In which Christmas joy is tenfold.

Printed 11/12/08.

THE ten most underrated things about Christmas:

10. Novelty earring-wearers.

It's always the ones you least suspect that turn out to be closeted novelty earring wearers. This phenomenon also stems to those who tie tinsel round their pony tail, or round their neck, or round their cat's neck, or perhaps round their steering wheel, lest any left-turn slip-by uninjected with yuletide joy.

Novelty-earring wearers (and for unpierced gentlemen, the sporter of the light-up snowman tie) are most frequently those who the rest of the year round wouldn't say boo to an accessories goose, the kind who consider beige a bit flamboyant and think BBC newsreaders are getting too racy. Let all this suppressed desire for glitter build-up steadily over an 11-month period, and kablam! They'll be the ones in flashing fairy wings singing "I Am What I Am" at the Rotary karaoke buffet.

9. Cheesey footballs.

Are they ever, EVER bought at any other time of year? Are they even produced? Does Kerry Katona's family eat them? What's the best way to lift off the wafery outside leaving you just with the creamy filling in a perfectly spherical shape? Is the creamy filling really a diluted form of Polyfilla?

So many questions.

The black sheep of the party snack world, cheesey footballs will always remain an enigma.

8. Secret Santa.

I spent a woeful shift at work this week watching a table full of workmates unwrapping their secret Santa presents. The accumulated hoard of carefully-chosen, thoughtfully personalised gifts went as follows: Ferrero Rocher, a giant bag of Maltesers, a Lynx shower gel and body spray set, Ferrero Rocher (again), a tiny liqueur miniature in an unnecessarily large package, a massive Toblerone, Ferrero Rocher (sigh).

Secret Santa - the perfect way to tell your beloved friend/workmate/flatmate or pet that in your eyes, they have no discernable personality whatsoever.

7. "Traditions."

One year, many eons ago, my family had a Chinese takeaway on Christmas Eve.

The next year, we had a Chinese takeaway again, because we'd had one last year.

The year after that, the Chinese takeaway had rooted itself so firmly in our festive schedule that to not have crispy duck and prawn toasts on Christmas Eve would be sacrilege to the noble name of the holiday. Because it was a "tradition".

Why not try making some "traditions" of your own? Did you have to make a Boxing Day dash to a late-night chemist last year because Auntie Maud's rash flared up again? There we go, your very own "tradition".

6. Watching your Dad fall asleep in the middle of the afternoon.

The best bit is watching them do the spluttery-half-waking-head-lilt. Personally I like to take down all the decorations, put a Cadbury's Creme Egg in their hand and tell them when they wake up that it's Easter.

5. Normal drinking rules are off.

You can put alcohol anywhere you like and at any time of day during Christmas.

In fact, you ought to, it's the law. Gin porridge, mother? Don't mind if I do! Pop a bit of sherry on my Frosties will you, my organs need warming. Got a sniffle there, Nigel? Vodka Lemsip, that's the ticket…

4. Nobody can be cool at Christmas.

It's a refreshing change for humanity – the knowledge that even the uppermost echelons of the cool crowd will, in living rooms up and down the country, be professing thanks for a Forever Friends pencil tin and five-pack of BHS knickers. What's more, they'll be doing it wearing a paper cracker crown, and someone will ask if their ironic chunky Fair Isle jumper is keeping their kidneys warm.

3. The super massive bumper issue of the Radio Times.

As the general life rule goes, anything that's much much bigger or much, much smaller than its usual size should be the object of worldwide admiration, wonder and cooing noises.The massive double issue of the Radio Times is the real, true signifier that Christmas has properly begun and you're allowed to open the special cheese.

To take a big red biro and go through circling your prospective festive viewing (Mary Poppins! Because I haven't see THAT enough!) is surely one of the purest pleasures the season has to offer. Every year, you will circle Brief Encounter, and every year you will end up watching Jingle All the Way with Arnold Schwarzenegger instead. Don't beat yourself up. The Radio Times only guides, it cannot dictate.

2. Dennis Norden will always appear at some point.

Yes, he's STILL alive!

1. Leftovers.

Admit it, everything tastes better cold, out of Tupperware, at 8.30 in the morning on December 27.

Until you have feasted on a breakfast of fried Christmas pudding, bubble and squeak, Iceland filo prawn parcels and a Terry's Chocolate Orange segment, you have not lived.