Chinti's Christmas Etiquette
1. Eat. A little of what you fancy is the operative here. As is knowing how to fend off an officious aunt who is hellbent on forcing more and more food on you, mistakenly thinking that over-feeding equates love. She should really know better, given the size of her cankles and terminal singledom.
2. Drink. With precision. Strategically timed alcohol intake will make point 1. a whole lot easier. It's that second glass of champagne to grease the wheels when stuck chatting to your most boring cousin's boring partner. And it's knowing when to switch to water, so that you can tactfully avoid too much of the aforementioned's droning.
3. Be Merry. Whatever state of hungover self-loathing or family induced stress you're in, smile and make upbeat smalltalk. It's worth remembering the following piece of wisdom: "A bore is a man who, when you ask him how he is, tells you."
4. Fake delight. What with Christmas jumpers officially 'in' this year, the risk factor for disastrous clothing gifts has soared (Chinti's ultra chic Reindeer sweater for Net-a-Porter being the exception here, naturally). Again, it's most likely to be a family member you might walk past in the street without a glimmer of recognition, but when you open that terrifyingly soft package they're looking so, so hopeful about, whatever it is, whoop with joy and immediately put it on, declaring 'I love it, you totally got my taste!" This will precipitate a chain of events as follows: a 3-month wait to eBay it under an alter ego, and the implicit understanding that the same thing will happen next year.
5. Get Outside. There's a reason a bracing postprandial walk on Christmas Day is a British institution: a blast of fresh air - or even the mild, polluted city kind - is an excellent tonic for all manner of overindulgence, and that includes getting fresh with your sister over her choice of boyfriend.
6. Fire. There are innumerate fire risks come Christmas. Log fires that literally threaten to burn the house down due to bird nest blocked chimneys; failure to use a fire guard, so that smouldering cinders land in Granny's acrylic-clad lap; and over-zealous dousing of the Christmas pud with brandy. In fact, there's quite a strong pyromania theme to Christmas, if you think about it. So check that chimney, stick to natural fibres like wool, that won't burn in seconds, and go easy on the flaming Courvoisier.
7. House guests. Whether you are one, or will be entertaining them, stick to the 3-night rule. Any longer and you either impose, or feel imposed upon. Neither is nice.
8. Lie. By saying 'never again' to yourself, and secretly plan next year's Christmas break at a yoga retreat in Mexico. It'll never happen, but the comfort it will bring, as you fake smile through it all, and sift through the Quality Street tin, is worth the fib.