are amazing, and we couldn’t resist. This is a first for DYP, and we’re really excited about it.
Melissa Holmes of Holmes-made Papercuts is a self-taught papercutting artist. She creates her delicate works of art using paper, fabric, watercolour and a scalpel. Formally a journalist, Melissa shares our passion for words, and combines those with her love of natural surrounds. Her work often includes flowers, architecture, quotations and typography. She produces special personalized commissions for clients, as well as teaching workshops.
Hygge Christmas Cards
We have worked with Melissa to create a gorgeous range of Hygge Christmas cards. The artwork by Melissa is inspired by her papercutting and is printed using luxury archival ink on luxury 400gsm paper. We think you’ll agree, they’re a little bit special.
We don’t have to explain the importance of Thanksgiving to our friends over the pond. But here in the UK, it’s still a bit of a mystery. What exactly is it?
The First Thanksgivings
It all started with those first European settlers in America. In Canada it’s traced back to 1578. Explorer Martin Frobisher had been trying to make his way by sea from Britain to the Pacific around by a northwest passage. He held his thanksgiving celebration of surviving the journey. He held the ceremony on Nunavut Island, with a service to give thanks to God.
And then again French Canadians trace it the early 1600s and the first French settlers celebrating their successful harvests.
New elements to the celebrations were added as new immigrants from Europe arrived, but the turkey thing didn’t really get there until American Revolution when those fleeing the revolution settled in Canada.
In the USA, the first thanksgiving is usually attributed to the Pilgrim Fathers in 1621. Puritans emigrated from England in the 1620s. They took with them traditions of fasting and thanksgiving with them. Their Thanksgiving was for their harvest. But we have to remember that the USA was being settled by people from all over Europe. They all brought their own individual traditions with them, and put them in the melting pot. There are claims for instance that Spanish explorers in Texas celebrated thanksgiving feasts much earlier.
Whatever the origins, it was much much later that an actual date was settled on. And wasn’t until 1941 that the US settled on the third Thursday in November. Canada celebrates it on the second Monday of October.
So that’s the background. I guess we’ve all watched enough movies to get the idea of the celebration. Traditionally there’s turkey on the menu, as far as the food is concerned. And Pumpkin Pie. And it’s all about friends and family. It’s often a much bigger social occasion than Christmas. There’s obviously a religious part to it, with Thanksgiving to God, but it’s also a cultural secular celebration.
The days after Thanksgiving are given as holiday for many. Except retail staff, who probably have their busiest day of the year. Retailers take the opportunity to offer huge incentives for people to start their Christmas shopping. The Friday after Thanksgiving has become known as Black Friday. And Cyber Monday: when everyone returns to work and presumably uses their works’ internet to do their online shopping.
But it’s Thanksgiving itself that has the real cultural significance for Americans. We wish you all a very happy day!
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