14 Christmas Idioms: Useful Idioms You Should Know

It’s that time of year again when we find ourselves wrapped up in the festive spirit, and with it comes a sleigh-load of colorful expressions and idioms that capture the essence of the holiday season. Christmas idioms are like the ornaments on a tree: they add flavor and personality to our conversations. Whether we’re talking about the office party or the family dinner, these phrases help us express the joy, stress, and peculiarities of the holiday frenzy in a way that’s as unique as Christmas itself.

What Are Christmas Idioms?

Christmas idioms are expressions or phrases related to the holiday season that have meanings not deducible from the individual words they contain. We use these idioms to convey more vivid and specific emotions or situations that are common during the Christmas period. Idioms often add color and cultural significance to our language.

14 Christmas Idioms: Useful Idioms You Should Know Pin

Here are a few examples of common Christmas idioms:

  • The more, the merrier – a welcome for more people to join in the festivities.
  • Christmas came early – receiving an unexpected gift or benefit before Christmas.
  • Like turkeys voting for Christmas – people willingly choosing to accept a situation that will end badly for them.
  • Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth – don’t be ungrateful when you receive a gift.

List of Christmas Idioms

Idioms Meaning and Example Sentence
The more the merrier This idiom means that a situation or event will be more enjoyable if more people are present or involved.

Example: “Are you sure it’s okay if I bring a couple of friends to your party?” “Of course, the more the merrier!”

Christmas came early This expression is used when something good happens unexpectedly or before it was anticipated, akin to the surprise and delight of receiving a Christmas gift ahead of time.

Example: “I can’t believe the company gave us bonus checks today—feels like Christmas came early!”

Good things come in small packages This means that size is not an indicator of quality, and often something small may be better than something large.

Example: “You shouldn’t be disappointed with the small box; remember, good things come in small packages.”

Like turkeys voting for Christmas This idiom describes a situation where people are choosing to accept a situation that will have a negative outcome for them, similar to turkeys choosing to celebrate a holiday that usually ends in their demise.

Example: “They agreed to the terms without reading the fine print—it’s like turkeys voting for Christmas.”

On the naughty list This phrase refers to the concept in Western Christmas tradition where Santa Claus lists children who have been misbehaving throughout the year.

Example: “If you keep up those pranks, you’ll end up on the naughty list this year.”

To light up like a Christmas tree This idiom means to become very excited or animated or to be adorned with lots of bright lights, making one as noticeable as a decorated Christmas tree.

Example: “When she saw the surprise party, she lit up like a Christmas tree.”

Don’t get your tinsel in a tangle This phrase is a humorous way of telling someone not to get stressed out or upset about something, especially during the holidays.

Example: “I know preparing the holiday meal is stressful, but don’t get your tinsel in a tangle over it.”

To wrap up something This means to complete or finish something, often a task or activity.

Example: “We need to wrap up this project before we leave for the holidays.”

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth This means you should not be critical of a gift or benefit you have received.

Example: “Even if it’s not exactly what you wanted, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”

It’s the thought that counts This idiom expresses the idea that the intention behind a gift or action is more important than the gift or action itself.

Example: “I know the scarf you knitted is too big, but it’s the thought that counts.”

To have a blue Christmas To experience feelings of sadness or loneliness during the Christmas season.

Example: “Ever since my dog passed away, I’ve been having a blue Christmas.”

To be as busy as an elf This means to be very busy, typically with tasks or work, similar to Santa’s elves who are busy making toys for Christmas.

Example: “With all the holiday orders coming in, I’m as busy as an elf in Santa’s workshop.”

To be snowed under To be overwhelmed with work or responsibilities, much like being buried under a lot of snow.

Example: “I can’t go out tonight; I’m completely snowed under with paperwork.”

To be as dead as a doornail This means something is completely dead or devoid of life, often used to emphasize the finality of death or the complete failure of something.

Example: “That old car is as dead as a doornail; it won’t start again.”

Christmas Idioms in Different Contexts

Christmas Came Early

The idiom “Christmas came early” is often used to express that something very good and unexpected has happened, much like the excitement and surprise that might be felt if Christmas, a time typically associated with receiving gifts and happy occasions, were to come before its usual date.

Receiving an Unexpected Gift or Reward:

  • Situation: Your employer decides to give all employees a bonus due to the company’s exceptional performance for the quarter.
  • Example: “I can’t believe we’re getting bonuses this month. It feels like Christmas came early!”

Good News or Positive Outcome Sooner Than Anticipated:

  • Situation: A student is waiting for the results of a critical exam and finds out they passed with high marks a week before the results were expected.
  • Example: “I was so nervous about the results, but I passed with an A! Christmas came early for me this year.”

