• Mon. Jun 17th, 2024

I let AI plan my Christmas


Dec 18, 2023

There are days left until Christmas and once again, despite promising yourself you wouldn’t let your festive responsibilities creep up on you this time, you’ve left everything to the last minute.

No presents bought, turkey unordered – few things are as stressful as finding yourself unprepared for the big day.

But perhaps help has never been easier to come by. After all, if AI really is going to take all our jobs, then surely it should handle the pressure of Christmas planning?

In case you find yourself with the love and respect of your friends and family on the line, I decided to lean on some of the internet’s top AI tools to see if they could help salvage the big day at short notice.

Present ideas

ChatGPT was my choice for present ideas, concentrating on my immediate family.

Setting the budget at £50 a person, I told it my dad loves Arsenal, golf, and gadgets; mum enjoys cooking, cats, and arts and crafts; and my sister is obsessed with Taylor Swift.

For dad, it recommended Arsenal merch like a scarf, mug, or keychain, golf accessories like “a new set of golf balls, golf gloves or a golf towel”, or a “cool gadget” like a smartphone stand for his desk.

Rather dull suggestions, and “cool” is doing a lot of heavy lifting, but nothing offensive. I could work with it.

For mum, how about some “quality cooking utensils or gadgets”? Maybe a sketchbook or knitting materials? Or how about finding her a “cute cat-themed apron or a cat-shaped cutting board”?

And for the ultimate Swiftie, I was told to consider her latest album or concert tickets “if she has a tour coming up”.

Taytay tickets for £50? Not in your wildest dreams.

Taylor Swift performs at the Monumental stadium during her Eras Tour concert in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

When and where to buy

Sticking with ChatGPT, I asked for some shopping tips.

It didn’t get off to a great start, suggesting I indulge in Black Friday sales weeks after they’d finished.

But it said “many retailers have pre-Christmas sales and promotions in early to mid-December” too, and some “may offer last-minute discounts as Christmas approaches”.

“Consider shopping during off-peak hours or days to avoid crowds,” it added, and check online delivery times.

In terms of retailers, ChatGPT recommended Amazon, Etsy, Not On The High Street, Sports Direct and H&M, and encouraged exploring local book and craft shops.

Department stores like John Lewis and M&S were also proposed.

Personalised cards

Given my complete lack of creative talent, I thought AI might have the perfect chance to shine by making some personalised cards.

I used popular image generators Stable Diffusion and DALL-E 3.

For my sister, I asked Stable Diffusion to “design me a Christmas card cover featuring Taylor Swift holding up a boom box outside a girl’s bedroom window on a snowy evening singing ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You'”.

Stable Diffusion's Taylor Swift Christmas card

These tools are known to struggle with hands and fingers and while this fake Taylor’s left hand looks OK, her right hand… not so much.

There’s also an unsettling nutcracker quality to her agape jaw.

I used DALL-E 3 to make a card for my nan.

I asked it for a one “featuring an elderly lady making her way through a big box of chocolates, and while watching ballroom dancing” (it refused to acknowledge Strictly).

DALL-E 3's AI Christmas card

It certainly took the “big” requirement very seriously.

And for maximum efficiency, I asked both to have a go at an Arsenal card I could send to a few friends.

“Design me a Christmas card cover featuring Arsenal players Gabriel Jesus, Bukayo Saka, and Martin Odegaard in Arsenal-themed Christmas jumpers delivering presents to Mikel Arteta outside the Emirates Stadium,” I wrote.

Who’s who is anyone’s guess – and DALL-E 3 made a rather embarrassing typo.

DALL-E 3's Arsenal Christmas card Image: DALL-E 3’s Arsenal Christmas card… Stable Diffusion's Arsenal Christmas card Image: …and Stable Diffusion’s effort

Menu planning

I got Google‘s Bard to plan dinner.

