Is it that time already?
Some people love it, some loathe it – a lot of people don't believe in it. But here it is. Christmas comes but once a year and of all the religious festivals this dominates the western world. This e-bite is an 'extra' – a Christmas bonus, if you like. Let's put on our design hats...ho, ho, ho... and enter the design world of clichés.

What everybody does
This whole email is about clichés, what we have all seen before. At some level people expect to see a snowman or a snowflake. So, come Crimbo time, the clichés come out of the box and there really is no need for it. Most of the time in the UK, it does not snow; we don't have holly coming out of our ears; and mistletoe might create an office 'situation' we'd rather not have. If you are sending 'Season's Greetings' cards and graphics, that is great – but consider avoiding the cliché.

Consider this
Never use clip art. Some stock stuff is great and not everybody can afford to commission an illustrator. I reckon there are three ways to go; humour (tough one), class (see Hermes and Harrods), or cool and modern. Even McDonald's did something that says Christmas, and ties in their product, sidestepping cliché. If you are not particularly religious, that's fine. If you are, go for it. But you can still be modern and interesting. Change your colour palette and your tone of voice in your comms. 'I hope you have a brilliant holiday' applies to everybody.

Brand Christmas, God and all that
Christmas is of course all about Jesus. But like a lot of things these days, the focus has shifted and the religious bit often comes across as a 'secondary message'. One core value that still resonates with the audience is 'goodwill to all men'. Be nice, essentially. No matter who you are and what you are producing, this is always a good focus. If you are going to take the time to send an e-card or a printed card, make it mean something. Personalise it as much as you can. Our postman is the best in W1. When our nappies were addressed to our flat, he knew we'd be at work so kindly brought them to the office. That's worth a special thanks and a personal one.

Cliché with a twist
In the culinary world, chefs' new vernacular is 'everything with a twist'. 'Macaroni cheese with a twist', 'burger with a twist', 'bread sticks with a twist'. If you're producing Christmas graphics and feel compelled to use an image of a Christmas tree with presents strewn about, try and take a slightly different angle. Explore more modern styles, ditch the red and gold. If you are producing your own cards, steer clear of any snowy photographs, and sorry to say, nobody really wants a calendar.

A little bit of history
Skipping past the manger and skirting around the three Kings, how did this festival come about? The date was set by the Romans as a festival to celebrate the Sun God. Even though the Romans were chucking Christians to the lions, they decided to adopt the date for their own party. Scooting forward to 1843, Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol. It wasn't a carol as we know it, but his book set the popular view of what we now think of Christmas. Contrary to popular belief Coca-Cola did not invent Father Christmas as we recognise him today; he's been around for a long time, dressed in red or green.

Groundhog day
Is it me, or is every day Friday in December? While trying not to be all 'bah,-humbug' about this, the entire retail world seems to be in full-on 'black ops' mode and every day is Black Friday. I have heard the odd 'Blue Cross' day and 'Brown Monday' knocking about. But marketeers be warned: we are getting a bit colourblind to all this. And if every day was Friday, as you seem to be telling us, nothing would ever get done.

We are open right up to the wire, 10am to 6pm until Friday 23rd December and then back, hard at it on Tuesday 3rd January 2017. Thanks for everything this year and have a brilliant time.

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