The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing people that it's difficult to host a Christmas party. Anyone who believes that opening a catering pack of sausage rolls constitutes hard work is a diva, a martyr, an idiot, or all three. The shops are rammed with festive four for threes - in December, it's easier to find yourself having the neighbours over for prawn ring ‘n' pinwheels than it is to get a curry delivered. Yet, people are desperate to tell us “How to host a fabulous festive soiree!” Just wang some extra brandy in the mulled wine and don't call it a sodding soiree.
The trouble with Christmas parties is usually the guests. It's the season for Special Snowflakes. There's something about the surfeit of cinnamon that forces people to forget the basics of conversation, and become seriously obnoxious. I don't want to know how big your allergy prone hands become when you accidentally handle cranberries. I don't care if you think that everyone who has ever worn a Christmas jumper should be knocked out and drowned in a well. If I look shocked or upset by your “forthright, refreshing” views, it's because you're spraying me with pastry, and I'm having to be polite about the fact that you're drinking all my Tanqueray and not touching the £4 Pricerite ‘mulled season drink' you brought. You know, the one you couldn't be bothered to rip the raffle ticket from.
The best, basic Christmas party guest advice going is this. Be the OPPOSITE of a Real Housewife. The more “television friendly” your actions seem, the more likely it is that they will result in you not having any actual friends. Let's break it down.
Be genuinely generous
Some of the Housewives are great at gifts, but it's the thought that counts - and we know exactly how much thought went into that freebie bottle of vodka that has your face on it, Theresa. If someone has invited you to their house, be as extravagant as you can possibly afford to. When Aldi is doing champagne for a tenner, it's not on to turn up with the bottle of premixed Sangria that has been stored under your sink, next to the Domestos. Also, you cannot turn up with a packet of Pringles that have been opened and started on the bus. Go to the nearest corner shop and buy some fresh ones.
Dial down the diet
We don't want to pick on poor old Theresa and give her a complex about her guestiness skills, but she doesn't half yammer on about her contributions to the diet industry. Eat, don't eat, but remember that for the two to three hours of being at the party, NO ONE CARES.People have come to catch up over pork products wrapped in other pork products. No-one is going to force you to try a Baconnaise vol-au-vent. But all you have to say is “no thank you”. Not “I lost three stone doing Paleo, and I have never looked or felt better. Take that pastry away, lest a floating particle penetrate my skin, causing me to blow up like a bouncy castle.” If you must, live blog everything you're not eating on some awful online forum. Or take a long walk off a short pier and fall into a sea of Eggnog latte.
If you don't see the annual party pile up as an excuse for a month of (barely) functioning alcoholism, well, you've clearly never enjoyed a “Festive Breakfast White Russian”. But if anything is going to make us grab a tall drink of water and a shot of milk thistle, it's the Housewives, who have shown us, over and over again, that excessive drinking is only hilarious when it happens to other people. Blow outs and bodycon are not glamorous when accessorised with sweat, tears and belligerence.
No-one wants to hear you sing
Don't make like Melissa during this holiday period, even if you have a record deal. Even if your voice has won you AWARDS. Even if you're ACTUALLY ADELE. Festive television schedules are packed with people who have no discernible talent, but are convinced that everyone should have the chance to see and hear them perform. When people leave their houses to go to parties, they're trying to escape this problem. It simply isn't sporting to inflict your vocals on people who are too kind and polite to tell you that they were having a lovely chat about whether or not they'd do rudies with Jon Snow. If you feel yourself opening your mouth to release Top C, fill it with mini Stollen bites as fast as you can.