Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 23952/Rufus – it’s Christmas already

Posted by ilancaron on December 18th, 2006


Virtually every clue is holiday related (xmas, parties, trees, pantos, carols…). I probably missed an allusion or two being of the other faith. I think this is the first of the Xmas-related themes that I’m sure we’ll be solving until 2007.


9 APERIT(IF)S – (parties)* containing IF (for “provided”). APERITIFS are drinks to stimulate your appetite – so they qualify as appetizers (I suspect this is the literal French meaning anyway).
11 TUCK BOX – Friar TUCK but not sure how BOX is “Christmas tip”?
12 A+LAD+DIN – standard UK pantomime fare
13 CH+OIR – abbrev(“Church”) followed by rev(Rio) – a v. popular cryptic port.
14 SHEPHERDS – A kind of mincemeat pie and of course “men” with a role to play… at Christmas.
16 A CHRISTMAS CAROL – This hardly qualifies as a cryptic definition – though perhaps it does given that it’s the title of a book rather than a song.
19 STOCKINGS – cryptic definition
21 SALLY – double definition – but perhaps triple? What’s “party” doing there?
23 TORN+A+DO – jokey definition of “wind-up” thus the question-mark.
24 CAROL – “it” is the song being performed that’s also a girl’s name. Not sure how “waits” is used in the wordplay.
25 EVERGREEN – double definition. There’s a meaning of EVERGREEN that implies always fresh and well-liked thus popular.


1 SANTA CLAUS – he’s the guy that does the hard delivery work.
2 TEA CLOTH – Clergy as a whole are referred to as the CLOTH.
4 MINX =”minks” – but in this post-Brigitte Bardot age do women still really want furs?
5 ESTATE CARS – station wagons in the UK. Bit of a jokey pun. Perhaps this clue isn’t Xmas-related after all.
6 SERAPH+I.C. – (phrase)*+initials of “Introducing Christmas”.
8 STUN – rev(nuts=crackers). Xmas allusion via crackers.
14 SET IN ORDER – Not a bad clue – I hazarded “put it right” at first. “Monks” have ORDERs (if they don’t set crosswords) and your “party” is your SET.
15 SILLY POINT – cricket fielding position. Not Xmas related?
17 INKWELLS – cryptic definition. Not Xmas related?
18 RELOADED – cryptic definition: ref. loading a gun with a charge. Not Xmas related?
20 ON+WARD – not Xmas related?
21 SPRIGS – you do your kissing under SPRIGS of mistletoe and it also means to fasten.

6 Responses to “Guardian 23952/Rufus – it’s Christmas already”

  1. says:

    re 11a, a Christmas box is a tip given at the end of the year for services during the year. Quite a few years ago, I remember dustmen, milkmen, newspaper delivery boys etc knocking on my door near Christmas time and asking hopefully if I had anything “for the Christmas box”. It is a phrase I haven’t heard in a long time though.

  2. says:

    11a : A Christmas box is a gratuity, originally paid on BOXing Day for services – postmen, dustmen etc.

    24a: Waits are groups of singers, musicians performing on streets at Chritsmastime

  3. says:

    Collins asserts BOX to be a short form of ‘Christmas box’, while Chambers Online Reference is more generous, assigning it the meaning of ‘a gift of money to tradespersons etc’ outright.

    Dull puzzle, I thought.

  4. says:

    In 24a the waits are (to quote Chambers) people who welcome in Christmas by playing or singing out of doors at night.

    And a Christmas box is what you give on Boxing Day.

  5. says:

    4dn – Given the “fur”ore over Madonna’s jacket a few days ago, this clue may be more topical than was originally intended.

  6. says:

    Thanks to Rufus himself (and Peter Owen) for the waits and box clarification!

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