What has Christmas become?

I’d like to begin by saying I am by no means a ‘Christmas scrooge’. In fact, I would go as far as saying Christmas is my favourite time of the year, what’s not to like about getting time off university and celebrating with your family with a few drinks and lots and lots of food along the way? However, nowadays Christmas is all about presents and the stress that comes with buying presents, especially for those with young children. Although I doubt there are very many people that would change the idea of exchanging gifts at Christmas, including myself.

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I personally believe that Christmas has become far too commercial. Christmas is a religious holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus, although I must admit I wouldn’t say I’d be the best Christian but I would always attend church on Christmas Day. However, this is becoming less and less common as years go on, kids now grow up thinking a man named Santa is generous enough to bring them gifts if they are well behaved while missing the real meaning of Christmas. People generally get more excited about the famous Coca Cola advert than the true meaning of Christmas and why we celebrate it.

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In my eyes, Christmas has become all about getting the biggest, most expensive presents and having the best Christmas decorations in your street. It has almost turned into a competition – “I have better decorations than you do” or “I got better presents for my kids than you did” it’s becoming ridiculous. I had a conversation with a member of staff in my work last week and he told me he has been working 50-55 hours a week for the past month to save up money for his kids because they have written ‘Santa letters’ worth over £500 each. I thought to myself that it’s crazy that you’re working these long overtime hours because your kids live in a generation that Christmas is all about presents, which has resulted in putting yourself through all this stress to save money to buy these presents whenever you could settle for buying you kids less and instead spend more time with them coming up to the festive period rather than being stuck in Tesco, which I can guarantee they would appreciate more in the long run.

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Working in retail, I witness at first hand the mayhem that evolves around this time of the year. I see mums, dads, boyfriends and girlfriends running around in panic, spending as much money as they need to keep everyone content with their Christmas presents. People simply spend money at will without worrying how much they are spending in order to fit in with the commercial aspect of Christmas, rather than its true meaning. Having said this, I still agree that presents are a nice gesture at Christmas and they add to the celebrations, however I feel there would be a much more balanced spread between basing Christmas around presents and remembering the real meaning behind it.

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Although all that I’ve mentioned above isn’t always the case, there are still a small number, in fact a very small number of people that ignore all the hype and teach their children to live by the true meaning of Christmas rather than the modern commercialised version. In the 1950’s the average child would get up on Christmas day and go to church in full Christmas spirit, knowledgeable of what Christmas really meant. He or she then would have come home and perhaps received a few presents. However, in today’s world kids get up as early as 6am and open an entire stocking worth of presents that their parents have no doubt worked very hard to purchase. After opening all the presents some kids would be forced by their parents to attend church or in some cases the family would forget about church and enjoy the rest of their day. The excitement around Christmas is buying and receiving presents rather than celebrating the birth of Jesus, therefore I can conclude than Christmas has become extremely commercialised.

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Rory McAllister is a final year BSc in Communication, Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at: @R_McAllister14 on Twitter.

This Christmas, I really don’t want Snow(flakes)

Disclaimer: The author of this post is expressing their opinion, try not to be offended!

We are well and truly living in Generation Snowflake. The term has undergone a curious journey to become the most combustible insults in this decade. It emerged a few years ago on American campuses as a means of criticising the hypersensitivity of a younger generation. You can almost guarantee that in any one sitting on Twitter, you will come across a tweet about someone being offended by a company or by a product for some social justice reason.

Recently there have been numerous instances were there has been outrage at things that are seen to be normal in our society. While the list is exhaustive, for the purpose of this post I will focus on Kleenex’s TissueGate, “The Problem with Apu” and recent outrage at classic Christmas songs.

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In October 2018 Kleenex had released a box of tissues and had branded them “Mansize” to indicate their extra size. Twitter user @LisaMHancox pointed this out in a tweet to the company saying, “Hi @Kleenex_UK. My 4yo son asked me what was written here. Then he asked, why are they called man-size? Can girls, boys and & mummies use them? I said: I don’t know & yes of course. He suggests you should call them “very large tissues”. It is 2018.”

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The tweet gained traction and after a while Kleenex responded by taking the product off the shelves, but the issue remained, are we to change every nuance in our language to conform to modern gender norms? Is this sustainable? Does it really make a difference to anyone’s life if we change to name of a manhole to a mixedhole?

