Author Archives: ChristmasSweater

  • Traditional Christmas weather isn’t for everyone. Not all of us want to roast chestnuts on the fire and make popcorn while the frightful weather outside rages away. But if you live somewhere that guarantees snow, rain, wind and freezing temperatures, the only option for festive warmth is to pack your bags and go on vacation and find some winter sunshine.

    Here’s 15 perfect places for you to catch some Christmas Day rays:

    Goa, India

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    Goa is famous as a place for beach parties, which is fine if that’s what you’re looking for, but Christmas is meant to be a time for peace, so why not check out Agonda Beach. It’s one of the most beautiful beaches in the area but is also usually less crowded, making it the perfect place to chill out and enjoy some Yuletide sunshine and relaxation. There’s plenty of activities nearby too, not to mention dolphin spotting boat trips.

    Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos

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    The Galapagos Islands are an ideal place to go if you want a Christmas away from robins and reindeer and to see some more exotic creatures. At Tortuga Bay Beach, one of the most popular in the Islands, you’ll be able to see sea turtles, sea lions, pelicans, flamingos and lava gulls. With all that and stunning scenery, the only thing you’ll be missing is a partridge in a pear tree.

    Cayo Ensenachos, Cuba

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    These are heady times for Cuba, now that friendly relations are breaking out with the USA at last, so why not celebrate the spirit of togetherness at Christmas by visiting a wonderfully quiet tropical paradise? Cayo Ensenachos is a tiny island that offers seclusion – it used to be a naturist beach! – and quiet fun on its two idyllic beaches, making it another perfect option for those looking to soak in the sun on Christmas Day without large crowds.

    Luxor, Egypt

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    There’s more to life than lying on a beach, of course. You can catch some rays at Christmas while checking out “the world’s greatest open air museum” and getting a bit of history and culture in the ancient city of Thebes. Luxor is hot all year round, and even if December is one of the cooler months, you’ll still be in snowman-melting temperatures as you stroll around the monuments.

    Paraty, Brazil

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    Another place where you can experience some culture and history is the old Portuguese colonial town of Paraty in Brazil, 140 miles south of Rio. With stunning architecture PLUS great beaches and jungles full of exotic wildlife, Paraty has a lot to offer for someone looking for something different for the holiday season. Its cobbled streets are also closed to traffic, making it a peaceful place for a stroll on Christmas morning.

    Kaikoura, New Zealand

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    Of course, heading to a country where Christmas is in the height of summer is a safe bet and Kaikoura in New Zealand has a lot to offer, from walking in the rainforest mountains to going on whale-watching boat trips, swimming with seals, going bird-watching, hiking or engaging with the local Maori population to learn about their culture. Or you could stay at home, eat too much and watch reruns on TV?

    Fregate Island Private, Seychelles

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    If you really want to – and can afford – some real privacy and luxury at Christmas, you can’t go far wrong with Fregate Island Private in the Seychelles. To give you an idea of what to expect, this is where Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston went on honeymoon, as well as Paul McCartney and Heather Mills (let’s assume their eventual splits had nothing to do with their honeymoon location). Absolutely stunning beaches with some real festive luxury, what more could you need?

    Jade Mountain, St Lucia

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    Another costly-but-totally-worth-it option is Jade Mountain in St Lucia, which offers the chance to ignore the stresses of Christmas while getting a tan and seeing some spectacular scenery too. The hillside resort on the Anse Chastanet estate offers an incredible beach with views of the Piti and Gros Piton mountains as well as luxurious accommodation, snorkelling on coral reefs and homegrown produce. Just incredible and a fine way to treat yourself at Christmas.

    Mogundula Private Island, Mozambique

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    If you’re REALLY looking for somewhere exclusive and private, Mogundula Private Island is about as close to owning your own bit of Paradise as most of us could dream. It’s beautiful private island in the Quirimbas Archipelago, near Ibo Island in northern Mozambique and has two beaches, three villas, a lake, a forest and coral reefs, all for you to explore away from anyone else. You might get some tropical rain around Christmastime, but you’ll still get a tan and have amazing experiences to tell the frozen folks back home.

