/ Shopping

Is Christmas-themed loo roll a step too far?

christmas dog

While I love Christmas – the bright lights, the music, the general merriment – I’m slightly confused, if not a little disturbed, by the sheer volume of what I can only describe as Christmas-themed tat that I’ve encountered of late.

Last weekend, I visited family members, whose new home had an overwhelming Christmassy pong. Half an hour in the house and I could’ve well done the Cinnamon Challenge.

It turned out that my brother-in-law had wanted to disguise the smell of new paint, so had popped to the supermarket for a plug-in scent diffuser.

But instead of the usual scents, all he could find was this concoction of clove, cinnamon, orange, cranberry and whatever else Christmassy they could throw in. It came at a premium price, too.

Christmas gone mad

But it doesn’t stop with air fresheners. The supermarket shelves seem to have done away with the everyday products and restocked with everything and anything Christmas themed.

Recently, I had a laugh-out-loud moment when I saw a news story reporting that Tesco is stocking (and people are buying!) mulled spice-scented Christmas loo roll at £2 for a pack of four.

I mean, come on… why? Who on earth Is buying it? Are the same people buying the mulled spice-scented toilet bleach, wipes and washing-up liquid that Tesco is also stocking this yuletide?

Tesco isn’t alone here either – both Waitrose and Sainsbury’s are also stocking Christmas-themed home cleaning products.

Pets included

What’s more, our pets are also riding this Christmas-themed gravy train. Could there be anyone so cruel as to deprive their cat of Sainsbury’s The Delicious Collection Turkey Mousse this Christmas?

How about those demon dog owners who may forget to feed Fido his Delicious Collection Christmas Dinner For Dogs?

Now, I’m sure there will be some of you who will be quick to point that there is merit to selling special Christmas pet food. Indeed, our furry friends can’t chow down on most of what we eat on Christmas Day, so maybe this is a consultation prize…

But still, I can’t help but feel the world’s gone mad. Do we really need to fill out homes with Christmas-themed everyday products in order to get into the spirit?

I’m sure it doesn’t end with air freshener, loo roll, cleaning products and extravagant pet food, either.

Curiosity will get the better of me when I next hit the shops. I just know I’ll be hunting out the strangest Christmas-themed products on sale – and who knows what I’ll find?

Have you spotted any strange Christmas-themed everyday products? Or maybe you’ve brought some? What do you think of them?


This comment was removed at the request of the user

The big mistake made by most people is to think of Christmas as a holiday. It isn’t. Enjoying yourself takes a lot of hard work, from the initial planning (starts c. January 2nd) to the christmas card list modifications (January 8th), to the present buying (June, July sales), then on to the serious business of calendar planning. Which Xmas meal to attend and where to go for that meal needs planning in September, then the Christmas card list second amendment, as you consider new friends, colleagues, parasites and relational afflictions that need either adding or removing from the list, needs to be completed.

That takes until around mid October, which is when the real fun starts. The trip to the local Nordman Fir growers is managed and the hike into the woods above the farm takes places to choose the exact tree that will look perfect in the lounge. This is the moment when you remember from experience that trees still growing in the ground actually look many times smaller than they will appear, once hacked down, netted up and carried back to the house for erection in the lounge. However, that doesn’t happen until Dec 1st, of course…

Then it’s on to the nine boxes of lights (I’m talking small shipping containers, here, not lights’ boxes, BTW) that will need to be brought in from the specially constructed Xmas lights and decorations wing you added to the house some years ago and the wonderfully exciting process of discovery begins, where you discover just which sets that were working perfectly the year before, now simply don’t function, repairing, testing, replacing and then it’s to the negotiation table for that all-important summit, where you discover just when and where you’re allowed to erect your illuminations, including that magnificent set of illuminated crowns, tiaras and orbs you got in the January Disney Frozen sale and a stern reminder to stop saying to Mrs. Lofthouse-Porter next door that she really must come and see your illuminated family jewels this year.

