The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - REAL LIFE - Anne.gildea@mailon­sun­

with in the past, or slept with. Oh, the stress. You can’t serve peo­ple a trough of goulash and dumplings in that sort of sce­nario. Fin­ger nosh it must be, or a cheese­board. Want to find out why Ro­que­fort is a cheese you or­di­nar­ily have lit­tle to do with? Buy a festive cheese­board and ex­plore.

Also, make sure you have some­thing for the ve­g­ans. Hav­ing re­cently met many stick-thin peo­ple (women) who claim to be ve­gan, I’m con­vinced the ex­pres­sion ‘I’m a ve­gan’ is the mod­ern eu­phemism for ‘please don’t make me eat, or I’ll feel I’m los­ing con­trol’. They live in hope that you, the host, won’t have a ve­gan op­tion.

I snug­gled un­der the du­vet, happy to have missed the Christ­mas party chit-chat and that ‘one too many’ drink

So pro­duce a plat­ter of delux fes­tively calorific ve­gan vol-au-vents, men­tion they were pur­chased es­pe­cially with them in mind, and in­sist all be eaten or your trip to Ice­land (the shop not the coun­try) was in vain. Then en­joy the ve­gan dis­com­fort as the look on their faces says, ‘Ugh, eat­ing. Dirty habit. Big bot­tom, ahoy. Help.’

Speak­ing of which — it’s party sea­son, and you can tell be­cause the gym’s buzzing, and ev­ery ex­er­cise class you go to is packed. Peo­ple (women) des­per­ate to squeeze into their shiny minis, or, if they’ve so opted, their clas­sic LBDs (lit­tle black dresses), hop­ing a des­per­ate blast of spin­ning, or 90 min­utes of Bikram yoga will boil off the re­main­ing love han­dles (gag just thought of: I can’t wait till I fit into my spe­cial LBD again — I love dress­ing as a nun at Christ­mas).

On the other hand you could al­ways go the gi­ant Christ­mas-jumper route. It’s party sea­son, and you know be­cause gangs of or­di­nar­ily or­di­nary of­fice-party types ap­pear out and about dressed in match­ing, mad al­to­gether, knitwear; gi­ant car­toon rein­deer heads on them, or pat­terns that look like an elf-worker tu­nic or with crazy slo­gans like ‘ I’m on Santa’s naughty list’. For­merly ironic, now so ironic it’s post-ironic, the Christ­mas jumper is the knitwear equiv­a­lent of the vol-au-vent. It’s so ubiq­ui­tous this sea­son, Sharon Ní Bhe­oláin will be wear­ing one on the Six-One News next. So big it up in a huge Crimbo jumper, if you’re feel­ing too big for a lit­tle dress — that’s what I’m telling my­self, any­way. By the way, don’t be jeal­ous if you don’t work in an of­fice this time of year and so don’t have the op­por­tu­nity to drunk­enly pho­to­copy your bot­tom in the work­place. You can go down to your lo­cal copy shop and do it, if you must. Wear a Christ­mas jumper as an ex­cuse. As se­cu­rity drags you off the ma­chine, you can point out, ‘Santa’s naughty list, see?’

Oh, it’s party sea­son, what fun. Last Satur­day I had two to go to, no less. I sent apolo­gies to the host­ess of one, and thought I’d have a wee nap be­fore I went to the other. I woke up four hours later, and ended up not go­ing any­where but back to sleep. On the one hand I was think­ing, ‘This is shock­ing, Anne. You’re miss­ing out on liv­ing life.’ On the other, as I snug­gled un­der the du­vet, happy to have missed chit-chat I wasn’t in the mood for, and fin­ger nib­bles and ‘the one too many’ that are al­ways later re­gret­ted, I thought to my­self, ‘Ah, party sea­son, and here I am en­joy­ing one of my favourite kind: the solo slum­ber party.’

Night, night.

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