It’s that time of year again. We’ve seen the John Lewis advert (and quietly wondered why creepy coal eyed snowmen who rob department stores in the middle of the night represent festive cheer.) We’ve read tabloid stories on the type of poultry most likely to result in violent food poisoning when inexpertly prepared.  We’ve been overwhelmed with excitement about teeny tiny chocolates hiding behind cardboard walls. And 90% of all tube commuters have become an incubus of viral plague. CHRISTMAS IS COMING PEOPLE.

Christmas walks (not the same without Zebra welly warmers)

Despite my (sometimes) bah humbug demeanour, I do actually have love for Christmas. I like spending time with my family (in moderation.) I like all the good will cheer and out of tune carol singing. And I really, really, really like presents.

But much like my pre holiday rituals (have a glass bottle of wine and shove as many of my belongings as feasibly possible into a suitcase), Christmas involves certain preparations. Here’s five things you must do before the big day.

 

All month before Christmas: Get drunk

It’s not big and it’s not clever but if you don’t drink at least 20 alcoholic beverages* in the run up to Christmas, it’s just not festive. Any opportunity for eating should also be seized, particularly if it’s free.

*You don’t have to drink them all at once. Having previously accepted such a challenge, I can assure you that unless you want to end your soiree performing a poorly choreographed sexy dance on a pool table for virtual strangers , it’s best avoided.

Why you should always invite your friends over for chocolate fountains

Three weeks before Christmas: Buy presents

It’s not unheard of for me to forget about the whole ‘present buying’ thing and end up scrambling around the shops on Christmas Eve searching for some form of passable gift. These days I require advanced lists from all gift recipients. It may kill the romance of the Christmas surprise, but at least you know they’ll be getting something they actually want.

NB: If like me you suffer from a debilitating form of incurable laziness, Amazon is your festive friend.

 

Two weeks before Christmas: Make New Year’s plans

Honestly? I don’t care much for New Year. January is basically the grimmest, poorest, most doom laden month of the calendar yet every year  we welcome it with open arms and drunken mumblings of Auld Lang Syne. (A song to which nobody, no matter how sensible their champagne quaffing becomes, will ever know the words.) That said, if you don’t want to end up at a Wetherspoons’ sausage roll buffet you’ll need to make a vague plan* before the big man starts thundering his red suited arse down chimneys.

*The plan can be sitting around in your PJs eating Nutella out of the jar with a spoon. It’s a totally legitimate New Year’s Eve activity.

One week before Christmas: Buy presents

You didn’t do it when I told you did you?* Nope, neither did I.

*If you do happen to be one of these extraordinarily efficient types who buys all their gifts for the following Christmas in the January sales then I salute you. (Sort of. In a ‘slightly nervous, wondering if you have an organisation fetish/ tendency to create gifting spreadsheets in Excel during your leisure time’ sort of a way.)

A girl and her cat at Christmas

Don't forget the cat's presents

The night before Christmas: fetch your stocking

I’m 28 years old but the magic of Father Christmas arriving to fill your stocking full of treats NEVER gets old. And despite the increasing strength of whiskey in the North Pole (the older he gets the more he seems to stumble and shout ‘FUCK!’ when he stubs his toe), Christmas wouldn’t be the same without him. Don’t forget to leave mince pies, sherry and a carrot for the reindeers or you’ll ruin the sheer festive joy of the whole shebang.