Post-Christmas Calculations: Very Accurate Statistics I’ve Deduced This Year

DISCLAIMER: Hari will not be liable for any inaccuracies in the below calculations.

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  1. Love Actually must be shown at least 6 times over the festive period across various channels, otherwise the law states that it is not officially Christmas. I probably watch, on average, 2.5x Love Actually each year.
  2. Despite most things being the same every year, we still manage to mess up quantities: our 2016 festive stash saw 4 Christmas puddings, 9 bottles of mulled wine, 3 jars of cranberry sauce, but just one lonely bottle of prosecco. It had to fizz alone.
  3. I still highlight 80% of the Radio Times, only to watch about two things I’d wanted to. In fact, the highlighting probably takes up more time than the programmes I watch.
  4. Time moves faster over Christmas – it’s a blur of days where you wake up at 10 and before you know it, it’s time to get into pyjamas again.  Then suddenly BAM! January comes along and we are forced to return to normality, despite it only being Christmas Eve yesterday.
  5. There will always be a debate about just how long the turkey should be in the oven for. I think next year, I may roll a dice to come up with a cooking time.
  6. BRAINTEASER: If the average ratio of wrapping time to opening time is about 10:1 – 5 minutes spent wrapping (aka locating sellotape, choosing ribbons, writing gift tag), to 30 seconds of ‘opening’, (aka tearing, ripping and then binning aforementioned laboriously embellished gift-wrap), decide whether it is all a total waste of time and effort. (Please show your workings)
  7. There must only be 8 cracker jokes in circulation, as we get the same ones each year, and even the same ones across the same table. (Cracker people, please get some more inventive staff writers)
  8. Each year, without fail, we will all have a spectacular time, despite variables including arguments, illness, dry turkey, TV debate. The equation usually sorts itself out, and by January 3rd, we shall all be mourning the lack of infinite turkey sandwiches, alcohol with units that didn’t count, and hours of TV it is acceptable to watch. Go figure.

 

London’s Woodland-Themed Christmas Lights: Fab or Fail?

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Hands up if anyone has ever seen a rabbit hopping about in Covent Garden. Or how about a fox making its way from Trafalgar Square? Perhaps you may have come across a squirrel in Seven Dials? No I have not gone completely mad – but Covent Garden may have. This year, Seven Dials have gone with a woodland theme for their festive displays. Original, yes. But does it work?

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Last night signalled a step nearer to the big day, as the Christmas lights in Seven Dials were officially switched on. It was a whole evening of festivities, with mulled wine and Christmas cocktails, money off and music – myself, along with a fair few other savvy Londoners, took this opportunity to get 20% off most shops and collect our complimentary drinks: we have to make the most of these things after all.

With free grilled cheese, more mince pies than is possible to eat, and the chance to toast your own marshmallows at the fire-pit S’more station, this was more than just shopping. Wreath-making workshops were even on the agenda, for the people that were feeling particularly productive on a Thursday night.

At 6pm was the big switch on. Crowds gathered around the centre of Seven Dials, where all seven streets converge to a central point, where what looks like the Monument’s rather puny cousin, stands proudly. This was not just a case of pressing a button – there was a build-up to a) get people very excited and b) to try and explain the reason why Seven Dials was full of cardboard cut-outs of various woodland animals.

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This build-up consisted of a Lumiere-like light projection on the surrounding buildings, while a voice read out a rhyming story to narrate the projections. I listened avidly, but still didn’t manage to make head nor tail of why the woodland creatures ended up in the middle of London. Admittedly, the light display of foxes and rabbits on Covent Garden’s buildings were pretty cute, but when the poem tried to find multiple rhymes for ‘Seven Dials’, you just knew it wasn’t going to end well.

Finally, a countdown ensued, and on 1, the streets of Seven Dials suddenly lit up. It cannot be denied that this was a thoroughly festive affair, especially when acclaimed band Dirty Old Brasstards began to play ‘So here it is, Merry Christmas’.

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Looking around I did indeed feel very Christmassy. The lights, even if they are in the shape of a badger, or surrounding a bemused bunny, may be slightly odd, but they are fairly cute, and very twinkly.

I may not be following in Seven Dials’ footsteps, and decorating my tree with deer decorations and bunny baubles: but the Covent Garden area is definitely branching out with their forest theme, daring to be different, and making London even more full of lights, which, let’s face it, can’t be a bad thing.