We’ll have three meat eaters and two vegetarians to look after, and – given this is all very last minute – I told it no supermarket for miles had any turkeys left.

I also asked for a recipe for some Christmas gingerbread biscuits.


  • 350g plain flour
  • One teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • Two teaspoons ground ginger
  • One teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 125g butter, cut into cubes
  • 175g dark muscovado sugar
  • 75g golden syrup
  • One egg, lightly beaten
  • Royal icing, for decorating (optional)

Suggested appetisers were butternut squash soup and mini quiches with bacon, cheddar, and caramelised onions.

For the main, it was either herb-roasted rack of lamb with roasted root vegetables or stuffed portobello mushrooms filled with quinoa, roasted veg, and herbs.

Sides were to be shared: mashed potatoes with roasted garlic and thyme (mash with Christmas dinner?!), sauteed Brussels sprouts with bacon, and cranberry sauce.

And it’s sticky toffee pudding for dessert.


  • Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan) and line two baking trays with parchment paper
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger, and cinnamon
  • Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs
  • Stir in the sugar, golden syrup, and egg until a dough forms
  • Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of about 5mm
  • Cut out shapes using gingerbread cutters or other cookie cutters
  • Place the biscuits on the prepared baking trays and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown
  • Allow the biscuits to cool on the baking trays for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely

Fun and games

Some games to play at the dinner table was my next request.

Bard recommended Two Truths And A Lie, I Spy, The Name Game, Heads Up, and Scattergories.

Heads Up even came with a cheeky link to the app on the Google Play Store.

“The most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the time with your family and friends,” it added.

Bard, you are hopelessly naive.


  • It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
  • A Christmas Carol (1984)
  • Home Alone (1990)
  • Elf (2003)
  • The Polar Express (2004)
  • The Grinch (2000)
  • Love Actually (2003)
  • The Holiday (2006)

Festive tunes

Given one of the big talking points of the year has been the threat AI poses to the arts, I thought I’d explore whether Mariah Carey has anything to worry about by requesting a new Christmas song.

Lyrics were written by ChatGPT, which I asked for a song about the role AI could play at Christmas.


In a world of lights and snow, where the holiday spirits grow, There’s a tale of tech and cheer, a Christmas story we hold dear. Underneath the mistletoe, where joy and wonder freely flow, A new companion joins the scene, it’s AI, the festive dream.

Oh, AI Christmas, bright and smart, Spreading joy in every part. Bytes of love and lines of code, In this season, we all download.

Santa’s sleigh now with a twist, guided by algorithms’ bliss, AI elves in the workshop sing, crafting toys that dreams will bring. Through the web, a virtual tree, ornaments in binary glee, Lights of data softly hum, a carol in the cyber drum.

Oh, AI Christmas, bright and smart, Spreading joy in every part. Bytes of love and lines of code, In this season, we all download.

Machine learning in the air, predicting wishes everywhere, Naughty or nice, it understands, with circuits spun by nimble hands. The warmth of ones and zeros glow, in this techy festive show, A silicon heart, so pure and true, Christmas miracles it can do.

Family calls across the globe, through video calls, we share the strobe, AI, a virtual friend so dear, bringing those we love so near. In every pixel, love extends, transcending where the circuit bends, A Christmas hug in binary, connecting hearts so seamlessly.

Oh, AI Christmas, bright and smart, Spreading joy in every part. Bytes of love and lines of code, In this season, we all download.

So in this yuletide, let us find, in AI’s embrace, peace of mind, A Christmas future, bright and new, where technology and love break through. In the glow of screens agleam, Merry Christmas, in the digital dream.

I don’t know about you, but I think Mariah’s job is definitely safe.

To be fair, ChatGPT is a fan.

Asked for some songs to build a Christmas playlist, she came out top of the pile, with Wham, Bobby Helms, Jose Feliciano, and Dean Martin rounding out its favourite five.

A perfect Christmas if ever I heard one.


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