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When I first seen the tweet I thought to myself there was no way her son said that, and would she really go as far as to use the fake emotive appeal of her son’s voice to make a point. When I went into the replies I expected her to have unanimous support but was shocked to see that she had a mixed response of ridicule and support. Arguments against her being very PC were made and people had begun to question if her son had really said that and before you know it, it had become a trend on twitter for people to tweet as if they were their sons, daughters or even animals for comic relief. It was the first real instance I had seen the majority of people responding negatively to a post criticising the standards of something from today, and I was surprised to see the swing in opinion.

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My problem with “The Problem with Apu”

In 2017, Indian-American comedian Hari Kondabolu released a documentary called “The Problem with Apu”. The documentary discusses the character of Apu Nahasapenapetilan from long running animated series The Simpsons. From his perspective he talks about the caricature of Apu as the only South Asian TV character gaining national coverage on American television as he was growing up, and that show employed racial stereotypes in having him work at a convenience store with his trademark saying being “Thank you, come again”.

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The release of the documentary led to unconfirmed report from a former executive producer of the show claiming that the character would be cut as a result of the documentary. Again, this lead to a firestorm of opinions on Twitter, with many saying that Kondabolu was raising points that people were too afraid to bring up during The Simpsons heyday in the 90s. People argued back saying that The Simpsons stereotyped Apu in a positive manner; as a family man dedicated to his religion and as someone who was seen to have a tireless work ethic. My problem with this documentary is the fact that no body ever brings up the fact that nearly every character on The Simpsons is a stereotype; Homer is an alcoholic middle aged white man who beats his son, Willie is a haggard Scotsman who makes little sense, Luigi is the owner of a pizzeria, but there is very rarely light shown on the racism if the person’s skin is white.

Censorship of Christmas Classics

While it goes down as the undisputed champion of Christmas Songs in my eyes, “Fairytale of New York” by the Pogues in 1987, comes under scrutiny more and more each as year as we delve deeper into this decade. The raspy Christmas song is memorably sung by Kirsty McCall and Pogues singer Shane MacGowan, in which they depict a couple of lovers who seem to have fallen in and out of love with each other.

A particularly nasty verse in which MacGowan’s character calls McCall an “old slut on junk” to which she famously retorts with “you scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot” is sang with particular glee, which pays more testament to the fact that Irish people have a self-depreciating love of insults as opposed to a love of homophobia.

The Tab in Dublin and RTE DJ Eoghan McDermott recently called for censorship due to the word “faggot” that is used, a pejorative word for homosexuals. Arguments have been made that in the context of the song the slur means a lazy person, with MacGowan himself saying that the character singing the words is a nasty person trying to question the man’s love for her.

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A cheap, lousy faggot.

Being a straight, white, Irish person, I have never experienced any discrimination, and probably won’t, other than being stereotyped for loving the drink, which, to be fair, is an accurate stereotype, but this means I will never understand the pain of hateful words being directed at my identity. I understand that there is no place for stereotypes or racial or homophobic slurs in today’s society, but I feel strongly that things that were made during a certain time when attitudes were different, should not be boycotted today knowing how people thought and acted when they were made. Sure, if a song is released today containing slurs against people of an identity, boycott it, but don’t ruin Christmas by demanding that classic songs be taken off the air.

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The next person who tries to get “A Fairtytale of New York” off the air.

Christopher Hynds is a final year BSc in Communications Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on Twitter: @chrissyoheidin ; LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christopher-hynds-a60531162/

Coca Cola, The King Of Christmas Advertising

Holidays are coming!  We’ve all seen them, and around this time of year it’s almost impossible to avoid them.  Around this festive period every single business and company are fighting it out to try and create the top Christmas advertisement of the year. Companies throw thousands upon thousands into their advertising for the Christmas period in a bid to attract the most attention to their company or product. However, no matter how good the advertisement or how hard they try there is always one advertisement that sticks out at the top. That of course being the Coca Cola Christmas advertisement.

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Many of us mainly associate the beginning of the festive period when the first Coca Cola Christmas Ad airs on the TV. For many people Coca Cola is the brand most associated with the Christmas period, this may be down to the fact they have been creating iconic Christmas advertisements since 1920.

The first ever Coca Cola Christmas campaign goes all the way back to 1920 when the red Santa clause first made an appearance in magazine advertisements. However this advertisement is very different from Christmas advertisements that Coca Cola are very famous for today. The famous Coca Cola Santa Claus we see later on in Coca Colas Christmas campaigns doesn’t resemble the one used way back in 1920.