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More is definitely more: Christmas gaudiness, memories and a lack of style

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London has definitely jumped on the ‘more is more’ bandwagon with their festive decorations this year. I think that means I should too.  

 

Style is not just about what you wear: interior design and home décor navigate through trends just as fashion does. Just as some people may be queuing up outside Topshop to get the latest winter coat, others may be on the edge of their chair, ordering the new season’s curtains online. But when it comes to Christmas, is stylish superior? Or should we all just accept that festive decorations are meant to be gaudy and garish, and when it comes to tinsel, more really is more?

The tradition of decorating the tree, or even adorning the house with all manner of sparkly things in December is a much anticipated event in my family. Indeed it seems like most of the country get excited at the prospect of cracking out the Christmas decs, having to buy new fairy lights (because they inevitably break every year), and admiring the wealth of festive ornaments on sale this time around.

I know people that choose a different colour scheme each Christmas: gold and green last year, purple and silver this time, perhaps a red and white affair in 2016? Of course some individuals see decorating just as they see fashion, trawling through home décor magazines to find the newest way to jazz up the tree, or the latest colour scheme that the celebs are going for. Not only does this entail forking out a fair amount of dosh for new baubles, lights and ornaments each year (let’s face it, these sort of people are not ones to get their Christmas goods from Tesco), but it means discounting and forgetting the mountain of decorations that may have been bought last year, or the year before, or the year before that….

For me, part of the fun about decorating for Christmas, and bringing the battered bauble boxes down from the attic each year, is rediscovering various things we have collected: the peg doll angel I’d made when in playgroup, the straw snowflake I won in a German quiz in secondary school, the ice-skating bauble I carefully chose at the garden centre last year. Each December, we have had a tradition of each getting a new decoration, meaning that every year our decoration box gets fuller and fuller, and every time we open it, we have more and more memories to add. Consequently, our tree is never co-ordinated or colour-schemed; never minimalist or chic – it is a huge multi-coloured amalgamation of various glittery baubles, flickering fairy lights, and prehistoric homemade ‘things’. But it is marvellous this way: our tree is a 3D memory trigger. A reminder of all the Christmases we have shared together, and ultimately, something that makes us happy.

It may not be the most stylish tree in town, or the most matchy-matchy spectacle on the street, but I would much rather have all-out, if a little garish, but incredibly meaningful Christmas decorations, and I think many would agree. If you can’t break style rules once a year, when can you? I think on this occasion, crimes against fashion are completely legal.

 

Originally published in CUB Magazine, 2014

Covent Garden and Christmas in November

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‘Christmas’ and all that comes with it, the songs, the madness, the big brands and the adverts, seems to be creeping earlier each year.

As soon as November rolled along, Oxford Street and Regent Street went into Christmas mode – entirely prematurely if you ask me. By mid-December, the novelty and excitement of all things Christmas will have worn off, and no doubt the tune of Mariah’s ‘All I Want for Christmas’ will be a grating sound on tired ears.

But seeing as we, the little Londoners who are powerless in the face of the capital’s decision on when Christmas should start, can’t do anything about it, we may as well try and enjoy the (way too early) festivities.

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Last night I wandered down to Covent Garden’s piazza, for the switching on of the famous lights. Not a length of tinsel in sight, these decorations are tasteful and magical; moving projections of snowflakes and giant mistletoe make for a cracking display. I must admit, the giant reindeer, the old fashioned lanterns and the glitzy disco balls alongside a comforting waft of mulled wine gave me that warm and fuzzy feeling.

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A Harrods Christmas pop-up shop has even opened next to the Royal Opera House; ridiculously Christmassy to walk around, despite the fact that even the chocolate coins are more than a student budget can stretch, and could easily get you a pint in Wetherspoons. For the next few days, Covent Garden is hosting their first Mulled Wine Festival, which is worth checking out if you fancy a hot cup of Glogg or a spiced cider. They even have micro-pigs to pet – insanely cute and a real crowd-drawer. Not sure how related to Mulled Wine these little things are, though. Unless someone tries to keep them warm and wraps the pigs in blankets (warning: keep away from any ovens).

For a slightly early Christmassy feeling, a shopping trip less daunting than the infamous Oxford Street, and an excuse to check out the many cafes, pubs and bars around one of London’s prettiest areas, I would put the lights in Covent Garden on your ‘To Do’ list asap.

DISCLAIMER: London’s My Lobster does not take responsibility for any over-consumption of mulled wine, or any overspending on super-cute Christmas baubles.