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Merry Christmas!

Go green

“Deck the halls with boughs of holly, fa-la-la-la…” Dump that artificial glossy tree and go natural. Sadly, you won’t find many trees that remind you of a classic Christmas tree in our city, but a lookalike will do no harm as long as it has wide boughs and a firm trunk dug into its bed of earth. To give it a real touch, instead of buying Christmas decorations, make them at home — streamers, bells with loops wide enough to spin through a thread with ease and a shining star to top the tree. Feel special as you rope in family members to help put it all together. (And the next time they blame you for not spending quality family time, refresh their memory about this initiative!)

Keep it real

Continuing with the theme of authenticity, replace Orkut scraps and Facebook wall notes with greeting cards — real ones, on paper, sent by snail mail. E-cards are the lazy way out. Parents can spend an afternoon with their children to make cards for their grandparents. When your extra effort inspires your friends and family to follow suit, tie a string from one end of the wall to another and hang your greeting cards on it — just like the old days. It doesn’t matter if they are last year’s! No one will know the difference! And this is something you can’t do with e-cards. (Unless you take print-outs, and that is just plain ugly.)

Buy buy

Sorry, we just couldn’t let shopping pass. With the malls brimming with new stock, designer threads and to-die-for winter-wear, there’s no better time to loosen the purse strings (if they are not loose enough to earn the wrath of the shopping police already). Choose an odd time of the day to visit a mall for a push-and-shove-free experience or let your fingers do the walking and shop online. A word of warning: Be careful with your credit cards. Christmas will be a big enough bash without flashing the plastic!

Bake your own cakes

Nothing can beat a homemade Christmas cake. Every bite is worth the effort that goes into preparation. Hours of shopping for cashews, raisins, morabba, dried orange peels and cherries; chopping the dry fruits into tiny bits and leaving them to dry in the sun; arguing with your baker to give you the earliest slot in the morning, the thrill of cake mixing… and finally, the first big bite. While you may have missed out this year, it isn’t too late to put together a vanilla or chocolate cake at home. Cheat if you must and use a mix, but nothing can replace the aroma of baking warming your home.

Dress up as Santa

Ho ho ho! Surprise your folks by sporting the red-and-white costume and a big red cap. Bring a smile to little faces by picking up some goodies, filling little stockings and sending them out to unsuspecting para children. You may call them brats through the year for smashing your windowpanes and scratching the paint off your brand new Hyundai, but this is the time to forgive and forget (and not fill up the goody bags with nasty tricks!).

Sing carols

...As loud as you can! Attend a carol-singing night or better still be part of one! Silent Night, Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer, Away In A Manger, The First Noel… The familiar, soulful songs are bound to lift even the least festive spirit. And if your singing isn’t strong enough to get you a place in a choir, use your bathroom as best you can. Who needs an audience anyway? It will be your own, very private spiritual experience.

Be charitable

No, we aren’t toeing the goody-goody, beauty contestant line. But if you are celebrating Christmas, you should get a taste of what it is really about. (But isn’t it all about gifts, getting drunk and great food? Nope. Try again.)

So take half-an-hour out of your fun-filled day to drop off some old clothes and woollies to an old-age home or an orphanage. Drive an elderly neighbour to church. Buy a gift for a friend you have recently fought with. Stop scowling at your parents for setting a deadline and give them a big hug.

Have a fancy meal

Now, this is Christmas spirit as we all know it! (And yes, food and drink are an integral part of it. All we said is that it isn’t the only part.) Choose your venue for pure indulgence and savour a Christmas turkey, roasted potatoes, stuffed chicken, and plum pudding. Splurge, both in terms of cash and calories. And it ain’t Christmas without raising a toast. Team your meal with a fine French wine, or some Goan port if it suits your palate and pocket better. Anything will do!

Take a break

Use Christmas to make last-minute plans to escape the 31st madness. Calcutta not cold enough? Hit the hills for some me-time. It is just the antidote to post-Christmas exhaustion and the New Year’s Eve mayhem. Calcutta’s parties not big enough? Book your tickets to Goa and do your best to find a room in the bustling capital of cool.

Sleep tight

Yes, sleep. After a night of partying, some blessed sleep is just the thing. Chuck the midnight Net surfing, clandestine meetings, long phone calls to friends. Turn off the telly, put away your book, stow away your iPod. Make a cup of hot chocolate, sip it slowly, letting the warmth relax you, wrap yourself in a blanket, curl up and say goodbye to Christmas 2007. Don’t forget to switch off that cellphone.

Merry Christmas everyone!

What made it to your Christmas must-do list this year? Tell

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