The middleagedmum Christmas advert

This weekend saw the release of the advertising Holy Grail – the Christmas advert. During the X Factor commercial breaks, the world and his wife launched their Christmas campaigns and Twitter was awash with love (and contempt) as the big UK retailers attempted to hook us into their brands with a combination of emotion, real life scenarios and fantasy.

My favourites are Boots, as it feels real and inclusive and sums up the fact that pretty much everyone shops at Boots and it has a cute dog – and I also quite like Iceland, but it still doesn’t make me want to eat a Duck Duo!

John Lewis is also lovely, but it didn’t makes me cry – which it usually does.

The two that generated the most noise from women, were Asda and Morrisons as they were accused of being sexist. The Advertising Standards Authority has received complaints about both.

No matter how true it is, that in many cases women are the ones who do everything for Christmas, do we really want people laughing about it, or worse thinking it’s completely normal and that women actually enjoy it – well perhaps we enjoy bits of it, but there’s no denying it’s really hard work, especially as most of us have real jobs as well!

I find Morrison’s downright depressing and Asda makes me rage – especially when she serves her husband his Christmas dinner. “Behind every great Christmas there’s a mum” – oh please, who thought that one up, a twenty something hipster from a Shoreditch ad agency? Lets just see how they feel when they end up being the one peeling the spuds at 6am on Christmas day – not funny now is it?

Actually it was Saatchi & Saatchi and they used insights from Asda’s Mumdex’ survey of 4,000 mum – which makes it all the more depressing.

In effort to tell it how it is, we thought we might make our own Christmas advert……

Christmas morning

6am the alarm goes: Mum wakes up prodding her husband not too gently in the ribs “wake up, she’s your f….g mother so you can get up and make her sodding breakfast, and don’t think you’re going to sit around all day doing nothing.”

7am: Whole family (except teenagers) are downstairs waiting to open presents, the small children can’t wait much longer. MIL folds her arms and says loudly  “well if Jake and Lily don’t get up soon, were going to have to start without them, what time did they get in this morning?” Mum pours herself a small medicinal sherry and heads for the kitchen to peel kilos of sprouts and potatoes and battle with the huge turkey, staring at mother in law through very narrow eyes.

10am: The living room is covered in paper, the dog is eating a vital piece from the Lord of the Rings Lego set, husband is pretending to look for batteries he was asked to get two weeks ago and MIL is already chuntering about watching the Queen at 3pm – despite the fact she’s been told that’s when lunch is. The teenagers are up, hungover and grumpy because they didn’t get a Macbook each, the whole of the new Kardashian collection and an XBox. “it’s SO unfair.”

2pm: Everyone except mum (and the teenagers, who are lying on the sofa in onsies) has showered, put on their Christmas outfits and gone down the pub for a pre lunch drink – mum is planning the massacre of her entire family and is inventing different forms of torture for specific members – the worst is reserved for her husband and his mother.

3.55pm: Everyone arrives back from the pub, flushed and full of Christmas spirit, glamorous sister in law half heartedly offers to help, then flounces back to the sofa. Mum looks at the turkey, stabs the meat thermometer into the breast imagining hideous things and pours herself another large glass of wine. MIL shouts from the living room “are you sure Delia said it only needs three hours?’

3.30pm: Husband is the life and soul of the party, doing impressions, flirting, beating teenage boys at games and generously pouring drinks – mostly for himself. Mum calls cheerily to him to come to the kitchen. She pokes him hard on the arm and hisses ferociously “if you think I am ever doing this again, you are very much mistaken. I cannot stand another minute of your freaky, dysfunctional family.”
MIL walks in “everything ok Dan, honestly someone needs to feed this poor man and that turkey needs a bit longer.”

3.45pm: It’s dark outside, Christmas carols are playing and the table is laden with delicious food, MIL says loudly “is there any red cabbage, we always have red cabbage at Christmas.”

Everyone gives mum a round of applause and raises their glasses “to another delicious Christmas dinner”.

Mum pours another glass of wine and fantasises about running away.  Husband says, “oh I almost forgot, here’s your present.” She slurps her wine and thinks “oh he’s not so bad after all.” She opens it and it’s a toaster – she smiles, says thank you and texts her best friend “HHSM, is it nearly over?”

♫ ♬Oh I wish it could be Christmas every day ♫ ♬



  • Becky says:

    Fabulous run down of the typical Christmas. I love all the Christmas stuff and really miss it living out here in the Middle East – the festive season is not so festive and you have to work really hard to feel any Christmas Spirit at all. On the plus side, we don’t have the contast bombardment of all the Christmas ads all the time and we get to have a nice small relaxed family Christmas where dinner is an understated affair and we usually go and walk the dog on the beach afterwards. It’s not perfect, but it certainly isn’t stressful and that’s the way I like it.

  • Jane says:

    Becky it sounds heavenly! Hope you have a good one this year Jx

  • notsurebut says:

    Holy shit I heard janice Long fuming about these ads on radio 2 last night now I’ve sen them I just want to get both of these poor women to a refuge prono! When will ad agencies stop portraying women as willing victims, when you look at other genres in advertising I suppose these are tame by comparison but I still know where I’d stick my turkey baster should I be asked “whats for tea love” ?!

