I ABSOLUTELY love Christmas. After all, what’s not to like?
The lights, the baubles, the tinsel . . . it really is the most wonderful time of year.
Getty – Contributor Christmas is a wonderful time of year, but it can be difficult for perfectionists
But for all the perfectionists among us, it can be a tricky time. I know I’m not alone when I tell you that, in the past, I have put myself under immense pressure to make Christmas PERFECT.
When my kids were little, I wanted the day to resemble a John Lewis advert. You know, immaculately decorated house, tree and table, fabulous presents, a Michelin-standard lunch.
Obviously, that kind of perfect is simply not possible. Even trying to attain it is ruinous.
It involves spending a fortune — on presents and food — staying up until 3am wrapping and stuffing, then being up again at 6am to brine the blessed turkey.
Getty – Contributor I used to want to make the house look like the John Lewis advert with all the decorations John Lewis 2017 Christmas advert follows a seven-year-old boy scared of a monster snoozing under his bed — but eventually bond and become friends over a fart
I won’t say too much about the year I vowed to make my own cranberry sauce, lattice my own mince pies and hand decorate the wrapping paper, other than that it was memorable for all the wrong reasons and I had the raging hump all day when no one appreciated anything.
That’s the problem with pursuing perfection — it gets in the way of having a good time.
Not only that, but it turns out that no one else really cares about perfect: The main point of Christmas is being together as a family.
It’s that sacred time of year when most people don’t have to go to work and you get to do things you wouldn’t normally.
Getty – Contributor I’ve realised that trying so hard to be perfect gets in the way of having a good time
Playing charades, watching a movie in the afternoon — and eating chocolate for breakfast. Boxing Day is almost better, and I so love that “Twixmas” time between Christmas and New Year.
When else can you get away with wearing your pyjamas all day and watching replays of Only Fools And Horses while eating Terry’s Chocolate Orange?
That family time is so much more important than bankrupting yourself buying presents (particularly for young children who far prefer the boxes they come in anyway).
Last year, I decided to drop the pursuit of perfection and settle for Good Enough.
Getty – Contributor This year I let the kids decorate the tree and I ditched handmade wrapping paper
I shoved a turkey in the oven (forget brining and slow-cooking) with some shop-bought stuffing, and threw some potatoes in halfway through.
I bought a Yule log, brownies and a trifle to cover all bases. The only preparation involved taking them out of packets and putting them on a dish.
I let the kids decorate the tree. It was a riot of colour. No matter.
I ditched the handmade wrapping and bought a load of paper — all of which got torn off and recycled within minutes.
Getty – Contributor It took me 20 years to realise that Christmas doesn’t have to be perfect
And guess what? It was great! Not only was it bloody brilliant but it was a real life lesson for me.
It only took me 20 years but I finally realised Christmas doesn’t have to be perfect — and life is far too short to make your own cranberry sauce and stuffing.
The magic of Christmas is about spending time with loved ones, eating, drinking and laughing together about Dad’s rubbish magic tricks.
Toasting things you have done over the past year or plan to do next year. Or just simply being alive, being happy and being with the people you care the most about in the world.
Buster the bouncing Boxer is star of John Lewis Christmas advert 2016
So although I still adore a traditional Christmas, I no longer risk my sanity — and my marriage — in pursuit of making it the best one ever.
Even though I’ve chilled out a lot, one side-effect of staging Christmas for the past 20 years is that it really made me appreciate my mum.
Growing up, I took her for granted — like we all do. And, like most mums, mine was nothing short of amazing, doing all the shopping, wrapping, cooking, refilling people’s glasses and making it all look so effortless.
Now I’ve been running the Christmas show for the past 20 years, I wish I could go back in time to say “thank you”.
Alamy I didn’t bother to brine the turkey and I got store-bought stuffing
Luckily, I’ll soon get my chance because for the first time in years we are going to Mum’s for Christmas.
So Mum, if you are reading this, it’s payback time. Count me in for washing-up duty.