    Mombasa, Kenya

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    Heading to Africa is a good way to celebrate the holiday season with some sunshine, and Kenya’s Mombasa has Diani Beach on offer. A massive long stretch of sandy beach with a lagoon and reef, there’s lots to do here when you’re not opening presents, with a golf course, watersports and local wildlife (monkeys) to say ‘Merry Christmas’ to. There’s also the impressive Shimba Hills National Reserve to visit nearby.

    Orlando, USA

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    What better way to spend a family Christmas than with a trip to Disney World? You can take advantage of the sunny weather to top up your tan while the kids get to experience all the magic of a Disney Christmas, when there are many seasonal events on top of all the usual rides, characters and sights. Of course, Florida offers lots of opportunities for hitting the beach too, making this a warm and wonderful place to spend your vacation.

    Playas de Papagayo, Lanzarote

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    The Canary Islands have long been a favourite winter sun destination for Europeans, due to their local just off the coast of Morocco. Playas de Papagayo is at the southern tip of Lanzarote and has the best beach on the island as well as being in a protected national park. With crystal clear waters, tidal rock pools and the Los Ajaches mountains offering wonderful scenery, this is a great place to watch the sun go down on Christmas Eve after spending your day getting tanned instead of wrapping presents.

    Providenciales, Turks and Caicos

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    Grace Bay in Providenciales is a 12 mile-long beach (ideal for Christmas morning runs, if you’re that kind of sadist) and both the beach and the island have often been named as the best places to go if you’re a fan of mind-blowing sandy beaches, beautiful waters and the kind of diving opportunities you normally only see the movies. If you want to lie under the swaying coconut trees sipping a cocktail and dreaming of a white Christmas (without actually wanting to be in one), this is the place to go.

    Cala Deia, Majorca

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    Beaches aren’t all sandy, of course, and Cala Deia is a perfect example of how stunning a rocky one can be in the right location. Hardly a major tourist destination (it’s the polar opposite of the more famous and overdeveloped Magaluf), it’s found just outside a village called Deia on the west coast of the Spanish island of Majorca, surrounded by impressive rocky cliffs and olive groves. If you want a more intimate and low key sunny Christmas in a place where you’ll feel like one of the locals, this is worth a visit.

    Yasawa Islands, Fiji

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    If you want your Christmas to have a Blue Lagoon feel to it, the Yasawa Islands are the place to go – that’s where some of the movie was filmed, on an island that’s now the Turtle Island Resort. There’s 90s islands in the Yasawas and some incredible beaches across the archipelago, and because this is still a developing area for tourism (land-based tourism was banned until 1987 by the Fijian authorities), it’s hardly been spoiled so far. Safe to say, you won’t need to pack a Christmas sweater…

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  • Christmas is a huge time for brands and retailers, because it's the time of year when we all spend so much money, so it's crucial that they get their marketing right. For that reason, along with the Superbowl, it's when they pull out all the stops to grab our attention.

    So here's our pick of the Best Christmas TV Adverts Ever, get ready for some nostalgia, some laughs and some tears...

    We start off with this Unicef advert, which uses the story of the Three Wise Men to get its message across about the wastage of buying pointless trashy presents for people who don't need them, while others in the world need our help. Don't worry, it's quite funny too.

    And don't worry, there's not many other messages on display in this list, least of all with this NBA advert, showing off special Christmas jerseys to the tune of Carol Of The Bells. Or should that be Carol Of The Balls?

    This Harvey Nichols advert is a funny one that tackles the always-explosive issue of women turning up in the same dress at a party. And it tackles it with LASERS.

    The oldest one in our collection, this Woolworth commercial dates back to 1981 and is a thing of pure wonder. As in, you wonder what on earth is going on.

    In the UK, The Snowman has been a central part of Christmas since the early 80s and Scottish soft drink company Irn Bru cleverly riffed on it with this festive advert, which plays on the brand's cheeky image.

    And then there's this one. adidas pulled out all the stops with this epic tale, packed with celebs, insinuated drug use and hip hop. You might not think Snoop Dogg would be an appropriate frontman for such a campaign, but you'd be wrong.

    Here's a nicer one, with retailer SPAR doing a campaign where they planted Christmas trees and advertising it very cleverly.

