Lewis Hobba’s top tips for Christmas wrapping and yule festival survival
As a veteran of family Christmas competition rivalry, Lewis Hobba shares his best tips. (ABC: Michael Dulaney)
As the festive season looms large and preparations begin for families to come together and celebrate, Lewis Hobba has a stern warning: choose your battles wisely.
“Christmas is a joyous time where everyone comes together to eat and sing and give and be of good cheer … at least that’s what I used to think,” Lewis says.
The Hobbas, he says, borrowed from yoga philosophies rather than Christian orthodoxies to celebrate December 25 in the spirit of gratitude.
He said while that was all good and well, he and the other Hobbas had also somehow become mortal enemies, owing to their quest for supremacy in the family’s annual Christmas gift-wrapping face-off.
The ‘wrap battle’ is born
The origins of this Hobba family tradition stretch back to that one time when, quite innocently, Lewis’s grandmother complimented the wrapping of one of his aunt’s gifts.
“She ventured it was the prettiest of all the presents under the tree,” Lewis says.
The next year all family members made slightly more effort with their gift-wrapping, and instead of Lewis’s grandmother choosing her favourite the whole family voted on the best wrapping.
By the third year, Lewis says, it was outright war.
“It’s at the gift-giving ceremony that our Christmas turns from cult-like happiness to a death-cult-like thirst for blood,” he says.
So intense is this competition, the Hobbas have been starting their planning and design phases mid-year. And they have split into strategic factions in a bid to outdo each other with the most creative, meaningful, outrageous and/or shocking wrapping of their gifts.
When the votes have been cast and counted, and to the victor have gone the spoils, only then the Hobbas are able to begin actually celebrating whatever it is they are grateful for.
And so now, with several years of family Christmas rivalry under his belt, he has some advice for those who in a moment of folly chose to issue a yuletide challenge to their loved ones:
- Let Grandma win, but watch for cheating.
- Look behind the facade of your loved ones — they will hide their furious competition behind a mask of naïve sweetness and fake kinship.
- Engage emotional manipulation at your peril. Yes it works but there is huge potential for fallout and remember you will never outdo your mother in EM.
- Get creative. Think outside the square and let your creativity know no bounds in your quest to be this year’s victor.
- Eat a big breakfast before the day starts — you don’t know if you’ll actually end up being invited to the Christmas table after the games, and you need sustenance to engage in high-level psychological drama.
- Prime yourself in the weeks beforehand by bingeing on cult conflict titles to get top tips and throwaway lines to dispense at critical high-drama points throughout the day.
- Wear comfortable clothing and footwear that enables a quick getaway, and plan escape routes and back-up plans for the rest of the day.
- Be prepared to cry — not just because of family dynamics but it’s the time of year you’re most likely to get broken up with.
- Create a community with friends and colleagues to share stories and support each other through this fraught time of year.
- Keep a device and headphones handy. When it all gets too much crank up your content of choice and go to your happy place.