Christmas Shopping

Beautiful Christmas window displays are one way shops get into the Christmas spirit. Amandeep goes to Fortnum & Mason to see the work that goes into the displays and find out more about Christmas shopping.


Before you watch

Think about the following questions:

  • What do shops in your country put in their windows?
  • Have you heard of any British shops?
  • Where do British Christmas traditions come from?

Now watch Amandeep visit Fortnum & Mason...


Christmas shopping in London. There’s nowhere like it in the world. When the West End Christmas lights go on and the big shops reveal their special Christmas window displays, it’s time for the festivities to begin.

Fortnum & Mason, here in Piccadilly, has been selling the finer things in life around the world for over three hundred years.

From chocolates to china, luxury goods are what Fortnum & Mason specialise in. And Christmas is their busiest time of the year.


Today’s an important day. Parts of the Christmas window display have just arrived. Everything needs to be put in place. It’s a difficult job getting all of the items into the windows.

Paul Symes is the head of visual presentation and the creative force behind the Fortnum & Mason Christmas window display.

Amandeep: This is so exciting, Paul. You’ve allowed us behind the scenes in your Christmas shop window. Now tell me about your design this year.

Paul: It’s all about dancing, burlesque, theatre, shows and glamour and style.

Amandeep: And what are the challenges involved in designing something to this scale?

Paul: One of the challenges is trying to get it all to fit. There’s so much that you want to say and it’s trying to get it small enough to fit into just seven windows.

Amandeep: So, Paul, you’re about to reveal your Christmas shop window. How nervous are you?

Paul: Very, very. I start getting nervous about a week before. A lot of effort goes into making sure that when we finally pull the curtains up, everyone’s happy.


The Christmas story dates back two thousand years, but the way it's celebrated has changed a lot over time. Many Christmas traditions are actually quite recent. Fortnum & Mason have seen Christmas fashions change over the centuries. Archivist Dr Andrea Tanner is interested in the history of the store.

Amandeep: Andrea, when did Christmas shopping become such an important tradition?

Andrea: Well, in Britain, it really came with the Victorian era. It was when Queen Victoria married her German prince, Prince Albert, and he brought lots of Christmas traditions to Britain.

Amandeep: What’s your biggest selling Christmas item?

Andrea: It’s a hamper. A hamper is a basket in which you find wonderful Christmas foods and drinks and we expect to sell around seven and a half thousand of those.


It’s almost time for the big moment. The windows are finally going to be revealed.

Man 1: It’s going to make people stop and stare.

Woman 1: I think they’re fabulous, but they always are.

Woman 2: It’s absolutely beautiful. It’s beautiful.

Amandeep: It’s a huge success and I’m starting to feel festive. Now where’s my Christmas list? Better start some shopping.

Task 1

Task 2

Task 3

In the documentary, the presenter uses the present perfect continuous: 'Fortnum and Mason has been selling the finer things in life for over 300 years.' We use this form to describe activities which started in the past and continue to the present moment.




Average: 5 (1 vote)
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Submitted by Natasa Tanasa on Sat, 09/10/2021 - 09:44


Hello everyone!

I have a question about using WOULD, RECOMMEND and -ING together.

I had a teacher that told me not to use -ing form after I'd... but in the book, I have found the rules and sentences like 'I'd recommend trying that Mexican restaurant.'

Could you explain to me a little bit more about that?

Thank you! <3

Hello Natasa Tanasa,

It sounds to me as if you have confused two different things. The first one is what your teacher correctly told you: after 'would', a verb goes in the base form. For example, we say 'I'd like to have some tea' (not 'I'd to like' or 'I'd liking').

The second one is that one possible verb form after 'recommend' is the '-ing' form. For example, 'I'd recommend trying the green tea' -- here 'trying' is in the '-ing' form because we can use the '-ing' form of verbs after the verb 'recommend'. But notice how after 'I'd' there is the base form of 'recommend', which is the rule your teacher told you.

Does that make more sense now?

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by memorex on Thu, 07/03/2019 - 03:24

I liked the video because Christmas is my favorite season of the year.

Submitted by Yshc on Fri, 04/05/2018 - 15:32

Hello, Team! I have one grammary question on the Perfect tenses. In the exercise 3 we have the sentence: "Our family have been living in this village for nearly 200 years." It's ok and completely clear to me if the family still live in the same village now. But what grammatical construction should I use, if the family doesn't already live in this village? Should it be the past perfect continuos? E.g.. "Our family had been living in this village for nearly 200 years" (I mean, before it's moved somewhere else). Or maybe the past perfect continuos anyway? E.g.. ""Our family have been living in this village for nearly 200 years before it's moved to London." Or maybe past simple / past continuous - "Our family lived / was living in this village for nearly 200 years before it's moved to London."?

Hell Yshc,

If you are talking about the family and it is not in the context of a story or narrative then the past simple is the best option:

Our family lived in this village for nearly 200 years before moving away.

If the sentence is part of a narrative in the past then the past perfect would be appropriate:

Our family had been living in this village for nearly 200 years when the earthquake struck.


Other forms are possible, of course, but it's not possible for us to list all of the possible choices in all of the many contexts which you might have. If there is a particular concept you wish to express then we'll be happy to help, of course.



The LearnEnglish Team