Christmas can be traditional and classical: it can be divine, sedate and serene. But it can also be downright bonkers. And the team here at How to Christmas are not at all averse to a quirky Christmas. If it’s putting a twist on an old convention or wearing the most outrageous of festive jumpers, if it’s skinny dipping on Christmas morning or declaring your love for the holiday season on a questionable t-shirt we say embrace the cool – and not so cool – of Yule.
There was a time when to wear a Christmas woolly pully was naff-ness personified. It opened you up to all kinds of ridicule and instant snap judgments on your mental state. Even Mr. Darcy was made to look decidedly un-cool. Remember Colin Firth’s reindeer polo neck sweater in “Bridget Jones’s Diary”? But there has been a change in the wind…a cold enough wind to make you want to pull on your Christmas jumper and be admired for doing so. They are now festive fashion statements of substance. Didn’t we Christmas fiends always know it, deep down? So where do we find the snazziest of choices? Read on dear friends, read on.
Woolly Babs Christmas Jumpers – what a selection and what a joy. This mother and son company in Yeadon on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales tap into the inner child in all of us. Their festive sweaters for men, women and children – even pets – squeak and jingle to get you noticed in more ways than one. Designs have featured on the BBC’s “The One Show” and were worn by Keith Lemon and David Hasselhof on ITV2’s “Celebrity Juice”. They’ve clearly come a long way from 2008 when it all began for Babs as she made jumpers for her son Frank and his friend Janine. The story goes, people tried to buy them off their backs in the pub. And so it started. A squeaky turkey or robin jumper for kids will cost around £35. Adult sweaters are in the £45 to £50 range. T-shirt and aprons are available as well. All products are handmade and machine washable. Above all they are great fun and excellent value. Check out woollybabs.com.
Christmas Jumper Company – Erica and Dave’s Manchester-based company has made sweaters for major television commercials and programmes on the BBC and ITV – including “Coronation Street” and “Strictly Come Dancing”. We love that this company grew from a practical joke into a wonderful success story and also adore the CrimboFreak characters that give extra meaning to each jumper. There’s Rudolf and Wally, Frosty and Efin Elf – among others – all with their own back-stories. Don’t tell Ed about Efin Elf – it might give him ideas. All the sweaters are designed in the company’s Manchester studio and are machine washable. Stock might be limited so get in quick. Adult jumpers should be in the £40 bracket. Excellent value. A new ‘Light Up’ range has been introduced for added festive sparkle. Visit christmasjumpercompany.co.uk.
The Christmas Day swim in the Serpentine in London’s Hyde Park has been taking place since 1864. It is only open to members of the Serpentine Swimming Club, who train to cope with the chilly waters. Make that icy waters. The winner of the 100-yard swim is presented with the Peter Pan Cup, which was first presented by “Peter Pan” author J.M. Barrie in 1904. Skimpy swimwear only, please. Wetsuits are banned.
The Inn at Christmas Place
We have no time for the bah-humbug types who bemoan the early splash of Christmas in shops and online. We would much rather they keep their opinions to themselves. It really isn’t hurting anyone and actually brings joy to those who revel in the Christmas build-up. It is with those Scrooges in mind that we defiantly introduce fellow lovers of the season to a venue where Christmas is celebrated every day of the year. Welcome to ‘The Inn at Christmas Place’.
Set in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee in the southern United States this enchanting destination delivers Christmas cheer to its guests no matter the month. There’s always a fully decorated Christmas tree, a Glockenspiel in the lobby playing Christmas carols, wreaths in every room and a Singing Santa, who has been entertaining guests since the Inn opened in 2007. He also presents regular story-time in the lobby. The resort is located at 119 Christmas Tree Lane (of course it is!) and its phone number is 1-888-HOLY-NIGHT (where, in true American style, the letters represent digits). Go to innatchristmasplace.com for more details and to have a 3D room tour.
Visit our Quirky Christmas board on Pinterest for more inspiration. Pinterest is a collection of millions of amazing and intriguing images and creations you can ‘pin’ to a board that you create. Signing up is simple: just enter your email address and create a password. You can then create a board by giving it a name of your choice, for example ‘Quirky Christmas’, and carry out a search for pictures and ideas in that genre. Your boards can be secret so only you can access them or be accessible to all. The content is strictly monitored so all you’ll find are inspirational and rather lovely photographs.
Christmas is a time for that extra little bit of glitz and glamour – and slightly whacky, over-the-top accessorising. Many nail salons will offer Christmas styling for your festive manicure in the shape of snowmen and Santa finger nails, complete with the compulsory Christmas glitter. If manicures are not your thing then why not succumb to the temptation of the multitude of hair bands and clips, both sparkling and downright silly, that abound at this time of year. We challenge you to don a pair of Rudolph’s antlers or Elf ears and not start smiling. Wear them to the supermarket and see how many other people smile too.