    This advert from Canadian Tire takes on the potentially disastrous issue of a child who moves house just before Christmas. How will Santa find him?! Don't worry kid, your Dad's got a plan.

    A pretty simple but effective and classic one...

    In the UK, the John Lewis Christmas advert has become a major part of the countdown to the holidays, and this is one of their best, a heartwarming tale about a snowman's journey.

    This Barclaycard advert features James Corden as a stuffed bear and is like a 'real life' Toy Story. It's pretty epic and great fun.

    This Marks & Spencer advert from last year just exudes class and Christmas, helped by a lovely Julie London version of Fly Me To The Moon. Magical.

    In 2014, UK supermarket giant Sainsbury's used their Christmas advert to tell the story of the Christmas Day truce of 100 years earlier, when British and German forces put down their guns and played soccer. A real tearjerker.

    For most of us, Christmas means both chocolates and a chance to say thank you, so this classic advert for Quality Street chocolates combines the two and throws in Perry Como too.

    Another British one from the early 90s, this is simple and fun and sweet and shows that phone books could be used for many purposes, even if you never opened them. Try doing this with an iPhone (no, don't!).

    JC Penney pulled out all the stops with this commercial, which is practically a mini movie. Great acting from the little girl helps make it all believable and you're really rooting for her to succeed.

    If you're going to go big for your Christmas advert, go all the way, and that's what WestJet did, setting up a huge giveaway for some of their passengers. You've got to feel that the guy who asked for underwear and socks is probably still regretting it though.

    Yeah, you don't need this one explaining do you?

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    Posted in Jumpers by ChristmasSweater.
  • Most Christmas movies tend to be cosy affairs with lots of Christmas jumpers, mistletoe and bickering family members. With sex, drugs and Miley Cyrus karaoke, The Night Before is not ‘most Christmas comedy films’, but its stars will still be rocking some awesome jumpers.

    The Night Before stars Seth Rogen (Isaac), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Ethan) and Anthony Mackie (Chris) as three friends who have spent ever Christmas Eve together since Ethan’s parents died. Now that they are reaching new stages in their lives, they decide to keep the tradition going for just one more year and go out on a high.

    Isaac’s wife Betsy (Jillian Bell) takes ‘going out on a high’ literally, giving them a whole stash of drugs to help them enjoy their evening. If you’ve seen The Hangover, you know that giving a bunch of friends some drugs (intentionally or not) on a big night out is a recipe for disaster. It’s also a recipe for what will hopefully be one of the best Christmas movies in recent years.

    Of course, no modern Christmas comedy would be complete without some awesome Christmas jumpers, and Rogen, Gordon-Levitt and Mackie are wearing theirs pretty much throughout the trailer. Given that much of the principal photography took place last August in New York, they must have been quite warm. Rogen’s is particularly notable as it’s got the Star Of David on it, because his character is Jewish, and great Christmas jumpers are for everyone.

    Anthony Mackie - appears to be something of a traitor to the Christmas jumper cause, unfortunately, given that in some shots from the trailer, he’s taken his off and tied it around his waist. Everyone knows that’s cheating, right? It’s even more of a shame given that his jumper is a wonderfully garish one with a black Santa Claus on the front. Gordon-Levitt’s character Ethan, meanwhile, goes for the more traditional Fair Isle look with a red, white and green jumper with reindeers across the middle.

    However, there’s nothing traditional about their Christmas celebrations, judging from what we’ve seen from the trailer so far. It starts with the trio recreating the famous ‘floor piano’ scene from Big, but instead of Heart And Soul, they’re playing Runaway by Kanye West. And even that is more appropriate than the Wu Tang Clan tune that Ethan yells at Isaac’s unborn baby after giving it a Wu Tang onesie.

    It also looks like Ethan gets to duet with Miley Cyrus at a karaoke club, singing her hit Wrecking Ball, and you can bet that she’ll be involved in some craziness too. But it’s Isaac who seems to bear the brunt of the mishaps from the trailer, and not just from his Christmas jumper choice. The drugs don’t agree with him, leading him to freak out in one hilarious scene after another, culminating in a disastrous church aisle puking session.

