There are plenty of clues in schools that the most wonderful time of the year is around the corner. Here are some of those telltale signs…
1. The boasters
You may not have started your Christmas shopping or even thought about it yet, but there will be a couple of staff members who haven’t just bought all their presents but wrapped them, too. I used to work with someone who would buy next year’s gifts in the January sales and wrap them the same day – who does that?
2. Secret Santa
It’s now a staple in almost every workplace and, love it or hate it, it’s here to stay. Some schools specify novelty gifts while others take it a little more seriously. The best thing about it? Trying to play detective and figure out who bought you that cherished memento/bit of tat.
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3. Christmas Jumper Day
It’s now becoming a tradition in many schools – a victim of its own knitted success. For those pupils who don’t have a Christmas jumper, offering tinselly ties, scarves or bracelets can help everyone to join in the fun.
4. Mince pies
Your usual staffroom staples are suddenly replaced with this holiday favourite. The novelty soon wears off. By the time the Christmas break arrives, you can't even look at them.
5. The tree
It’s always a bit of a mystery. Who put up the school Christmas tree? When did they do it? Was it the headteacher? Surely they have more pressing things to do? Class trees are now becoming popular and can be decorated to suit individual needs and interests – it's a nice new tradition.
6. The meal
The inevitable email will come round asking you to choose your meal for the Christmas dinner. It’s normally a choice of dried-out turkey or mushroom risotto. Enjoy!
7. Seasonal songs
You’ve waited all year to hear your favourite Christmas tunes and they are finally bombarding the airwaves. Fast-forward to 20 December and you’ll be quite happy never to hear Slade or Wizzard again – until next December, of course.
8. The Christmas party
Some things happen every year. A staffroom wallflower busts moves like an extra in a yuletide reboot of Flashdance. An NQT overindulges; another doesn't have a drop for fear of being the NQT who overindulges. The headteacher surreptitiously puts bottles of wine on the tables (we hope). An after-party is convened in a random location and, if you’re lucky, the staffroom Fonzie will come along to regale you with tales that you really hope are true.
These are the perennials – but I wonder if this year will reveal any new signs that Christmas is on the way?