I can’t quite believe that this is my last column before Christmas, and as I write, I am wondering what to wear for my annual works night out tonight.

We usually end up having a great time, thanks to the free-flowing wine and cocktails, and end the night embarrassing ourselves with some energetic mum/dad dancing in a local bar.

It was American stand-up comedian and actress Phyllis Diller who said: “What I hate about office Christmas parties is looking for a job the next day.” I’m hoping I will still have mine in the morning!

I’m sure these sentiments are familiar to many of you, and I’d be interested to hear your cringe-worthy party stories. If you do have any, don’t keep them to yourself but share them with us by getting in touch via the contact details at the bottom of this column (of course, anonymity is guaranteed!).

Good old Les Dawson bemoaned the fact that his family didn’t have much money with which to celebrate: “We were so poor that we couldn’t afford a turkey. We gave the budgie chest expanders. It was five a side to a cracker.”

Darlington and Stockton Times: If you want to impress your other half this Christmas, avoid buying their gifts from the

This time of year can be stressful, especially with having to buy presents for a lot of people, all with different personalities and tastes. There is a stereotype that suggests men are not very good at buying gifts for their other halves. Now I know it is a sweeping generalisation, but stereotypes are stereotypes because they are, on the whole, true. One year, my mum was less than impressed by the fact that my dad had bought her some pans, and my ex-husband would buy me practical things for the house, like towels, or crockery. It’s not exactly romantic and is an indication of how they see us – as their domestic home helps rather than the love of their lives.

If, until you began to read this, you were considering buying your dearest love pans or crockery, I suggest you take this advice from English comedian Jeff Green: “Women do not consider the following to be gifts: diet books, cooking utensils, cleaning products, petrol for the car, anything from the Pound Shop”.

I would add to that that if you want to make sure that you and your partner are still talking to each other once the presents have been unwrapped, then you can’t go far wrong with jewellery (made from precious metals and stones and not from the supermarket), expensive perfume or after shave (not the sort you get from the garage shop), or fancy toiletries (again, not from the supermarket). If you’re struggling, go to your local Boots or department store, follow the waft of perfume to the luxury scent counter and ask the assistant for advice. Believe you me, most of us would prefer one thing of high quality than a whole drawerful of cheap tat. And by high quality, I don’t mean a Dyson vacuum cleaner.

Your gift has to leave the recipient with the feeling that they are being spoiled and, more importantly, that you have thought about what they might actually like to receive rather than what you think will make the job of cleaning easier.

I’m not the sort of person who will let on how disappointed I am when I get a rubbish present but I think I was justified on what I now call My Worst Christmas Ever. A receipt for a pair of expensive earrings had been carelessly left lying around weeks before Christmas, and I’d pretended I hadn’t seen it, awaiting the big day with eager anticipation. For once, I thought, I was not getting something useful, but something luxurious and just for me.

Unfortunately, the earrings ended up under another woman’s tree.

Of course, there are those who complain that the true meaning of Christmas has been lost, a victim to commercialism, overindulgence and greed. And I do think it does us good to remember how it all began, and who we should be thinking about at this time of year. With that in mind, I’m going to wish you happiness and joy over the coming festive period, and will give my last words to someone with a great deal more wisdom than me, Bart Simpson: “Aren’t we forgetting the true meaning of Christmas – the birth of Santa?”

Get in touch with me via my webpage at countrymansdaughter.com, or contact this paper directly.