Consuming Issues: The A to Z of Christmas


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; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
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 Money & Business

    Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

    £60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

    Guru Careers: Management Accountant

    £27 - 35k + Bonus + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Management Accountant is needed ...

    Guru Careers: Project Manager / Business Analyst

    £40-50k + Benefits.: Guru Careers: A Project Manager / Business Analyst is nee...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

    'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

    In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
    VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

    How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

    Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
    They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

    Typefaces still matter in the digital age

    A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
    Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

    'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

    New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
    The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

    Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

    Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

    Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
    Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

    Crisp sales are in decline

    As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
    Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

    Ronald McDonald the muse

    A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
    13 best picnic blankets

    13 best picnic blankets

    Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
    Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

    Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

    Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
    Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'