Tag Archives: Christmas

Top tips for spending Christmas in London

Shweta Menon, BSc Marketing student, gives her tips for what to do over the festive period if you’re in London and away from home.

Helter Skelter at Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park

Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas all around London. If like me you are away from home for the Christmas festivities and yearning for some festive warmth, London is the place to be! Gather your fellow globe-trotting friends as I take you through some of my favourite ways to spend Christmas in London:

Winter Wonderland: this is without a doubt London’s most treasured Christmas attraction located in Hyde Park. Step into a world of Christmas bliss with its very own Bavarian village and yuletide attraction. If you’re in the mood for adventure it’s got you covered with its roller-coaster, thrill-seeking rides and more. Hop onto the 53-metre-high Ferris wheel to enjoy breath-taking views of Hyde Park and Kensington Palace and gardens. Filled with bars, food market and Christmas markets, Winter Wonderland is sure to warm you up!

Ice skating: What a better way to get into the Christmas spirit than to wrap warm and ice skate across London various ice skating rinks? The Natural History Museum, Canary Wharf, Winter Wonderland and Somerset House, among others, are all home to Santa-approved ice skating venues in London.

Facebook groups: London-based Facebook groups are a great way to meet people in London as an international student, though do ensure your safety first. The groups regularly organise Christmas parties, Christmas Day dinners, Boxing Day lunches and even secret Santa’s! If you’re in London and your friends are UK students who have gone back home for Christmas, you can still soak in all the festivities even without your family around.

Christmas markets: It doesn’t matter if you’re on Santa’s naughty or nice list, you can still be on your nice list and indulge in a little “me” time by pampering yourself in the many Christmas markets in London. The main Christmas markets are at Harrods, Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason, and they have dazzling Christmas displays and seasonal decor. Also, most of the boroughs in London hosts their own little Christmas markets as well. Look up your local Christmas market and meet your neighbours and make some new friends as well!

Immerse yourself into these activities or visit your local Wetherspoon’s for a glass of mulled wine – either way do get out and soak in the festivities of the city, because London is the most alive during Christmas!

Hope you have a very Merry Christmas.

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How to manage your studies during the festive period

Balancing studying and having fun over the Christmas break is a challenge! In this blog, three student ambassadors, Becca Aveson, Cecilia Danielsson and Shweta Menon, share their tips on how to enjoy Christmas whilst staying on top of your studies.  

Becca Aveson, MA Museum Cultures student 

Becca Aveson

One thing I like to try and do is give myself some mini targets and goals to reach each day that I study. This helps me overcome the holiday fatigue and pressures and puts less stress on me if I feel I am not working to my potential. My usual go-to is writing a bullet point list of things to do for that day, for uni, my job or any other tasks, including; reading and research, household chores, or work on ongoing projects like my dissertation(!).  

Don’t try to do too much in the day focus on one assignment, and then look at what you need to do for that. As you go through your list, set yourself some goals and rewards – such as after reading a chapter of a textbook, have a chat with someone you live with or have a coffee and a mince pie – or whatever makes you feel happy! This way you won’t feel as though you’ve missed out on any festivities, and when it comes to the various social gatherings you attend you won’t feel that pressure to be studying and you can enjoy yourself! 

Cecilia Danielsson, BA Linguistics and Language student   

Cecilia Danielsson

Studying during Christmas arrives with greater distractions, making it harder to focus and get assignments over the finishing line. However, Christmas introduces frivolity and fun and means we can decorate our study areas. I’d recommend putting up a miniature Christmas tree on your desk and finding fresher stimuli for mind maps, such as using Christmassy colours, like red and green. You could also put some Christmas music on in the background and lightly scented candles whilst you are studying. The festive period provides a time for reflection on the year gone by; use it to celebrate your achievements so far and have a wonderful Christmas break!  

Shweta Menon, BSc Marketing student 

Shweta Menon’s festive decorations

  1. It’s the most wonderful time of the year to SCHEDULE 

Plan how you are going to study and spend time with friends and family. Ask your family and friends what they’ve planned out over the festive period and set aside a couple of hours in the week for your social activities. Share your study schedule with them so they know when you won’t be available. Give yourself some zero-study days such as Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve – these days you must switch off completely and soak in all the festivities! 

  1. Santa Claus is coming to the coffee shop 

Studying at home with festivities around can be quite a distraction so try finding a cosy coffee shop or library where you can focus and get your studies done effectively. 

  1. All I want for Christmas is someone to help me…

Seek support from your friends at university. They are in the same boat as you. Make study groups with your friends for revision, sharing notes and assignments. 

  1. Have yourself a merry little Christmas 

Lastly be too hard on yourself. Take time out to enjoy the festivities and refresh your mind because: “All work and no play can make Jack a dull boy!” 

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Ten ways to have a more sustainable Christmas

Dr Pamela Yeow is Reader in Management in the School of Business, Economics and Informatics whose research currently focuses on ethical consumerism. She shares ideas to celebrate Christmas more sustainably in 2021.

In the run-up to Christmas, consumers are bombarded by Black Friday sales, tear-jerking adverts and a seemingly endless parade of stuff on our social media feeds.

