Top Tips on How to Have a Very Merry Christmas

Top Tips on How to Have a Very Merry Christmas

Let’s all just admit it, the festive season is undoubtedly the best time of the year! From mouth-watering hot toddies to crazy work parties, it sure is the most perfect time to really let your hair down! With Christmas only coming once a year, it is important to make the most of every minute and what better way than with these fabulous top tips? Have a look!

Go on a fun Winter City Break

SG15

A great way to kickstart the Christmas season is of course jetting off and enjoying a wonderful winter city break. Europe is renowned for its fun festive cities with bright lights, state of the art outdoor ice shrinks and cosy pubs offering every cocktail you could possibly think of. There are of course plenty of popular cities to choose from including Krakow, Rome, Amsterdam, Berlin and Prague to name but just a few! Or perhaps, you may decide to keep it rather local by visiting Irelands very own capital city which is Dublin where you are sure to enjoy a tasty mulled wine or two in no other than the amazing Temple Bar! Wherever you decide to go, it is sure to be a magical and fairylike experience before heading home for Christmas day!

Christmas Movie Night with your Besties

SG14

There are guaranteed to be plenty mad nights out where you and your friends will be celebrating the festive season a little too much, but be sure to also enjoy a fun night in consisting of a Christmas movie marathon! Yes, this means everything from Elf to Home Alone, Love Actually to Christmas with the Kranks! No movie night is complete without chilled bubbly, hot chocolate, pretzels and popcorn so be sure to stock up! It is a great way to enjoy a stress-free night with your nearest and dearest as well as a long overdue catch up!

Visit the Christmas Continental Markets

SG12

It goes without saying that visiting the Christmas markets is on basically everyone’s to do list! Whether it may be with your friends, other half or family, it can be a fun and spiritual experience brisking through the various stalls offering everything from scented candles to handcrafted decorations. Or perhaps, if you happen to have a sweet tooth, there are plenty of candy and pastry stalls that will really hit the spot including Nutella smothered crepes, cinnamon covered waffles, sugar coated churros and more! Or maybe, if you’re feeling a little spontaneous and hoping to try something a little bit different this festive season, the Christmas markets won’t disappoint whether you are looking to try out a kangaroo burger or a flammkuchen (flat German pizza). Now the best part, the beer tent! The beer tent is the most perfect place to enjoy a strawberry beer or four whilst also belting your heart out to old but gold tunes, what’s not to love?

Host a Wine and Cheese Tasting Night

SG13

If you’re trying to keep the Christmas celebrations super candid, hosting a wine and cheese tasting night is always a good idea! Here you will need a selection of both red and white wine as well as a fine platter of cheese and crackers! You may decide to go the extra mile and play some Christmas games to make the celebrations all the more enjoyable including charades or ‘Name that Christmas Carol!’ The tasting night will be a second to none experience for all who take part!

Make the Most of Family

SG10

Lastly, but most importantly, enjoy valuable time with family! This does not mean buying expensive extravagant presents but instead helping with the Christmas decorations, assisting to make the Christmas dinner, getting drunk on baileys and watching the Eastenders Christmas Special together! It’s not what’s under the tree that matters, but who’s gathered around it!

Wherever you go or whatever you decide to do this Christmas, be sure to enjoy every single minute of the season that keeps on giving! It is the one time you can fully let loose and make a complete shambles of yourself before the struggles of working life again! After all, it is the most wonderful time of the year!

Shannon Grogan is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn on https://www.linkedin.com/in/shannon-grogan-09712510b/ 

Part One: The Social Influencer: Front Stage

Part One: The Social Influencer: Front Stage

The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘Identity’ as “The characteristics determining who or what a person or thing is”

But is it something that we are born with or is it something that we create?

Sociologist Erving Goffman describes identity as an interactive construction rather than something ‘given’ and suggests that all social interaction is like a dramatic performance.