The schedule moves up a notch as December approaches. By this stage all the 132 sets of lights will have been erected across the house, although the outside ones haven’t yet been started, and SWMBO is sitting at the dining room table with a pen and the kitchen calendar, which she continues to use despite having an excellent iCal system, which would effortlessly warn her of impending relational visits, thus affording you time to book that urgent prostate examination or a short break to New Zealand. But there’s no escape, as her eye, with all the tenacity of a laser-guided Hellfire missile and similar forgiveness should you decide to bolt, fixes you and compels you, almost magically, to sit.

Finally, having complained for eleven months that it’s ’Not remotely Christmas’ she now requires your undivided attention as she considers which of her relatives, mostly descendants of the Borgias, bar the few thrown out of the Gestapo for cruelty, will be invited. The taste of ashes has never seemed so inviting.

Finally, pre-Christmas meals at least partially digested, the Speak your Weight scales now saying ‘One at a time., please’, the entrancing visits by various stalks of the family, most of whom you’ve avoided for the past eleven months now consigned to an alcoholic haze and the relentlessly ebullient Lions’ floats and piped carols long disappeared, it’s time to welcome that most magical of days – Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve is the only day of the year when, if it hasn’t been planned bought, wrapped, invited, labelled, executed, hung, drawn or quartered it isn’t going to be – at least, until next year. The house shines with the real meanings of Christmas – abundant sherry and lots of pretty lighting. It’s also tidy and clean – a state that will rapidly fade into mythology come Christmas day.

The big day dawns, and what happens then is dependent on whether you have children. Doesn’t matter what age, of course; all that changes is the time they get up and the type of presents they want. But whichever state pertains, the morning sees the once wonderfully adorned, beautifully wrapped, delightfully adorned heap of carefully placed presents that have been a feature of the room for almost a month, rapidly demolished, as fingers tear hungrily at wrapping paper, boxes opened, fingernails broken on the ‘easy open’ plastic wrap, clearly designed by ex-military security specialists and squeals or groans fill the air. Soon, the sound of drones terrorising Mrs Lofthouse-Porter’s ugly little Dachshund fill the air, while the smells of Christmas Turkey being cremated mix with the heady sounds of the doorbell as Uncle Schloss arrives, having got the date wrong.

Thank goodness for that sherry.

ROTFLMAO – another classic from Ian – thank you very much indeed sir.

You’re too kind, sir 🙂

Perhaps I shouldn’t state the obvious, but two things occur. Firstly they, who ever they are, wouldn’t make the stuff if we didn’t buy it. Secondly we don’t have to buy it, we can just feel aggrieved at the waste of resources and the fact that someone has taken the trouble to dream up and produce this tat.
Having got that out of the way, I, again, exhort Ian to visit his publisher and have duly marked him with another thumbs up. This leads me to tat of a different kind which is more difficult to escape from: Christmas sugar and slush, mostly from across the pond. Unfairly, perhaps, “I’m Dreaming Of A White Christmas” began to assume tat status after our choir had sung it for the Nth time and in sheer desperation for my mental health I grabbed a pen and scribbled. Ian’s contribution has encouraged me to share them with you. I do feel purged and much, much happier now.


N.b. Being drunk at Christmas-or any other time- is not my idea of fun, but that verse was fun to do.

The sun is shining the lenses gleam,
The actors and actresses play.
There’s never been such a day
At Warner Brothers L.A.
But it’s not December the 24th
And no one’s longing to go up North.

They’re screening up a White Christmas,
Just like the script says for the show.
Where mink coats glisten
And sound men listen
To cue the sleigh bells in the snow.
They’re beaming in this White Christmas
With every phoney smile on cue
May the stars croon sweetly and light
To make all their Christmases just right.


That’s all for tonight!


The gin is shining the glass is clean,
The orange and vermouth tray,
There’s never been such display
In the down town studio -L.A.
But I’m only on lemon and port,
And I long for another short.

