You know what Xmas and New Year used to mean to me? Stress. Rushing to do too much in too little time, traffic and crawling around overstuffed multi-level car parks.
Christmas is by far the season in which people feel they HAVE to give because everybody does it, because that's what Christmas is all about or because that's how it's supposed to be. It's grown into 'the bigger the better' but is that really so? How authentic are we giving this Christmas?
With almost three quarters of British adults unable to remember some or all of the gifts they were bought last Christmas, I am joining CARE International UK's campaign to stop people squandering their hard earned cash on last minute throw away buys. Rather than the usual deluge of socks, soap and chocolate we're urging people to consider a lasting and memorable gift idea by giving vouchers for the micro-lending charity site, www.lendwithcare.org. The site enables people in the UK to lend small sums of money (from £15) to poor entrepreneurs in developing countries, helping them start or expand their small business, feed their families and send their children to school.
If the label says, "angora" or "wool" or "leather", please remember that the garment began as a living being - and leave it on the shelf. The only way to ensure that a piece of clothing (or anything else for that matter) is cruelty-free is to shop animal-free.
Imagine a family - mum, dad and children, all in their pyjamas - snuggled up together on the sofa, drinking hot chocolate and listening to dad read a favourite Christmas story. No, it's not a flashback to the 1950s; it's what parents have told us they will be doing this year.
This is a quick low down on the main components of Christmas Dinner and why we should take pleasure in every mouthful of the most anticipated dinner of the year.
Every stage of Christmas is an event in itself, a milestone to be marked, a perfect Instagram moment. Christmas doesn't just happen to him, it's a series of experiences he feels he has to have, otherwise he's failed. At first this will seem romantic and exciting, before your brain slowly starts to dribble right out of your head. And when it does, it's got tinsel running through it.
I can't let my child's first Christmas just pass by in this unholy whirl can I? Not if a cursory internet search of 'Baby's First Christmas' is anything to go by. Apparently I need to make it 'unforgettable'. I should be organising festive family photo shoots. Buying him a reindeer outfit made from real reindeers. And having his first 'Christmas Day turd' immortalised in clay.
Christmas at Standingstone - the farm I grew up on in Scotland - was largely a dreary affair. Any fun had to be either sought from within myself or beyond its demises. Both of my adopted parents tended towards the solemn anyway; their sadnesses and failures permeated the already dour and damp sandstone house with a cold seriousness.
Two events stir a sense of culinary duty in the most traditional of men. One, of course, is the barbecue. The other is setting fire to Christmas pudding.
Can I just clear this up for the avoidance of doubt - usually Secret Santas are Shit. I mean, obviously, you know it's going to be shit because it's a secret Santa. It's the gift lottery. It's unlucky dip.
If you're in the midst of searching for a last-minute, magical escape this Christmas, look no more. In addition to the traditional, German-style market every European capital boasts nowadays, Brussels has something extra in store this winter.
I love how excited everyone becomes at Christmas, it has to be one of my favourite times of the year. Amidst the blustering winds, unpredictable downpour, and imminent travel disruption, all that festive spirit really does help make everyone feel a little bit better. But the truth is, I don't actually celebrate Christmas.
No one has the right to refuse to help or serve someone because their religion denotes what others should put in their shopping basket, trolley or mouth. A Marks & Spencer food hall is not a place to breed religious or racial intolerance.
When I was just eight years old, Christmas Day came to have a different, bittersweet meaning for me, compared to most lucky souls. Because when I was meant to be celebrating my eighth birthday (yes, I was born on 25 December), my Uncle Eddie, who lived next door, and to whom I was extraordinarily close, passed away in the early hours of that morning.
You feeling Christmassy? You excited for the time off, the overeating, the family fun and the presents? You love this time of year? All the film watching, Roses munching, Baileys drinking fun you can have eh? Well not me.