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In 1931 Coca Cola set out to re-invent their Christmas campaign, so they then approached the D’Arcy advertising agency where the Iconic red Santa we see today was born and was created by artist Haddon Sundblom for the 1931 ‘Thirst has No Season’ campaign. This was essentially the first influential Christmas ad by Coca Cola attracting a lot of attention turning it into a classic holiday brand. Haddon Sundbloms perception of the famous Santa Claus created the popularity surrounding the Coca Cola Christmas campaigns, increasing anticipation of their Christmas ads each year.

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It is sometimes underestimated how influential coca cola have been over the years with their Christmas campaigns, their perception of the iconic red Santa Claus created by Sundblom very much painted a clear image of people’s perception of the Santa Claus that all children see today.

Sundblom created various advertisements of his iconic Santa Claus over several decades, establishing Coca Cola as one of the main festive brands. His last ever advertisement came in 1964. For decades after his last piece Coca Cola advertisements featured designs of the Santa Claus based on Sunbloms vision. Over the years Coca Cola have incorporated various other Christmas advertisements but in 1993 the Coca Cola polar bears made an appearance in their Christmas campaign.  The famous Coca Cola polar bears have been about for some time they first were seen in magazine advertisements in 1922.

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In 1993 The Coca Cola polar bears were brought back to life for a Christmas campaign by Ken Stewart who got the idea for the polar bears from his Labrador puppy that resembled a polar bear. Stewart brought the idea of the campaign to the animation company Rhythm & Hues who brought the animation of the Polar bears into the world and now the Coca Cola polar bears are one of their most famous advertising campaigns used by Coca Cola. Although they have been used by Coca Cola for nearly a hundred years they never featured in their Christmas campaign until 1993. It took over 12 weeks for the ‘Northern Lights’ campaign to be created and drawn up, for the advertisement to first be aired. In 2013 the polar bears yet again made a return to the Christmas advert with the ‘Open Happiness’ Christmas campaign with a short film created by Ridley Scott showing the popularity of the famous Coca Cola Polar Bears.

It is pretty obvious that these famous campaigns by Coca Colas have really established them as one of the main seasonal brands around the Christmas period. The creativity of their campaigns and the art involved has essentially created a vision of the certain aspects of the holiday itself. The campaigns in the past have set in stone Coca Cola’s position as a holiday brand, leaving people with the excitement of waiting to see their campaigns each year, and it is no surprise that their current campaign of the ‘Holidays are Coming’ trucks are also such a success.

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The bright red Coca Cola Christmas trucks were first introduced in 1995 as part of the first ‘Holidays are Coming’ TV advertisements created by George Lucas. To many when they first appear on our screens it marks the start of the festive period. The Holidays are Coming trucks are so popular they are broadcast to over 100 countries around the Christmas period making it the most widely used Christmas advertisement in history. In 2001 the trucks were used to bring back Sundbloms iconic Santa Claus imagine by having it featured in the 2001 advertisement on the side of the Coca Cola Christmas trucks incorporating the influence of the Santa Claus image created by Coca Cola. The holidays are coming campaign is such a massive success for Coca Cola that it is still the same campaign we see today. The advertisement is so popular to the Christmas period that they are even sent out to do tours of various countries attracting many visitors to go catch a glimpse and get pictures with the world famous trucks.  Once we see that advertisement with those red trucks, Christmas has well and truly begun.

 

Hugh Dornan is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at: LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/hugh-dornan-60376a14b/

 

Happy Blogmas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year– well to me it is anyways. I’ve always been a fan of Xmas, I just love the smell that comes with it, and for some reason everyone is just always happier. With the lead up to Christmas, many of us attempt to lose a bit of weight, purely so we don’t feel as guilty for the endless amount of celebrations and quality street we consume for breakfast. For me, I’m already embracing the pig in a blanket look, whereby I’m masking my Xmas physique with many woolly layers of clothing. So, I thought a little ‘blogmas’ post would be fitting considering Christmas is pending.

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I’ve been watching Xmas movies since even before Halloween, so I guess you could say I’ve the Christmas movies well sussed out- here’s a few to keep use going over the crimbo hols!

