It's time everyone paid more attention to the words of Christmas songs. There's a wealth of hidden meaning in the festive season's soundtrack.


The office party... That once-a-year event when everybody lets their hair down and really gets to know each other, and you and your colleagues can let off steam after all your hard work. And, if you're not careful, make a fool of yourself!

When the paper hats are on, it's easy to let a few drinks become a few too many. To ensure your tipple doesn't topple you too soon, take a few sensible steps. First, eat before you go out - preferably something solid like pasta, then alternate alcoholic drinks with a glass of water to stay hydrated. Dancing is a great way to avoid drinking too much, so get on the dance floor for a boogie.

Why not make a pact with a close colleague, too? If one of you is getting too tipsy and announces they're going to "tell the boss a few home truths", step in and order a taxi home.


MISTLETOE AND "WHINE", by Cliff Richard

Yes, the real lyrics are mistletoe and wine, but sometimes, at Christmas, "whine" is more appropriate! After days trawling toy shops and battling with wrapping paper, what are you rewarded with? Tears and tantrums! As much as we love our kids, they can be ungrateful mites sometimes...

Make them more appreciative with a few simple rules. Tell them right from the start how many presents they'll get from their lists, so they know what to expect. And on Christmas Day, spread them out: don't all tear into them at once in a mad frenzy. Sit down and take it in turns to open each one, stopping to thank the giver.


When family members who normally don't spend more than a Sunday lunch together are suddenly lumped in one house for a few days, it can cause a cold and tense atmosphere. The frostiness can be thawed though, with a few common sense steps. First, deal with any issues head-on. If you feel your anger brewing against someone, confront the culprit immediately while you're still calm and, hopefully, rational. Letting it fester will only risk things blowing up later on. Also, if you know you always fall out with Cousin Derek or Great Aunty Sue about a certain topic, agree a truce before the battle. Chat with them when they arrive and tell them you'll just agree to disagree this year - if they don't want to believe in Santa, then that's their problem not yours.


With cooking, shopping, tree decorating and present-planning, there's not much time left for festive fumbling. You can make sure passion isn't completely missed off the wish-list though. Why not give your husband/wife/partner a hand-made "I owe you" cheque-book of things you can do together when Christmas is over? Or while everyone else slobs on the sofa after lunch, how about going for a romantic walk, just the two of you? Put some mistletoe above your bed too, so you remember to give your beloved a kiss as soon as you wake up. Start the day as you mean to go on!


"Ooh, lovely, another ironing board cover..." Are you sick of receiving rubbish presents from your partner? Well, 2013's the year you finally get what you want. First rule, don't leave anything to chance. Dropping "subtle" hints isn't enough. Write a full list telling your other half exactly what you want, naming the shop, colour and size. Don't be a diva - limit your requests to one or two, and be realistic about budgets, as no gift is really worth getting into debt over. And at the end of the day, if somebody gets it wrong, don't hurt their feelings by being ungrateful. It's the thought that counts, right?


Don't leave Santa to do all the goodwill spreading - have a go yourself! It's easy to get caught up in the stress of the season and forget all the good things about it. Instead of growling at the shopper who grabs the last toy, tutting at carol singers clogging up the street and groaning at the queues of office parties at your local bar, smile and say "Merry Christmas". It's only two words, but the smile you get back should be enough to remind you what Christmas is really about: peace, love and mince pies for everyone.


Ask your family and friends to give you something you can "do", not "use". Instead of the usual clothes or make-up, ask them to club together for something you've always dreamt of doing but never quite got round to. We're not saying you have to copy the Snowman and ask for a sky-dive! But why not request a ticket to your favourite musical? Or for that sewing course you fancied? Or for a trip to the hairdresser so you can finally see what it's like to be blonde!


Yes, we know. It's more tempting to nibble another chocolate than think about working it off. But it's crucial to make sure you exercise over the Christmas period. Not only does moving about burn off that mountain of food you've scoffed, it also keeps you happier. Exercise releases endorphins, brain chemicals that fights the blues and give you a natural high. You don't have to run a marathon - a brisk walk or an energetic game of Twister counts too...



There's so much pressure at Christmas to please everyone. Your parents want you to spend the day with them, your partner's parents are feeling left out, your recently dumped best mate could do with some company... It's easy to feel as though you're stuck in the middle and being pulled in all directions. However much you care about them all, it's important you care about yourself too. This is your well-earned break, so if you want to "stay another day" in your own bed instead of driving up and down the country, so be it. Don't feel guilty - they have enough of you the rest of the year!

SILENT NIGHT, by carol singers everywhere

With the neighbours having a party, the kids watching TV downstairs and Dad snoring in the next bedroom, it's hard to get a good night's sleep over the festive holidays. To stop you ending up exhausted come January, follow a few easy bedtime rituals. Stop drinking caffeine and booze a few hours earlier, as they're both stimulants that disturb sleep. A relaxing bath, especially one with lavender oil, works a treat. Also, try foam ear-plugs and a sleeping mask. They might look a bit silly but your fresh face the next day will be worth it.

Check out our alternative Christmas Carols playlist here. Made up of Christmas song that are actually pretty good!