12 days of Christmas idioms to give your writing some festive cheer

  • Christmas is coming early with these English phrases that will make your writing more interesting
  • Don’t be left out in the cold! Using idioms is a piece of cake
Karly Cox |
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These Christmas idioms will make your writing more festive.

Christmas is not only a time to enjoy the company of your friends and family (in socially-distanced circumstances, of course), but also a chance to be inspired creatively, and write. Here are some seasonally-inspired idioms to brighten your writing.

Christmas came early

Meaning: You can use this when something really good happens, that was completely unexpected.

Use: Jill received her university acceptance letter this morning. She thought Christmas came early!

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Christmas comes but once a year

Meaning: Used as an excuse for bad or excessive behaviour, such as eating too much or spending too much money.

Use: I know I didn’t need to buy doughnuts as well as cupcakes, but hey, Christmas comes but once a year, right?

Lit/Done up like a Christmas tree

Meaning: Like the festive tree used to decorate homes, that is covered with baubles, tinsel and lights, this means a person is elaborately dressed, or wearing clothes and jewellery that are too fancy.

Use: Even though the party invitation said “dress casual”, Uncle Lam still arrived lit up like a Christmas tree.

Trim the tree

Meaning: To “trim” something normally means to cut a little bit off, but it can also mean to decorate. So to trim the tree means to hang lights, baubles and other decorations on the Christmas tree.

Use: My grandparents have a family tradition where we all gather at their flat to trim the tree and drink hot chocolate.

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The proof is in the pudding

Meaning: You can only judge if something is good or bad after you have tried or used it. Christmas pudding is a fruity, common dish served hot as a rich dessert.

Use: Mrs Ching said the set design was fine, but the proof will be in the pudding. We’ll find out once they build it and people actually stand on it!

A piece of cake

Meaning: Something that is easy to do

Use: I was so worried about the chemistry test, but it was a piece of cake!

Cold turkey

Meaning: to suddenly and completely stop a bad habit. Turkey is a popular meat served on Christmas Day.

Use: Bob smoked for 20 years, but he quit cold turkey when his son was born.

Left out in the cold

Meaning: to be ignored, forgotten, or left out of a group

Use: Sandy was feeling left out in the cold by his hockey team until Ray invited him to sit with them at lunch.

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On ice

Meaning: If a plan is on ice, you’ve decided to delay it for a while

Use: The plan to import pork from Germany was put on ice amid the fourth wave of Covid-19 in that country.

Skating on thin ice

Meaning: to be doing something that may get you in trouble

Use: Rob is really skating on thin ice. If he keeps getting home late every night, he is going to be grounded.

Good things come in small packages

Meaning: something doesn’t need to be big or extravagant to be good. For example, a diamond ring is tiny, but a lot more valuable than a 60-pack of toilet paper.

Use: People thought Esther wouldn’t be good at basketball because she’s not very tall, but she proved good things come in small packages when she scored in the first minute.

Like turkeys voting for Christmas

Meaning: Used to describe a plan or action that someone is very unlikely to choose or do. People eat turkeys for Christmas dinner, so it’s unlikely a turkey would choose for Christmas to happen.

Use: The students won’t agree to do extra Zoom study sessions over the holiday. It would be like turkeys voting for Christmas.

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