Must watches:

1. ELF
2. The Grinch
3. The Night Before
4. Home Alone – Lost in NY
5. Fred Clause
6. Four Christmases
7. Deck the Halls
8. Jack Frost
9. Santa Clause (1,2 & 3)
10. Love Actually

You know Christmas is approaching fast, whenever the house is coming down with crates of Shloer and you lowkey have a bottle with dinner every night from now till Christmas, the tins of Quality street and Celebrations are stocked up and well out of site, so no one can get their hands on them, and the house has a constant scent of cinnamon from Christmas candles being burnt continually. Although in my family the chocolate stash is well raided before Christmas, hence why the body will be delayed this year yet again. Through a lot of debate and tastings from celebrations a well-rounded ranking has been established, which is presented below.

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*Note: Galaxy Caramel sadly didn’t make the cut in the ranking due to them all being inhaled before the positions were decided!

 

 

 

 

 

Que being a slight Bah humbug…

More than ever, Christmas has turned into a money racket as my mummy would say, acting like she is going to put an end to  going over board each Christmas. Even though our living room door is covered in Christmas wrapping paper for me and my sister to run through in the morning, as well as our presents being wrapped in 2 different colours, so we can tell who’s is whose of course , may I also add me and my sister are 20 and 22 (not complaining though). So I blame my mother for me being such a Christmas fanatic.

Christmas is also a busy period for all the festive activities which we have to attend, like the annual trip to the Christmas markets, staff do’s and the 12 pubs of Christmas, at this time of year they are basically compulsory to participate in. However, all these festivities do leave a hole in the pocket, and many people’s funds are low, especially the student loan (roll on Jan for a wee top up). However, with Christmas slowly but surely becoming so orientated around gifts and pressures to get the right present. It forces some people to spend money they don’t have, to try and meet the materialistic standards set by society. At this time of the year, if my mummy buys me a Chinese it’ll be part of the Xmas present too. In other words, we are all so infatuated in spending money to get the flashiest gifts for people, we often get too caught up in it, and forget what Christmas is actually about (As cheesy and cliché as it sounds), but we do. There’s no doubt that receiving and getting presents for people is satisfying, especially when you see their face gleam up whilst unravelling the paper.

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As I’ve kind of matured (slightly, not a lot), I’ve come to realise that yea presents are great at the time, but they don’t make up for everything. Many families dread Christmas, due to a loss of family member, whether it was recent or long ago, however that empty place at the dinner table on Christmas day is more obvious than ever. For me it’s my wee granny, Christmas has never been the same without her and I’m sure many can relate to how their Christmas experience has changed massively from losing that certain someone. What I’m trying to say is appreciate what you have around you, and it’s nice to be nice, especially around this time of year because no one knows what this festive period means to people. So, just remember ‘he who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree’.

Before ending my lil blog post, be sure and have yourself a very Merry Christmas!
CYA, Clodagh xx

Clodagh McFaul is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/clodaghmcfaul/ ; Facebook – https://en-gb.facebook.com/clodagh.mcfaul ; LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/clodagh-mcfaul-592381173/

 

Why Does it Feel So Good to be Banned?

Earlier this month, Iceland unveiled their Christmas TV ad for 2018 in partnership with Greenpeace which told the story of ‘Rang-tan’, an Orangutan seeking refuge after humans had destroyed his home and killed his mother in pursuit of Palm Oil. The poignant, ethical and yet simple animation had high hopes to deliver a clear message to viewers over the Christmas period and Iceland had a £500,000 media spend across TV channels to really help push the ad. However, on release it was announced that the ad was banned from TV after being deemed “too political”.

So where did it all go right?

In most instances I can image that getting your ad banned from TV would be a disastrous backfire of hard work – a very deflating feeling. But by the looks of things, the opposite can be said for Iceland.

After posting their ad to their Twitter page and letting the public know that the ad had been banned for being “too political”, there was a public outcry and people tweeted in their thousands protesting the ban. Even celebrities such as James Corden and Stephen Fry tweeted the ad which now has 17m views on Twitter.

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 The response to the ban was massive and according to Iceland’s Managing Director, Richard Walker – unexpected. Despite claims that the company knew all along the ad would be banned, Richard Walker stated, “We went into this with a straight bat and I genuinely thought this [the advert] was going to get past.” Perhaps this was for the best. Since posting, their original tweet has 92k retweets, 4.4m YouTube views and a petition to get the ad that has been signed by 670,000 people. It has tripled the views from last year’s ad and created an audience of somewhat unexpected vocal advocates in support of Iceland and what they stand for. Done deliberately or unexpectedly, the video packed a punch in terms of reactions.

IT’S A FRONT!

