This article originally appeared at VICE UK
It's December, hunnies – tis the season to be peer pressured into attending a load of social gatherings you don’t really want to go to.
Admit this: you’d much rather be watching Netflix in your pyjamas with the heating on and a mini Baileys or five a short distance away from you, but unfortunately you’re going to have to put on your Big Coat, go outside into the freezing fucking cold and show your miserable face at—
The Work Christmas Party
Nothing says Christmas like organised fun. This year they’ve really splashed out, by having it in the office canteen, but it starts at 4PM so you kind of have to go. Suck it up, cash in your two free drinks tokens and get stuck into the pictogram round with Graham from finance, who voted Leave and really, really wants to talk about that.
Department Christmas Lunch
It's 2PM on a Monday – admittedly not everyone’s favourite day of the week to go for a three-course set menu of dry turkey / afterthought vegetarian options at the "gastropub" next to the office – but it’s the only day in the whole of December that everyone is in the office and ready to bond. And, actually, that could be a good thing? Maybe it’s just that you were braced for the worst, but there’s something inexplicably joyful about blasting Bublé on your work computer’s tinny speakers, getting waved on prosecco from the "Events Cupboard" and having a proper chat with the people you spend 40-plus hours a week alongside, and whose kids' names you really should remember by now.
12 Pubs of Christmas
This is it. The big one. You feel like a runner on marathon day. The "Meeting Point" is a big fuck off Wetherpoons with like 23 floors. It’s only 12PM, but everyone is here, everyone is in festive knitwear and everyone is ON. IT. Pints! Pints! Pints! LADS LADS LA—
You wake up at 2PM the next day being asphyxiated by a bit of tinsel with no recollection of the last 20 hours. You have literally never been this hungover before. There must be some sort of psychological reason why you do this to yourself. Four days later your card gets declined in Tesco and you check your balance to find that you... somehow spent .. nearly... t** h****** pounds on IPAs and wasabi peas. You’re meant to buy mum a spa day this year. She’s just going to have to pretend to like Primark fluffy slippers and a tube of hand cream, like she does every year.
Flat Christmas Dinner
You all chip in for some crackers and an expensive cut of meat from an actual butcher. Ben’s going to do his roasties and you’re having a crack at a Nigella for dessert. Lovely. Shame it won’t happen, then, because the only day everyone is free is the Sunday after 12 pubs, so instead you’ll nap until 6PM and then Deliveroo a pizza that gets left in its box when you realise you’ll immediately do a sick if you so much as look at it.
Massive Xmas House Party
Your friends from student halls have invited you to a "sophisticated" mulled wine "soiree". Somebody has spent their entire Sunday afternoon crafting an extremely banter Facebook event. The cover photo is either the Greggs sausage roll nativity scene or a cartoon of some elves which the various flatmates' faces have been inexpertly photoshopped onto using a free trial of Adobe. The event is called something like <<< MULLED // WINE // DUTTY // WINE >>> or "Mincemeat Pastries x Spicy Wine b2b set ft. Mistletoe Kisses". The description is the lyrics to Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses, an ASCII art Christmas tree, or the Wikipedia description for "mince pies". By 11PM somebody has been put to bed and the sensible housemate is drunkenly fussing over a big sticky mulled wine stain on the living room carpet. Suddenly it’s 3AM and all your cinnamon vodka is gone. The night bus home takes 90 minutes and the next day at work is the worst day of your life.
Gloriously Tacky Night Out in Your Hometown
It’s your first day home and you’re all tucked up in your mum’s slanket with a chocolate orange, queuing up Blue Planet on the Sky Planner, when Liam from sixth form resurrects a group chat that has been dormant since April of 2014 with the immortal words "Anyone up for town tonight." Flash forward to 10.50PM in the queue for some free-if-you-post-for-guestlist clubnight that you used to frequent on an almost weekly basis between 2011 and 2013. Just like the old days, except you actually wear a coat to go out now. Bottles are a quid, so you have seven and briefly entertain the idea of moving back home, but then Ed Sheeran comes on and everyone goes mad for it and you remember that no, you definitely don’t belong here any more. Still, at least the taxi home is only a fiver.
'Catch Up' with 'The Girls'
A doodle poll was made in August, but you didn’t fill it in until the host got passive aggressive with you over email – "Hi hun, got your work email off Jess. Can you please fill in the doodle ASAP, need to decide on the date like tonight latest xo" – and you kind of hoped they’d choose a date you couldn’t make, but you have nothing else to do at home except watch period dramas and mainline Twiglets. Twenty minutes before you’re supposed to leave, you remember the Secret Santa – there was an entire day of deliberation before everyone settled on twenty pounds as a good price guide – and have to run out to the corner shop for a big box of Thornton’s while your mum speed-wraps some Boots 3 For 2 toiletries from her Emergency Present Drawer. You drink pink wine while the host shows you pictures of the new-build her and her boyfriend have just put an offer in on. Your mum pops in to say hello when she picks you up on the way back from the Big Food Shop, and you spend the rest of the evening sulking in front of The Crown while she makes pointed little remarks about how "that Rachel has done well for herself".
The Carol Service
This might just be my CofE upbringing, but honestly, no festivities are complete without the chance to don some reindeer antlers and belt out "Away in a Manger" before getting quietly hammered on mulled wine in a church hall full of soft play, while your grandma and her church friends compete over which of their grandchildren is the most successful.
Ugh, I’m not gonna do this one. You know what Christmas is.
Extended Family Boxing Day Party
Your grandma (who loves Iceland more than Kerry Katona herself) has laid on a spread and all 17 of your grandad’s sisters are here, asking you about how much you pay for rent in That London and telling your little sister how tall she’s getting. There will be an absolute minimum of five arguments. Your grandparents will have a heated exchange about whether to get the fold-away chairs out of the shed. Your aunt will go upstairs in a huff because she’s trying to watch Agatha Christie and everyone is being too loud, while your uncle loses it when it transpires that everyone has been ignoring a crucial rule in his new board game. Your mum will properly tell your brother off for eating all of the green triangles and your dad will get aggy when your grandma says he shouldn’t be driving because he had one single measure of whisky four hours ago. God bless them, every one.
Party at the House of Your Parents’ New Middle-Aged Friends Who You’ve Never Met But Who Know Literally Every Detail of Your Life
You haven’t changed out of pyjamas for three days and it might be a good idea to go outside before you start developing bed sores, so you join your parents for "a do" at "Ian and Michelle's". Some things that will definitely happen at this party:
a) A woman called Karen will ask your advice about what her son should put as his UCAS insurance choice.
b) You will entirely fail to explain what your job is to a politely confused lady called Leanne.
c) You’ll learn something you didn’t necessarily wish to know about your parents’ past lives.
d) Yer da will get absolutely hammered on whisky with the first friend he’s made since 1992.
e) Everyone will make a huge fuss over a toddler when they either sustain a minor injury or insist that everyone stops talking while they "perform" their "routine" of "The Sugar Plum Fairy".
It’s actually a banging party. Michelle adds you on Facebook the next day.
Nah, not doing this one either. Come on.