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t even started to think about Christmas shopping and gift-giving yet! This is particularly so in the aftermath of the COP26 climate summit and the twelve-day marathon of presentations, debates and negotiations.

COP26 has brought home to us the importance and utter urgency of the climate emergency. Even with the agreements in place, more needs to be done to reverse the negative impact of decades of neglect of our planet.

My colleagues and I have been doing research on single-use plastic for a while now, and recent research has demonstrated that the inconsistent messaging and confusion around what and how to recycle means that householders are not recycling as much as they would like.

Of course, recycling is not the only thing we can do. Reducing consumption of single-use plastic, as well as repurposing or reusing single-use plastic is also key to helping our planet survive.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at the thought of all the upcoming festive consumption, here are ten ideas to help you have an enjoyable and more sustainable Christmas.

1. Instead of buying a tree, plant a tree

A two meter Christmas tree is equivalent to 16kg of carbon dioxide if it ends up in landfill. Why not plant a tree instead this Christmas? Websites like MoreTrees and Dedicate a Tree make this easy to do, and you can even gift a tree to others.

2. If you can’t imagine Christmas without a tree, rent one instead

Rented Christmas trees are a growing trend. For the rest of the year, rented trees are re-planted, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and providing a home for local wildlife, before brightening up your living room for the festive season.

3. Give a pre-loved gift

Want to give your loved ones something truly one of a kind? A thoughtful second-hand gift for someone who loves vintage, antiques or collectibles will be very much appreciated.

4. Give experiences

Often it feels like we have to spend a particular amount of money on gifts and sometimes that is justifiable. Rather than giving people things that might not be appreciated or even used, treat them to a memorable experience, such as a trip to the theatre or zookeeper for the day experience – the possibilities are endless!

5. Make a sustainable swap at the dinner table

Research tells us that eating a plant-based diet can help with climate change. If you can’t face cancelling that turkey order, consider swapping a side dish or starter for a vegetarian or vegan alternative. The planet will thank you.

6. Use recyclable wrapping paper

Avoid plastic glitter wrapping paper that can’t be recycled, or better still, use recycled or plain brown paper to wrap gifts. Whilst you’re at it, why not use paper tape as well.

7. Make do and mend your Christmas decorations

With a bit of extra care, Christmas decorations like tinsel will last for several years. If you’re feeling crafty, why not try making your own decorations out of things lying around the home?

8. Wear your old Christmas jumper

If you need to wear a Christmas jumper, try to re-wear your old one, swap or buy second-hand as it’s been found that most Christmas jumpers in the UK are made using plastic!

9. Shop locally

Reduce the carbon footprint of your Christmas shopping by opting for local retailers where possible. It also saves on packaging compared to a mountain of deliveries (Amazon boxes, we’re looking at you).

10. Go plastic-free where you can

Christmas crackers are another source of hidden festive plastic, but plastic free alternatives are becoming more popular. In 2019, John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose announced that its Christmas crackers from 2020 will no longer include plastic toys or be decorated with plastic glitter. Other large retailers quickly followed suit.

Finding ways to make Christmas more sustainable this year not only helps the planet, but can be lots of fun! Let us know your sustainable swaps in the comments below.

Further Information:

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Santa’s Job: An Occupational Health Psychology Perspective

This December, Kevin Teoh (Department of Organizational Psychology, Centre for Sustainable Working Life) makes some light-hearted observations on the psychosocial working conditions of Santa Claus.

Santa Claus has a tough job (By Jonathan G Meath (Jonathan G Meath) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons)

Santa Claus sighs as he reviews his list of kids who have been naughty, and then goes over those who have been marked nice. The increasing global population means the number of children on his list grows with each passing year. Currently, it’s estimated to contain the names of between 152 and 526 million children (Bump, 2011; Svan, 2009), meaning a lot of presents to sort out and deliver. This is concerning, as there is ample evidence demonstrating that high workloads are linked with poorer health and lower job satisfaction (Goetz et al., 2013; Ree et al., 2014). Gosh, a sick and unhappy Santa, we wouldn’t want that.

Santa’s demanding job

As Christmas approaches and work intensifies, Santa’s standard 9-5 hours five days a week gradually extends into the evening and the weekends, increasing the number of hours worked. The seasonal nature of work faced by Santa and his team exists in other industries as well. Accountants during tax filing season go through a similar increase in their working hours, which has a detrimental impact on their health and work-life balance (Sweeney & Summers, 2002). Putting aside the amazing feat delivering presents around the world on December 25th, cognitive functioning after more than 24 hours of continuous wakefulness is similar to having a blood alcohol concentration level that is over the legal limit (Dawson & Reid, 1998). If we are concerned for the safety and wellbeing of Santa, perhaps he shouldn’t be operating his sleigh under such conditions.

While the job of Santa is likely to be very secure, I wonder whether his crew of elves and reindeers experience similar precarious working conditions that many seasonal workers do. Unfortunately, across Europe the high prevalence of temporary contracts faced by such workers not only increases job insecurity, but temporary workers often have fewer employment rights, perform more hazardous jobs, have poorer working conditions and are paid less (Hesselink et al., 2015). But surely though, given the charitable nature of Santa he must be as close to the best employer you will find?