Likewise, I believe that we can be whoever the hell we want to be … understandably, we cannot control how we are born, our gender or the genes we inherit; however I feel we have the power to manipulate our identity and portray ourselves as whoever or whatever we desire to be.

People behave differently in different settings. Take a working environment in which you would perform professionally against a social setting were you would behave in a more relaxed manor. In both settings we would conduct ourselves differently however both still require performance.  This theory applies across the communication board, whether that be in person, over the phone, email and varies depending on the receiver / audience.

Goffman’s theory was, pardon the pun… identified in the late 50’s, a long time before the internet and the rise of social media but I feel it largely applies to this day and age.

The internet and social media platforms enable us to go to extremes and be absolutely anyone we want and to the point where we can hide behind the identity of an existing or fictitious person…commonly known as ‘catfishing’.

CC1

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying these social media Influencers have fake profiles but I do think they can paint their identity to appear absolutely perfect and flawless. That combined with consistent activity of interesting content, generates followers and subscribers and enables them to position themselves on a social pedestal for us “real people” to view them as superior.

It’s obviously not as simple as that, if it were we all would be doing it but you do have to have that something extra and special to stand out; whether that be a beautiful face, body or character…it’s knowing how to utilise it and essentially brand / market yourself.

International social influencer and all-rounder 23 year old fitness guru, entrepreneur and mother of 3, Tammy Hembrow is a prime example and she is very much in demand.

CC8

CC5

Her social identity has become a 24/7 job, inspiring thousands of people and consumers worldwide. The success has even landed her brand sponsorships and endorsements such as fitness clothing line ‘Gym Shark’, which generate revenue and a lot of revenue at that… since 2017 her net worth is approximately $1.6 million!

CC7

But is it possible to be absolutely flawless 100% of the time? Of course not but this platform is one of Tammy’s ‘front stages’ and when she’s not working, she probably behaves like a normal full-time mother and fiancé and in a more relaxed environment, as her ‘back stage’ self.

Technology is so advanced these days that you don’t need to be a professional photo editor to edit images. We can instantaneously alter and enhance a basic photograph with the use of filters and editing tools…we can even access editing apps for free or pay next to nothing to smooth out blemishes, whiten teeth and even bring in our waistlines.

CC2

But how far is too far? Are these embellished photographs not showing an unrealistic representation that you couldn’t possibly compete with in person…

Vicky Pattison was initially and famously known for being on MTV TV series Geordie Shore which let’s be honest… probably didn’t paint her in the best light.

CC10

However with the help of the social media, she has managed to change public opinion and landed respected roles such as presenting on ITV’s Loose Women as well as starting her own online clothing boutique ‘Honeyz’.

Vicky is also no stranger to editing apps and isn’t shy about it either!

CC9

She admitted during a discussion on Loose Women that she enhances pictures of herself; airbrushing and smoothing out wrinkles etc. something that various social media fans have slated her for.

Vicky might regularly share airbrushed selfies and edited snaps but occasionally she will post a natural and unedited picture, say at the gym for example.

When it comes to male social influencers, their natural snaps are more than likely untouched but enhanced with a basic filter however the same measures apply; the content is attractive to consumers, brands and is consistent.

Take Instagram success Nick Bateman for example…

CC4

Aside from the obvious…he’s a very handsome guy but his social content is appealing to a wide audience and probably a large majority of that being Yorkshire terrier fans and followers.

I’m a big fan of Nick and how he portrays himself online. In the words of Derek Zoolander, it’s not all about being really, really, ridiculously good looking… Nick doesn’t take himself too seriously and offers an element of humour on his social feed.

CC3

Haters are also not likely to hate with content like this…

CC11

I mean how could you???

Stay tuned for Part Two: The Social Influencer: Back Stage

 

Cara Cowan is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/caracowan/

Life Advice from a 3-year-old

Life Advice from a 3-year-old

A doting godmother to a 3-year-old boy, I am constantly amused and intrigued by Jude (biased I know). Whether it be his fascination currently with thinking the word ‘poo poo head’ is so funny or his constant questioning of EVERYTHING, he definitely has a fresh and light hearted look on the world. Which got me thinking, could we benefit from approaching life like a 3-year-old?