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Iceland have come a long way from their TV ads featuring the latest B-list celebrity standing in front of a ridiculous spread of party food, aiming to persuade us to buy a frozen pig wrapped in a chicken and bacon blanket and served in a vol-au-vent. Those days are behind them. I imagine the company look back at that time in their business lives in the same way we look back at old profile pictures.

But what’s with the new image? Why aren’t they focusing on frozen sausage-stuffed asparagus? What about our platters? Where’s Coleen Nolan? What’s changed here? Is Iceland breaking up with their old image? Well, yes.

When I first watched the ad I thought “Hmm, yeah it’s good but why do Iceland care?” This thought was a shared one with many people claiming that Iceland taking an ethical stance to their business was all a front to attract a new demographic of customers. A PR smoke-screen for sales. But I’ve come to learn that that actually isn’t the case.

Environmentalism isn’t just for Christmas

Iceland have been publicly talking about the plight of orangutans for most of the year and became the first UK supermarket to vow to remove palm oil from every item in their own-brand food label by the end of 2018. Earlier this year, they also released a stream of video footage of how palm oil was destroying orangutan’s natural habitat:

The videos were part of the #PalmOilAlarmCall hashtag (similar to their #NoPalmOilChristmas hashtag) and for everyone who shared the hashtag on social media, Iceland promised to donate £1 to International Animal Rescue to fund rescue and care for orangutans left ‘homeless’. Their vow to remove palm oil from their products is expected to reduce the demand for the product by 500 tonnes a year.

On top of this, Iceland have been a leading retailer in banning single-use plastics. In January, their #TooCoolForPlastic campaign drew attention to the fact that they were the world’s first mainstream retailer to fully remove plastic packing from all of its own-label products by 2023. Who thinks it’s a front now?

Their commitment to sustainability is quite clearly not a smoke-screen but a solid foundation that they continue to build on. Their determination to lead the way into environmentally friendly business practices is admirable and something I expect other major retailers will soon follow. Iceland have set a sustainability benchmark and not just because it will make them look good, but because it is right.

Overall, whether you think it was a cunning plan as part of a marketing masterpiece or a backlash that turned out for the better, you can’t deny what Iceland have actually done. They have opened up an umbrella of conversations about the ethicality of companies, what’s in our products and what is the true price we pay for everyday items.

Our attention has been got. Everyone is listening.

Being banned wasn’t so bad after all.

Scout Dobbin is a third year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University, currently on placement as a Marketing Assistant. Scout can be found on Linkedin – Scout Dobbin, on Twitter – @scoutdobbin or Instagram – @scoutdobbin

£5 Charity Shop Secret Santa

£5 Charity Shop Secret Santa

Unfortunately, Christmas is well and truly over and 2017 is coming to an end. However, it is only 361 days, 6 hours and 41 minutes to next Christmas so it’s never too early to start dreaming of Christmas 2018! When you are planning the festivities next year, give some thought to this, as it is my favourite family Christmas tradition of all time and it could be yours too!

I am sure everyone has heard of the normal ‘Secret Santa’, well our family take a slight twist on this! A few years ago my sister came up with the idea of ‘£5 Charity shop Secret Santa’, as she had taken a fascination with charity shops and thought it would be great fun on Christmas day. How right she was, as years later, it is still one of the most anticipated activities over the Christmas period amongst my family.

In our house, Christmas really is one of the most wonderful times of the year. Everyone comes home to spend time together, the fridge and cupboards are filled with food, and the wine glasses and cheeseboards never seem to empty!

On Christmas day my family of seven either host my godmother’s family of six or we head up to Fermanagh to join them, so there is a total of thirteen of us in totally taking part in this novelty Secret Santa.  Some of us are studying at university, some of us are living in England so it is the one time of year where we all come together. As this is a rare occasion, we use a website called ‘DrawNames.co.uk’ to generate everyone’s Secret Santa through email. We do this three weeks before Christmas, and then the fun begins as you spend time thinking about what absolutely hilarious item you are going to go on the hunt for.

The general rule of thumb, is the funnier, the better. The more random, the better. The bigger, the better. Therefore everyone is trying to outdo each other with hilarious finds they have come across in the charity shop on their search for the perfect present. Everyone has had a few drinks in them whilst exchanging gifts, so we probably think we are ten times funnier than we are, and the Snapchat and Instagram stories go overboard!

Over the years there have been some absolutely hilarious presents.

My brother Dermot got my auntie a guitar (that is in perfect condition) for £5, so that in her retirement she could ‘work on her music career’… I don’t know how promising this will be!

