Posted by Nixon
17 December, 2021

As Christmas swings by, we’re dissecting festive adverts, gazing at window displays and making resolutions.


We often hear about the famous Christmas window displays for Harrods, Liberty London or Macy’s, but you’ve probably never heard about the windows of the largest department store in Eastern Europe. Every year, TsUm, Russia’s first department store situated in Moscow, puts on its Christmas display.

I stumbled across Diana Kuksa’s storyboards from Christmas 2017, which give an insight into how sketches are translated into reality.


Having recently joined a sea shanty group, I’ve been learning some traditional Cornish carols and enjoying the legends behind the lyrics. A particular favourite tells of the origins of stargazy pie, which is eaten on the 23rd Dec (incidentally also my birthday) to celebrate Tom Bawcock’s heroic deeds back in the 16th century. He set sail amidst a raging storm to catch enough fish to feed the stranded community of Mousehole, just in time for Christmas.


The Institution of Engineering and Technology is raising awareness of our data habits, including keeping unnecessary old photos, or watching the TV whilst using our phones; all of which are contributing to our digital carbon footprint.

The UK contributes over 355 tonnes of CO2 every year, with the average person accumulating 10.6kg of CO2 (the equivalent of over 112,500 return flights from London to Perth) from holding onto unwanted photos. 

I’d never given it much thought, but looking at my phone, I have 10,107 photos (yikes!) – and I definitely don't need three images of a roast I ate last weekend! 

I don't usually do New Year’s resolutions, but this year I definitely want to be more mindful about my digital habits.


In these conspicuous consumptive times, not least at Christmas, when a sea of well meant but ultimately unwanted gifts splashes around our feet, it's refreshing to observe how upcycling is now most definitely on trend, particularly in the often-fickle fashion industry. Self-taught Andrew Burgess, aka Wandy the Maker, is a prime example, having amassed over a quarter of a million followers in just one year with a TikTok account featuring him taking textiles and reinventing them as items worthy of the catwalk. Now, where did I put that Christmas jumper...?


Aldi has once again managed to come out as the public and critic’s choice for best Christmas advert, making it two very good years in a row. 

The store’s version of A Christmas Carol, featuring Kevin the Carrot and Ebanana Scrooge, ticks all the boxes, with a clear narrative, fun, joy, and ultimately, the right balance between product and brand. 

Where Tesco fails miserably with its overly productised advert, and M&S only stumbles through, Aldi keeps things simple and playful, bringing fun back to a market in need of a lift.

One of the biggest surprises was John Lewis, whose electric dreams-inspired advert failed to make an emotional connection. Missing the market at a time when people need to remember the joy and happiness of Christmas, this attempt to talk about the magic of Christmas through a young friendship doesn’t connect and doesn’t inspire the viewer. 

So what does this really mean? Well, brands must always consider not only what their key USP is within their advert, but also the feelings of consumers. 

In a marketplace where prices are rising and the cost of living is going through the roof, there’s no surprise that a cheerful, timeless story with a brand twist makes a true connection and reminds people to add a little bit of Aldi into their Christmas shopping this festive season. 


Looking for a cheap and sustainable option for Christmas decorations this year, I stumbled across the idea of drying orange slices. The drying process took some time but made the whole room smell lovely, and the caramelised colours on the baked orange slices are stunning.


During lockdown last year, I began writing letters to my grandmother as a way of staying in touch. We still spoke on the phone, but I loved putting pen to paper and really thinking about what I wanted to say. Now that she’s no longer with us, I’m continuing the joy of letter writing thanks to The London Letters: a good old-fashioned letter-writing society and stationery store run by calligrapher Jennifer Bishop. I’ve enjoyed getting to know my pen pal (I haven’t had one of those since primary school), and having the opportunity to “meet” someone I wouldn’t otherwise have met. Especially at Christmas, it’s a really interesting way to slow down, take more care, and make real connections. 


One of my favourite things to do each year is visit London at Christmas – I love looking at all the lights and visiting the shop window displays to see what they have each come up with this time! Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to visit London this December, but have been admiring from afar. My favourite is Harvey Nichols; I love that they have created a window display based on exciting, happy colours that shine on to the pavements in front of it.


I’ve recently been trying to become more mindful and allow myself the opportunity to have a bit of “me time”, which, as a working mum to one little crazy busy toddler, isn’t something that’s easy to get.

On a couple of occasions I’ve caught ten minutes or so of the BBC2 TV show ‘Between the Covers’, in which Sara Cox discusses books with a panel of celebs. Whilst I’m not bothered about the celebs who are on it, it is interesting to see the array of different books that they submit for review. 

This has made me plan to make more time for reading recommended books and less time watching mindless TV, as to immerse yourself in a truly good book is, to me, one of life’s pleasures and something that I need to make time for!


I’d like to remember Virgil Abloh, a huge inspiration and creative powerhouse. His work ethic and output were mind-boggling and his legacy is indisputable. See how Off-White Stores Around the World are paying tribute.


As a new-dad-to-be, I’ve been thrown headlong into the world of baby brands, and wow: it’s a minefield. Most tug on the heartstrings (and the wallet) and Woset is no exception. Beautiful imagery, some animation and a stripped-down colour palette, and I’m sold hook, line and sinker. Then you realise it’s essentially some blocks of wood and nice cotton trousers (I did see if they made them in my size) and you think about the priorities in life. Still, a lovely identity nonetheless.


I love Christmas, and have been getting thoroughly in the spirit of the season by watching all of my favourite childhood Christmas films: The Snowman, Tales of the Tooth Fairies, Home Alone, The Great Escape and, of course, a fantastic late entry: Elf.


I've recently been enjoying anything by Phil Edwards on YouTube. I originally became aware of him through a series on the media outlet Vox, called Almanac. In the series, he talked about general history, with videos such as The bridge design that helped win World War II, but he also talks about why some things are the way they are, with videos such as How granite countertops became an American obsession. He's done another series with Vox called Overrated, in which he talks about things like why ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ became famous, which is also great. He now has his own YouTube channel dedicated to the same sort of history thing, and I love it.


As we reach the end of another year, the Web Almanac has released its annual state of the web report for 2021. The report has been put together by 119 members of the web community, with 8.2m websites tested. Head over there to take a look.