How to: Sell Christmas

By Oscar Quine

Fairies, penguins and trench warfare: it's open season on Christmas ads. Mark Given, Sainsbury's head of brand communications, tells us how to manufacture that feeling.

"Think about the heart as well as the head. Christmas is a special time, and great food and presents are part of it. But we wanted to talk about the real meaning of Christmas: sharing it with family and friends."

"Be brave. A snowman dancing to Nat King Cole just isn't enough. We know what an emotive story the Christmas Day Truce is, but in the context of our 20-year relationship with The Royal British Legion, we thought it was an amazing opportunity to raise funds and awareness for them."

"Do your homework. You can't make an ad with that level of talkability without making sure you've covered all the bases, both pre- and post-production."

Rotating column: Words fail

By James Vincent

Words are horrible things. Forever being primped and preened like wilful children, forced into proper spellings and spattered with dictionary definitions. Just look at them here, a bunch of black squiggles short-circuiting your brain to create voice and meaning. Completely unruly. But with emoji, on the other hand – wonderful, colourful emoji – there's no grammar to be corrected, no foreign languages to master and they work perfectly in both 'ironic' and 'sincere' orientations: just point and shoot. Much of their genius stems from Japan, where they were invented in the late 1990s to sell phones to teenagers. They save time while texting, and have all the manic cheer of cartoon anime faces. And perhaps they go some way towards making up the emotional shortfall in this era of constant, passive, communication. Thank God, then, for emoji.

Instant Ethics

By Ellen E Jones

Dear Ellen,

Q. Every day my colleague insists on eating his dinner at his desk and makes slurping and chewing noises. Can I call him out?

A. Noisy al desko eating is a classic symptom of stress. Your poor colleague doesn't even have 10 minutes spare to pop into Greggs for a tuna crunch bloomer! Consider this a slurp for help and offer some support.


Micro extract: Jim Morrison

"As they ran the hot water Pam finally came alive. She screamed, flew into the bathroom after them. Jumped in and lay on top of the body as the bath began to fill, screaming his name over and over. 'Jim! Jim! Jim!'"

From 'Love Becomes a Funeral Pyre' by Mick Wall (Orion, £20)

Four play: Panic-bought goods

1. Petrol*

2. Rice

3. Lightbulbs

4. Firearms

*Post-Suez panic-buying this day, 1956

All Good Things

By Charlotte Philby


Graphic content

The second in a beautifully produced series, 'Manuals 2: Design and Identity Guidelines' is a compendium of graphic standards and features work for companies including IBM and the Dutch police. £75;


Ball & chain

Focusing on clean lines, the new Track Ball collection from Chelsea College of Art graduate Jessie Harris is a masterclass in minimal sculptural jewellery. Prices vary;


Nuts about milk

The Pressery's almond milk is our new (healthy) addiction. Launched this year by two friends, it is now available in four flavours, each made from organic Spanish almonds and cold-pressed by hand in the UK. £3.20-£6.99,