Early Arrival of Something Awaited or Desired:

  • Situation: A video game enthusiast has been waiting for the release of a highly anticipated game, which unexpectedly gets released several weeks ahead of schedule.
  • Example: “The game was supposed to come out next month, but it’s available to download today. It’s like Christmas came early for gamers!”

Like Turkeys Voting For Christmas

The idiom “like turkeys voting for Christmas” is used to describe a situation where individuals are choosing or supporting something that is clearly not in their best interests, much like turkeys would be acting against their own survival by supporting a holiday that traditionally involves eating turkey.

Employees Supporting a Policy That Could Lead to Job Cuts:

  • Situation: Workers at a company are unknowingly advocating for a new automation system that will ultimately reduce the workforce.
  • Example: “The staff is pushing for those new machines, but they don’t realize it could make their jobs obsolete. It’s like turkeys voting for Christmas.”

Voters Endorsing a Candidate Whose Policies Would Adversely Affect Them:

  • Situation: A community supports a political candidate who is planning to remove public services that the community heavily relies on.
  • Example: “The people in this district are endorsing the very politician who wants to cut their healthcare benefits. They’re like turkeys voting for Christmas.”

Consumers Choosing a Product That Is Detrimental to Their Well-Being:

  • Situation: People are enthusiastically buying a new smartphone model despite it having known health risks and being under investigation for safety concerns.
  • Example: “Everyone’s rushing to get the new model without considering the health warnings. It’s like turkeys voting for Christmas.”

To Light Up Like a Christmas Tree

The idiom “to light up like a Christmas tree” is used to describe something or someone becoming very bright, illuminated, or clearly visible, or someone showing a sudden burst of emotion, such as happiness or excitement. The phrase draws from the image of a Christmas tree, which is typically adorned with lights and decorations that make it stand out.

Someone Showing Obvious Happiness or Excitement:

  • Situation: A child’s face shows immense joy upon seeing a surprise birthday party arranged by their parents.
  • Example: “When Jamie walked into the room and saw the decorations and cake, he lit up like a Christmas tree.”

An Object or Display Becoming Brightly Illuminated:

  • Situation: A building is suddenly lit up with decorative lights for an evening event.
  • Example: “As the sun set, the entire skyscraper was switched on with festive lights, lighting up like a Christmas tree against the night sky.”

A Radar or Monitoring System Detecting Many Signals at Once:

  • Situation: A radar screen shows multiple aircraft in an area at the same time.
  • Example: “The air traffic controller’s screen lit up like a Christmas tree when the storm rerouted several flights through the sector.”

To Have a Blue Christmas

The idiom “to have a blue Christmas” refers to feeling sad, lonely, or depressed during the holiday season, which is typically a time of joy and celebration. The term “blue” is often associated with feelings of melancholy or sadness.

Experiencing Loneliness Due to Being Away from Family:

  • Situation: An individual is unable to travel home for the holidays and is spending Christmas alone.
  • Example: “With my family on the other side of the country and me stuck here because of work, it looks like I’m going to have a blue Christmas this year.”

Grieving During the Holidays After Losing a Loved One:

  • Situation: Someone is facing their first Christmas after the passing of a close family member.
  • Example: “Ever since grandma passed away, the festive season hasn’t been the same. It’s going to be a blue Christmas without her.”

Feeling Depressed Due to Personal Circumstances Despite the Festive Season:

  • Situation: An individual is going through a tough time, such as a breakup or job loss, during the Christmas period.
  • Example: “After the breakup with Sam, all the holiday cheer around me just makes me feel even sadder. I’m definitely having a blue Christmas.”

To Be As Busy As an Elf

The idiom “to be as busy as an elf” draws on the image of Santa’s elves, who are often depicted as extremely industrious workers, tirelessly making toys and preparing for Christmas. The phrase is used to describe someone who is very busy or working hard, especially in a bustling and energetic manner.

Workplace During Peak Season or Deadlines:

  • Situation: An employee is working long hours to meet the year-end deadlines.
  • Example: “I’ve been working late every night this week to get these reports done on time. I’m as busy as an elf!”

Preparation for a Big Event or Occasion:

  • Situation: Parents are preparing for their child’s birthday party, doing everything from decorating to cooking.
  • Example: “We’ve been decorating, baking the cake, and wrapping gifts all day for Max’s party tomorrow. We’re as busy as elves!”

Holiday Season Activities and Errands:

  • Situation: Someone is running errands, shopping for gifts, and attending holiday events all in the same period.
  • Example: “Between the gift shopping, the cooking, and all the Christmas parties, I’ve been as busy as an elf this month!”

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Last Updated on December 5, 2023

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