Trainee Father Christmases try on their new uniforms at Wookey Hole, Somerset

Back to Santa school: What does it take to be a department-store Father Christmas?

It takes more than just a jolly laugh and a red suit to play Father Christmas to a queue of demanding children. Nick Harding dons hat, beard and fake belly to undergo some seasonal training.

Being Modern: Alt.Christmas

As the forces of commerce gather for the fast-approaching festivities, we would do well to guard against another stain that has, of late, indelibly marked the spirit of the season: "alternative" takes on our cherished traditions.

A feast for all the senses: Bargain ways to glam up your home

The right atmosphere creates a mood of celebration.

Pictures to get you feeling Christmassy

From Obama high-fiving an elf, to a sea lion wearing antlers, we bring you a selection of images that will get you feeling festive.

Issy, age 11

'All I want for Christmas': Letters from Santa's postbag

From requests for Lego and leg warmers to a popcorn maker and a Puffle, letters to Santa are an art form in themselves. Clare Dwyer Hogg delves into the world of children's wishlists.

Stage rage: The school nativity play has always been a mine field for parental tensions

'Tis the season to be ANGRY

News of a bloody brawl at a school nativity play comes as no surprise to John Walsh. It's all part of the new Christmas spirit, he explains: pushy, stressed out and red in tooth and claw

<p>1. Leeds Christkindelmarkt</p>
<p>Until 18 December, leeds.gov.uk</p>
<p>Leeds' Millennium Square turns into a little bit of Germany with 40 visiting German traders, and there's even an authentic bierkeller.</p>

The 10 Best Christmas markets

1. Leeds Christkindelmarkt

Until 18 December, leeds.gov.uk

Leeds' Millennium Square turns into a little bit of Germany with 40 visiting German traders, and there's even an authentic bierkeller.

Have yourself a Merry DIY Christmas!

Whether it's because of the economy or a yearning for nostalgia, more people are making their own decorations this year

Being Modern: #46 Christmas cards

What, you might ask, is remotely modern about the sending and receiving of greetings cards at Christmas? Been around since the 1840s... Queen Victoria, Sir Henry Cole, yada, yada. The practice developed, you made a list, you put a day aside to write the cards, address envelopes, lick stamps and sit back and wait for your own mantelpiece to fill.

'Tis the season: Tim Wheeler and Emmy the Great get festive

We wish you an alternative Christmas: Beyond the world of the cheesy festive album

Had enough of Teen heart-throbs, reality TV stars and cheesy crooners? Craig Mclean investigates the rise of the alternative festive album

Being Modern: #45 Christmas lights

The country is aglow again. No, it's not the return of the riots. It's the turn of the Christmas lights, turning our high streets into fantasy wonderlands. And occasionally what looks like a pretty poor advert for Ryness, such is the insouciance with which twinkling bulbs are casually strung between irregularly spaced trees.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

    Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

    Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

    £40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

    £40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

    Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

    Day In a Page

    Independent Travel
    Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
    Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
    Vietnam
    Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
    South Africa
    Spain
    Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
    Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

    Finally, a diet that works

    Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
    Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

    Say it with... lyrics

    The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
    Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

    The joys of 'thinkering'

    Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
    Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

    Monique Roffey interview

    The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
    Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

    Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

    Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
    DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

    Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

    It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
    Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

    How we met

    Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

    Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

    Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
    Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

    Who does your club need in the transfer window?

    Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
    The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015