Romesh Ranganathan’s 7 Christmas survival tips
1. Go big early on.
As people walk in, I chat: ‘Hey! How are you? Can I get you a drink?’ Go big; advertise. Put in 10 minutes and you’ve bought yourself a day of doing nothing, as people have ‘seen’ you.
2. Use kids as a human shield.
This is going to sound bad but if a kid starts talking to me at a party, I call over one of my sons and say: ‘This boy wants to play!’ Then I’ll shove my kid over. It looks like I’m engineering an environment where kids can play together, but I’m just protecting myself.
3. Pick up a few drinks and walk around.
People won’t talk to you for very long if it looks like you’re on your way to give the drinks to someone else.
4. Develop a dietary requirement.
My veganism means I can opt out of Christmas dinner. Everyone else gets turkey, while I have curry. The only problem is when people take vegetarian things when they’re not vegetarian. The rage I feel when I see a pair of tongs heading for the nut loaf is unreal. So hoard your food. It’s territorial.
5. Pranks are good.
I’ve given my kids an empty box, then later on presented the real gift. Another thing is to never ask my mum what she wants for Christmas. Most people, when you ask what they would like, say: ‘I’m all right.’ My mum doesn’t do that. She’ll go: ‘Mercedes.’ The number of times I’ve been stung… so now I don’t ask her.
6. Pretend drinks at a party are ones you’ve bought.
It’s a money-saver. Take carrier bags and claim the drinks as your own.
7. Don’t book anything between Christmas and New Year.
Next thing you know, you’ll be back at work so make sure you keep it free.
Do my plans work? No. I like to think that if I do as much as I can over Christmas, it reduces the number of interactions I have to have with family over the year. But others think it’s a social starting point. It can actually raise the bar, whereas I want the bar closed until next year.