Miranda Hart says she embraces Christmas 'in all its candlelit, chestnut-roasting gloriousness'
Prepare yourself emotionally
Christmas is magical. The singing, eating, log fires, drinking, scarves. Yes, I embrace the season in all its candlelit, chestnut-roasting gloriousness. I LOVE IT. It gives you a licence to be silly and celebratory and a bit fantastical. But it won’t be anything like the John Lewis advert unless you approach it with the energy of a six-year-old and the joy of a three-year-old who has done the loudest fart of their lives in church and cannot stop laughing about it. If, for any reason, you’re not feeling it, force it or fake it (women are better at the latter obviously – ooh, cheeky). Now excuse me, I must go and get the 16ft inflatable Christmas pudding-shaped bauble out of the car. And I jest ye not.
Rev yourself up
Use the days before Christmas to get into the festive mood. I always go to a carol concert in the Royal Albert Hall – please tell me it’s not just me that sings 10 times louder and prouder at a carol service even when gifted with the singing ability of an early round X-Factor auditionee? Try also to get yourself to a pantomime and dare to partake in audience participation. You need to get a bit American movie: put fairy lights up all over the house (obviously) and take long candlelit baths. Watch the Strictly final (it’s on tonight) in your onesie – there’s a full reindeer one available – even if it makes you look like you’re on a day outing from a sanitorium of some sort. And bung on Christmas classics like Elf, Bad Santa, Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life – and play Christmas music non-stop. I favour the Christmas album of the one, the only Michael Bublé. Oh yes, Boobs himself.
Take the pressure off
With any luck, your Christmas shopping will be out of the way so you can relax and enjoy the build-up. If not, plan your assault on the shops this weekend with military precision and don’t go out without a list (remembering to put at the top “Write a to-do list” so you have at least one thing to cross off). If you fear the feral packs of teenagers in a shopping mall, there’s always something called the World Wide Web – namely Amazon (you have until Monday at 11am to place your orders). Don’t waste time this weekend sending cards to people you don’t know or like. Really – what IS the point? I have received 12 cards this year from people I have no idea who they are. I sit there thinking “Who are Alan and Sheila?” And if you’re considering typing one of those A4 round robin newsletters – please DON’T. Telling us about your perfect brood is, we all know, a cover up for “my life is terrible” so off you pop to a counsellor please.
Drop all social conventions
This is the key. On Christmas Day there shouldn’t be any politeness. I’m not advocating serious rudeness or hurling of insults (however tempting) or random adultery (I hope less tempting), but all stiff British conventions should be outlawed. Breaking of wind should be done freely (you can always blame IBS – everyone has that these days, it’s cool), and if someone is boring you, just say: “Shush now, please.” Oh the freedom.
Do things together on Christmas Day
If you’re lucky enough to get a stocking with some hand-sanitising gel, a desktop vacuum, oh, something impartial like, say, a copy of my book, Is It Just Me?, and a satsuma at the bottom (we all go “Aaaah, satsuummmmmmaaaaa!” and laugh – no, I don’t know why either), open it in front of the fire in the sitting room. The experience is so much more dignified when done together as a household in dressing gowns and morning breath.
Put someone in charge
For a smooth Christmas Day, have a clear schedule. This means that someone has to be official “Big Chief Organiser of All Christmas Activity” or the BCOACA (try to say that out loud – it’s fun) and this person should want to be in charge. In our house we’re all quite bossy but my father, as an ex-military man, calls the shots on the timetable, and my mother, who hates too many people in the kitchen, does lunch but divides up the roles. I’m always on potatoes and bread sauce. People see me and think “carbs” for some reason.
Dress for the occasion
No one should appear at the Christmas breakfast table without a pair of reindeer antlers, angel wings or, at the very least, a Christmas jumper. Last year, I wore a Christmas tree outfit for, well I won’t say the whole day, you’d think me insane, but the whole day. I liked it because it had little bells on it and so I jingled with any vague movement. Albeit tinnitis-inducing.
Don’t stop eating
If you’re going to go for it on the feasting front, don’t stop even for a second. It will be a total disaster. You’d have such a sugar crash that you would never be vertical again and the mood swings would be terrifying. If you start plying the kids with sweets, keep at it all day, then everyone will maintain their permanent high. I am all about brandy butter. Every year my father will say “do you want a mince pie with your brandy butter” and oh how we laugh. (I will refer you back to the “faking it” section).
This is a genius suggestion from my fabulous mother. Refrain from opening your presents until teatime. This gives everyone, particularly the children, a reason to behave over lunch and something to look forward to. Otherwise, the temptation is to spend the afternoon fighting, or slumped in front of the television feeling fat and seriously depressed (something I can do at any time of the year). Don’t get annoyed if your mother irons the wrapping paper to use it again next year. Even though it’s ripped to shreds, covered in Sellotape and someone has drawn a bum on it in glitter.
It’s OK to say 'no’
Remember, you are under no obligation to do anything. If you find yourself playing Monopoly and you can’t stand the game, pass go and keep walking. Ideally straight to the TV room where you can sit back, avoid conversation for a while, peruse the heft of telly. You’ve got to plan – and circle – exactly what you’re going to watch, and if you have enough iPads, laptops and recording devices there shouldn’t be an issue with clashes.
I favour a colour-coding system – red for record, green for watch, yellow for iPlayer later. It can take me days to decide what I will be watching and when. But essential.
Take a loo break
I’d go as far as to suggest that 92.5 per cent of people (all statistics are made up) have fallen victim to the bonkers behaviour of others on Christmas Day. Bad and irritating behaviour is bound to surface. If you’re feeling angsty or overwhelmed at any stage, take some time out. Long loo trips are a great opportunity to unwind (literally and metaphorically), take a deep breath and just sit. And don’t care that members of your family will be thinking “She’s been awfully long in there”.
Know when to call it a day
Don’t force yourself to stay up late just because it’s Christmas. And certainly don’t waste any time debating what time the 10 o’clock News is on and whether it will be slightly shorter because it’s Christmas Day. THERE IS NEVER ANY NEWS ON CHRISTMAS DAY BECAUSE WE’RE ALL AT HOME PLAYING JENGA. If you stay up past the watershed you risk watching a television sex scene with your parents and having to improvise a pointless conversation until it’s over. I plan to wind up with the Downton Christmas special in bed (ITV1 at 8:30pm). Next morning, with the excesses of Christmas Day behind you, start planning your New Year detox and flab-busting regime (which will last precisely three and half days, but plan it anyway), and what better than something impartial, like, I don’t know, my comedy fitness DVD Maracattack, to get you started. Oh, the shamelessness. Well – it’s Christmas.
Miranda Hart’s Maracattack DVD is available on Amazon