1. Be a bad parent!
Not a terrible parent, obviously – don’t go forgetting to feed them or buying them Robin Thicke CDs. But to capture the particular breed of magic favoured by the mid-90s festive oeuvre, you need to practice a bit of low-level neglect. Work too hard, fail to turn up to their nativity play because you’re doing a Big Presentation to the Big Boss for a Big Contract, then shout, “I AM TOO BUSY” down the phone when they call to tell you a Robin Redbreast has just eaten marzipan from their outstretched palm.
And then, THEN, have a heartwarming epiphany and spent Christmas Eve in a madcap adventure finding the perfect toy/travelling halfway across the country in a series of unsuitable vehicles/actually being Father Christmas for the night, thus bringing the family together again and earning your kid’s love and admiration forever. This bit really is quite key. If you only do the first part, you’re just ruining Christmas on purpose.
2. Have an almost implausible disaster!
Continuing on the bad parent theme, you could leave an eight-year-old at home and fly to France by accident. Or your Christmas lights could cause a power cut across the whole city. Or a grotesque creature from a rhyming world could try to steal Christmas. Or you could leave the same eight-year-old (now nine) at home again and fly to Florida by accident.
Whichever you choose, be sure to fix it by midnight on Christmas Eve or it’ll be stuck like that all year.
3. Have some eggnog!
I’ll leave you to make your best guess as to what eggnog might actually be. Or just make a glass of Bird’s custard and put some rum in it.
4. Do a dance!
This is an especially prudent one if you’re a) the Prime Minister, b) a cartoon skeleton or c) Lindsay Lohan.
5. Go to a department store!
If you can get accidentally locked in, sleep in the bedding section and do a montage running riot in the toy department, all the better.
6. Become a better person!
You could sit round waiting for ghosts to turn up and lead you by the hand through the shadowy reincarnations of your past misdoings – or you could speed things up by doing the modern equivalent: flicking though your Facebook albums.
Once you feel suitably repentant, make a big donation to charity and buy lunch for someone who really needs it. Then dance through the snow in a nightshirt while the end credits roll.
MERRY CHRISTMAS xxx