SINCE 2017



How to look and sound great in your social media videos

Are you uncertain if you are doing a good job when it comes to your ‘to camera’ videos on Instagram and Facebook?  If you do these ten things below, people will listen to you for longer, enjoy your videos more and you’ll begin to build a reputation for being a great speaker.  You may even have your followers demanding more of your videos!

After several years of doing TV presenting for an international design brand, here are a few of my tips and tricks to make sure you’re connecting well with your audience.



  1. Smile

Start your video with a smile!  Everyone is attracted to a positive and confident energy, so make sure you start off with a winning grin to win over your audience in seconds.  Banish any negative self-talk and choose to be optimistic about yourself and what you have to share with the world!


  1. Look into the camera

Don’t make the mistake of looking at yourself on your phone’s screen while you’re filming a video where you’re addressing your audience directly.  Looking directly into the lens will help you focus more on what you’re saying and you will avoid getting distracted by your own appearance.

Eye contact is extremely engaging and will help your viewers feel like you are speaking directly to them.

  1. Start with the problem

Our brains are wired to scan our environments for information that will help us survive or thrive.  If your first sentence states the problem you are going to address, you will immediately light up your viewers’ brains and keep them watching for longer as they wait for you to deliver the solution!


  1. Get to the point

People’s time is precious. Make yourself valuable to your viewers by getting to the point quickly! State the problem you’re solving, then explain the solution to that problem and the benefits they will enjoy by solving it the way you’ve recommended.

  1. Speak clearly

Be aware that your accent may make it difficult for a diverse audience to understand you. Speak slightly slower if you usually speak quickly and try to enunciate your words a little more clearly so people can easily understand what you’re saying.

  1. Vary your pitch and tone

Next time you listen to the radio or a television news anchor pay attention to how they vary their pitch and tone.  Good presenters understand that creating musical highs and lows with their voices while they deliver information makes them easy to listen to and far more engaging.

The volume of your voice can also be useful to emphasise key points (a louder, more forceful volume) and to draw people in (a quieter voice or a whisper).  Using emotive tone in your voice also helps to engage your audience.


  1. Vary your words

Avoid repeating the same words too frequently while you’re speaking: words that are repeated too often in a presentation become distracting to your listeners and break their brains’ ability to focus on your message.

  1. Use your facial expressions to emphasise your words

Just like a monotonous voice is boring to listen to, a deadpan face is equally boring to look at!  Use your eyes, eyebrows and your smile – or a more serious facial expression – to help tell the story of what you’re sharing in your video.

  1. Increase your gestures and movement

Studies show that speakers who use their hands frequently while speaking are rated as better speakers than those who gesticulate less often.  Try changing the position of your head slightly every now and then, too – after all, you’re not a statue!

Our brains love movement and are naturally more attracted to moving objects.

  1. Groom yourself

Before you get in front of the camera, pop in front of a mirror and check your makeup, your teeth, your hair and make sure that your clothing matches the brand you’re representing.


Did you find these tips useful?  Share this article on your social media platforms and tag us to get a conversation started!

Ian McKellan, left, as Gandalf and Elijah Wood as Frodo in a scene from the motion picture The Lord of the Rings. --- DATE TAKEN: rcd 12/01  By Pierre Vinet   New Line Cinema        HO      - handout ORG XMIT: PX61598
Ian McKellan, left, as Gandalf and Elijah Wood as Frodo in a scene from the motion picture The Lord of the Rings. --- DATE TAKEN: rcd 12/01 By Pierre Vinet New Line Cinema HO - handout ORG XMIT: PX61598

Be the Guide, Not the Hero

Today I want to chat through one of the things I’ve learned from New York Times Bestselling author, Donald Miller. He talks about how brands should position themselves as the Guide in their customers’ stories and NOT the Hero.

While this feels like counter-intuitive advice, Don’s thinking is backed up by how the human brain works. Since it’s by far the hardest working organ in the human body, it’s designed to conserve as much energy as possible in case there’s a threat that needs a quick response.

While few of us need our brains primed to help us run away from a lion attack, if we want people to listen to what we’re telling them about our product or service we need to appeal to the brain’s priorities: to survive and thrive!

