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Boxes of chocolates and biscuits were a big hit this year as many of us tried to save a few euros on the gift-giving front. It also means most of us have ended up with more chocolate in the house than Charlie saw in the Chocolate Factory.

It's not going to do our waistlines any good, and if it's estimated that the average person puts on five pounds during the festive season, then this new trend in giving confectionery as pressies could well mean that the quota of festive fat is on the rise.

So, how do we make sure that we enjoy all those soft centres the season has bestowed on us, without ending up with denim burns caused by the waistline of our jeans digging mercilessly into our expanding flab.

Yes, it's a depressing image, but follow these five tips to beat the festive fat, and you could end up as a connoisseur of chocolate-coated caramels, as opposed to the fat one in the corner with the empty chocolate box.

1 Graze rather than gobble

The past few days have been pretty hedonistic on the food front. However, should you now decide to skip meals in the hope of burning off those all excess calories you've consumed, you run the risk of gaining rather than losing weight.

Skipping breakfast, lunch or dinner can dampen your mood and lead to depression or an obsession with food, and this can end up increasing your appetite, leading you to eat more and gain weight.

A clue might be that you've hit the bottom tray of chocolates a half hour after undoing the ribbon on the box and first savouring the cocoa scent.

Instead, eat smaller, balanced meals and snacks at regular intervals throughout the day. Top up your plate with smaller portions than you're accustomed to, and put your fork down and assess your hunger halfway through the meal. If you're no longer hungry, stop eating.

2 Don't eat as a treat

It's understandable that, being unable to afford bling, St Barts, a BMW or Botox, some of us are turning to a nice bar of chocolate to cheer ourselves up.

Comfort eating sadly only makes the poorer among us even fatter. It leads to poor food choices, overeating, weight gain, and then, of course, buckets of guilt and self-loathing.

It you're a habitual comfort eater, Christmas with its excess of sweet and savoury goodies can trigger multiple challenges, and may result in serious weight gain.

It's vital to seek alternate means of comfort and relief if you want to beat the stress/eating cycle -- and to not look like a snowwoman in January. This may mean going for a walk, practising yoga, having coffee with a friend, or taking a warm bubble bath.

3 Sweat the sweet

Exercise will burn calories gained from eating chocolate, cake and pudding, and it will distract you from the festive food in the house

If you find treadmills and gyms boring, fear not, there are plenty of other ways to get trim and toned. For starters, hit the sales with a vengeance. Yes, this advice takes into consideration the fact that you have no money, and is based on visiting three department stores to buy that perfect set of pillow cases at a knock-down price. It's about keeping moving from shop to shop.

Determine to stop using your car for the next few days and, instead, walk to the shops for the milk and paper. You've already had days of sitting on the sofa, so get the kids out into the park for a game of hide and seek.

4 Get your Zs

Getting enough sleep helps prevent excessive hunger, mood swings and lethargy. Sleeping too little is directly connected to how much you eat and exercise, according to the National Sleep Foundation in the US. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep nightly, even during busy times like this coming New Year weekend.

Make sure your bedroom is dark and comfortable, and decrease your caffeine intake in the run-up to bedtime. Also, eating a turkey kebab close to bedtime means your digestive system will have to work overtime, and this will in turn disturb your sleep and leave you looking as beady-eyed as a turkey.

5 Be grateful

Self-pity is an utterly useless emotion, yet when it starts making you put on weight, you really have to cop yourself on. It only takes feeling sorry for yourself for half an hour for you to manage to devour a slice of cake and half a dozen caramels.

Chances are you'll end up feeling even sorrier for yourself, and will fancy even more food to cheer yourself up.

Oh for goodness sake, put that cream cake down, you look like a greedy elephant devouring a marshmallow.

Focus on the positives in your life, and it will improve your chances of becoming slim. A positive person eats less.