    After spilling his guts, he ends up spilling his heart out to a plastic shepherd in a Nativity scene, and this is just what we’ve seen from the first trailer. There’s bound to be more to come ahead of its Thanksgiving release, when you’ll finally be able to see those majestic Christmas jumpers up on the big screen in all their glory. We’ll have to wait and see whether The Night Before can become a Christmas classic, but it does look a lot of fun.

    You can watch the trailer below

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  • Depending which side of the Atlantic Ocean you’re celebrating Christmas this year, you’ll either be wearing a Christmas sweater or a Christmas jumper. Whatever you call it, and whether you think it’s funky or ugly, there’s no doubt that it’s become an essential part of our holiday traditions. But how did it happen?

    On the British side of the ocean there’s very little doubt where the popularity of the Christmas jumper began. It was the moment that Colin Firth showed up as Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones, wearing a ludicrous jumper with a reindeer on the front (in the book his jumper was just a bit ugly, there wasn’t a reindeer). It’s played for laughs, of course, but gradually it’s a joke we’ve all wanted to be the butt of.

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    Of course, Christmas sweaters have a much longer vintage than 2001, and the likes of Andy Williams and Bing Crosby were the kings of dodgy knitwear in their holiday specials decades before Bridget even bought her diary. Back then there was nothing ironic about it, the ugly Christmas sweater was just ugly and part of the general tackiness and kitsch of those programmes.

    In the States, the festive sweater worn by Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation may not have been quite so comedic as Mr Darcy’s jumper, but it certainly helped bring that fashion sense back into the public consciousness for the early 90s. Tacky Christmas sweaters went from being something that you were given by grandparents, and reluctantly wore for as little time as possible, to being a badge of honor.

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    By the start of the 21st Century, this ironic take on the fashion crime accessory had become so popular that Ugly Christmas Sweater Parties were taking off in America. The concept for these quickly became a competition to see who could come up with the most awful, over-the-top sweater, preferably accessorised with lights, tinsel, decorations and all the bells and whistles. Often literally.

    Two pioneers who accidentally helped take funny sweaters to the mainstream were Jessica Aceti and husband Brian Kirk, who in 2008 got a photographer friend, John Keatley, to take a picture of them for a Christmas card, dressed up as the most hideous-looking sweater-wearing weirdos. Holding a stuffed goat. "I had this idea of making an odd Christmas card and styling it with that goat," Aceti said. "I’m a hoarder of weird stuff. At the time, we just made up these characters in our mind that were these awkward ugly people, and we’ve always just loved shitty Christmas sweaters."

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    The photo went viral to the extent that it ended up on Reddit, then The Today Show and then Ellen. All these years later, it’s still a go-to photo to show off the awesomely awful Christmas sweaters they wore, even if some people mistook it for a genuinely awful photo of two real people, rather than the characters the couple had taken on for the shoot. They continue to make ironically bad Christmas cards, while there’s little doubt that they helped spread novelty Christmas sweaters to the mainstream media. Nowadays, anyone who’s anyone has been photographed wearing something tacky and garish and fabulously festive.

    Over in the UK, the popularity has exploded in recent years to the extent that charity Save The Children started a Christmas Jumper Day in 2012, asking people across offices, schools and homes across the country to wear their tacky Christmas jumper and donate £1 to the charity. In 2014 over £4m was raised and 2015 promises to be even bigger as Christmas Jumper Day will be part of ITV’s Text Santa campaign, with money going to Macmillan Cancer Support, Make-A-Wish UK and Save The Children.

    Christmas sweaters/jumpers are so popular a part of festive traditions now that it’s hard to see them going away anytime soon, no matter how many Grinch-like columnists and fashionistas wish they would. They’re even being incorporated into modern traditions like the 12 Pubs Of Christmas pub crawl that is being increasingly popular in Ireland, with ugly jumpers pretty much essential uniform for anyone taking part.

    So whether you call it a Christmas sweater or a Christmas jumper, you’d better get used to them because they’ve been around a long time and won’t be going anywhere. It’s safe to say that Bridget Jones would be more horrified now to arrive at Christmas party and find her date NOT wearing a novelty jumper with a reindeer on it...

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