Sleek, simple messaging means the brain has an easier time of filtering your brand’s information to weigh up whether it’s useful to for surviving and thriving!

The Power of Stories

While one area we need to apply this to is our marketing messaging, another thing that appeals to our primitive brain systems is stories. Stories are constructs that make it easy for our brains to process information, which is why I’m fascinated by Don’s advice to brands in this area. While it’s so natural to want to position ourselves as the Hero of the story, Don advises against it.

According to Don, the best way to connect with your customers or your niche is to make THEM the hero of the story.

But where does that leave your brand? The best role for your brand to play is the role of the Guide. The guide’s sole purpose is to enter the Hero’s story to help them solve their problem. That’s it! Because without intervention or assistance from a Guide figure, our movie hero can’t succeed.

Positioning our brands as the experts who have the solution to the Hero’s problems makes us indispensable in the lives of our customers.

Examples of Guides from Hit Films

To help illustrate how this works, I’ve picked some well known movie characters who play the role of the Guide:

Morpheus becomes Neo’s guide when he chooses to be unplugged from The Matrix.

In the Matrix – Neo is the hero who is unplugged from the oppressive Matrix system, while the role of Morpheus is to teach Neo how to navigate the brand new world he has entered.

Mr Myagi teaches Daniel karate to help him defend himself from his bullies.

In The Karate Kid the teenage character, Daniel LeRusso, gets karate lessons from his Guide, Mr Myagi, so he can defend himself from some bullies and eventually prove his worth at a karate tournament.

King George VI with his speech and language therapist.

In the film The King’s Speech, King George VI struggles with a stammer and very soon into his reign he has to do a speech that will be broadcast to millions of listeners around the world. He seeks out the help of an expert speech therapist who must guide him through the ordeal.

I think you get the picture! Let’s make this personal. If you were to look at your brand’s messaging, have you positioned your brand as the Hero or as the Guide? We’d love to hear from you! Slide into our DMs on Facebook or Instagram to start the conversation.

#1 Marketing Mistake Small Businesses Make

Being a small business owner is tough! We’ve put together our latest insights on the number one mistake we’ve seen small businesses and social media managers making. Make sure you read until the end!

Have you been asking yourself, “Why isn’t my marketing working?”

Maybe you started posting on social media because you felt pressure to do SOMETHING, so you hired someone to ‘do social media’ for your brand. But has it had any impact on growing your brand and business?

So many businesses get burned because they jump straight into ACTION mode. Big mistake! The problem is you’ve started where you should finish…

A pyramid showing the progression and order of business, marketing and content strategy development.
Where each type of business strategy fits in with the others and in which order.

You’ve jumped in at the Content Strategy level, instead of starting with developing a business strategy, then a marketing strategy, only then to be followed with a content strategy (social media and all the actionable marketing activities that we’re all tempted to jump straight into!). In other words, you need to start at the top and make your way down in order for your content strategy to be effective.

When we realised that we weren’t able to help our clients in an optimal way BECAUSE of this very dynamic, it made us relook at how we ‘onboard’ new clients. Since this pivotal revelation we now insist on doing client training in marketing and social media, as well as group strategy sessions.

The biggest benefit is that we all get on the same page and start heading in the same direction together! It also helps that everyone can then speak the same language when it comes to marketing thinking, activities, and social media lingo.

Another benefit is that everyone who has sat in on the training and strategy sessions is totally on board, ‘bought in’ and ready to support the brand’s new way forward. The importance of team cohesion can’t be emphasised enough!

Team cohesion happens when everyone comes along for the ride!

What’s your biggest business revelation been during the past year? Share it with us on our social media platforms! @anagomarketing

5 Simple WhatsApp Marketing Strategies for Small Business Owners

The golden rule of marketing is to occupy the spaces your customers spend time in.  Radio. Television. The Internet.  Cellphones.  When consumers flock to a platform, it’s not long before brands follow suit.  But what about WhatsApp?

With the new(ish) WhatsApp for Business app, it’s now easier than ever for brands to make communication with their customers as “frictionless” as possible.