Snowmen onesies and Santa suits are also perfectly permissible at this time of the year. Why not wear one for your Christmas visits and gift giving to start the occasion off in style. Clip-on antlers and Elf ears for your car will surely delight the younger children and probably embarrass the teenagers in your family but will spread a little seasonal cheer as you go about your travels.
Andy Park has gained a certain renown in the UK for celebrating Christmas every day. The English eccentric was featured on a Channel 5 programme in 2014 entitled “Crazy Christmas Compulsives” in which he said: “There’s never been a day gone by in the last 20 years that I haven’t had a Christmas Day. My family think I’m a bit crackers.” Andy began the ritual after he and his wife parted ways. Since then he’s unwrapped nearly 8,000 presents, cooked more than 6,000 turkeys and eaten more than 35,000 potatoes, 65,000 sprouts and 65,000 mince pies. “I’ve broken a lot of ovens,” he admitted. The cost of Christmas for him in that time: more than £200,000.
Over in the USA, a Christmas lover called Shay featured in another Channel 5 programme in 2014 entitled “My Crazy Christmas Obsession” in which we saw she shared her Oklahoman house with husband Thomas and 168 artificial Christmas trees. Shay admitted it “touches on the basis of insanity.” In the same show, Jacinta Cosby from Kansas revealed she owned around 5,000 snowmen, mostly comprising shop-bought ornaments and decorations. But Jacinta has also made one from snow or ice each year since 2001. She keeps them all in the freezer. Jacinta, whose husband Aaron has a 400-strong collection of nutcrackers, said: “Nobody in their right mind would do this.” Maybe this adage will console them all: “Obsessed is just a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated.”
Christmas in July
Christmas in July is a way for some people in southern hemisphere countries to enjoy the festivities to a winter backdrop, as their chilly season falls in June, July and August. They still celebrate Christmas in all its sunny glory in December – and that remains the proper festive season, regardless of the heat. In the northern hemisphere, Christmas in July is an excuse to bring out the decorations and give a Yuletide twist to summer activities.
The term was given notoriety with the release of US movie “Christmas in July” in 1940, but the phrase had been used as early as July 1933 at a summer camp for girls in North Carolina, USA where they celebrated with a tree, presents and a visit from Santa Claus.
A large Christmas in July luncheon was thrown in New York in 1944 to encourage early mailing for Christmas. It was a combined effort by American Army, Navy and Post Office officials to get parcels to servicemen and women in a timely fashion during World War II. This lunch was repeated in 1945.
Shops and advertisers started using Christmas in July themes around 1950, promoting summer sales. Even now, stores sell off old Christmas stock in July, especially in the United States and Canada.
Christmassy Fame Game
Here are famous people with names not exactly ill at place in the festive season: Oscar-winning actress Holly Hunter; “The King and I” actor Yul Brynner (if you forgive us the missing ‘e’); English pop group Prefab Sprout; Comedy genius and Oscar winner Robin Williams; TV presenter Noel Edmonds; Rock n’ roll legend Buddy Holly; Comedian & C4 “Bake Off” presenter Noel Fielding; Irish rock band The Cranberries; “Crossroads” actress Noele Gordon; Mexico’s multiple world boxing champion Leo Santa Cruz; Canadian-American “Dumb & Dumber” actress Lauren Holly; Rock singer and musician Noel Gallagher; Australian actress and singer Holly Valance; Former Paraguayan footballer Roque Santa Cruz; Olympic champion ice skater Robin Cousins. We’re sure you can come up with more on that long drive to visit relatives this Christmas.
Merry Tuba Christmas
Hundreds of tenor and bass tuba players gather at The Rink at Rockerfeller Centre, New York, USA on a Sunday in December to play Christmas music at the Annual Merry Tuba Christmas at Rockerfeller Center. The musicians come from all over the USA and in 2017 were led by Chris Wilhjelm, conductor of the famous Goldman Band. Conceived by tuba virtuoso Harvey Phillips to honour his teacher – the late William J. Bell – the first Tuba Christmas took place at Rockerfeller Centre in 1974. Bell, fittingly, was born on Christmas Day 1902. The unusual tuba tradition is now established in some 200 cities around the world.
Every year in October, more than 200 bearded men converge on a small town in the US state of Michigan to attend the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School for a three-day study in what it takes to be Father Christmas. The students and alumni learn the history of Santa, proper dress code for the big man and how best to deliver a hearty “Ho Ho Ho!” They can then take their skills into shopping malls, stores and theme parks across the states.
Dyker Heights Lights
New York is magical at Christmas and Dyker Heights in Brooklyn, NY might just be the festive lights capital of the USA, if not the world. Hundreds of homes decorate their exteriors in a fascinating plethora of illuminations: a sight to behold. Visit Brooklyn in the early evenings to stroll down streets that are declaring their love of the season.