Here's our handy, holly-adorned translation guide to the things that people say at this time of year – and what they actually mean …

They say: "Darling, your nativity play was a triumph. I'm so proud."

They mean: "I spent the entire shambolic production seething that you weren't one of the leads and shall be having a stern word with your teacher. Also, I couldn't tell which sheep you were."

"I'll probably give the work do a swerve this year."


"I'm still on a disciplinary warning for the incident at last year's."
"Pop round anytime."

"Preferably text first so we can make up an excuse."
"So what are your Christmas plans?"/"All ready for Christmas?"

"I can't think of anything else to say and this is December's equivalent of weather small talk. Please keep the answer mercifully brief because I'm not actually interested."

"Town was a nightmare. The shops were rammed."
"I snuck off to the pub."

"Christmas telly is just a load of rubbish and repeats."
"I consider myself superior to you in every way, even though I'm zero fun and haven't had an orgasm in decades."

"That's so thoughtful. It's exactly what I wanted."
"I hate it, I'm having trouble arranging my face into an approximation of gratitude and everyone can tell I'm lying."

"Shall we play a board game?"
"Shall we have a blazing family argument?"

"I don't actually own a Christmas jumper but I thought this would be closest."
"I'd rather open a vein than wear dignity-free novelty knitwear."

"Christmas is about the kids really, isn't it?"
"Can't stand the spoilt, entitled little brats. Pass the brandy."

"We rang the doorbell but you were out."
''We couldn't be arsed ringing the doorbell, so we've left your parcel somewhere it will get wet, muddy, kicked down the street or stolen."

"You look festive."
"You look drunk."

"Happy holidays!"
"Either I work for an American or Canadian company or I'm paralysed by political correctness."

"Lunch might be a little later than planned."
"The turkey won't cook and I'm having a nervous breakdown."

"Where's your Christmas spirit?"
"I'm a tedious kidult who gets over-excited about Christmas (probably over-compensating for some long-buried childhood trauma) and insists on enforced jollity."

"Have a good one."
"I don't know who you are. Go away."

"That's perfect, thank you. Looks delicious."
"Too many sprouts, not enough pigs-in-blankets, but better be polite."

"Look what they got me!"
"You think of something nice to say, because I can't."

"I've got an upset tummy from all the rich food."
"I've got an upset tummy from all the binge-drinking."

"Thought I might go out for a walk."
"If I have to stay cooped up in the house with my relatives for one minute longer, I'm going to commit a hate crime."