But what about the small business owner?  Is there a way to use “ordinary” WhatsApp for marketing their business?

I’m so glad you asked.

I recently sat down with my friend Julian Goldswain, who happens to be a professional lifestyle photographer, to brainstorm some fresh, zero-cost marketing strategy ideas for him to grow his network and his business.  And WhatsApp played a pretty big part in that discussion.

Here are five WhatsApp marketing strategies that any small business owner can implement immediately:

  • Change your WhatsApp profile picture to something that reflects your brand e.g. logo or professional headshot.
  • Change your WhatsApp status to your website address.
  • Have a square graphic designed that’s “on brand”, containing your logo, website address and, if you have space, your generic business services on offer.
  • Have another square, “on brand” graphic designed showcasing a special offer you’re running e.g. Two for one special on wedding photography packages.
  • Compose a short, humble, request to go along with your generic graphic, customised for each specific contact, asking whether that perform would be happy to share that graphic with any of their connections who might be interested in your services.

And there you have it.  Five easy tweaks you can drum out quickly that will help grow your word of mouth marketing – which is really the most powerful way to grow your brand.

Which of your social platforms are gathering dust?  Make sure WhatsApp isn’t one of them.

Email us at info(at) to arrange a marketing strategy consultation for your business.


Lisa interviews Jonathan Anstey at the launch party of the Caesarstone Design Studio.
Lisa interviews Jonathan Anstey at the launch party of the Caesarstone Design Studio.

How to get a great video interview

If you’ve produced a corporate video, or any audio-visual production where ordinary people need to speak on camera, you’ll understand that it can be a big challenge.

Noisy backgrounds and nervous interviewees can make it extremely difficult to get responses that will work well in an edit – both from a sound quality perspective and a storytelling one.

I was recently approached to produce the promo video of the brand new Caesarstone Design Studio launch.  Having worked extensively with this fantastic brand for nearly 6 years, I’m very familiar with their need to produce high quality video content that reflects the brand’s top positioning in the market.  But with intense time restraints and an interview environment that wasn’t noise controlled, it was going to be tricky.

Here are my nine tips for producers who want to get great video interviews, no matter who they’re interviewing:


One of the most useful things you can do to prepare for a shoot is to formulate questions for your interviewees, before the shoot.

With limited time, there’s no use fumbling around to come up with questions on the spot.  Knowing which questions you need to ask also helps to mentally prepare the person who will be speaking as you can warm them up by getting them to think about their responses while they’re getting ‘miked’ up.  One of my favourite tricks is to ask all the interviewees all the questions that may be pertinent to them.  That way you can pick and choose which answers work the best with your editor in the post production phase.

2. Explain Your Process

Unless you have a seasoned presenter on your hands, most interviewees have no idea what to expect, which is what makes them uneasy.

Always introduce yourself and the camera operator (or at least the main people who will be interacting with the interviewee), and tell them what to expect.

Processes to cover could be:

  • where you want them to stand or sit;
  • why you are asking them to move or turn their body;
  • how the microphone needs to be attached to their clothing and why;
  • why they need to state and spell their name to the camera;
  • more or less how long the final edit will be and how long their contribution will probably be in that edit;
  • which questions you want to begin with and why;
  • getting their buy-in and agreement to say any prepared or scripted phrases you have on hand;
  • why their answers need to be only two to three short sentences (or however long you want them to be);
  • why it doesn’t matter if they mess up an answer. (If it’s not a live broadcast, they can have another go).

3. Keep Transluscent Powder on Hand

Sometimes the way a shot is lit can make your interviewee’s face, or bald spot, look particularly shiny.  Generally speaking, this doesn’t look good on camera and may make your interviewee feel self-conscious when they see themselves in the final video.

Keep a box of translucent powder and a fluffy applicator brush on hand, just in case.

