🎄 Christmas Studies!

:christmas_tree: 12 Studies of Christmas: The Perfect Christmas Tree

At Prolific we’ve been getting in the Christmas spirit by running our very own festive research studies. We’ve asked all the big questions - Do you believe in Santa? Is Die Hard a Christmas film? What is the earliest acceptable date to hear a Christmas song? Some of our results were pretty surprising, so we decided to share them. In the run-up to Christmas, we will be gifting 12 studies that we ran on our platform - think of it like an advent calendar, except instead of chocolate behind each door, there are 100 of our brilliant research participants and their Christmas opinions!

For our first study, we wanted to work out the perfect Christmas tree . So we asked 100 people to build their typical yearly Tennenbaum and collated the results.

First things first - when should we put up our tree? Nearly half of our respondents agreed that December 1st was the earliest appropriate date, although we also had some radical outliers, including September 1st, Christmas Day itself, and the 25th of June - a full 6 months before Christmas!

Before we get the baubles out, we need to work out whether our perfect Christmas tree is made of plastic or, well, tree. We asked our participants whether they go natural or artificial and, in a blow to fans of Christmas tree smell, 62% chose plastic! Clearly we have collectively had enough of spending Boxing Day picking shedded bits of old tree out of the carpet. Traditionalists will be pleased that 84% of the artificial choosers did at least have green colored trees, with 5 voting for white, 3 for red, and 2 for multi-colored.

Next up, and the subject of much heated debate, tinsel - yea or nay? The divisive, shiny, scratchy PVC ropes (which used to be made of lead!) are either a much-loved item of festive paraphernalia or a hideous eyesore, depending on who you ask. That debate will roll on for another year as, remarkably, our participants were split exactly 50/50! Half have tinsel on their tree, half don’t, and no one is happy about it. Silver was the most popular tinsel color, garnering 30 votes, with red (22) and gold (20) following.

Another big tree decoration debate is light color - should you go with classic (boring) white or fun (garish) multi-colored? It was close, but among our participants white came out on top with 54 votes. 12 selected candles as their tree light of choice - we salute their willingness to risk setting their tree, and presents, on fire for a more traditional aesthetic. Although for a shocking 19% of people there would be no such risk of singed wrapping paper as they don’t keep presents under their tree! Where else are they meant to go?!

After the tinsel is draped, the lights are on and the baubles (by far the most popular ornament with 60% of the vote) are hung, the final question is - do we have a star or an angel at the top of our perfect Christmas tree? First, some honorable mentions - Santa (1 vote); teddy bear (1 vote); homemade weeping angel from Doctor Who (1 vote). So what will be the cherry/ star/ angel on top? In truth, it wasn’t even close. With 79%, star was the clear winner and takes its rightful place at the top of our perfect Christmas tree.

Next year the Prolific Christmas tree will be going up on the 1st of December. It will be green, artificial, and have exactly one half covered with silver tinsel. It will be decorated with baubles and white lights, have presents underneath and no candles anywhere near it. Finally, at the very top, there will be a shining star. Perfect!

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Festive Songs & Films

Tom Chalton Hellyer, Andrew Gordon | 15 Dec 2020 | 2 min read

Continuing our 12 Studies of Christmas series, we wanted to find out the nation’s favourite Christmas song and film. So we surveyed 100 people from across the UK and these were our results. Spoiler alert: Paul McCartney’s duet with The Frog Chorus is not the much-loved festive hit we thought it might be…

For the songs, our methodology was simple (if not particularly rigorous!) - make a list of the first ten Christmas tunes that came into our heads, put them into a survey and ask participants to select their favourite. The options were:

  • John Lennon - Happy Xmas (War is Over)
  • Mariah Carey - All I Want for Christmas
  • Wham - Last Christmas
  • The Pogues - Fairytale of New York
  • Slade - Merry Xmas Everyone
  • Wizzard - I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday
  • East 17 - Stay Another Day
  • The Pretenders - 2000 Miles
  • Bing Crosby - White Christmas
  • Shakin Stevens - Merry Christmas Everyone
  • Paul McCartney & The Frog Chorus - We All Stand Together

According to the survey, the song that gets our bells jingling, our halls decked, our holly boughed (?), is Fairytale of New York by The Pogues ! With a massive 25%, Kirsty MacColl and Shane MacGowan’s rum-soaked ode to regrets, lost love and broken broadway dreams just about pipped Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas , which won 23% of the vote. There was a significant age divide here - The Pogues received significantly more votes than Mariah with over-40s, whilst Mariah dominated amongst Millenials.


