The bah humbug guide to Christmas


It can be difficult to work out what you can and can’t do over the festive season, especially when your neighbours might not be feeling quite as festive as you. We’ve asked famous literary figure Ebenezer Scrooge, from A Christmas Carol, for his advice on how you can celebrate the holidays – and if they gave a prize for being mean, the winner would be him!

And then we have Kerry, one of our neighbourhood officers, to balance out Scrooge’s cantankerousness and clear up some of his mis(tletoe)conceptions about what you can and can’t do over the festive season.

Scrooge says: “Keep your decorations to yourself”

Wreaths/tinsel/baubles/Santa don’t belong on your front door. No one wants to see your overt displays of yuletide merriment or have your joy spread to them. We’ve already had enough things spread to us this year.

Kerry says: “Unfortunately, Scrooge is kinda right”

While you’re welcome to spread your Christmas cheer to others and decorate the inside of your home however you like, we do have a zero-tolerance approach to items displayed or placed in communal areas.

It might sound stupid to say that wreaths or tinsel are fire hazards, but they are. And doormats, shoe racks, bikes and a range of other items can be trip hazards or get in someone’s way in an emergency. When it comes to fire safety, we need to be very clear with instructions like these so they can seem a little excessive at times.

Scrooge says: “People are always banging about, playing their songs, making merry. Humbug!”

Is it not enough to get blasted by “All I want for Christmas is you” the whole time I’m doing my shopping? I come home and my neighbours are playing that infernal song!! Enough already!

And then people are cracking bon-bons and revelling to all hours. Is it too much to ask for a decent night’s sleep? Christmas or not, I shouldn’t have to miss out on my rest.

Kerry says: “You don’t need to have a Silent Night but remember your neighbours”

If you’re like me and you love Christmas songs, it’s tempting to have them ringing out all day every day. And you’re more than welcome to do that, but please be considerate of the people around you.

That means turning your music down after 10pm, asking your guests to keep noise down in communal areas (if COVID restrictions allow you to have visitors), and generally thinking about the people around you.

Of course, it’s not just a one-sleigh street either. Let’s be fair – it’s reasonable for people to make noise between 8am and 10pm. If someone’s behaviour is impacting you or your family, pop round with a mince pie (staying the required distance away) and try to reach a mutual solution.

We also know that talking to a neighbour can be difficult, which is why we have our Good Neighbour Card. This can help you politely let someone know how their actions have impacted on you – most of the time they won’t even know they’ve done something!

Scrooge says: “Why do people buy candles? It’s the definition of burning money.”

I like the dark. Darkness is cheap. Enough with the candles! They just burn. What are you getting from it? And why are you lighting a candle in a dark room?

Kerry says: There’s a lot to unpack here, but Scrooge raises a good point. Sort of.”

Candles make your home smell and feel Christmassy, so it’s only natural that you’ll want to light them. But they can pose a serious fire risk - especially if you’ve got young kids or pets who are likely to knock them over or play with them.

So, keep your candles away from anything that could catch fire – like a Christmas tree or curtains – or better yet, buy electric candles instead. And if you are going to light candles, make sure you extinguish them before you go to bed or before you go out. It’s always better to be safe than sorry with candles.

Scrooge says: “And when it’s all over people just dump their rubbish everywhere. You can’t move for discarded boxes and trees.”

It’s not just unsightly, it costs me money. Why should I have to pay if someone can’t use a bin properly?

Kerry says: “You’re right. But you won’t have to pay if people throw their rubbish away properly.”

Most empty boxes and wrapping paper can be recycled but be sure to break your boxes down first, so they fit properly in the bin.

Most local councils will have designated Christmas tree disposal points or a designated tree-disposal day. Keep an eye on your council’s website to find out how you can get rid of your tree for free and the right way.

And ol’ Ebenezer is right about it costing you money – not throwing away your waste correctly costs you and your neighbours more and more money each year. Using a bin properly is the easiest way you can keep your service charge costs down.

What’s improper bin use costing you?

Scrooge says: “My neighbours have far too many people over for Christmas”

Don’t they know we are in a pandemic? Their behaviour could impact people who are more vulnerable to COVID like Tiny Tim. Who can I complain to?

Kerry says: “I’m afraid that’s likely to happen.”

All we can do is ask you to respect the Government’s guidelines and advice. Some of your neighbours may bend the rules, but if we wear our masks, maintain a social distance and be respectful of each other then we can try to have a safe and happy festive season.

If you’re worried about someone seriously breaching COVID restrictions, you can report it to the police, however the Christmas period is one of their busiest times.

Scrooge says: “I don’t like Christmas because I’m all alone.”

It’s alright for everybody else with their friends and families around them on Christmas Day. My fiancée left me one Christmas because I put business ahead of our relationship. I’m secretly jealous of my employee, Kermit the Frog and his happy family. I’ve also got no mates and the only people who visit me are ghosts trying to teach me a lesson. Humbug.

Kerry says: “Now is the time to be kind and giving.”

It’s going to be a tough festive season for many people – especially those who can’t see their families. If you know a neighbour who lives alone, then why not check in on them and spread some festive joy. Or even invite them to your house for Christmas if it’s not going to break any restrictions.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, it’s a good time to remember to be kind to one another and foster warmth in our communities.

Whether you’re a Scrooge or not, or somewhere in between, you might need to know how to contact us over the festive season. Find out how you can.