On that note, it’s always a good idea to protect the dignity of whoever is in front of the camera. If their makeup is smudged, there’s some leftover lunch stuck in between their teeth, or their hair is sticking up in a strange way, always let them know – gently and respectfully.  If there’s no mirror or phone camera available, either send them to the restroom or help them out yourself.  Except if there’s something between their teeth…

4. Say Your Name

A great way to focus the person sitting in front of the camera is to ask them to tell you their designation and spell their name and company name.  Only get them to do this once your camera operator has given you the green light to confirm their sound is up and running.  This is also incredibly useful to the editor who will have to correctly title each interviewee, probably when you’re not around to help!

5. Change the Topic

Soon into the interview some people will head swiftly into a brain freeze where they go blank on what they want to say.  This often happens after they’ve repeatedly answered the same question, but they keep stumbling over their words and they begin to get disheartened.

As the producer this is a great moment to step in and ask them a completely unrelated question to ‘reset’ their brain.

Offering them a sip of their coffee or a glass of water will also give the interviewee time to compose themselves and relax again.

6. Encourage, Encourage, Encourage

A trick I learned in my early days of producing was to err on the side of encouragement.

We all feel better about ourselves and our performance (and we’re more likely to deliver a better performance) when we feel safe and that the people around us are on our side.

Even if your interviewee doesn’t answer your question properly, or stumbles over their words, tell them they’re doing great!  Only after you’ve praised them should you explain what you want them to change the next time around.  Never discourage an interviewee by telling them they messed up.  Rather say something along the lines of, “That was great!  Let’s try that again this way instead”.  That way you’ll protect your relationship with them and leave them more likely to step in front of a camera again in future.

7. Say These Exact Words

During your question preparation, it’s sometimes helpful to come up with exact phrases you want your interviewees to say.

Corporate videos usually have very specific marketing objectives they are designed to achieve.  Whether it’s a campaign catchphrase or a sassy key selling point, the great thing about prepared phrases is you will leave the shoot with confidence that you’ve covered all your bases.

Also, with growing pressure to create short, punchy videos, there usually isn’t time for long-winded responses to your set questions!

8. Make Them Laugh

Or at least make them smile.

The camera tends to flatten our emotions, which is why you may need to get your interviewee to add some extra conviction, smiles, warmth to the delivery of their answers – all in an effort to help them ‘read’ better on camera.

Tell a joke, or dramatically tell them “This is the best day of your life!” – that’s one of my favourite tricks to help people to warm up their disposition for an interview.

9. Say Thank You

This sounds obvious, but once you feel you’ve gotten all the answers you need, make sure to thank the interviewee and tell them they did a great job!  No matter how stressed out or pinched for time you are, it’s important to finish your interaction with each interviewee on a high note.  You’ll only do your own reputation a favour and you’ll help them to feel good about their performance, which will only reflect well on the brand you’re representing.


Take a look at the final result of the video I produced for Caesarstone and see if you can work out where I activated my producer magic.  Enjoy!


South Africans can expect more UK work permits after Brexit

With less than a month to go until Brexit, South Africans could find it easier to obtain British visas, come 29 March.

United Kingdom (UK) immigration expert Ryan Rennison, of Move Up UK Visa Solutions, predicts skilled South Africans will find it easier to obtain work permits, and possibly settlement rights, after Brexit.

“In spite of SA’s visa-free status being revoked in 2009, deal or no deal, Brexit preparations have already significantly altered the work permit landscape in the UK, with signs that even more positive changes are on the way” Rennison said.

Official figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal the number of non-EU nationals working in the UK has already increased by more than 100,000 to a new record high.

Professor of economics at King’s College London, Jonathan Portes, said the statistics confirm there has been a “significant ‘Brexit effect’ on migration from the EU”.

He said that Brexit-related uncertainty has made the UK a “less attractive place for EU citizens to live and work”, adding: “At the same time, there is some evidence that this reduction in labour supply from the EU has resulted in higher levels of non-EU migration.”

ONS statistics confirm that South Africans are some of the most sought-after employees in the UK’s foreign workforce.  Figures for specific nationalities show the non-EU workforce included 194,000 Indians, 107,000 Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, 96,000 Americans, 71,000 Australians and New Zealanders, and 64,000 South Africans.

“In the UK, South Africans are known for being hardworking employees who generally get along with their colleagues and fit in well with British culture,” says Rennison.