Coming up next were Wham and Wizzard with a whopping 15% and 12% of the vote respectively. In a rerun of their competition for the 1973 Christmas number one, Wizzard got their revenge on Noddy Holder’s Slade , who ended up 5 votes down against their glam-rock rivals.

Up the rear were East 17 with one vote, whilst Paul McCartney and his amphibian collaborators received zero votes. Honourable mentions from outside our list included Jona Lewie’s Stop the Cavalry , Boney M.'s Mary’s Boy Child / Oh My Lord and Kylie Minogue’s Every Day’s Like Christmas (which we had never heard of before - sorry Kylie!)

We also wanted to know the earliest acceptable date to hear a Christmas song. The vast majority of people were fine with hearing their first Christmas song of the year, and going through the terrible realisation that yet another year is nearly over, on December 1st .

Next we asked participants to name their all-time favourite Christmas movie, but this time we didn’t give them options to choose from. In total we received 26 different answers to this question, with some familiar favourites and some that pushed the boundaries of what constitutes a Christmas film!


Home Alone , the heartwarming story of a neglected 8 year old boy critically injuring two hapless burglars, was the most popular Christmas movie, with a whopping 23 votes. It’s a Wonderful Life came in second with 12 votes. Die Hard (yes, Die Hard ) was third with 10 - apparently it is a Christmas film after all!

We also had a few honourable mentions. Where Eagles Dare received a vote, as did Carry on Camping and The Great Escape . Maybe Die Hard isn’t the only controversial ‘Christmas’ movie.

Christmas Activities

Harry Wright | 22 Dec 2020 | 3 min read

Christmas is a time of tradition and, unless your name is Ebenezer Scrooge , this sense of tradition likely extends to the kinds of activities you and your family get up to on Christmas Day. We were keen to learn more about what kind of activities our participants enjoy over the festive period, so we asked, and we learned some interesting (and surprising) things!

On a chilly Christmas day, basking in the warm glow of our electronic family member — the television — is a near-universal activity, enjoyed by all. But what program do we enjoy so much that we insist on watching it every single year?

“Television! Teacher, mother, secret lover.” — Homer Simpson

Our participants enjoy an equal helping of Doctor Who and the Queen’s Speech, with both hitting 15.8% of the vote. Following this frustrating tempest of a year, no doubt the soothing words of HRH and the escapist sci-fi of the Doctor and her companions will be needed more than ever!

We also wanted to know if you’d rather watch something new, or the same shows every year. Humans are, after all, creatures of habit, particularly when it comes to the festive season. Surprisingly, however, a huge 63.4% of participants said they’d rather watch something new.

Lockdown has given us more time than ever to watch our favorite shows. I, for one, have unashamedly completed Netflix several times over. Where reruns of Gavin & Stacey in years gone by may have been acceptable, the tribulations of 2020 demand new and exciting content.


But when there’s no more telly left to watch, what about games? These communal bonding experiences are ingrained in the Christmas ritual, so we asked our participants for their Christmas game of choice. While the thought of swapping a controller for a board, cards, and dice might seem a tad retrograde to some, a whopping 87.1% of participants chose a board/card game as their game of choice.

Among these, the most popular game was Trivial Pursuit , crowned by a substantial 16.8% of Prolific’s finest. Video games, while at the upper end of the list, hit only 12.9% . Regardless of the game or platform, however, we know that the true enjoyment comes from the people you play with. And from winning, of course.

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” — Helen Keller


Now, there comes a point in everyone’s Christmas when we’ve got mince pies coming out of our ears, you can’t see the floor for wrapping, and Mariah Carey has just played for the fifth time. Waddling to the kitchen for a top-up of your favorite tipple, you glance, just for a moment, outside. You face a decision.

Do I continue to enjoy the warmth, safety, and festive ambiance of the indoors, or do I bravely venture outdoors and attempt to offset my gluttony?

For some, a Christmas walk is traditional, and to not would be considered sacrilege. Evidenced by our findings, it is clear that this decision is not one an easy one. 51.5% of participants said they walked the walk, and 48.5% said they didn’t.


Whether sedated by the festive feast or subdued by a Christmas walk, we all have that one family member who - try as they might - fall asleep. As indicated by your responses, the culprit can vary! Here are just a handful of your responses:






Step dad


Myself, I love my sleep

As you can probably tell from the above, we all fall victim to a Christmas-induced slumber at times! Sometimes the most enjoyable days are the most exhausting.

“A well spent day brings happy sleep.” — Leonardo da Vinci