Taking control of your work environment

Santa has little influence over the fact the busy festive season peaks at the end of December. This isn’t desirable considering the importance control at work has in relation to worker happiness and health. However, the reality of many jobs is the presence of external factors beyond a person’s control. To manage this, job crafting has emerged with growing support as an approach encouraging workers to alter aspects of their own jobs that they can (Wrzesniewski & Dutton, 2001). We actually see Santa himself do this in trying to manage his big deadline. While many countries see December 25th as the day Santa visits with presents, Santa has staggered the dates on which he visits different countries. For example, he distributes gifts in the Netherlands on the 5th of December (as Sinterklaas), before moving onto Germany, Switzerland and neighbouring countries the next day. On the 18th, you will find him as St. Nicholas in the Ukraine, while on the 6th of January a Father Frost gives out gifts to many children of a Russian Orthodox background.

In addition, we see that Santa has crafted part of the job for himself, and delegated aspects of the role to others. Across the world we see Santa as the bearer of gifts and happiness. However, in many cultures Santa partners local representatives who handle issues relating to discipline and punishment. The distributed work often involves beating misbehaving children or taking them away in sacks, and is carried out by Santa’s assistant Krampus (Austria and Germany), Schmutzli (Switzerland) or Zwarte Pieten (Belgium and the Netherlands), amongst others. It is not clear why he has crafted his job in this way. It could be to manage the overwhelming workload, or perhaps it’s an aspect he does not feel comfortable about or even competent at. Regardless, it seems to contribute to Santa’s success.

Why is Santa, Santa?

Santa-Hat-webConsidering these points above, what motivates Santa to work through such difficult working conditions? He is likely to be eligible for retirement, and while he may be doing it for the fame it is unlikely that the role provides a strong financial incentive. It is, however, far more likely that Santa draws meaning and purpose from this job of his. We know that individuals working or volunteering with charity and religious organisations are motivated by their values and their propensity for prosocial behaviour (Cnaan et al., 1993). Furthermore, having a sense of purpose and meaning at work is positively linked with better work and general wellbeing, engagement and performance (Shuck & Rose, 2013). Focusing specifically on Santa, two studies (Fletcher & Low, 2008; Hancock, 2013) involving a group of Santa Clauses found that these actors frequently perceived authenticity in their role as Santa. The job was not only because of the money, but was driven by a sense of recognition that they were doing something worthwhile, bringing happiness to the kids and making it a magical experience for them.

From a distance, it seems that Santa has most things under control. Yes – it is not a perfect working environment, but Santa has taken charge of his work environment, moving deadlines and empowering partners to work with him where possible. He appears to be very much in touch with why he is doing this job, providing meaning and purpose to his role. There is still scope to improve, a better understanding of the demands will help develop and target resources relevant to Santa. Listening to and appreciating Santa is also imperative. After all, if we don’t support and believe in Santa, how can we expect Santa to continually believe in himself?

*A longer version of this article first appeared in the European Academy of Occupational Health Psychology Newsletter (2015, Volume 12, Issue 2).

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References

  • Bump, P. (2011, December 14). Santa’s Christmas Eve Workload, Calculated. The Atlantic
  • Cnaan, R.A., Kasternakis, A., & Wineburg, R.J. (1993). Religious people, religious congregations, and volunteerism in human services: Is there a link? Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 22, 133-151.
  • Dawson, D. & Reid K. (1998). Fatigue, alcohol and performance impairment. Nature, 388, 235.
  • Fletcher, R. & Low, D. (2008). Emotional Labour and Santa Claus. ANZMAC 2008, December 1-3, Melbourne, Australia.
  • Goetz, K., Musselmann, B., Szecsenyi, J., & Joos, S. (2013). The influence of workload and health behaviour on job satisfaction of General Practitioners. Family Medicine, 45, 2, 95-101.
  • Hancock, P.G. (2013). ”Being Santa Claus’: the pursuit of recognition in interactive service work. Work, Employment & Society, 27, 6, 1001-1020.
  • Hesselink, J.K., Verbiest, S., & Goudswaard, A. (2015). Temporary workers. OSH Wiki: European Agency for Safety and Health at Work.
  • Ree, E., Odeen, M., Eriksen, H.R., Indahl, A., Ihlebæk, C., Hetland, J., & Harris, A. (2014). International Subjective health complaints and self-rated health: Are expectancies more important than socioeconomic status and workload? Journal of Behavioural Medicine, 21, 3, 411-420.
  • Shuck, B. & Rose, K. (2013). Reframing employee engagement within the context of meaning and purpose: Implications for HRD. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 15, 4, 341-355.
  • Svan, K. (2009). Santa Claus at Risk. Faculty of Science, University of Gothenburg.
  • Sweeney, J.T. & Summers, S.L. (2002). The effect of the busy season workload on public accountants’ job burnout. Behavioural Research in Accounting, 14, 1, 223-245.
  • Wrzesniewski, A. & Dutton, J.E. (2001). Crafting a job: Revisioning employees as active crafters of their work. Academy of Management Review, 26, 2, 179-201.
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