  • Sk says:

    Interesting comment, that “most of us have *real* jobs as well”. WTF? So let’s bash the mums who choose to stay at home? You’re as sexist as the rest!

  • jane says:

    Not suggesting that being a stay at home mum isn’t a real job at all SK. Just that preparing for Christmas should be shared between both partners whatever other jobs they do.


  • Lindsey says:

    Thankyou, made me chuckle. It’s always the Mother in law…….made me want to re read “comfort and joy”. Lx

  • Gillian Taylor says:

    Tricky!! If you both go out to work then of course it is absolutely right that the chores associated with Christmas should be shared equally as should all household chores but inevitably there are different things that one or other of you are better at or maybe just care more about!!! The very thought of my husband decorating our house with Christmas decorations is enough to make me weep and that’s not me being anal about what shade of bauble are hung on the tree it is just that I care and he doesn’t!!! I look at all those ‘sexist’ ads and think that maybe they are just showing life in most households – right or wrong! Looking at my three daughters and how they operate their lives with their partners it is a much more equally shared life with the men cleaning coking etc just as we’ll if not better – my husband is old school and despite my best efforts remains so!!!

  • Maria Tierney says:

    And your ‘advert’ is different to the ASDA one how? I seem to have missed the point completely.

  • Marv says:

    Oh dear. I must admit to never watching The X Factor so have managed to miss all of these adverts…

    My action on this? I shall boycott Morrisons and Asda. I already boycott Tesco (they messed up my wine order once too often), which leaves me with Sainsburys, darling Waitrose, The Ginger Pig (for all meat needs) and the lovely Turkish boys at the corner shop for the freshest veg going. (Am I being sexist there?)

    It doesn’t look as though that Morrisons turkey has been carved yet, anyway, so there will be much faffing and consequently cold food at the table as the man of the house is bound to intervene with ‘special’ carving skills. My best year was when I managed to drop the turkey on fishing it out of the oven (drink had been taken by then) but me and best made shovelled it up, hacked it into manageable bits and the ‘grown-ups’ never realised. Neither did we die or poison anyone by following Nigella’s minimal cooking times. Result delicious, if slightly misshapen and out-of-focus!

  • Marv says:

    best mate, that should be. And no, drink has not been taken yet today…

  • Debora says:

    Despite not being a mum, I make Christmas dinner for at least a dozen people every year. I am now worried I am breaking some kind of actual law and a Mumsnet Swat Team will arrive at my house on Christmas Eve to confiscate my turkey baster. Signed, Worried N16

  • Jane says:

    Debora never!
    I bet you breeze through it with grace and style, brandishing tasty canopies and creating the perfect Christmas dinner without seeming to make any effort. It’s us mere mortals that struggle with co-ordinationing the hideous number of dishes that have to be ready at the same time!
    You’re a total pro. And btw if there’s room for one more at your house I’m willing to ditch the family! J x

  • Jane says:

    Ha Marv I love that story J x

  • Debora says:

    Ha Jane, I love making Christmas dinner. All these ads just made me worried that as I wasn’t a mum, I wasn’t allowed to make it. And you know you are always welcome at my table, chica. X

  • Marv says:

    Not being parents ourselves (through choice), we are forever destiined to be the ‘kids’ of the family, despite being in our 40s. So the dinner, erm, ‘escapade’ above results from the non-Mum, partner (son / brother of rest of family at table) and best mate making dinner together (and that’s evening dinner, not 3pm dinner) for, oooh, I think there were 16 of us that year, friends and family, all vaguely adult.

    To be honest, the friends are more family than much of the family, and we LOVE making the dinner, so I agree entirely with Debora. Not that I have a turkey baster to confiscate. It is a bit shambolic at times… but isn’t that the best way?

  • Becky says:

    Really ? People are getting their knickers in a twist about supermarket adverts ? don’t they have anything better to do. I have only watched the Asda one and honestly, it made me chuckle ’cause that’s just how it is in our house – not because my husband is a sexist pig – he totally isn’t, but because that is the way we like things to be. It seems to me that in the UK these days if you are not seen to be objecting to traditional values you are judged. Get over it, that’s the way it is and to be honest, that is the way most of us like it, us control freak women – honestly how many of us would like to see the husband making Christmas dinner ? his talents are far better used fixing broken presents, building lego sets and finding the batteries !!!! I’m campaigning to keep the status quo – it’s Christmas, leave it alone !!!!!

  • Chris Horner says:

    The Asda advert was offensive to men and women. It was saying “women, just get on with all the housework like a nice obedient drudge” and it said to men “don’t bother helping, you’d probably cock it up on account of being a man”. Plus what about single father households, gay couples, grandparents who look after children? I guess without a mum their Christmas efforts will be rubbish.

  • Jane says:

    Too true Chris, Jx

  • Diana says:

    Hi Jane :) I’m writing my bachelor thesis about christmas commercials and I would really like to quote your article in it. Can I do that ? And could you maybe give me your surname? I need it to quote you. Many thanks and a great article!

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