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In the immortal words of Alanis Morissette, isn’t it ironic? It turns out, ‘Driving Home for Christmas’, the classic track by Middlesbrough singer and guitarist Chris Rea, is not the favoured driving song of people in UK and Ireland, according to our recent ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ survey.

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We quizzed people from the UK and Ireland about their typical Yuletide experience and received some rather unexpected results!

Asked to choose between ‘Fairytale of New York’ by The Pogues, Slade’s golden oldie ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’, ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ as performed by Mariah Carey, Band Aid’s ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ and Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’, or the chance to select ‘other’, over a quarter of those polled (27.5%) chose the famously potty-mouthed Pogues ditty.

Only 11% clicked ‘other’, the selection that the North East strummer’s hit would come under. Sorry Chris, we still love driving home for Christmas with you on the car stereo!

But that wasn’t all. From finding out it’s likely 2.7 million people eat six or more Christmas dinners every year, to the UK and Ireland’s favourite festive driving song, our research has busted a few Christmas myths and looks set to cause a couple of traditional Xmas arguments around the 2014 table.

1 in 10 have left the presents at home before their Christmas drive

Ever had the feeling you’ve forgotten something halfway through that marathon trek to the in-laws’ at Christmas? It turns out 45.6% of you have, and 10.5% of people have had the most important thing of all slip their minds: the presents. Well, at least there was the rest of the journey to work out how to break the news.

But there’s more. Basics such as a toothbrush (10.5%), Christmas cards (10.3%) and even clothes (5.9%) never made it to the boot of the car. So, in the name of making sure you’ve both got something to give and to wear when away from home this Christmas, we’ve included a ‘Driving Home for Christmas Checklist’ at the bottom of this post to hopefully prevent that sinking feeling on your 2014 trek.

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People love seeing extended family at Christmas

Our survey says: the old adage about not wanting to see extended family at Christmas isn’t true. In fact, 83% of people enjoy being with family members they don’t usually see through the rest of the year. So you can forget the notion that everyone’s miserable being sat on the sofa, sandwiched between grandma and that aunt with all the cats.

Home is where the heart is

Just like the warm embrace of crooner Bing Crosby’s voice on the ‘White Christmas’, nothing says the season of goodwill more than being at home surrounded by loved ones. And we’ve found that’s also reflected in the UK and Ireland’s travel habits when December 25th rolls around.

Whether by plane, train or automobile, over a quarter of the people we polled (26.1%) go to the effort of travelling overseas to visit family and friends at Christmas. Nearly 2% take a hire car, while 12.2% go by air, 6.3% by rail and 4.9% by road in their own set of wheels. Interestingly, it’s the 25–34 age group that’s most likely to be scrambling around for their passports. An enormous 49.7% of them say they head out of the country.

And whatever the travel methods or routes for those in the UK and Ireland, 31.1% of folk travel 100 miles or more to be with family or friends for their festive celebrations. That’s roughly the distance by car between London and Leicester and can take about two-and-a-half hours to travel – which is all the more reason to run through our ‘Driving Home for Christmas Checklist’ before you put the pedal to the metal.

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Mum is the least favourite family member at Christmas

How could you? A whopping 14.7% of people say after all the midnight wrapping sessions, over-flowing Xmas stockings and waiting in line for that must-have toy, dear-old mum is the person they least look forward to seeing around the Christmas table. Dad got away with only 7.5% of the vote.

In fact, we found over 1 in 3 people don’t like having to see a parent of some sort at Christmas. People from across the British Isles and Ireland were asked to select who they look forward to seeing least out of a total of 21 different family members, ranging from grandfather to half-sister, with 36.1% of people choosing either mum or dad. Did they go one force-fed Brussels sprout too far?

When you break it down, 11.8% of folk dislike having to make pleasantries with an in-law, 2.1% loathed the company of a step mother or father, and 22.2% weren’t fond of having to see a parent that’s their own flesh and blood. Looks like a third of mums and dads in the UK and Ireland are getting socks this year – again.

Possibly 2.7 million in the UK and Ireland eat six or more Christmas dinners

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Christmas has long been a time for eating several days’ worth of calories in a few sittings. That’s a given – and, in turn, probably responsible for keeping gyms afloat all around the world. And true to the festive spirit, our research suggests millions of people are getting very enthusiastic with their food.

Out of those who took our survey, 4% say they consume six or more Christmas dinners over the festive period. Not many, you may think. But if that was to be applied to the combined populations of the UK and Ireland, that 4% would account for 2.7 million people.

But they won’t be the only ones overindulging. It seems 78.3% eat more than one Christmas meal every year. That’s 53.5 million folk – or roughly the same as everyone in England. We cannot even begin to comprehend the weight gain.

7% have split up with a partner after arguing about whose family to visit at Christmas

Love toward the rest of humankind; that’s what Christmas is all about, right? Well, apparently not when the spot where you’ll chew your turkey and potatoes is concerned. Nearly half of those who took our survey (46.6%) in the UK and Ireland have had at least a small disagreement with a current or past partner regarding whose family to spend Christmas with. And a shocking 7.1% of people have actually broken up with their other half because of it. It seems blood truly is thicker than, err, gravy?

Driving Home for Christmas Checklist

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