I’m scheming for a tight Christmas,
Just like the binges long ago.
Where beer froths glisten
And barmen listen
To take our orders as they flow.
I’m screaming for a tight Christmas,
With every festive drink I buy.
May our wines be merry and bright
And may all our Christmases be tight.


Don’t drive home tonight.


The shops are shining, the trees are green,
The santas and snow men play,
There’s never been such display
In Oxford Street today.
But it’s the money that makes me balk,
With salesmen full of their festive talk.

I’m steaming from a trite Christmas,
Unlike the ones we used to know,
With mince pies dishing
And good will wishing,
With children playing in the snow.
I’m dreaming of a bright Christmas,
With every tree bedecked with light.
May our shops for customers fight,
I’ll just keep my money out of sight.


And my wallet tight.


The pool is shining, the sun tans gleam,
The breeze makes my hammock sway.
There’s never been such a day
In the hotel at Sunset Bay.
But it’s December the 24th,
And they’re all shivering up north,

I’m beaming at this bright Christmas,
Warm sun and sea and breezes blow.
And the palm leaves glisten
As cicadas listen
To hear the birds sing high and low.
I’m gleaming from the sun this Christmas,
On every sandy beach in sight.
May the sun stay golden and bright
On this Christmas hotel package fight.


To party all the night.


The snow is falling, my ear lobes Freeze.
The wind makes me stagger and sway,
There’s never been such a day
For Santa and his reindeer sleigh.
Now it’s December the 24th,
And it couldn’t be worse up North.

I’m freezing From an iced Christmas,
With every snow flake in my hair.
My ear tips glisten and I can’t listen
To hear the snow chains skidding by.
I’m sneezing on this white Christmas,
With every snowball down my neck.
May the electric come back on tonight
And may all the snow melt From my sight.


Please turn on the light.


The stable’s open, the star’s in sight
And Mary and Joseph pray.
There’s never been such a day
In Bethlehem Judae.
Now it’s December the 24th,
And Kings are travelling From the North.

Mary’s dreaming of a child this Christmas,
With every movement ‘neath her chest.
And the Angels listen with eyes that misten
For they know he’ll be above the rest.
Star light’s streaming with the news this Christmas,
To every shepherd in the field.
May they all gain blessing tonight,
And may they journey forth towards the light.


Bethlehem’s in sight.


The sun is shining, the brasses gleam
Santa and reindeer sway.
There’s never been such a sleigh
In Lapland near the bay.
But it’s December the 24th
And it’s too late to be up North.

Santa’s dreaming of a white Christmas,
Just like the ones when there was snow.
When the white flakes glistened and Rudolph listened,
To hear when it was time to go.
Santa’s praying for a snow white Christmas.
Just enough to make his sleigh take flight.
Now the ozone’s vanished from sight
And Santa’s grounded for the night.

Coda. No presents tonight.


The lights are shining the tinsels gleam,
My stocking is furry and gay.
There’s never been such a day,
For me to run around and play.
But it’s December the 24th
And I must sleep or He’ll stay up North.

I’m dreaming of a bright Christmas,
Just like the one a year ago.
When Santa listened and presents glistened
And there were sleigh bells in the snow.
I’m dreaming of a trike this Christmas.
All red and shiny – set to go.
May our stockings be full up and tight
And I hope my brother doesn’t fight.

Coda. Party tonight!


The sea is shining, the glass is clear,
The waves on the water sway.
There’s never been such a day
At chart setting 3 L.A.
But I remember the 24th.
Who could forget all those storms up North.

I’m dreaming of a wide isthmus,
Just like the one we used to row.
When boats all glistened and waters mistened
As paddles surged against the flow.
I’m steering for that wide isthmus,
With every sail to catch the blow.
May the winds keep steady and light,
So that land is always just in sight.

