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Nana Mouskouri, fruity uses for cake and other weird family traditions

There are some things most of us do every Christmas: put up a tree, leave something for Santa, have too much dinner together. It's a time of tradition.  But it's also a time when families and loved ones come together, coop themselves up together for too long and get bored. So it's no surprise that many families invent their own weird traditions that take on a life of their own. Here are some of the odder ones we've found as we celebrate the non-Christmas Christmas traditions that make the season a uniquely personal festivity for you and yours.   Nana nana nana nana...Christmas! Nana Mouskouri is a bit odd in any context: a prodigiously talented crooner from the '70s who...

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How to tell when someone is lying about loving your present

'Thanks, it’s lovely!’ Can any three words be so roundly abused at Christmas? What else is a person meant to say when they receive a bottle of talcum powder (seriously, who actually uses talcum powder any more - not counting babies?), an ‘ironic’ Barbie sticker album or a book about a hobby you once mentioned when you were 15? We’re sure you’re not that hopeless, but you still might worry about whether you’ve hit the nail on the head or whether your gift is going straight on the school fair raffle pile. So what are the tell-tale signs that someone is faking it? How do you tell when someone hates your present? Happy shocked, or angry shocked - who can...

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The Christmas visitor's dilemma: what to bring?

What are the best things to bring when visiting friends and family over Christmas? And what should you absolutely avoid? Here are the five best and five worst visiting gifts.   The best Candles: Nothing is more Christmassy than a beautiful candle. Beeswax ones are best, as they give out a lovely delicate scent and have a warmer glow. Stay well clear of the scented ones though: only at the top end of the price range are quality oils and scents added to candles, meaning that most of the cinnamon and nutmeg ones advertised will leave your host’s room smelling like a plug-in air freshener. Charity Christmas card: along with your gift you will want to make sure your card...

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Angel or star? What your choice of treetop ornament says about you

It's a big choice - angel or star? Big tree or small, real or fake, you need to choose which of the two traditional ornaments for the top of your tree. Many of us opt for the one from our own childhood without a lot of thought, but the messages they send, and their origins, are actually quite different. Twinkle twinkle The star on your tree refers, of course, to the star of Bethlehem which guided the three wise men to the manger where Jesus was born. In the bible the star was a powerful force for good, guiding and protecting those whose perilous journey was a righteous one. It's a comforting thought to have a symbol of that protection...

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The craziest Christmas desks out there

Most desk-decorators settle for a tiny tree, or a discrete couple of LED lights around the computer monitor. But some people look at Christmas in the shops, Christmas in the house, Christmas on the TV, the radio, on the street, in the post and say to themselves: I need more! Here's where that road can take you...   All Wrapped Up: Meant as an office prank, but brings a sense of joy and anticipation to starting work each day. “Is it . . could it be . .. ? It’s just what I wanted! A computer monitor with my login all ready for me!”  Image credit: Daily Mail   Presents Everywhere: Somebody is really getting into the consumerist side of...

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