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Two years ago my daddy got my sixteen year old brother at the time, a pair of hilariously hugely oversized cricket shin pads, with the reason being, “he has to start learning how to use protection soon” … Cringe for my little brother but absolutely hysterically funny for the rest of us!

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(My sister Lisa having great fun with them instead!)

A few years ago I got my youngest cousin Grainne, who would be known as the ‘baby’ of the house, but also as a completely spoilt ‘princess’… So I got her lots of children’s toys, a child’s princess handbag and tiara. This year my brother got her a pony, as apparently she has been begging her daddy for one for years!!

 

This year my Daddy thought he absolutely hilarious. He got me a toy chair with a big sign saying ‘The Naughty Chair’, apparently for all the badness I get up to partying in The Holylands!!

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There is also some very dodgy wrapping along the way. My youngest brother Dermot wrapped his up in a bin bag and I ran out of paper along the way..

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I was in a charity shop with my friend this year explaining to her what the tradition was whilst searching for a funny present, when one of the women who worked in the charity shop approached me. She apologised for listening to our conversation but she was truly amazed at this idea, she said she had never heard of anyone doing this before! She loved the idea so much that she wants to incorporate it into their Advertising and Public relations strategy next year. She explained they had quite a low budget for this, but thought this would be a really effective message to target people in the lead up to Christmas next year!

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It would be amazing if more families got involved in this and made it one of their own traditions. As each year we raise a small sum of £65 for charity shops across Northern Ireland, but throughout the years it has been hundreds of pounds. For example, if ten families of five were to do this every Christmas, that is £250 raised for charities, so imagine if hundreds of families did this!

Here’s a video of what everyone got a few years ago.

Oh and YES, my family are slightly crazy if you haven’t guessed that by now!

 

Helen McAleer is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn on linkedin.com/in/helen-mcaleer-6b1221b4 and on Twitter: @Helen_McAleer30

‘Home Alone’: The Boston Edition

‘Home Alone’: The Boston Edition

It’s been a while since I had time to sit at my laptop and write a blog, but since Aer Lingus have decided to charge ludicrous prices for their flights back to Ireland ($4,000 return), it seems I will have all the time in the world as Boston has pretty much shut its doors for the Christmas holidays.

With the exception of a few places, which will have their doors wide open for everyone alone this Christmas. Homeless Shelters. The homeless situation in Boston is something that has struck me as nothing short of an epidemic since arriving here in July. I have always felt that giving someone a dollar on a side street was insulting, and not really helping the situation. So when realising I was going to be alone during the holidays, I had an epiphany. How’s about spending my day volunteering? My usual Christmas consists of eating copious amounts of turkey, stuffing and cocktail sausages… and nicking the last Yorkshire Pudding off my da. So why not switch it up?

Norbella have an amazing ‘Norbella Cares’ initiative which offers us employees the opportunity to help out at various charities around Boston, and one of our most recent charities was Pine Street Inna homeless shelter in the South End. It was a perfect alignment of the gift of giving over the Holidays.

 

 

25th December 2017

After a FaceTime call home, I got up to leave my house in Dorchester to go to the shelter. To make this Christmas just a little bit more special, I was met with a Winter Wonderland – a real White Christmas.

The snow was heavy and unforgiving to those without a roof over their head, and it made what I was on my way to do that little bit more important.

The work itself took no effort. The phrase “too many cooks spoil the broth” couldn’t ring more untrue in this scenario. Witnessing families, including grandmothers and grandchildren leave the comfort of their home to come together and help the Boston community was incredible.

I met numerous people who Pine Street Inn have taken off the streets as a part of their training program, to help rebuild their lives with a proper structure supporting them.

When leaving Pine Street, a fellow just after getting fed turned to me and said,

Thank you for doing that, I really needed it this year. Housing problems.

How one year, to the next, this man had a house, and then he didn’t. It broke my heart.

From Belfast to Boston, homelessness is universal. Recently there was #SolidaritySleepout at home, helping to tackle the very real problem across Ireland. In some ways, it was those gaelic players who took time out of their life to raise awareness, who encouraged me to do this for my Boston community. You can still donate here and make a difference in your own community.

 

Shannon Quinn is a 3rd year student on the BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing at Ulster University, currently doing her placement year with Norbella Media in Boston. She can be contacted on LinkedIn at https://uk.linkedin.com/in/shannon-quinn-556236132 and on Twitter @ShannonQuinnPR.