Coda. Fresh fish tonight.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Nicely done, Vynor. But keep your powder dry: Mel is plotting something for later in December…

Duncan: I suspect it goes far deeper myself. Celebrating the half-way point of the darkest period in the Northern Hemisphere is probably almost genetic. The religions only came into it because they wanted a way of jumping onto the celebratory bandwagons, so they could ‘sell’ the idea of Christianity and add a good singsong and party into it. Interestingly, many of the most popular carols used to be pub drinking songs or dances in the 16th and 17th centuries. That’s why they’re so upbeat and cheerful.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

More like a misspent youth, Duncan. Not that I meant I was around at the time, you understand…

Vynor – excellent – thanks very much for sharing those!

I’ve just read through Vynor’s splendid contribution. If anyone else would like to have a go, remember that less is more. 🙂

Very good, Vynor. As Lauren and Ian say, we are indeed plotting a way for you all to get creative in the build-up to the festivities.

Ian: didn’t know that about Christmas carols. Now I know why I like them so much! 🙂

Yep; you can almost smell the alcohol-fuelled break dancing when you hear Hark, the Herald…

I think you’ve covered it, Vynor. Brilliant composition.

I so enjoyed this. You captured the run-up perfectly!

Who was it said that “too much is never enough”?

A friend of mine spent Christmas in China last year. He rose early and accompanied his generous hosts, Mr and Mrs Chang down to their warehouse, where they all enjoyed looking at all the empty shelves.

Lauren says in the intro “and people are buying!”. I think that says it all. People will find all sorts of ways to spend money in novel ways whether it is Christmas, Easter, birthdays, mothers’ day, weddings or just a party. hey just need the excuses. Let them do it – life is too short. Those who profess to be more sensible can do it their own way.

I wonder when the filling stations will catch on to aromatic petrol and diesel with a Christmassy odour? It might catch on permanently – with different scents depending upon the time of year. Perhaps all those useless scents that you get bought by people who can’t think of anything better could be tipped into your tank and put to good use. A traffic jam in London emitting cinnamon-enriched fumes might improve the festive spirit and reduce the frustration.

Cinnamon can provide some health benefits in small doses such as lowering blood sugar levels, (not recommended if taking diabetic medication) but taken in large quantities can cause liver damage. I am not sure how it would affect the lungs if breathed in, but Wavechange no doubt is better qualified to advise on that!

When it comes to buying Christmas loo rolls, I wouldn’t object to ones decorated with a few holly leaves, as long as the leaves were printed and not stuck on. Ouch!

I don’t know, Beryl. Smelly materials can be a problem for those of us with respiratory problems. I’m not in favour of using cinnamon or other natural materials for treating health problems. Plants contain many valuable drugs but the amounts can be highly variable, so it’s best to stick to conventional medicines that contain known amounts of the active component and are free from other materials that could be harmful.

I must have a look round the supermarkets and see what weird and wonderful christmas products are on offer.

It is getting ever harder to do the weekly big-shop now that all the crazy novelties, and idiotic fancy goods, are filling all the shelves and block the aisles. As for scented loo rolls, and mulled spiced wipes and cleaners, I think there is a problem if the loo is stocked with those. Our guests’ exclusive lavatory is near to the front entrance so we like a fresh aroma of bleach and disinfectant, but not too overpowering, as we also have an orchid on the sill. These overpriced accessories, and superfluous accoutrements, would not be in existence without extreme austerity so it’s time to blame the government yet again . . . as well as Big Business, of course. The purchasers can’t help it; we buy these pungent products as therapeutic proxies for our gloom.

I suppose I should have set the above to a Christmas carol tune, but I couldn’t think of one that fitted.
Unfortunately the metre is a bit inconsistent and the rhyming’s all over the place! A re-format might help, so here we go:

It is getting ever harder
To do the weekly big-shop
Now that all the crazy novelties,
And idiotic fancy goods,
Are filling all the shelves
And block the aisles.
As for scented loo rolls,
And mulled spice wipes and cleaners,
I think there is a problem
If the loo is stocked with those.
Our guests’ exclusive lavatory
Is near to the front entrance
So we like a fresh aroma
Of bleach and disinfectant,
But not too overpowering,
As we also have an orchid on the sill.
These overpriced accessories,
And superfluous accoutrements,
Would not be in existence
Without extreme austerity
So it’s time to blame the government yet again
( . . . as well as Big Business, of course.)
The purchasers can’t help it;
We buy these pungent products
As therapeutic proxies for our gloom.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Dear John. I couldn’t resist the challenge. The paraphrase isn’t perfect (nor are the rhymes) but I hope I capture what you have so thoughtfully written with no ad-verse reaction from my unwarranted intervention.

