THANKS to the wheel of fortune that is the rota for Argus columnists, it has fallen to me to be your Christmas Eve companion dispensing cheer and goodwill to all men.

I am ill-suited to the task. I reckon Katy Rice or even the Sage of Sussex Adam Trimingham would have been a better bet but I’m afraid you’re stuck with me, a Grinch-like gatecrasher at the party.

Instead of The 12 Days Of Christmas I thought I’d give you the 12 Immutable Laws instead so that we can get through the ordeal of the festive season together.

1) Dads snore. At regular intervals during the day itself my Dad can be found sleeping upright on the sofa.

For the last two years we’ve been to the South Downs Planetarium’s Christmas Eve talk on the Star of Bethlehem by the estimable Dr John Mason. Trouble is this necessitates the darkening of the auditorium so the good doctor can point to the stars on the ceiling. No sooner does this happen then my dad goes spark out, mouth open, and starts a low rumbling snore just as the story of the Three Wise Men gets under way. The next hour is spent nudging him every time his head falls forward to avoid further embarrassment.

2) Aunts buy talc. Where does talcum powder come from? Who uses it? Is there a secret mountain of it waiting for distribution in time for elderly aunts to buy it for you at Christmas?

If a particular aunt happens to be there when you open this joy on Christmas morning tThe acting needed to express delight rather than profound disappointment has to reach the Larry Olivier level.

3) Go Zen. Every year I pledge I will reach a state of beatific calm on Christmas Day. But the combination of a long day doing little and a preponderance of relatives only normally seen for an hour at a time means I rarely get there. It’s like being stuck at Guantanamo Bay. I reckon even Ghandi, Mother Teresa and John the Baptist would be at each other’s throats over the Jenga if they had to do it.

4) Learn from the Victorians – switch . This means switching off the TV. I try to insist on games and walks (only allowing Dr Who) because the symphony of aforementioned snores from assorted uncles and neighbours while Home Alone 3 plays to no one after the Queen’s Speech is about as grim as it gets.

5) Boycott the Queen’s Speech. See above, plus she has little of interest to say.

6) Keep it simple. This applies especially to Christmas games. Too many Christmases have been spoilt by some half-drunk imbecile (usually me) trying to read through the 24-page instruction booklet for Risk: The Middle East Peace Process board game.

7) Get the music right. Carols must end on Christmas Eve. However make sure you buy at least one new disc. For the last 10 years all we’ve had is Frank Sinatra Sings the Christmas Greats. To say Frank sounds uninterested in what must have been a contractual obligation album is an understatement. At one point he almost falls asleep during O Little Town of Bethlehem.

8) Keep it light. If visiting a crotchety old relative be prepared to stand your ground. Back when my sons were very young we went to the house of a relative (who shall remain nameless but knows who he is) who insisted on playing a Jacqueline du Pre cello concerto all Christmas morning at top volume while we slipped into comas. I could take it no more and insisted a children’s TV song from my youngest's Christmas album took Jacqueline’s place. Both boys still refer to that moment as the day dad won the Battle of Bob the Builder.

9) Don’t overdo it. It’s never a good idea to play the annual Boxing Day football match (the old team I used to coach have a dads versus lads game) as if you hadn’t eaten and drunk enough for six the day before. I’m over-competitive and cannot accept that the “lads” are now 6ft 20-somethings who are better than me. I’ve been red carded twice in the last 10 years which is neither big nor clever on Boxing Day.

10) Avoid casualty at Christmas. Two years ago I managed to stay on the pitch for the entire match and stay the course for the after-match drinks without realising that I’d broken my arm in a ridiculous 50/50 challenge with an aforementioned lad. It was only later when the pain refused to subside that I had to experience casualty over Christmas. This is an experience to be avoided. Especially if your injury is self inflicted. I wasn’t so much at the back of the queue as outside at the bus stop.

11) Keep your hat on. My family always have a prize for the person who keeps their paper hat on the longest after dinner. Last year I was sure I’d won after all retired to bed. However, having need of something in the guest room, I entered to find my dad sleeping soundly (snoring of course) with his golden crown still atop his dome.

12) Don’t worry. It’ll soon be over. Merry Christmas everyone.