Consuming Issues: The A to Z of Christmas
Saturday 19 December 2009
A Allspice. Traditional Christmas pudding contains the unripe fruit of Pimenta dioica along with other imports: nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, sultanas, raisins, and brown sugar. Natural England would rather we feasted on Kentish cobnuts or vanilla ice cream. If there's any day to celebrate our fortune in consuming food out of the reach of a medieval king, it's 25 December.
B Behaviour. According to the author of Human Nature and the New Economics, Pete Lunn, shoppers are easily confused and highly suggestible, making them easy prey for marketing: "The advert tells you Nintendo is a family game that brings generations together, not an escape for teenage boys; or that whisky is a glass-clinking social warmer around the tree, not what we turn to when the wine has run out."
C Cava or champagne? An £18 champagne may have citrus, toasty notes but £12 bottles of bubbly cost too many notes. If good bubbly is out of each, wine merchants tip a £6 vintage cava.
D Dash. The dreaded last-day Christmas sales splurge. See N for Negligee.
E EBay. From sofas to cycles, internet aution sites such as eBay offer many goods at a fraction of the high street price. New products can be bought straightaway and second-hand goods often have little wear and tear.
F Firewood. Create a warm winter glow. Unused chimneys can be swept and tested and offcuts of wood found in skips. Potentially, free fuel for the house and the soul.
G Goose. Seven per cent of homes will serve up a goose rather a turkey this year. How to cook one? Gordon Ramsay, the chef, advises setting the oven at full blast and allowing 15 minutes a kilo: "The flesh should feel firm with a bit of spring when lightly pressed." Check the middle is 70C with an electronic thermometer. See T for Turkey.
H Holly. Evergreen decoration for homes grows on trees, gratis. Holly berries are edible to skylarks and voles (but not humans).
I Insurance. A boring but rewarding subject. Shopping around for home, contents and motor insurance next year, though, could save hundreds of pounds. Enough for a free Christmas.
J Jumpers. Many men will find one under the tree. Knitwear and casual tops are popular, with sales up by 27 per cent and 21 per cent respectively this Christmas, say market researchers TNS.
K Kids. What Africans will be taking to market if given a "goat pair". Goats produce milk to sell or drink, fertilisers to grow crops and cash-generating kids. Oxfam.org.uk/shop/gifts says: "All gifts are dispatched within three working days by First Class post." That's the certificates, not the goats.
L Leftovers. The best way to prevent endless turkey meals is to plump for the right size. Recipes for Christmas pie and other money and waste-saving meals are available free on the net. See lovefoodhate waste.com.
M Merriment. No moping – bank holidays are few and far between. The English and Welsh have eight, the Scots nine, the Northern Irish 10, the French 10 and Germans between 9 and 13, depending on the state.
N Negligee. Men are incorrigible late shoppers. Twenty-something and thirty-somethings stalk lingerie departments on Christmas Eve. One (female) sales assistant made a game of selling the most absurd, lurid and expensive lace.
O Oranges. Once exotic, now "ordinary", oranges are in season and surprisingly delicious cut into quarters. Ideal, perhaps, for a refreshing half-time break on Christmas Day.
P Plastic. Material for most children's toys (see Q for Quality).
Q Quality. Greenpeace suggests buying fewer but better quality gifts this year. While they may cost more, they last much longer and are unlikely to be dumped in the attic.
R Re-gifting. Novelty ties/purple toilet seats/dodgy toiletry sets can be sold online or recirculated, using recycled wrapping paper. See W.
S Sales. "New Year" sales begin online on Christmas Day. Bargains can be had then, for big purchases such as washing machines and TVs, which may have sold out a few days later. Most "headline bargains", though, are thin on the ground once the sales begin, being mostly an opportunity to flog unpopular and out-of-date stock
T Turkey. The Food Standards Agency has a few tips to avoid a seasonal break being marred by food poisoning: defrosting a bird can take days, turkeys should be stored on the lowest shelf in the fridge so juices don't contaminate other food. Preheat the oven 180C and for a turkey under 4.5 kilos, allow 45 minutes per kilo plus 20 minutes; 4.5 to 6.5 kilos, 40 minutes per kilo; and over 6.5kilos, 35 minutes per kilo.
U Underwear. According to a survey by a self-acclaimed "British pants giant", 37 per cent of men say novelty underwear is an awful present. "Men can be particular about their Christmas pants," according Kiniki.com's spokesman John Walker. "Buy a boy who likes boxers, briefs and you'll get short shrift, and men are just as fussy about colour."
V Visa. Credit cards are obliged to take liability if a retailer doesn't come up with the goods or goes bust. Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 covers sums between £100 and £30,000.
W Wrapping paper. A symbol of the throwaway society and always surprising, intact paper can be used again for smaller gifts. Large presents can be swaddled in newspapers.
X Xmas. Of which The Independent's style guide says: "NOT to be used (unless part of title or in a quote)." So, no mention of it here.
Y Yuletide. "Yule or Yule-tide is a winter festival that was initially celebrated by the historical Germanic peoples as a pagan religious festival," says Wikipedia, "though it was later absorbed into, and equated with, the Christian festival of Christmas." A Yule log was burned in the hearth, bereft of chocolate icing.
Z Zzzz. A relaxing nap after a big meal. Have a good one.
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
- 2 Argentina may change its capital city from Buenos Aires, says president
- 3 Joan Rivers: 'Palestinians deserve to be dead'
- 4 The 3D-printed key that can unlock anything
- 5 Lady al-Qa’ida: On the trail of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the world’s most wanted prisoner
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Money & Business
Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...
£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...
£50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, L...
£60000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A prestigious leading professiona...
Day In a Page
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony