Christmas 2023 – An advent Calendar of Christmas movies

Now, you tell me good readers is there any better feeling than to cuddle up on the sofa with a loved one, with, for me a Baileys Coffee, a hot drink, with the weather outside being suitably seasonal and watching a classic Christmas film ? For some this Classic can be in the form of Die Hard, others It’s a Wonderful life, whereas others Christmas isn’t Christmas until they’ve watched Elf. So we sat down as a team at CMTM and came up with our definitive Advent Calendar of Christmas Crackers of movies to see you through to the big day. Seat back, relax and enjoy

Arthur Christmas – Released in time for   Christmas 2011, this animated joy came from a deal with Aardman Animations, and Sony Pictures and had a soundtrack including a track from Justin Bieber, but don’t let that put you off. A star studded cast supplied the voices including James McAvoy, Bill Nighy and Jim Broadbent. If you haven’t seen it, get it on the list !

Home Alone – Can only be described as a modern Christmas Classic. Obviously raising all sorts of child care and safe guarding issues but hey this was back in 1990, by the great Chris Columbus. This film as we said raised all kinda questions including what did Mr McAllister do for a living to afford THAT house, plus pay for his entire extended family to spend the holidays together is Paris, no less. 

Die Hard – Yippy Ki yay blip, blip ! Christmas isn’t Christmas unless this highly contentious, is it a Christmas film or not film has been seen. Back in 1989, we first met detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) and the events that unfold at the Nakatomi tower at the hands of international terrorists Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman RIP).

The Grinch – Have to say the character of the Grinch from the mind of Dr Seuss, is, for me, equally as scary as Freddie Krueger, Michael Myers or Charlie Mason. In recent years, like a number of Christmas classics, have had different reimagining of the story of “The Grinch who stole Christmas”. There is something in the character of the Grinch that people love which we only have to look at the popularity of Primark’s collaboration this season. Who is your Grinch, Jim Carey, Walter Matthau Benedict Cumberbatch or even Boris Karloff ?

The nightmare before Christmas – Ahhhh Tim Burton’s incredible gothic fairytale from 1993. Like he normally does, he is a disruptor in every sense of the word, this time with animation. Telling the story of Jack Skellington, King of Halloweentown and his unique love of Christmas and bringing his unique interpretation of Christmas to Halloweentown.

The Holiday – This Film directed by Penny Marshall in , always raises lots of questions including no way does she live in a house/cottage like that and I go gonna do that next Christmas ! Once again, a star studded cast of, kinda, interlinked characters sick of being done wrong and definitely not, but kinda yeah, looking for love.

Home Alone 2  Now if the McAllisters hadn’t learnt their lesson back in 1990 and took the adventurous decision to try another Christmas away, AGAIN, with all the family, a mere 2 years later, the unthinkable happened again. This time Kevin winds up in the Big Apple and has to fend off the newly released from Prison, Wet Bandits.

Elf – The story of Buddy the Elf, uniquely played by the brilliant Will Ferrell and director Ed by Jon Favreau (The Mandalorian, Iron Man) and after being raised by elves in the North Pole and struggling with those ideas of not quite fitting in embarks on the quest to find his human family, in the shape of his father played by James Caan.

It’s a Wonderful Life – “When a bell rings, an angel gets its wings”. This film is often cited as one of the greatest motion pictures ever made and probably the oldest movie from our selection but what a goodie and still very relevant in these troubling times. James Stewart plays, George Bailey, a man tired of life and has almost given up altogether. When Clarence, an Angel, is sent from Heaven, to show George things really aren’t as bad as he thinks and he is very much valued.

Bad Santa -He knows when you’ve been sleeping and he knows when you’re awake. Well, Billy Bob Thornton, plays a rather unscrupulous shopping Mall “Santa” is this cracker of a classic, who changes his ways after befriending an 8 year old kid. Laughs, political incorrectness a plenty and that timeless Seasonal tale of a grifter, learning the error of his life just in time for the Yuletide, warming the coldest of hearts with belly laughs along the way.

Die Hard 2Boy this film hasn’t aged well, with the smoking in doors, the fax machines and clear security issues at Dullas Airport. I remember the first time watching this film, in a pub in the depths of the West of Ireland in the middle of Summer and nearly choking on my Guinness and falling off a bar stole when THAT plot twist is revealed. Simply a brilliant Christmas film MFs ! Tip – and a little or a lot like Home Alone, leave this Film franchise at its second outing.

Office Christmas Party – There’s a good chance a considerable number of you are unfamiliar to this Yuletide offering. Please change that and you will truly thank us for introducing you to the unconventional Yuletide yearn. Jennifer Anniston plays a hard nosed business Scrooge where Christmas parties are off the agenda for this software company who haven’t had the best of years. Her brother, played by T.J Miller, has other ideas and a crazy farce ensuing including a run in with suburban drug dealing mum and a crazed HR exec played by the brilliant Kate McKinnon.

Gremlins – Like Die hard this film is endlessly lamented upon as to whether it falls into the Christmas movie category. For us this game changer from back 1984, written by Chris Columbus unquestionably does. When a guy looking for the ultimate in a festive gift in the form of an unusual pet, remember a pet isn’t just for Christmas folks, comes across Gizmo accompanied with 3 simples rules not to ever be broken. When he inadvertently, but obviously does he unleashes a horde of mischievous, malevolently monsters on a small US town at the Yuletide.

The Christmas Chronicles – Netflix struck Gold when they cast the unconventional Kirk Russell, what Snake from Escape from New York !?! in the titular role. This time we have two siblings who are at that troubled age of whether they believe or not and set out to catch Santa in the act. Trouble ensues and they all have team up to save the day. The day, of course, being the biggest day of the year !

Santa Claus the Movie – This Yuletide offering tells the origins story of how good olde St Nick and how back in the 14th Century this kind elderly gent would make toys for the local village people, but gets lost in the Winter snow storm and is rescued by the elf folks of the North Pole. Fast forward to the 20th Century the legend of Santa is feeling a little stale and I’m need of a PR makeover. In steps the unscrupulous toy manufacturer played by, the great,John Lithgow, and the misplaced effects of Patch the elf played by the inimitable Dudley Moore.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – Like every great film or TV franchise, at some point they create a Christmas special, with varying degrees of success. I mean let’s not even discuss the Star Wars TV Special of on 1978, let’s keep that hidden in the archive. But the same can’t be said for this great, following the Griswold’s misadventures in trying to organise the ultimate in Family Christmas gatherings and catering to that Mish-Mash of family personalities and quirks.

The Night Before – Like “The Office Party” this wonder of Christmas Cinematography may have so far escaped you, until now ! The unusual trio combination of Seth Rogen, Anthony Mackie and Joseph-Gordon Levitt have enjoyed every Christmas Eve together, until Rogen and Mackie’s characters feel like they have outgrown their usual Yuletide shenanigans, but Levitt has other ideas and is confident he can change their minds.

The Snowman – Raymond Briggs Festive narrative of a young boy’s magical experience with a Snowman who is brought to life through the magic of Christmas. Originally shown in the UK on Channel 4 and accompanied with eternal Choir boy Aled Jones, “Walking in the air”. An essential part of many people’s Festive Festivities, all sat round watching this with their family while slowly destroying a box of Quality Street all washed down with one too many Snowballs.

Nativity! – This Christmas series of movies spawned a whopping 4 sequels! However, the first in the series is by far the best. In that great British tradition of the Carry on’s this silly farce can’t help but put you in the festive spirits. Martin Freeman, with the original, in the lead role as the teacher put in charge of staging the Nativity Play and the daft Mr Poppy, Marc Wootton, playing the classroom assistant messing up all the best laid plans, surely the Nativity play won’t go as planned ????

Love Actually – Before we start, I have a confession to make, I agree Love Actually is a nice film and if it’s on, I will most probably watch it, but I just don’t get the way people rave about this movie. Richard Curtis’s (Four Weddings, ) 2003 narrative of eight interlocking couples played by a star studded ensemble of Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Kiera Knighley etc etc), is many folks idea of a Christmas Classic, so check it out and see what you think ?

Deck the Halls – Back in 2006, before the cost of living or energy crises and maybe before any sustainable considerations, people would and some still do ornately decorate their homes in preparation for the Festivities. This is one such tale of neighbours trying to out do each other in the decoration stakes. Danny DeVito’s crass OTT character pitted against Matthew Broderick’s up tight, Conservative neighbour.


White Christmas
– Surely the most famous of Classical Christmas movies dating back to 1954 has to be White Christmas? The premise is a simple one, two friends, Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, help a ex-army pal’s failing hotel or inn by staging a Christmas show with the help of two recently befriended Sisters.

Jingle all the way  – Back in the 90s there was a horrible trend for each Christmas they being a must have toy and sections of society deemed you a good or bad parent on whether you did or didn’t manage to get your kids that particular “IT” toy, think the Tellytubbies, Tracey Island, the original PlayStation etc. now this film tells that story, this time the toy in question is Turbo Man and the parent is  none other than The Terminator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The Polar Express – One of only a few animations to make it onto our list. This Tom Hanks vehicle, gave scarily accurate facial features to its characters and Hanks the opportunity to play numerous characters throughout the film, which tells the story of a boy embarking on a journey to discover Father Christmas and the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas 2023- Expert Reveals 6 Holiday Decorating Mistakes That Are Actually Dangerous

Holiday decorating is a fun time to celebrate a special occasion and to create new memories. Yet, amid the merriment, it’s vital to remain mindful of potential decorating mishaps that can pose serious risks to your safety and the well-being of your loved ones.

Raf Michalowski, an interior design expert at Meble Furniture, has outlined common holiday decorating mistakes that can unexpectedly lead to dangerous situations.

1. Lighting Lots of Candles Too Close

Candles can instantly transform the feeling of any space with their soft, flickering glow.

Not only do they immediately add a sense of cosiness and serenity to any holiday setting, but they can also be a nice way to provide an ambient light to your settings.

However, they can also be incredibly dangerous if not handled with caution, for instance lighting too many candles and doing so with them placed too closely together.

Candle accidents around this time can be attributed to candles placed too close to flammable materials, from furniture to holiday decorations.

The expert suggests to keep candles away from any other objects and never leave them unattended. For an even simpler and safer alternative, consider switching to battery-operated candles.

2. Picking the Wrong Tree

The debate over artificial versus real Christmas trees is age-old, but the type of tree you choose is only part of the equation. 

“If you’re opting for a live tree, it’s essential to check the freshness of your tree before taking it home.

Any tree that starts to rain a hail of needles when you move it could be a sign of dryness, which makes it susceptible to fire hazards. 

Before placing your live tree, put it in a stand with water and cut a couple of inches from the trunk for better water absorption. Artificial trees should be fire-resistant for added safety,” says the expert. 

3. Overloading Extension Cords

Extension cords are commonly used during the holidays to reach outlets for decorations, trees as well as all the technology running throughout the festive season.

However, overloading extension cords with multiple devices can lead to overheating and potential electrical fires. 

It’s best to be mindful of the number of devices connected to a single extension cord and avoid daisy-chaining them together. 

The expert suggests opting for extendable cords that can go the length of your room or more if need be.

4. Placing the Tree in the Wrong Spot

When finding the perfect place for your Christmas tree, anything near radiators, vents, heaters, or fireplaces can accelerate its drying process, posing a significant fire risk. 

If you’re short for space, it’s recommended to position your tree at least three feet away from any heat source to ensure its longevity and safety,” the expert recommends. 

5. Choosing Poisonous Plants

For pet owners and parents of young children, the choice of holiday plants is crucial.

Some seasonal favourites such as amaryllis, mistletoe, balsam, pine, cedar and poinsettias, can be harmful to pets. It’s best recommended to keep holiday flowers and greenery away, or use artificial plants instead.

6. Using Unsafe Decorations

Your holiday decorations can also pose threats. 

“Glass ornaments may shatter and cause injuries, while ribbon, strings and tinsel used for wrapping presents and decorating the tree can potentially become choking hazards. 

If you have babies, young toddlers, or pets prone to investigation, it might be best to avoid using tinsel and glass ornaments on the tree or keep them out of reach,” says the expert. 

HOW DOES ALCOHOL AFFECT SLEEP?

Given that the term ‘nightcap’ typically refers to an alcoholic tipple, it’s easy to assume that alcohol is a good sleep aid. While it can make us feel more sleepy, and often help us get to sleep more quickly, in fact, it’s more likely to induce poor and disturbed sleep quality, and thus make us more tired the next day.

Alcohol is a depressant, which suppresses the central nervous system, and causes the brain activity to slow down. All types of alcohol – beer, wine, cocktails, liqueurs, and spirits – have this effect. In large quantities, alcohol makes us feel relaxed and dozy, with a sedative effect that makes going to sleep more akin to passing out.

When we consume alcohol, it gets absorbed into our blood stream through the stomach and small intestine. Liver enzymes metabolise the alcohol, however, as this is a slow filtration process, if we have consumed a lot, it can mean that we have high levels circulating in our blood stream for some hours.

Alcohol can suppress Rapid Eye Movement during the first two sleep cycles, which can create an imbalance of slow wave sleep and REM sleep, which in turn creates shorter sleep duration and more sleep disruptions.

A hangover is often a combination of dehydration and sleep deprivation, so we may also wake during the night needing to urinate, rehydrate, take painkillers, or from feeling too hot or nauseous. In addition, those who are prone to snoring can usually testify that the problem is worse after they have had a drink.

ALCOHOL AND SLEEP DISORDERS 

When we’re finding it hard to fall asleep, or stay asleep, it can be tempting to think that a drink will solve the issue. In truth, alcohol is often counterproductive to our overall sleep health and sleep hygiene. 

INSOMNIA

Adults who drink to excess often suffer from sleep issues such as insomnia. Unfortunately, sleeplessness and alcohol can exacerbate each other and create a vicious cycle, and there is a link between alcohol abuse and chronic sleep disorders.

SLEEP APNEA

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterised by abnormal breathing, choking noises, and loud snoring. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is caused by a complete or partial obstruction of the upper airway by the throat muscles. Central sleep apnea (CSA) is less common and occurs when the brain cannot properly signal the muscles that control breathing. As alcohol relaxes the throat and mouth muscles, it can exacerbate such breathing issues. 

When to see a GP? If you can’t get to sleep without alcohol, or if you suspect you have sleep apnea, seek urgent medical advice. Sleeping medication should never be mixed with alcohol, as it can be dangerous. 

 

WHY CAN’T I SLEEP AFTER DRINKING?

You might wonder, does alcohol help you to sleep? But when we are under the influence, sleep is more likely to be shallow, fitful, and fragmented. Even a glass of wine can have a rebound effect, which is caused by the release of excitatory glutamate after the alcohol has been metabolised by the liver, which can cause us to wake easily in the night. 

HOW TO SLEEP BETTER AFTER DRINKING ALCOHOL?

Had a bit more to drink than you intended? If you’re prone to insomnia after drinking alcohol, try these hacks to help mitigate some of the worst effects.

– Have a high fibre snack to help regulate the body’s absorption of the alcohol – here are some dream recipes to help you get some decent shut-eye

– Make sure your bedroom is a comfortable, cooler temperature 

– Empty your bladder before bed

– Have a small glass of water before bed and keep one nearby in case you wake up with a thirst 

– Take milk thistle – a supplement that can support liver function 

Barber Boom – Are you visiting your friendly neighbourhood Barber ?

According to recent statistics, 58% of men in the UK visit a barber on a regular basis, a 16% increase compared to the previous year. The so-called “Barber Boom” can’t be dismissed, with the industry now worth an estimated £1.5 Billion.