Gender pay gap in Downing Street
I WAS pretty dismayed by the revelation this week that Katie Perrior, the only female Downing Street communications director since 2010, was paid £15,000 less than the men working in the same role both before and after her.
It’s so depressing.
She’s actually worth twice as much but the least she should be able to hope for is equal pay, especially in such a high-profile job.
I won’t be par-tea to Ritz digs
Getty – Contributor The tea at the Ritz is great
DID you see the story this week about Janet Wilson, who asked for her money back after complaining about the quality of the tea at The Ritz?
All I can say is that she must have higher standards than me because I think it’s nothing short of fabulous.
Quite apart from the fact it’s the only place in London where you have to wear a jacket – standards! – it’s just such an incredibly lovely place to spend time.
I visited on January 1 a few years ago and it was the most fabulous way to start the year.
Getty – Contributor The Ritz is also the only place that makes you wear a jacket
The Ritz is a London institution and frankly, I won’t have a word said against the place.
I put a star in their eyes
Getty – Contributor Daisy Ridley stars in Star Wars: The Last Jedi
NOW they are grown up, it’s not often I can make my kids’ dreams come true.
But I got some serious mum props this week when I managed to get tickets for the premiere of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, starring Daisy Ridley.
My kids are HUGE Star Wars fans so when I say they were absolutely made up, it’s an understatement.
I was off filming the final of The Apprentice so couldn’t go. But luckily, I came home to a two-hour, blow-by-blow account of every single minute detail of the film.
It’s almost as if I had spent the evening right there, watching it with them.
Luke Skywalker is back in the Millennium Falcon in new teaser trailer for Star Wars The Last Jedi
Buckets of fun
THIS has been a funny week. I went on Loose Women on Tuesday, which was the day Katie Price had to leave the show unexpectedly.
So, rather than having an empty seat on the panel, they asked me to stay on.
Having popped in for a quick chat about The Apprentice, I found myself interviewing the two members of Boyzlife – a combination of Westlife and Boyzone for those of you that don’t know (I certainly didn’t).
Things got even more surreal when we played a Christmas game called “Poop a Potato”.
It was a good reminder of life’s uncertainties – one minute you are just going about your business, the next thing you know you are shoving potatoes between your legs and dropping them into a bucket alongside a boyband.
An Appy Outcome
James White is one of the finalists for the Apprentice
JUST a friendly reminder that tonight is the final of The Apprentice on BBC1 at 9pm.
The winner – either Sarah Lynn or James White – will get £250K and a business partner in Lord Sugar.
Sarah Lynn is the other finalist
Bearing in mind that the previous five winners have changed their lives completely after successfully setting up businesses that now employ a total of 110 people, this year’s winner has got a lot to look forward to.
I know I’m biased, but this must be the best show on TV, don’t you think?
Apprentice hopeful James White close to tears after Linda Plant batters him over historic firing in interview
Runaway plan must take off
LAST week at the House of Lords, I attended a presentation about who will build the new runway for Heathrow – if and when it gets the go-ahead.
Just to be clear, I’m firmly in favour of the plan.
PA:Press Association I am in favour of a third runway at Heathrow Airport
Heathrow is already a great and well-connected airport. But another runway will mean that the UK will have the leading and most-connected airport in the world – something that will be even more important for a post-Brexit Britain.
What was news to me, however, is that Heathrow is already the most expensive airport in the world from a passenger duty point of view.
The estimated cost of expansion, which currently stands at £17.6 billion – and rising – will DOUBLE the tax we already pay. This seems outrageous.
Then comes the second problem.
Getty – Contributor A third runway would benefit Britain after Brexit
It seems to me that Heathrow Airport Ltd (HAL) appears to think it has a monopoly.
It says it should be the only party who gets to build it, despite the fact another developer, Arora, has put forward an alternative proposal which is £5billion cheaper.
How can that be right? When HAL built Terminal 5, there was a huge overspend – plus various inquiries into the costs.
But also, it takes real competition to drive prices down.
If HAL is certain the job is in the bag, there is no incentive to keep costs under control.