He added, “With the drop in EU migrants to the UK, I would also expect to see an even greater increase in South Africans on track towards settlement rights over the next year and beyond.”

In December, ministers presented plans for the biggest shake-up of the UK immigration system in the last 40 years.

The proposed “skills-based” system will create a new temporary work route, remove the annual cap on skilled work visas and will no longer require employers wanting to sponsor overseas employees to carry out a “resident labour market test”.

While Brexit signals increased opportunities for skilled South African workers, the UK’s Migration Advisory Committee recently announced the Seasonal Agricultural scheme that comes into operation in the British Spring of 2019.  Open for all applicants, this scheme will provide a new visa route to the UK for South Africans.

Move Up has recently made a free online visa assessment available to South Africans exploring moving to the UK.  Visit or email for more information.



Media Coverage:




Dear John letter conceptual image with vintage retro feel.
Dear John letter conceptual image with vintage retro feel.

Dear John… A Break Up Letter to Digital Product Vendors

What do you do when you’ve been forced into a long-term relationship with a company you discover you want to break things off with a month after ‘getting together’?

There’s a trend among digital product vendors, apps and software developers to lock their customers into an automatic, annual-“subscription”-renewal billing system. That’s right, more often than not, the customer cannot opt for a manual subscription renewal when purchasing a product. They usually can’t even dictate how long they want to use the service / app / software for. Yikes!

Recently reading Carmen Murray’s poignant article on how brands need to become obsessed with what customers want was the antidote I needed to break free from a toxic, nay, abusive, digital relationship I was locked into for a year. (What else do you call a connection that remorselessly serves the needs of only one party?).

I recently battled with an American company that automatically renewed my “subscription” to their branding suite service – which I stopped using 11 months ago. A surprise notification of nearly R2,000 ($140) deducted from my credit card was the tip-off. Murray’s serendipitous article supplied the Dutch courage. Zero evidence of a subscription reminder in my inbox was my napalm.

After a cut-to-the-chase email to their customer services team, I was informed by “Daniel” that a refund for the automatic subscription was against company policy: “Do note that we advertise the nature of our subscription plans all across our website”. No matter. I was ready for a fight. After I put up some resistance, Daniel wrote back that the Head of Finance had offered me – a special case – a 50% refund, as apology for any confusion. I was incensed. I didn’t care. Their policies meant zip to me.

Fresh rage at Daniel’s condescension empowered me to fight their legalese with a powerful dose of common sense:

Hi Daniel,

As a marketer myself I’m amazed that you choose not to remind customers about pending renewals. Surely you have more faith in your product than to “tie your hands” and unhappy customers to your brand with a really customer-unfriendly policy?

If you consider your customers’ perspective, how on earth do you expect us to remember the unsubscribe deadlines on all the apps and software subscriptions we have?!

I appreciate the 50% refund offer, but please understand that I almost never returned to your site after generating a logo. I think I downloaded my logo options, the business card and tried, in vain, to find brand-appropriate social media posts. Other than that I found ****** *****’s offerings unsuitable to my needs.

I ask that you talk to your marketing manager and refund me the full amount, releasing me from an association with your company, whose services I won’t be using going forward.

Thank you for your understanding,


If only Daniel was the first recipient of one of my “Dear John” letters. After being accosted more than once by this backward, customer-hating policy, all I’m left wondering is, which short-sighted amoeba infected these companies and told them to sell their products to people this way?

They really shouldn’t call it a subscription if they’re forcing customers into a my-way-or-the-highway contract that doesn’t serve their customers’ needs. Wake up, businesses! Wake up, brands!

“We need to be obsessed with our customers, take interest and express empathy towards their wants, their needs, their frictions, and solve the problems that keep them up at night. Customers are the beating heart of our businesses” – Carmen Murray

Ms Murray reminds us that the reality is the customer is in the driving seat. Businesses should be constantly developing their products and services in response to customer needs and wants.

