How to avoid Christmas

Get away from it all

For some, Christmas is a time of peace and joy, when goodwill descends upon the earth and thoughtful gifts are given and received.

For the rest of us, it's a time of sky-rocketing stress levels and utter naffdom, when Slade descends upon the earth and sherry-fuelled family feuds are stoked for another year.

We approach the big day with a sense of denial and dread, panic-shopping for the entire family at the local petrol station at 5.58pm on Christmas Eve. We grit our teeth through the turkey, the sprouts and the Queen's speech, overdosing on brandy butter and listening to Uncle Norris telling the same off-colour jokes he has done for the umpteenth year running.

Battered and weary, we finally wake up on Boxing Day with nothing to show for it but a still-smouldering credit card, chronic indigestion and a lot of new socks. Sound familiar? Well, no more. This year it is time to yell "Bah!" followed by a triumphant shout of "Humbug!" With a little planning and preparation, Christmas at home can be avoided altogether.

If a winter holiday is too expensive or otherwise impractical, take heart - there are ways to avoid Christmas at home that don't need a ticket. Another easy way to celebrate is to gather a group of like-minded friends who have also sworn off the traditional festivities. You can then drive off en masse for a tinsel-free few days in the country, or perhaps a non-stop party in your favourite city.

Alternatively, you can all invite yourselves over to whoever has the biggest house and spend a few days eating your favourite un-Christmassy food and playing the best un-Christmassy music. You could also make a pact not to buy each other presents, or only to buy small jokey ones - that way you also avoid the stress that leads up to the day itself.

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