Friday, November 22, 2002's that time of year again (i.e. November) and already every shop in Britain is glowing with Christmas lights. Childrens' telly is awash with images of expensive but cheaply made toys and souls are being reaped for the great Christian harvest. So, here are a few tips for parents when embarking on their Christmas shopping.

1) Make sure you spend at least £400 more than you originally intended on presents this year. Sod the financial problems this might bring. Ignore the hardships that remortgaging your house will force upon your relationships. Nothing says 'I love you' more to a child than a New Year's Divorce.

2) Children are the best judge of themselves so listen carefully to what they want. Don't go buying them books or educational presents. Buy them that cheap Mattel car racing set they've been bombarded with between every programme they watch. It may only last until Boxing Day before snapping violently in half and having to be thrown in the bin, and it might cost you one of your lungs, but your children will hate you forever if you don't buy it.

3) This year buy really cheap see-through Christmas cards and save the ones with the candle and the two bawbles arranged in a phallic manner on the front for people you don't like.

4) Buy old people gloves and socks. They're cheap and cheerful presents. Your aged relatives will be dead soon anyway and are probably too gaga to know the difference.

5) You'll know that Christmas is over as soon as the holiday adverts appear on the telly. Then would be a good time to use your credit cards on the New Year's Sales before declaring yourself bankrupt and not having to pay any of the money back.

6) When stocking up with Christmas food leave everything until the last minute. That way you'll get to witness all the festive fights in Iceland, Tesco etc...and the sudden, unexpected price rises that go along with them.

7) When the big day arrives get as drunk as possible, eat too much turkey and insult your relatives. After all, you only see them once a year so who cares? And don't forget...a turkey is for Christmas, not for life.

Uncle Brian...making sure your Christmas is filled with as much joy as Kwik Save crackers.