Xmas - annual festival of greed, gluttony, lust and alcoholic poisoning.
Call it xmas, call it festival of lights, call it what you will, what started as an animist festival of winter is looming, whatever your socio-religious heritage, ethnicity or scrooge quotient.
Our American friends with their love of political correctness call it the holiday season (which is dead confusing because holidays involve buckets & spades, icecream, sunstroke etc.) while loony left councils call it winterval to avoid offending non Christians. They don't mind offending Christians because the Indignant Wing of the C of E has currently been stood down.
Whatever you want to call it at the time, you are fairly certain to call it far too expensive and a waste of the world's most precious and limited resources (the pound note) and vow and declare you will never do it again by early January, when the credit card bills come in.
But even though this time will come (as surely as old star wars films follow turkey dinners) over xmas itself will be sure to be filled with a special feeling of happiness, when you realise the world is a beautiful place, you actually love your relatives, you don't actually hate your neighbours, and that every stranger is a friend you have not met yet.
You will become generous, and cheerful.
You will, of course, be drunk. It is traditional, and what is xmas without tradition? Merely a long out of context weekend with the shops shut.
As a result, we should remember, there are some very special people who look forward to xmas all the year round, and to whom it means a very special time of excitement and joy, of colour and magic. They own off licences.
So, we are pleased to present a seasonal guide to economy at this special time of year, which will allow you to enjoy the real xmas spirit to the full. This xmas spirit is actually any really cheap white rum or own brand vodka you can lay your hands on from your local discount supermarket, or chemical company. Simply dilute it, and add flavourings to make guests think they are getting whatever it is they have asked for.
To make it convincing, you will need to collect the appropriate bottles. Nip down to your local bottlebank and make a few withdrawals. It is the best form of recycling there is, and some drops of the original content may remain - so you don't even need to clean the empties.
And remember, be generous - with this unique method you can afford it, it is best to spend cheer at this time of year, and by about the third glass they won't care what it was they were supposed to be drinking anyway
Sherry -- a nice civilised drink, just right for those who don't want to get completely fishbrained (unless you drink it by the pint). Add cold tea, with sugar for those who like sweet sherry. And milk, for those who insist on Harvey's Bristol cream.
Cider -- the essence of cider can be obtained from your cat.
Strong continental lager -- as it is traditional to swallow the stuff so fast it does not touch the sides, any taste in the opium of the masses is irrelevant. Simply try and get the colour right.
Real Ale -- the good honest ale of olde England(e). Sugar, vinegar, baking soda (for the head) serve warm.
Sake -- as enjoyed by generations of Japanese Sarimen, who drink it until they are so unwell they are happy to pay to spend the night in a cupboard. The real thing tastes exactly like drinking hot Domestos, although this mixture cannot be advocated. Or survived.
Champagne -- tonic water, apple juice, a squeeze of jif lemon.
Pink champagne -- add Tizer
Red wine (generic) -- add Ribena.
Red wine (posh) -- add expensive jam. Sieve out the pips.
Red wine (really exquisite connoisseur vintage stuff, £200 a bottle) -- just add Ribena. Who is going to know?
Liebfraumilch -- a sweet white wine from the foothills of the Bavarian alps. A handful of diet sweeteners and a freshly squeezed edelweiss (or daisy) will do it.
Dry white wine -- see cider.
Retsina -- the stuff you get on holidays to Greece is actually a penetrating wood preservative, sold to British tourists as 'wine' as a way of getting back at us for the business of the Elgin marbles. Any pine fragrance cleaning product should give the taste, and may not be much more poisonous than the original.
Aadvocaat -- is only available at xmas, and is in demand from little old ladies in an idiotic cocktail, the snowball. You can only assume it is meant by the Dutch to be a joke. Keep laughing with a runny solution of Birds custard.
Brandy -- is actually very difficult to do properly. Creosote is poisonous, so try adding marmite.
Tequila -- you have to have stuff with it -- anything from guacamole to orange juice -- to kill the nasty taste anyway, so simply adding an earwig (to replace the authentic tequila worm) will do fine.
Peach schnapps -- an increasingly popular drink, especially among those who have not studied industrial chemistry. The syrup that tinned peaches come in works wonders.
Grappa -- although reputedly made of grape skins, inside information suggests that grappa is made by Pirelli, out of what your tastebuds indicate is recycled school plimsols. Should be easy enough to marinate a few old trainers to get the authentic rural Italian experience.
Pernod -- simply allow a few of those liquorice allsorts with the blue or pink bits all over them the dissolve in the mixture. Explain any cloudiness by saying that the glass was wet.
Finest Scotch whisky (blended) -- when still able to speak, lovers of uisquebar, the water of life, are fond of justifying their first class seats on the cirrhosis express by claiming to detect notes of chocolate, peat, wood and heather in their tipple. There you are then.
Baileys -- not a drink for grown up people anyway, and adding cocoa powder is too easy. Why not experiment with smarties, milky way, or a crunchie for something really memorable.
Tia Maria -- Instant coffee powder, obviously. Use lots, to make sure it is sufficiently sticky.
Cointreau -- tricky. Sugar and orange cake flavouring have been suggested, but slowly filtering the feedstock through a stack of Jaffa cakes may be the best option. The orange gunk gives the bitter virtues of the le cointreau, while the sponge removes the bits.
Xmas dinners are usually followed by a selection of fine liqueurs from around the world that are brought out just for the occasion, to help your dinner go down. Instead of forking out 17.95 for crème de menthe (green) or Benedictine (yellow), produce a bottle of Tesco's own brand mouthwash, which is bright blue. It is an appropriately festive colour, has a reasonably high alcohol content, and has the added benefit of leaving the drinker with lovely fresh breath
If all else fails, here is a final and very effective idea.
Get down to your local cheap shop, and search among the plastic Santas, dancing fir trees and festive remote control B52s for the cheapest set of cards you can find.
Go out at around 8.30pm xmas eve, while people are just settling in to watch the James Bond film , and deliver them by hand to everyone down your road. Insist on only having the one small glass in each house, thus rendering yourself unconscious for most of the break for about £1.99.
A harry pottermass to all our readers.