Hello all. I appreciate this is late (I am typing this on the 21st Dec) but I thought I'd give you a quick run-down of what to do/what not to do this Christmas. I'm delighted to say that I have a diverse array of hardcore readers to this blog - lovely ladies, West Brom fans, Americans, Twitter friends and hardcore Socialists - so I'll try and cater for as many of you as I can. Let's have it then:
1) When shopping, be prepared.
Seriously. If you're going into, say, a shopping centre, have a list just like you would if you were going to the supermarket. As my father and Roy Keane like to say - "fail to prepare, and prepare to fail". A list will help you to pinpoint the exact stores you need to go to, thus saving you time and energy, and also reduces the chances of an impatient person such as myself wanting to behead you when you wander around aimlessly, dawdling with a glazed look in your eyes. Of course, a list written by another person, when you're looking for presents, is also a good idea as it eliminates the chances of giving someone a crappy present. Which leads me onto....
2) Try to avoid gift cards.
I could write an essay on why gift cards are very sneaky and naughty, but let's stay on theme. For someone you don't know brilliantly well - a colleague, a distant family member who's managed to invite himself round for dinner - a gift card is not a bad choice as such. However for others who are closer to you, it smacks of laziness. If you are going to purchase one, do try to tailor it for the person in question.
For my birthday my sister got me an iTunes gift card, which was bloody brilliant as I could use it not just for music but for other downloads, including apps that aren't free. Brilliant. My sister used her brain - it was a simple present, but a smart one. If you know someone who LOVES shopping in, say, Game, go for a Game gift card. However if their purchasing habits are broader - say they like buying books, but for the cheapest price and they don't have any particular brand loyalty - don't get them a Waterstones gift card, but a more general book one that can be used in any good bookshop.
3) Think on your feet. Especially when queuing.
The other day I went to Greggs for some lovely saturated fat for my lunch. Naturally, there was a queue, so whilst I waited in line I decided to be proactive. I took out £2 of my wallet. I looked at the prices, and realised I could afford a steak bake and a can of Coke. Once I got to the front of the queue, the conversation went thus:
Lady: Next please.
Ewar (for it is me): A steak bake please.
Lady: Anything else love?
Ewar: Can of Coke please.
Lady: That will be £1.80 please.
I thus handed over my £2, I got my 20p change and I exited. This whole exchange took...at the very most 30 seconds.
Now, that may all sound very basic and slightly patronising, but clearly the woman in front of me needs to be informed of this etiquette. I'm not being funny, but waiting until you are being served to decide what you want, and then looking shocked at the revelation that you actually have to pay for what you want is a bit of a twat's trick. I try and take the shortest amount of time, not just for myself, but for the others behind me. "Think On!" as that ex-copper in I'm Alan Partridge liked to say.
4) It's Christmas Day, and the key here is to pace yourself. Quite simply, it is a rookie mistake to stuff yourself with the main meal itself. Why? It's not going anywhere. Tomorrow, you can have sandwiches with the turkey, you can make strangely nice Bubble and Squeak with the leftover veg and the mini sausages with bacon go down nicely on their own.
So, chill out. Take your time. After the main meal you might have pudding. You might have cake. You might have pudding wine. You might have chocolates. You might have mince pies. Whatever you have, the key is to be prudent. Like I said, it will be there for days to come, there's no rush. Making yourself feel poorly on Christmas Day due to over-eating is so last decade. However....
5) Stock up on toilet paper.
6) There won't be anything good on TV. There just won't. So instead of moaning about it, indulge in some family time instead. Play a board game, or play cards. Let's be honest, in this day and age, if there really is something you want to watch, you can always record it. You're not doing anything on Boxing Day anyway, let's be honest. Talk to your elder relatives. Yes, they'll bore you, and yes, they smell of sprouts, but you'll miss them when they've gone.
7) Be nice! No-one wants an argument over Christmas. Admittedly, it may be fun at the time, but you'll spend the rest of the year reflecting on it. Be patient and tolerant - if it's because of "not sure if welcome" family members - it is only for one day and one meal, after all.
8) Make sure you listen to "Driving Home For Christmas" by Chris Rea at least once. A finer Christmas record there never has been, nor will there ever be.
9) Make sure you wear the paper hat from your cracker when eating the main meal. And, yes, the little gifts in the crackers are shit. Deal with it.
10) Have a Merry bloody Christmas.