How To Do Christmas The Hyacinth Way

There’s no more important time to keep up appearances than at Christmas. Here’s how to do it, the Hyacinth Bouquet way…

Keeping Up Appearances

CHRISTMAS CARDS

They say it's better to give than to receive, but that's nonsense. Especially when it comes to Christmas cards, where you can show everyone how popular you are by proudly displaying them across your mantlepiece (and every other horizontal surface in your home). Hyacinth received at least 112 Christmas cards through the letterbox in one year alone, and you can enjoy a similarly large haul by doing as she did, and simply posting a whole load of cards to yourself. If anyone notices that most of them are in your handwriting, remember her explanation: you did it in case any old friends have forgotten your address. You're doing them a favour, in a way.

CHARITY

It goes without saying that any fine and upstanding pillar of the community should do their bit for charity during the Christmas season. Of course, if you happen to be a very busy pillar like Hyacinth, this may very well mean persuading (ie, forcing) your other half to do it on your behalf. Take the time she "persuaded" Richard to volunteer to hand out gifts to pensioners at the Church Hall while dressed as Santa Claus. It was a fine plan that would make anyone smile. Anyone apart from Richard himself, who fell into a terrified, sherry-based stupor and caused widespread calamity on the day. But let's not dwell on that.

FOOD

We can all agree that Christmas is a time for indulgence. But too often this is taken as an excuse to do nothing except recline Onslow-like on the sofa with a bucket of chocolates perched on your belly and a carton of eggnog within grabbing distance. Any person of taste must behave with more decorum. Think of Hyacinth's famous Boxing Day Candlelight Suppers, which presumably feature the Royal Doulton china with hand-painted periwinkles. By the way, if a relative suffers an unflattering condition during the festive season - like Richard's fungal infection - be sure to tell everyone it's actually gout. A far more aristocratic ailment, and a testament to the richness of your vintage port.

SOCIALISING

Christmas is about togetherness, but it's important to be together with the right sorts of people. You're judged by the company you keep, after all, and pulling crackers with undesirable persons may well tarnish your social reputation among the discerning. Hyacinth was very careful to invite the Thorngunbys for a festive luncheon at the Bouquet residence, which was a wise move considering Mr Thorngunby was Richard's head of department. Rather less wise was Hyacinth's near-collision with the Thorngunbys' car while Elizabeth was in the passenger seat disguised as Richard disguised as Santa. Moving swiftly on...

FAMILY

What is Christmas without family? Far more enjoyable and more relaxing, arguably, but as a supreme hostess and matriarch, Hyacinth always found time for her lamentably absent son Sheridan. And as well as spoiling him with Christmas money, she was more than willing to send him even more funds to sustain his trip to Romania with his very close friend Tarquin. You must follow suit by dispatching unnecessary amounts of money to your own spoilt and pampered relatives. It will bring a glow of smug satisfaction to your very being, and that really is what Christmas should really be all about.