If you want to gain traction and inject some longevity into your business, take Murray’s advice – follow the trend of the twenty-first century and put your customers first. Find out how they want to buy from you. Ask them what they like about your business and what they’re hating! They will tell you. Most of all, don’t lock your precious customers into a toxic, long-term relationship, or you’ll be going through a lot more messy, permanent break-ups.


A NEW article from our founder, Lisa Aspeling, recently published on LinkedIn.


Video Makes the World Go Around

It’s old news by now, but video is becoming an essential weapon in the marketer’s arsenal.  Here are just a handful of stats relating to the importance of video:

  • 86% of viewers say they regularly turn to YouTube to learn something new (Google)
  • People spend on average 2.6x more time on pages with video than without (Wistia)
  • More than 50% of videos are watched on mobile (Ooyala, 2016)
  • Half of 18- to 34-year old YouTube subscribers would drop what they’re doing to watch a new video by their favorite creator (Google, 2016)
  • 43% of people want to see more video content from marketers in the future (HubSpot, 2016)
  • 6 in 10 YouTube subscribers would follow advice on what to buy from their favorite creator over their favorite TV or movie personality (Google, 2017)
  • Viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video compared to 10% when reading it in a text (Forbes, 2018)

Looking at these numbers it’s clear that brands need to strongly lean into video production within their campaigns.  One brand leading the video production charge, and one we’ve worked with for many years, recently got us involved in two of their video productions, with our founder, Lisa Aspeling, taking on the role of producer in each one.

The first video was created to launch the new brief for the Caesarstone Student Designer competition, featuring competition judge, Michele Rhoda, also a director of interior design giant, ARRCC.



The second video we produced was the opening of the brand new Caesarstone design studio in Kramerville, Johannesburg. (Coming soon!)

Dishonest businessman telling lies, lying businessperson holding fingers crossed behind his back
Dishonest businessman telling lies, lying businessperson holding fingers crossed behind his back

How to Avoid Dodgy Immigration Agents

Another piece of content marketing that doubles up as a media release for our client Move Up.

Sihouette of young family and airplane

While it’s essential to choose an immigration agency that handles visa and passport applications both professionally and efficiently, with so many options out there how can you know who you can trust?

Here are 10 tips to help you choose a reputable consultancy that best suits your needs:

1. Just Ask

Ryan Rennison, managing director of United Kingdom (UK) visa solutions experts, Move Up, says your first port of call is to ask friends and family about their experiences, “Social media is an amazing tool for polling your networks for their recommendations of which companies do a good job – with a smile – and those you should steer clear of. The chances are if your neighbour, cousin or colleague had a positive experience with an immigration expert, you’ll have one too,” says Rennison.

2. Google Reviews

Marketers will tell you, nothing beats word of mouth when it comes to endorsements – and criticisms. When you’re doing online research, make sure you read your prospective immigration agency’s Google Reviews for unadulterated, first-hand opinions from people in the know.

3. Social Media

If Google uses companies’ social media presence to rate their relevance and legitimacy, then you should too. Take a look at your prospective immigration agency’s social media platforms (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) to check whether they are up to date. An inactive, empty or missing page may be a sign that the company is ‘fronting’ and not to be trusted.

4. Lawyer or Agency?

Avoid unnecessary costs by finding out exactly which services you require. Immigration lawyers are best suited to complex immigration cases and often charge higher fees, while a straightforward visa or passport application can easily be managed by a reputable and experienced immigration consultancy. If you’re exploring moving to the UK, try this free birth certificate evaluation to see if you qualify for an ancestral visa or British passport.

5. Get Quotes

Make sure you compare immigration consultants’ fee structures to get an idea of the range of pricing out there. While some agencies are cagey about telling you how much of what you’re paying goes straight into their pockets, there are agencies that freely publish their fees on their websites.

On the flipside, remember that too-good-to-be-true fees are usually just that! While the offers from less reputable agencies can have hidden Ts and Cs, some trustworthy companies like Move Up offer a solid fees-back guarantee: if your visa application is not successful, they promise to refund your fee in full.

6. Ancient History

Not always, but usually the best immigration agencies have been around for many years. Look at the company’s track record. Are the employees experienced? Does the person heading up the organisation have a solid reputation? Can you get in touch with them easily if something goes wrong? Don’t be shy to ask for contactable references if you’re still unsure.