It’s getting even harder
To fill the weekly larder,
Now the crazy novelties
And idiotic fancy jollities,
Are filling all the shelves
Blocking them from ourselves.
As for scented loo wipes,
And mulled wine spice-d cleaner types,
I think there is a problem
If the loo contains stocks of them.
Our guests exclusive wash place,
Is near our front entrance space,
So we like an aroma kind
Bleach or disinfectant combined
But not too overpowering
For our orchid, which could be flowering.
These over priced accessories
And superfluous unneccessaries,
Would not be in existence
Without extreme austerity persistence,
So it is time again to shame
And blame the government again,
(as well as big business, that’s plain.)
The purchasers can’t hide their cares.
We but these pungent bathroom wares
As therapeutic proxies for our gloom
Masking them with spray perfume.

On the subject of loo roll, could someone please enlighten me as to how a reduction in the sheet size of Velvet Comfort is an improvement? The unimproved product was already shorter than its competitors, the ‘improved’ product is now significantly shorter and this is immediately apparent. My first purchase of the improved product, after using Velvet Comfort for as long as I can remember, probably fifteen years or more, will be my last. Producing toilet tissue with nice swirly patterns is by no means an improvement functionally, unless you want to paper your walls with it. This is yet another example of the underhand tactics employed by manufacturers to increase the revenue from a product without putting up prices.

Good point, Xander – Was it a bogof 241 offer?

And also on the subject of loo rolls, I have noticed when seated in idle contemplation that some loo rolls have a two-inch core while others manage with a one-inch core; other varieties are in between. It is impossible to see inside the packets to check the core size but obviously the bigger the core the fewer sheets available per roll. I know they have a number printed on the packets but if the manufacturers are also reducing the sheet size as in Xander’s example we are being diddled while attending to a vital function.

Etymologists would have real fun with the final sentence, John .

It was a 16 roll value pack, possibly produced to promote the “new and improved” product with its newly redesigned embossed pattern. No mention of the fact that one of the ‘improvements’ was a reduction in size.

Making the sheets shorter is a devious trick and I think Velvet Comfort should be ashamed of themselves. More like a 16-roll short-measure pack – the word ‘value’ in this instance is deceitful.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Apparently the Romans used sponges – reusable. Perhaps we should do the same, although no doubt we could still discuss size.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Mulling it over for a moment, I was wondering what “mulled spice” was. You can use spices to make mulled wine [killing the flavour in the process sometimes] but I don’t think there is such a thing as mulled spice [unless it is the spice taken out of the wine after the mulling].

I was thinking that mistletoe-scented mouthwash could be a winner after dinner for added lips appeal. Breaks the ice at parties.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

He was a worthy social reformer, Dickens.

Thanks for that reminder of the tale of young Cratchit, Duncan, whose ironical catchphrase was “God bless us, every one!”. His father Bob’s miserly employer, Ebenezer Scrooge, was to blame for the family’s impoverishment and destitute state and there were five other children to bring up on meagre wages so times were hard indeed. Suffering from rickets didn’t make it any easier either. The question you pose is – is this still recognisable in Britain today? Or is Ebenezer’s conversion eventually bearing fruit? Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Annie says:
28 November 2016

