As an atheist, vegetarian, teetotal, chocolate hating, childless man with very little family and a job which requires me to work over Christmas often, I don’t really see a lot in it for me to enjoy. I ‘came out’ as a festive hater a few years back and have suffered all the usual labels of Grinch and Scrooge and the tedious Bah Humbug comments.

Over the course of several years, I gradually sloughed off the habits expected of me. I just didn’t enjoy them and despite what everyone seems to say, none of it is compulsory. Stopping sending cards celebrating something I don’t celebrate, not attending the tense family meal, avoiding the dreary works’ do: all of these actions felt increasingly liberating. I also discovered that amongst my friends there were a huge number of secret Christmas haters.

Maybe you love it (and good luck to you if you do) but for those who feel like I do, here are my top five tips for avoiding the Yuletide hassle.

1) Avoid Social Media: Unless you want to see endless ‘selfies’ of sweaty people in too much make-up at works’ parties, photos of uncomfortable looking people at dinner tables, over-dressed trees and endless Instagrammed food pictures, then stay clear. You’ll also avoid the smug updates and the plethora of posts where people complain about how much they have to do.

2) Avoid the shops: They’ll be packed with amateurs. People who don’t enter a shop from one month to the next descend on the high streets in December and they just don’t understand the etiquette and tend to get underfoot. Shop rage can soon ensue. Plus: all those delightful little things you want to buy are all wedged in a back stockroom to make way for nasty little novelty gifts.

3) Invest in good headphones: You’ll need these if you have to make a foray into a shop to buy food or more importantly some kind of substance such as nicotine or alcohol to get you through. Unless you really do love Aled Jones and Shakin’ Stevens then your own music is essential to keep you sane whilst you stagger round the booze aisle.

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4) Utilise technology: Unless you want bombarding with tacky perfume ads, images of plastic families eating mountains of food and various mythical weird Utopian delights dreamt up by advertisers then you need to avoid live television. Skipping adverts is what the DVD recorder/box type thing and internet were made for

5) If it gets too much hide: There’s still a few bunkers left from the last war. Maybe hiding in one of these might help you avoid the yuletide horrors. I have a perfectly lovely one where I’ve draped a few Liberty fabrics and have a delightful Chaise Longue. If you fancy joining me: I have enough dried food to get me through till January. I also have a collection of music that doesn’t include anything by Slade and a pile of books. Just don’t mention the C word to me.

If you are religious and Christmas is your festival then I really hope you enjoy it. As for the rest of you: whatever it is you think you might be celebrating, I hope you enjoy it too.

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