A few things I have observed from this blue eyed boy with a devilish grin can definitely be applied to ‘adult life’ (or the beginning of it for most of us).

LT1

He never says “I can’t”

If his brother says “See how far you can go if you jump off the sofa” he will. If I tell him to try and lift me up to see how strong he is, he will. Granted, I go on my tip toes to pretend he lifted me, but he still looks at someone three times his height and doesn’t think twice to wrap his tiny arms around my legs and give it a go.

Jude doesn’t think of setbacks, obstacles or any reason as to why he can’t do anything. He charges in, gives it a go and if it doesn’t work out – oh well. Either on to the next thing, or he will keep trying until he can.

He never gives up

If he wants a drink of your coke, he will get a drink of your coke. No, it’s not giving in – it’s giving my head peace! Jude will climb on top of you, climb on top of the table, constantly ask and talk about this glass of coke – anything until he gets what he wants. Once he gets a sip, he’s happy and away.

So if you don’t get the first job you applied for, you apply for another. And another, and another and another, until you get the job you want. It won’t come easy, but if you give up it won’t come at all. This is in all areas of your life – the cliché of “nothing worth having ever came easy”. Yep, even Jude knows that.

He constantly asks Why?

All. The. Time. The first 8 are alright, but when you’re knee deep into the 23rd why, you just answer “because”.

“I have to go to the shop now”

“Why”

“To get some dinner”

“Why”

“Because I’m hungry and we eat dinner in the evening don’t we?”

“Why”

You get the point.

But why don’t we ask why? We are dangerously slipping into a culture of acceptance. That’s just how things are, that’s just how the world works, it’s been like that for years it won’t change now.

Constantly, news articles are accepted as they are. Why did the Journalist write about that topic? Have they an agenda for the politician they are writing about? Is it really true that coconut oil is the best oil for us because these bloggers all use it? The answer to that one is no by the way – it is the same as any other plant based oil.

LT3

He keeps it simple

You are either happy or sad. Big or small. Hungry or full. In a 3-year-old’s mind the world is simple. Yes, they are oblivious to many ‘grown up’ things, but for the most part, they are pretty tuned in.

Jude can tell if you are sad, and if you are sad Jude will try and make you laugh to make you feel better, or give you a hug. That is simple. Problem + remedy = solution. And you know what, it always works. So why don’t we keep it simple?

We are always over complicating things. Over complicating situations, over complicating assignments and deadlines, over complicating our lives. Strip it down and make it simple.

  • Is what you are doing right now making you happy? No.
  • Do you know what makes you happy? Yes.
  • Well why don’t you stop doing what makes you unhappy and do what makes you happy? I don’t have time. I don’t know how to start. It’s too hard. Scrap those excuses and just do it. Simple.

And finally, he always finds the fun in things

Cleaning up the toy room? We can make this fun; I’ll throw the toys see can I get them into the box. Long car journey? Ok, I’m going to sing some songs and see how many birds I can see.

In a stressed out, serious world, it’s easy to become bogged down with must-dos and have-tos. Find the fun things in everyday tasks like playing your favourite music when doing housework or better yet, make time to do things you enjoy or to spend time with people who make you laugh. You’ll thank yourself in the long run.

From someone whose day consists of breakfast, nursery, playtime, dinner, bath and bed, Jude has a very good outlook on life. Not to say he doesn’t have his bad days where he falls or throws a wobbler – but when he has his bad days he brushes them off very quickly and moves on (another thing we can learn).

Keeping things simple, always having a laugh, never giving up, always questioning, not sweating the small stuff and believing he can – I think he’ll do alright if he keeps that attitude up.

LT2

Lauren Toal is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University, Jordanstown. You can follow her on Twitter @laurentoal5 or reach out on LinkedIn at  https://uk.linkedin.com/in/laurentoal.