Andrew Vassiliou, Director of Chris & Sons – the UK’s leading hair and beauty supplier – explains why barbershops are growing in popularity and what this means to the High Street.

“There’s been much talk about the death of the British High Street as people flock to the internet to buy clothes, tech, and food. But hair cuts are a necessity you can’t just order for next-day delivery.

This growing demand for barbers is a positive sign for the UK High Street, highlighting that even in the digital age, people still value in-person services. Barbershops are attracting new customers to local shopping districts, contributing to the life of the High Street.

Men’s grooming is on the rise, with men showing more interest in their appearance. Barbers offer a range of services to help men look and feel their best. 62% of British men say they are interested in men’s grooming products and services, a 4% increase from last year.

While traditional hair salons often cater to both men and women, they may not offer the same level of expertise in men’s haircuts and styling. Barbers, on the other hand specialise in men’s hair, and offer a variety of services that are tailored to men’s hair needs, such as fades, shaves, and beard trims. 

The friendly and welcoming atmosphere of barbershops is another factor in their popularity. Barber shops are often seen as a place where men can relax and socialise while getting their hair done.  This sense of community is something that many customers value, especially in the era of digital interactions. According to a 2023 survey by Treatwell, 72% of British men say they enjoy the social aspect of going to the barbershop, whilst 68% say they feel more relaxed after a trip to the barbershop.

However, the popularity of barbershops may pose challenges for some existing High Street businesses. Traditional hair salons, for example, may face increased competition. Adaptation is vital for any business; some hair salons have successfully embraced the trend by diversifying their services to include elements commonly found in barbershops, like tailored grooming packages for men.

Ultimately, the growth of barbershops signals a broader shift in consumer preferences towards experiences and community interactions, which can be a positive for the High Street. To stay relevant and thrive in this changing landscape, businesses should consider offering unique and personalised experiences that appeal to the modern consumer.”

Uniting Style, Sustainability, and Innovation – Expio

Expio, a genuine trailblazing men’s clothing brand standing at the forefront of pioneering materials and manufacturing processes, pushing the boundaries of what’s attainable in performance apparel.

Founded by Ben Mears in 2020 and with 20+ years of creative apparel experience. He has worked for companies such as YSL, Tommy Hilfiger, and North Sails in Italy. He has an extensive tailoring background and his comprehensive performance sportswear knowledge and passion for sustainability form the pillars of Expio.

Alongside Expio, Ben works on regenerative, traceable and accountability projects for several international businesses. Ben has completed business sustainability management training with the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Sustainable Leadership.

By fusing style, sustainability, and innovation, Expio creates performance clothing that empowers individuals to make conscious choices without compromising on quality. Through pioneering materials and manufacturing processes, Expio aims to set new industry standards and lead the menswear revolution towards a more sustainable and responsible future.

Expio is setting new industry benchmarks with its pioneering use of materials that not only enhance performance, but also prioritize sustainability. By harnessing the power of bio-nylon derived from castor beans and Optim Performance wool developed in collaboration with The Woolmark, the brand crafts outerwear that strikes the balance between comfort, durability, and environmental consciousness.

One of the key differentiators of Expio is its revolutionary manufacturing process , or the Stitch-less Stealth welding technique, as they like to call it. This innovative approach not only enhances the durability and waterproof capabilities of the clothing but also eliminates the need for traditional stitching, reducing material waste and resource consumption. Expio is the first and only brand to use this new technology, ushering in a new era of manufacturing.

“Our aim is to design uncompromising garments that encompass style, performance, and sustainability. These garments are crafted with a conscious understanding of the importance of sustainability while also being able to withstand the elements at the highest level. Not only are they physically durable but also emotionally resilient.” said founder, Ben Mears. 

Expio’s mission extends far beyond the confines of fashion. The brand aims to rebalance the clothing industry’s impact on the world by creating performance clothing that is both exceptional and conscientious. Through mindful decision-making and a deep understanding of social and environmental issues, Expio hopes to make a lasting positive impact on the planet.