Some would have you believe that everyone likes Christmas.
Whether it’s the packed shops, the small talk with distant relatives or the constant sounds of Slade and Wizzard and Wham!, some people just don’t like this time of year.
If they had it their way, they’d do away with the whole thing or, failing that, plunge their friends and family into the despair that they feel every time they see someone in a red hat with white lining. And that’s okay by us.
So with that exclusive club in mind, we’ve outlined a step-by-step guide to ruining the 25th December.
Remember: any idiot can get drunk and smash the place up. The order of the day here is subtlety, or you won’t be getting an invitation next year.
Giving no gifts or even boring gifts is too obvious, and there are better options. The key to a bad gift is to give the person something that requires time or money without providing enjoyment. Gifts that require the recipient to travel are excellent, as are gifts that require attendance: tickets to a series of lectures on asphalt would, for example, score high marks. If you go with the latter suggestion or something similar, remind the gift’s recipient to let you know how it goes, and ensure you don’t give a second ticket so they are forced to go alone.
You’ll want to have already lined up an awkward guest to make dinner uncomfortable. By telling relatives your guest’s family is abroad and they would be spending Christmas alone, you come off as charitable while making them feel guilty for their building irritation. Heavy breathers and over-sharers are ideal, but don’t be afraid to push the boat out and invite a real oddball.
At dinner, point out in a cheerful and carefree way how fattening everything on the table is. Feel free to throw around some arbitrary calorie numbers. As you heap Brussels sprouts onto your plate, cite, in a did-you-know kind of way, a study or two. Mentioning a little known American university will add weight to what you say. For instance, there was a study done at the University of Ohio where they found the average person gains 4.5kg over the Christmas period that they never lose.
On the subject of lying, and as your family get more and more drunk, bring the mood down by belittling all Christmas traditions. Mention the number of reindeer who die in people’s attempts to make them drag sleighs. Above all, point to the increasing commercialisation of Christmas, bemoaning the loss of its true meaning beneath the tinsel and fairy lights.
When conversation dries up, it’s a good opportunity to provoke a family dispute. You should have a good idea of your family members’ pressure points, making this fairly straightforward fare. Politics is often useful for this purpose. Try and involve as many family members as possible in the argument. It is Christmas after all.