By Nicola Priest

IT’S all over!

The weeks of frenzied shopping – buying presents, cards, wrapping paper, crackers, decorations, food and booze.

That’s your lot for another year.

I hope you and your family enjoyed Christmas together and it lived up to all your expectations.

Was your Christmas Eve spent with your hand up the turkey, making pigs in blankets and three types of stuffing, sending your husband out for all those bits you forgot?

Or are you one of the lucky ones who had your Christmas dinner made for you and all you had to do is watch White Christmas for the 75th time while delving into the Quality Street, sipping your favourite tipple and deciding what festive frock you should wear on the big day?

Perhaps you are one of those blokes who pops down the local while your wife/partner/mum sorts out the brussels sprouts and peels the spuds?

I fall into the first category of cooking for the family.

Yes every Christmas Day of my married life I’ve cooked the meal and my family, dad, mum-in-law, sister, brother-in-law, sons and partners, granddaughter – and this year dogs – come to me.

I’ve got it off to a fine art – preparation is the key. So I like to buy my presents in advance, have them all wrapped, cards all sent so I can concentrate on the food and making sure the dining table looks good.

Christmas Eve – my favourite time as a child – is now spent almost entirely in the kitchen getting as much as I can ready.

It’s a military operation with a timetable of what goes in the oven at what time.

It’s the only way you get a chance to enjoy some of Christmas morning.

One of the benefits of not having to drive anywhere is being able to enjoy a drink – so I always have one to hand. It calms the nerves, helps everything go smoothly and ensures my timing is perfect – well at least I think so.

The build-up to lunch is the best part of Christmas morning. Once it’s over everyone sits around moaning about how much they’ve eaten and that they couldn’t possibly manage another morsel – until someone breaks out the After Eights.

All those TV programmes you were hoping to watch have to be recorded because you can’t hear them as everyone is talking or someone wants to play some new music or a silly game.

If DFS didn’t tempt you to a new sofa before Christmas then it’s practically obligatory to buy one in the sales as those adverts keep coming. And if it’s not sofas, it’s holidays or fitness videos before your Christmas pud is even cold.

I like Boxing Day, it’s when I get a chance to put my feet up and relax.

Nothing could tempt me to venture out to the sales – nothing is important enough to queue up at 5am outside Next or go into battle at the Trafford Centre – no way.

There may be bargains to have but they won’t be going home with me.

I’ll leave you with the thought that there’s only another 364 shopping days to Christmas 2014!

Happy New Year!