ahhh Christmas that wonderful time of year when supermarkets reorganize their shelves, endless seasonal products or as described by some tat appears, I’m neutral on this one as we all want something different (no tat for me). As for finding your way around the supermarket…have you never heard of online shopping? click your favorites and you’re there…leaving the supermarket employee to trudge around and find all the shifted items. lights/no lights/indoorlights/outdoor lights what’s the problem …whatever floats your boat….if you don’t want the work don’t do them……I love a real Christmas tree but have never hiked to plantations, one won’t be appearing in my living room this year due to a couple of rescue cats who will attempt to eat the tree within minutes….the whole Christmas thing has gone so far past the religious festival that its ridiculous however as an agnostic I will enjoy my extra few days off work. I also enjoyed a family get together last weekend to take account of the dysfunctional family that I am and will be cooking a turkey in my mum’s dying oven at Christmas…I appear to have come full circle for my reasons for logging on were to find an oven…so Merry Christmas to all!!!!

I’ve done a risk assessment – as one does. I suspect that children might want to sniff Tesco Mulled Spice Bleach. Anything that makes hazardous things more attractive to kids concerns me. At one time there were plug-in night lights in the shape of Santa Claus etc.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Tesco are only offering it for sale over the week prior to Christmas Day but I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes unavailable, such is the risk to children. I wonder if the Tesco insurers know about it?

There are some essential oils available which will add a Christmassy aroma to your home, such as coniferous oils like Fir Needle and Scotch Pine, Frankincence and Myrrh, spicy Cinnamon and Nutmeg and woody oils like Cedarwood. I always keep a bowl of water on the shelf above the radiator in the lounge to moisten the air and when I have a cold or a blocked nose, I add a few drops of eucalyptus to the water. Works wonders and also helps with your breathing. I seem to be able to tolerate natural oils much better than artificial ones, and eucalyptus is used in quite a few health products.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Since when did grains feature in the natural ecology of canines? The dog in the picture looks less than well. Really should cut down on the wheat products. As for sugary ‘treats’ – no comment. You say you find the whole tat thing a bit disturbing. I find it horrific. Naturally, I don’t celebrate ‘Christmas’.

Keep the celebration of Christ’s birth sacred ant do not hide it behind the excuse that it for the oportunity to make a quick profit.

Er…it’s not actually the “celebration of Christ’s birth”, Murray. It’s far older than that and was a celebration called Saturnalia long before Christ arrived. Early Roman missionaries simply swiped the idea from that and called it Christmas. As an aside, they did it to increase revenue for the early Church and – purely by coincidence, I’m sure – increase their own earnings. Seems Xmas has always been about making profit .

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Advertising agencies are driven by the need to be rewarded for driving sales, and in a multi-racial and religious / secular society it makes eminent sense to avoid mention of any one specific brand of religion. It’s not PC – simply not good economics.

You can criticise any religion , Duncan. No one will lock you up for it. They might kill you, of course…

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Extreme religious intolerance that leads to the incitement or commission of hate crimes might be illegal but it is not against the law to criticise any particular religion. Representatives of the offended religion might have their own ways of dealing with the situation [viz. Salman Rushdie] but they must also abide by the law in this country should they seek revenge.

We went out to buy Christmas things today in Norwich and it is amazing how prominent religious images and evocations still are in many people’s celebration of Christmas. I would guess that broadly religious-themed Christmas cards represented approximately one third of the stock at the major independent department store, some of them highly devotional, and Nativity calendars and ornaments were also significant. I believe there is a healthy balance between religion and secularism.

As Ian says, commerce has to be agnostic but that is not because of political correctness. Hopefully, this time of the year brings out the best of thoughts in people of all faiths and none.

One thing has changed: I have found it difficult to find any cards featuring stagecoaches, lanterns, or candles this year. Penguins and polar bears seem to be the creatures of choice now but robins remain the leading bird. Included in our selection were some with a red telephone box in a snow-swept landscape; I think I got the idea from Which? Conversation which never stops discussing telephones and public services so they are foremost in my mind. Rampant consumerism as a Christmas image seems to have edged back in recent years, perhaps because people no longer stagger back from the shops under heaps of gift-wrapped boxes and parcels, and I saw no representations of family life absorbed in gadgets and devices so tradition still holds sway.