7. Security

Good agencies will have policies and procedures in place that help give you peace of mind when it comes to handling and storing sensitive, personal information.

For secure online payments, make sure their website URL begins with ‘https’. The ‘s’ means the website is secure and will safely process any credit card transactions you initiate.

8. Governing Body

Unfortunately, the industry doesn’t yet have a governing body or regulator to assist consumers with avoiding rogue immigration agencies. Few governments have the capacity to regulate other countries’ immigration agencies, which means it’s up to you to scrutinise your options.

9. Background Check

Relocating to a new country can sometimes involve paying hundreds of thousands of rands in fees to your future government. If you’re nervous about parting with a large sum of cash, there are companies that offer background checks (on individuals and companies) for your peace of mind.

10. The Gut Test

Once you’ve gathered all the information you need, trusting your intuition is the next step forward.


The UK is a favourite destination for South Africans choosing to emigrate. Find out which UK visas you may be eligible for by completing this free online visa assessment from Move Up.



Media Exposure

Cape Town Etc – Choosing an Immigration Agency

All 4 Women – Emigrating? Do you qualify for an ancestral British visa? Find out here

Christmas tree decoration with british red bus
Christmas tree decoration with british red bus

16 Ways to Celebrate Christmas in the British Tradition

If the names Shakespeare, Jane Austen, J. R. R Tolkien, C. S. Lewis and Queen Elizabeth curl your toes, you’re probably an Anglophile – someone with a soft spot for Britain, its culture, history and traditions. For the Anglophiles who also love Christmas we’ve compiled some very British traditions for you to add to your celebrations this year: all you need to decide is which ones you’ll be making your own.


The first tingles of excitement for Christmas can officially begin when cities switch on their magical Christmas lights. If you’re planning to head over to the UK before the end of the year be sure to take a night-time stroll through at least one of these spots, which local Britons claim are the most enchanting displays to visit. (Don’t forget to call on Move Up UK Visa Solutions to take care of all your visa application needs before you go…)

EDINBURGH: George Street
LONDON: Regent Street & Oxford Street
LEEDS: Victoria Gardens
GLASGOW: George Square
MANCHESTER: Albert Square
BELFAST: City Hall
BRISTOL: Cabot Circus


Join in a more modern British tradition and make sure you’re kitted out with an immensely ugly Christmas ‘jumper’ (jersey) this December. London office Christmas parties are legendary for awarding prizes to the person sporting the ugliest Christmas jersey – an accolade people are strangely proud of – and retailers have really leaned into this trend, making ugly Christmas jerseys rather easy to come by. You can get on board this bizarre British trend by visiting or just buy a kit and make your own.


Here is some good news for those of us who have lost faith in the Post Office… Many children around the world write letters to Father Christmas in the days leading up to Christmas Day, but British folk never post them. Once the children have written a letter to Santa Claus they are thrown onto the fire, sending the ashes up the chimney so that Santa can read their contents in the smoke as it reaches his home in the North Pole.


In 1846, the tradition of sending Christmas cards began in Britain – a whole five years after the first Christmas tree was displayed at Windsor Castle in 1841. Queen Victoria’s German husband, Prince Albert, introduced the Germanic tradition of placing decorated fir trees in the house and only a few years afterwards, nearly every home in England had one. But do take note: according to British tradition, the decorations should come down 12 days later (on 5 January).


Often mistaken for an American custom, hanging mistletoe over a doorway is an even older British tradition associated with Christmas and is said to bring good luck. If you find yourself caught beneath the mistletoe with someone, consider this due warning that you’re expected to kiss them. Just make sure you get caught on the threshold with a romantic interest and not your cousin… For easy online shopping for modern Christmas decorations and table settings, try the Woolworths online store.


In the UK it’s common for groups of singers go from house to house collecting money for charity and singing traditional Christmas songs. Three famous British Christmas carols to try out are: Good King Wenceslas, The Holly and The Ivy and We Three Kings.


