Dubai’s ten top Christmas customs we secretly love

Time Out has a list of Dubai's ten top Christmas customs we secretly love, including takeaway turkeys, last-minute shopping and festive jumpers

10. Takeaway turkeys
Trust us – hotel kitchen takeaways are going to change the way you think about festive dining forever. Have a 7kg bird basted, stuffed, roasted and sent to your door with a batch of spuds and three litres of gravy and you get hotel standards without leaving your house. Giving you more time to practise your gift-receiving face.

9. Feeling cold
Looking out of your bedroom window in Dubai on Christmas morning and seeing a fresh blanket of snow isn’t going to happen. But Christmas should be cold. It’s one of the rules. Set your air-conditioning to Arctic and line the whole household up with new winter onesies for a freezing photograph and try to forget it’s warm enough for shorts and T-shirts on the other side of the window.

8. Secret Santa
Everybody in the office picks a random name and must buy a secret gift for a colleague. Has any custom ever been more fraught with potential for career-defining mishap, misfortune or unsuitability. Only one person can pick the boss’ name and rejoice if it’s not you. If it is, remember, “light-hearted jokes” will not be understood, banter is not funny and gift-giving is not a platform for passive-aggressive office politics. Play it safe and
buy Tupperware.

7. Festive jumpers
It has become fashionable in the past few years to wear “novelty” seasonal knitwear. 3D antlers coming out of your chest, flashing lights on bobble hats and Santa jumpers with really fluffy beards are now wardrobe staples. Nobody needs to know you were wearing the exact same jumpers before they became “fashionable” and that you sometimes wear them at points throughout the year because you think they look good.

6. Social media updates
We resisted the urge for bulk well-wishing for years. Handwritten cards and personalised season’s greetings were far more important than anything else, we argued. But a well-timed opening-presents picture on Instagram at around 8am, a lunchtime Facebook post, a few afternoon Tweets and an evening group WhatsApp hits all the right notes and could well break your “like” record. And isn’t that what Christmas is really about?

5. Last-minute shopping
There is a certain kind of person who buys all their wrapping paper, cards, decorations and half of the gifts they need, in January. We’re not sure we could ever truly be friends with those people. Surely the fun is waking up on December 24 in a blind panic at the sheer number of gifts you need to purchase in less than 24 hours.

4. Crafts

Deluxe Christmas decorations and folk art wall hangings are big business now. Check the malls for boughs of holly, not to mention some gorgeous seasonal trinkets. But never mind the baubles, because this is the season to get the scissors and glue out and make your own decorations. Roughly cut snowflakes, asymmetrical crepe paper chains and wonky snowman figurines made from cotton wool will score low on style, but high on charm, so save money and get creative.

3. Music takeover
Every novelty song, schmaltzy ballad and party anthem to ever put a reindeer on its cover art is going to be played in your office on repeat for a full month. Half the team will delight in this and sing merrily along, while the other half will claim to want to hear the latest underground dance music instead. But secretly, they all want to hear Mariah Carey’s Merry Christmas album as much as everyone else…

2. Brussels sprouts
Only parents will understand the importance of this tradition on Christmas Day. Amid the presents, sweets, flashing fairy lights and constant stimulation, something is required to halt a child’s excitement from becoming hysteria. Pile these buzz-killing bombs on a plate and it will add the sour note every day needs to stop sensory overload.

1. Annual gatherings

For many expats, this is the one time of the year whole families get together. Realise how much you miss granny and her extreme views, mum and dad’s stories about how great your siblings are doing and the rest of the trimmings that come with a family dinner. Get through it all with a smile on your face because you love them all and probably won’t be together again until cousin Sandra’s wedding in August.

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