Christmas may be all about ancient traditions, but our festive rituals are still affected by the whims of fashion. From gifts to food to decorations, here’s how Christmas 2023 is shaping up.
The 90s called…
Amazon and John Lewis have seen lots of demand for those somewhat creepy fluffy Furbys, or anything Barbie related.
Did the letters your children wrote to Father Christmas look eerily familiar? It’s possible they’ve requested the exact toys you remember aching for back in the day. Having already been a big fashion influence this year – reminding us of the joys of cropped tops, bumbags and neon – the 90s are back with intent, and they’ve even influenced our Christmas 2023 toy purchases.
Mince pies and traditional Christmas pudding and cake have always been as divisive as Marmite. According to Ocado, one in five of us buy or bake a fruit-based Christmas cake despite hating it, while three quarters of us will eat it just because we feel it’s the done thing at this time of year.
Thankfully, Nigella is here to save the day with her Winter Wonderland Cake, a chocolate sponge with fluffy marshmallow frosting. Perfect, she says, for those of us who “abominate dried fruit in all its seasonal manifestations”.
Almost half – 46 per cent – of the 2,000 Brits surveyed by Ocado said that they’d rather eat chocolate cake than Christmas cake on the big day. “When it comes to Christmas, I am a fervent traditionalist,” says Nigella. “But we don’t have to confine ourselves to following old traditions, and can create new ones of our own.”
It’s not just you – Christmas is starting earlier every year. After a miserable few years of cancelled Christmasses and economic woes, Tesco reports that a quarter of UK adults start looking forward to Christmas in September, while 12 per cent of 25 to 34-year-olds consider putting up decorations as early as October.
Planning ahead is also smart on the wallet, and 26 per cent of us will have started stocking up before December.
Is there a right time to put up a tree? Go too early and it might be naked before the big day. A third of us will have had ours up since the first weekend in December.
Regifting and thrifting
Regifting is a significant Christmas tradition, claims John Lewis, and 40 per cent of people plan to pass on a present that was given to them during 2023. Thrifting is also on the rise, whether that means buying second hand, making more ethical purchases on food and decorations as well as presents, or perhaps giving up presents altogether to focus on family and fun.
While 2023 has been a year of cutting back financially, OpenTable’s Christmas dining report reveals that we’re determined to make the most of the festive season after a tough year. Their figures suggest 33 per cent of us will have dined out once a week during November and December.
And 82 per cent expect to spend a similar amount or more than last year, with an average spend of £120 per person on festive feasting.
Up there with ovens and dishwashers, Christmas trees are the latest consumer splurge we’re doubling up on. “We’re seeing the rise of the “two tree nation” with one in four of us displaying two or more Christmas trees,” claims John Lewis. Apparently, a third of us, and 40 per cent of those with young children, are buying a “show tree” for the hallway or home office.
Environmental concerns remain a priority for consumers, so what’s the most sustainable Christmas tree? While 35 per cent of us say artificial trees are greener, 33 per cent are convinced real trees are the sustainable approach. This year some will have chosen the greenest option of all: renting a tree. Companies such as London Christmas Tree Rental allow you to rent a pot-grown tree then return it to be replanted until the following year.
While we all love a duvet day – known as “bed rotting” to Gen Z-ers – the disturbing rise of matching Christmas pyjamas has evolved to extremes, and a third of 18 to 24-year-olds now say they plan to stay in their PJs throughout Christmas Day, according to John Lewis.
But they’re unlikely to manage it without a fight, because 46 per cent of us like getting new outfits for Christmas and putting them straight on, while 43 per cent say that this is the time of year to dress up, whether that means sequins, sparkles, or bright and bold colours.
Beef is queen
We’ve been quietly turning away from turkey for some years (around half choose an alternative) and now we can officially crown beef as the centrepiece with the royal approval, as Queen Camilla’s son, the food critic Tom Parker Bowles, has announced that his family eats rib of beef followed by ice cream at Christmas.
He fondly remembers when they began to break with tradition and ditch the “bloody boring turkey and Christmas pudding!” Tom and his younger sister Laura Lopes are invited to join the Royal Household for Christmas Day for the first time this year. Among the rest of us, Tesco reports 8 per cent will be serving beef or steak.
Bargain basement vs big brands
Bottles of supermarket fizz are outperforming some of the biggest brands in blind taste tests this year. In a blind tasting, 63 out of 100 people preferred Lidl’s £14.99 Montaudon Champagne to £43 Moet. Good Housekeeping has named Morrisons’ “he Best English Sparkling Brut Vintage (currently down from £27 to £18) the best English sparkling, ahead of Chapel Down, Oxney and Hattingley.
Aldi has sort of crowned itself, by publicising the fact that one TikToker described its popular Cremant du Jura (£8.99) superior to a £48 bottle of Laurent Perrier – but it was also named a Best Buy by Which? magazine.
Stars and snowflakes are out, anchovies and oat milk are in. Food-themed decorations have been bubbling under for a few years but have gone large for 2023. Selfridges reports that it sold out its food-themed decorations by early November last year, so this year increased its range by 80 per cent, to include matcha lattes, coffee machines, oat milk, lobsters and jars of peanut butter.
Quiz: How Christmas 2023 are you?
Your Mum has made a traditional Christmas cake. You…
a. Eat it to please her, even though you hate it, as you do every year
b. Ask for a large slice, with a mince pie on the side
c. Unveil your own showstopping chocolate cake
You and your partner agree to take an ethical approach to decorating this year. How many trees do you buy?
a. No tree this year, just paper garlands
Your aunt gave you her favourite Ariana Grande perfume last year. What do you give her this year?
b. Two bottles of Ariana Grande perfume
c. The bottle from last year
It’s time to get dressed for a Christmas Day meal with extended family. You put on
a. Your favourite casuals with a Christmas jumper you’ll take off before dinner
b. Full-length sequins, loads of lipstick, Christmas cracker earrings
c. Clothes, wut? Beige flag all round.
Mostly As: Your Christmas game is certainly noble, but not especially 2023
Mostly Bs: Woah-there, no need to out-Christmas Christmas
Mostly Cs: Bring it. You’re all set for an ultimate 2023 festive season. Go forth and enjoy.