Posted by Megan Oldcorn
17 December, 2018

With the bumper Radio Times now in sight, we’re rounding off 2018 with a collection of our Christmas-themed favourites and festive inspiration.


Few subjects cause more arguments in the Nixon office than the film It’s a Wonderful Life (some claim it is THE GREATEST FILM EVER MADE and others would rather stick pins in their eyes than watch it again), but it brings hope to many people at what can be a tough time of year. For the festive season, Virgin Trains painted iconic lines from the film in bright yellow lettering onto the edge of their platforms in a drive to raise awareness of the importance of looking after each others’ mental health. At a time when Christmas campaigns are big budget and hi-tech affairs, simple and physical applications like this really stand out. Look no further for evidence of the power that words have over our outlook and emotions. 


We’ve worked with Andrew Davidson over the past year on a packaging rebrand project for Ginsters, commissioning him to produce some beautiful woodcut illustrations that feature in the design. It’s therefore lovely to see his work on Royal Mail’s Christmas stamps this year, and a fitting ending to 2018!


The Public Domain Review has put together a pictorial history of Santa Claus, showing how he became the jolly red-suited man we know today.


When it comes to Christmas, I’m all for the vintage approach: black and white films (preferably starring James Stewart or Cary Grant), homemade mince pies and proper glass baubles on a real tree. I like harking back to the Christmas spirit that thrived before the festive season became all about spend-per-head, novelty gifts and Black Friday. So while I’ve bought a few presents, I’ve also made a lot this year (I’m hoping my skills have developed since the pasta necklaces of school days). If you fancy doing the same, Pinterest is a great source of ideas – just search for ‘homemade Christmas gifts’. Alternatively, have a go at some homemade decorations and wrapping with Seasalt Cornwall’s guides to making paper lanterns and hand-printed wrapping paper.


It’s the fourth year of the annual UX Trends report. Have a read as they take a close look at how UX has changed in 2018, and how we can be ahead of it in 2019.  


Every Christmas, brands, shops and supermarkets battle it out to pull at the heart (and purse) strings of the nation with the most emotional Christmas TV commercial. For many, the highly anticipated John Lewis advert signals the start of the festive season.

However, this year, the leading department store has been overshadowed by a budget Christmas advert made by a freelance filmmaker from Gloucestershire. Film producer Phil Beastall made a short Christmas message and posted it on social media last month. It’s since attracted nearly two million views on YouTube. Viewers compared the £50 clip to adverts like John Lewis’ £7million effort, saying that it “knocks the socks off all the expensively produced Christmas TV ads”, with some even calling for Phil to be hired for next year’s John Lewis ad.

It might not be big budget or have all the bells and whistles of studio sets, lighting and grading, but the storytelling is raw, honest and something we can all feel.

“Love is a gift that lasts forever.” We can all give the gift of love this Christmas.


My friends in Dublin run a store called Hen’s Teeth, which also sells prints online. They’re always doing creative stuff with their shop and for Christmas they hired Annie Atkins, who works with Wes Anderson, to decorate their storefront.


For a while, people have been aware of John Lewis, an ordinary chap from Virginia. Being from the USA, he wasn’t aware of the major UK department store a few years ago when he set up his Twitter account under the handle @johnlewis. It’s led to many cases of people mistakenly hassling him with customer queries and mentions of what they think is the company’s Twitter account. He’s taken it all in his stride and tried to reply to all the tweets as much as he can. This year, Twitter gave him his fifteen minutes of fame and got him involved for their Christmas campaign, which was based on the message ‘join the conversation’. It’s light, fun and wholesome, which is sometimes all you need around Christmas time. 


Maybe it’s just nostalgia but I have a thing for vintage glass baubles. So, imagine my delight in finding this great little box dating back to the 1950s in a local charity shop. I’ve since discovered Woolworths was the first store to bring glass baubles to the mass market when in 1880 a 28-year-old Frank Woolworth reluctantly agreed to buy a box of 144. He insisted on sale or return terms as he thought Americans would not waste money on them. Much to his surprise, the decorations sold out in under a day. As the chain expanded, millions of baubles were sold and when Woolworths opened over here in 1909, British shoppers loved them too. While fancy decorations for the Christmas tree were already fashionable in Edwardian high society, they were too expensive for ordinary people, so Woolworths provided an affordable alternative.


I’ve seen a few Christmas markets pop up in Cornwall that have had a focus on how to have a plastic-free Christmas – it’s a really nice way to think environmentally over the Christmas period.


Last weekend, on a short break to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday, we were caught up in the Paris ‘gilet jaune’ riots (there’s probably a great Les Dawson joke there!)

It was thrilling to see the water cannon trundle by, yet also bizarre that regardless of the evident tension in the air the cafés in Le Marais continued to serve coffee and croque madame to we tourists, idly munching as we gazed on the armed riot police gathering on the pavement outside.

More bizarre of course is that at the same time the French ‘gilet jaune’ protest aggressively against Macron’s policies to reduce carbon emissions, here in London an entirely peaceful protest took place to highlight the fact we need to act now to save our planet. 

Extinction Rebellion is a leaderless movement demanding to know why the UK government is focusing on Brexit, when there’s something far more important that urgently needs our attention - namely our very existence. The riots in Paris were all over the media, whilst the protests in London were barely covered. 

Our world is currently so full of conflict, let’s hope 2019 brings us all more peace and we can address the most important issues facing one and all.

On a lighter note, the wife's Mother said, “When you're dead, I'll dance on your grave.” I said: “Good, I'm being buried at sea.”