The Tab Guide To Occupying Your Time This Christmas

Finding it difficult to do anything other than eat and gaze pensively this vacation? BETH SWORDS shows us how to banish over-indulgence and underwhelming revelations.

aunties boring bourgeois ceviche Christmas church fat food love actually marks and spencer obama tradition

Christmas is a time for meeting up with family, merriment and festive cheer. How the first item in this charming (and oft mentioned) list of three can be put with the latter two often bemuses me, especially when faced with the annual interrogation from the auntie.

Auntie M wants to know whether I’ve found one of these yet

This, the pithily named ‘Tab Guide To Occupying Your Time Over Christmas’, will help you out in those lulls between awkward encounters or during those absurd festive traditions that no one finds fun. Embrace this guide and forget inane chatter. Instead, be a mild annoyance this Christmas and fill your days with cheap, cheerful, endless, thrills.


Everyone knows the family trip to church is a shameless attempt at tradition and serenity. Both the concept and the activity are forced. However, ‘The Expression Game’ will get you through.  Assess the congregation – who is praying for what this Christmas? Who is the most wholesome person there? Who’s wearing that WWJD wristband out of style rather than substance?

Second row, brown hair – a true believer?

Marks and Spencer Activity #1

Word on the street tells me our consumerist ways have pushed M&S to stay open 24/7 as we approach Christmas. I see this as a challenge. Pull an all-nighter in your nearest M&S store.

Marks and Spencer Activity #2

Once in the sacred halls, cause a stir. The aisles are lined with distressed, overly-veiny bourgeois females, accompanied by perplexed husbands (a hub of patriarchy-shattering activity…). They are just waiting for an anarchic time-waster to make those foreheads all the veinier. This is where you come in. Demand a turkey that you didn’t order in advance. Take up numerous assistants’ time searching for obscure, or even fictitious, vegetables. Leave several baskets filled with miscellaneous items dotted about the store, blocking the way for trolleys.

Watch as a middle-class haven descends into bedlam.

Moments after the salmon ceviche was discounted

Decorating The Home

Parents like nothing more than their child helping out round the home. Don’t. Decorations politics are boring. Be original. Minimalism is not the key. Try mixing materials and using normally functional items as quaint ornaments. I’m thinking hand whisk as a bauble or dishcloth as a rustic take on tinsel. Your parents question the nettles hanging from the lights or the broken glass scattered round the Christmas tree? Scorn their predictable deference for all things twee.

Useful Chic


There’s nothing more pleasant than seeing a chum’s contorted expression on Christmas morning. However, Christmas is a time to let yourself go. Annoyingly snap your papa mid-turkey baste or your Grandma mid-slumber. But, always remember, in your plumper post-Christmas condition, steer clear of facial shots. Try unusual angles, zoomed-in extraterrestrial poses or picturesque views. Instantly gratifying but doesn’t let the world see your multi-chinned assets.

Buying Niche Gifts

It’s completely legit to be limited when it comes to forking out money for relations you only see once a year. However, don’t let this limit the intellectual rigour to your gifts. How about writing down the URL of Obama’s second inauguration speech on Youtube or printing out a Google image of Kim Jong-un? These should all lead onto fruitful debates this Christmas time. It’s not your fault if the recipient doesn’t appreciate the need to end political absolutism as Obama did and Kim does not.

For the loved one that has everything

Harry of Love Actually fame once aptly said, “Christmas shopping. Never an easy or pleasant task”. A claim I feel we can expand to many events this fair Noel. So, there you are. I say be original this Christmas. Just don’t let social convention preaching goodwill and cheer dictate what you do.