British children don’t open their presents on Christmas Eve. Father Christmas brings their presents in the night after they are fast asleep, then they open them on the morning of the 25th. Many Britons leave a little treat for him too – usually brandy and a mince pie and not the American substitute of milk and cookies. Why not up the ante by trying best-selling, British cookbook author, Nigella Lawson’s recipe for star-topped homemade mince pies.


Rather than hanging stockings on the mantle above the fireplace, British children hang them at the end of their bed hoping they will be filled by Christmas morning. It might be difficult for ‘Santa’ to fill without waking the little ones, which is perhaps why American parents changed the location…


In Britain the most important Christmas meal is a big family dinner on 25 December, but you’d be mistaken if you assumed Christmas dinner was eaten at night-time. A traditional Christmas dinner in the UK is served at midday or early afternoon. During UK winters, it’s dark by 4pm in the afternoon, which might explain the unusual timing of the main celebratory meal. A twentieth-century British Christmas dinner is roast turkey with carrots, potatoes, peas, Brussels sprouts, parsnips and gravy, often served with sausages and bacon too. The traditional Christmas dinner dessert? A flaming, fruity, boiled Christmas pudding served with brandy butter, of course! Try it before you knock it. Take a look at famous British chef, Jamie Oliver’s Christmas trimmings recipes for some real English recipes.


A Christmas cracker is a cardboard tube, covered in pretty Christmas foil and twisted at both ends. Originally from China, Christmas crackers reached Britain in the nineteenth century. Shaped like a large sweet, each person crosses their arms, using their right hand to hold their own cracker and pulls their neighbour’s cracker with their left hand. The crackers then break open with a bang, spilling their contents on the table and floor. Standard crackers usually contain a small plastic toy, a (lame) joke to be shared at the table and a folded, paper crown. These days you can buy luxury crackers with more expensive, high quality contents – and, hopefully, better jokes!


Folded up in each Christmas cracker is a different coloured paper crown made of tissue paper. Everyone at the table dons their crowns, adding to the festive atmosphere. The paper hat was added to crackers in the early 1900s and the tradition continues today. (If you don’t believe us, just watch Bridget Jones’ Diary again and see which British Christmas traditions you can spot…)


Wa-what? Wassail is an Old English word that literally means ‘good health’ or to ‘be healthy’, but in this case it’s a hot, mulled drink. It’s served like a hot cider, but it can also be made with wine. Traditionally it was topped with slices of toast as sops (a piece of bread to soak up the liquid), but luckily that has gone out of style!


The tradition of sending out a Christmas message to the public began in 1932 with King George V. These days Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, gives the royal address on Christmas Day at 3pm from Buckingham Palace, in England. South Africans can watch her address via the BBC channels or later on the The Royal Family YouTube channel. Get a taste of the Queen’s Christmas messages by watching her 2017 address.

14. TEA

Christmas tea usually rolls around by 6pm and is the second sit-down session with family and delicious holiday treats. Mince pies or sausage rolls might accompany the tea party, but instead of serving Lipton, which apparently some Brits turn their noses up at, for a fancy British alternative try finding PG Tips – a tea brand that originated in the UK in the 1930s.


At a certain point on Christmas Day in most British households, someone will get cabin fever and decide that they’ve been inside too long, forcing everyone to put on their winter gear and take a brisk stroll to the local park or countryside. (It is also tradition for children to moan about this every year). If you’re in South Africa for Christmas, however, at least you’ll be able to go for a walk in the sunshine and in shorts.


A 2016 poll of British folk revealed that Love Actually (2003) is their favourite Christmas movie. The all-star-cast chick-flick was voted the winner in a survey of over 1,500 people, beating nineteen other much-loved Christmas movies that made it into the top 20. Written by Richard Curtis, who was also behind movies such as Notting Hill (1999), Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001) and Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), the movie tells ten interlinked stories of love around Christmas time, featuring some of the UK’s favourite actors: Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman, Bill Nighy, Emma Thompson, Keira Knightly, Martin Freeman and Colin Firth. However, when you choose watch this Christmas flick is up to you.


Coverage from the media:

All 4 Women Blog

IOL Travel