The NHS Choir holds a narrow lead in the race for the 2015 Christmas Number 1

The NHS Choir continues to lead way in the race for this year’s Christmas Number 1, Official Charts can confirm. The race is far from over yet though, as their lead on yesterday’s update over Justin Bieber’s Love Yourself (which was based on sales only) has reduced to just over 2,000 combined sales and streams. Bieber’s previous single, Sorry, has ... Read More »

Ready to party? An alternative festive guide

The party season maybe all about fun and festivity, but sometimes those two words can seem a long way apart. Here are some tips that you won’t get from anyone else. Game faces: are you in the mood for festiveness? Photograph: Three/Solent News & Photo Agency Sunday 20 December 2015 06.00 GMT As we trudge towards New Year’s Eve, past dim ... Read More »

Waving goodbye to the Christmas clutter

Many baby boomers wish they could lose some of a lifetime’s festive decorations – but their minimalist offspring beg to differ. Like many baby boomers, Maryann Johnson has worked tirelessly to produce a magical Christmas for her family. The basement of her Bethesda, Maryland, home has a special storage closet for her stash of holiday decorations – 60 Santas, 25 ... Read More »

Thomasina Miers: how to take the stress out of Christmas cooking

Hot ham with port and lime sauce. Photograph: Manuel Vazquez. Food Stylist: Oliver Rowe Christmas is a pressured time of year, but I still always want to make it as much like a fairytale as possible – mostly for the children, but not only them. I want family and friends to eat the most delicious food, unwrap the most spoiling ... Read More »

This family’s 25,000 Christmas light display is raising thousands for charity – but they’re dreading the electricity bill

Extraordinary: The Shepherd family with their Christmas lights It has 25,000 lights, musical accompaniment and is for a good cause – and it comes with an electricity bill the owners cannot bear to look at. The Christmas lights of the Shepherd family home, in Marlow Bottom, Buckinghamshire, have lit up their neighbourhood for more than a decade. The display boasts ... Read More »

The best Christmas board games

Ghostbusters: The Board Game allows you to play as paranormal investigators Dr Peter Venkman, Dr Ray Stantz, Dr Egon Spengler or Winston Zeddemore. Nothing says “festive” quite like gathering round a board game, still the ideal gift to bring the family together for Christmas in loved ones’ company through the mediums of escapism and nonsensical arguments. And 2015 has been ... Read More »

How posh is YOUR Christmas? Take I’m A Celebrity star Lady C’s test

Will your Christmas be as posh as Lady Colin Campbell’s? Well-spoken but always outspoken, Lady Colin Campbell certainly knows a thing or two about being posh. On top of being Princess Diana’s biographer, she lives in a castle and owns five tiaras. The I’m a Celebrity contestant even quipped during a Bushtucker Trial: “I wish I’d known it was food, ... Read More »

Christmas sends me crackers with bad TV, worse presents, nightmare shopping and pointless cards

Crackers: Christmas gets a thumbs down from Terry Here’s what Christmas is supposed to be: One turkey and loads of crackers. Sadly with Christmas TV , it’s usually the other way round. It’s like panning for gold in a river running with raw sewage – for every gleaming treasure, we have to watch a ­torrent of crap rush by. As ... Read More »

Fairtrade chocolate and independent booksellers: an ethical guide to Christmas shopping

Companies such as Cadbury’s owner and Amazon have been criticised for their unethical tax practices – but when it comes to last-minute gift-buying, what are the best alternatives? Don’t take the wrap: there are many ethical retailers to buy Christmas gifts from. Photograph: Emily Lai/Alamy Christmas is a time for giving and for getting – but, for some companies, it ... Read More »

Supermarket smoked salmon: the best and worst – taste test

If you’re serving salmon this Christmas, should you play it safe with traditional oak-smoked or take a gamble on maple syrup, seaweed or even whisky and ‘gold’ varieties? We put this year’s supermarket offerings to the test. Smoked salmon: a Christmas cracker or a slippery customer? Photograph: NightAndDayImages/Getty Images Be it in a roulade, with blinis, partnering scrambled eggs or ... Read More »