What’s in, what’s out, who’s curious… Our last 5+2 of the year looks at December as a month of joy and cheer, leftovers, and a regret. Take a read!
If there’s anything the holiday season doesn’t run short of, it’s enchantment. We’re not talking about the canned music that started in the aisles in November. Rather, what fills us with awe: the dizzyingly lavish holiday windows that dazzle us when we first glimpse their magic. Add today’s interactive mobile technology and you get wonder after wonder. This year, Sak’s 3D display featured the story of a snowflake-manufacturing Yeti and — added bonus — it included customized snowflakes that anyone can contribute. Retail ads also feature fairytale narratives with sparkle, glitter and animation — each one creatively calculated to take us out of our everyday world into the land of peppermint candy and sugarplums. Haven’t caught the holiday spirit? Start with this animated contribution from John Lewis.
2. THAT WHITE CHRISTMAS
Blame Bing Crosby, but who doesn’t expect, want and love a white Christmas? Even if snow isn’t your thing, you can still enjoy it: A) You can plead “snowed in” when asked to that third Christmas dinner. B) You can tease the kids away from their expensive techno-toys with a small, cheap, plastic tray that swiftly takes them downhill and needs no batteries. C) Blizzard or flurry, frankly, December 25 wouldn’t be the same without it. Over to you, Bing.
3. MAKING IT…LOCAL
Corporate philanthropy in the form of signing a cheque for a favoured charity is one thing, but knitting your message into your brand and then spreading the word is something else. Case in point: Detroit-based manufacturer Shinola — the company that brought watch and bike making to Detroit — have designated December 2 (aka Cyber Monday) as Makers Monday. They’re asking American consumers to spend at least $10 on any product made in the USA. Bike manufacturers, woolen mills, garment manufacturers and leathergood manufacturers are some of the many small businesses signed up from across America. Artisan and micro-businesses in Canada take note and add it to next year’s Canadian datebook.
The war on waste — particularly food waste — is noted as an upcoming social trend for 2014. The question: how do we eliminate the billions of tons of edible food and other goods tossed out each year by supermarkets? Following the lead of other European countries, up to 20 new “social supermarkets” are being opened in the UK to sell out-of-date and otherwise non-saleable merchandise at off-prices to members. From mislabeled desserts to yesterday’s artisan baguettes or discontinued products, it will stock anything and everything. In doing so, it’ll provide the penny-pincher or low-earner with more consumer options. Hardly a trend, you think? But wait, another waste-not concept called Daily Table is being opened next year by ex-Trader Joe’s Doug Rauch. When trends across the water are in synch, you know something serious is afoot. Will 2014 be the year Canada gets its own waste-watchers supermart?
The cosmic light-against-dark moment of sun fighting back against moon and winning is achieved in Solstice on December 21, the shortest day of the year. Yes, winter proper begins, but as consolation we start to celebrate the slow return of daylight. In the pagan way of “any excuse for a drum, a dance, and dressing up,” solstice parties are all the rage. For the communally minded who can’t join the thousands of solstice worshippers who gather at England’s Stonehenge, make a solstice lantern and add your glowing presence to the parade in Toronto’s Kensington Market by following the puppets, jugglers, stilt walkers and drummers through the colourful, and narrow streets. Staying in? Add “Winter Song” by Mumford and Sons to your playlist, light a candle and warm to the idea of paying your own special tribute to the shortest day.
ALONE AT CHRISTMAS
Too busy making deals during Fall to consider the upcoming flight home, you find yourself in Toronto, alone, stuffing your own stocking and wondering if TV turkey dinner can really be that bad. (Yes it can.) Be prepared to order in Chinese. Sit in front of heartwarming crackle of Hearth TV and wallow. Your resolution for the New Year: load your tablet or smart phone with the kind of life reminder apps that help you remember things like, say, booking that flight before it sells out. We don’t know if there’s a “Home for the Holiday App” but we do know a cyber personal assistant like Donna or her android equivalent Sherpa might end the home alone syndrome. Alternatively you can use your new 52 Pick-Up calendar – coming your way soon or by special order!
NO REGRETS – OR MAYBE JUST A FEW
December is the month of looking ahead into a future of good health, prosperity and also of regrets. The biggest one you may experience is that you didn’t buy Bitcoin – a virtual currency that was worth $10 a year ago and $1,000 today. The value of real money, at least according to your supermarket receipt, appears to have been diminished. Yes, a virtual currency initially created to expedite online purchases or barter, tops the real thing. Who would have thunk-it? Other regrets? Let us know and we’ll provide the tissue. (Edith Piaf, “Non, je ne regretted rien.”)