STRESS is as solid and constant a Christmas tradition as mince pies and Mariah Carey.

It doesn’t matter how organised you are or how far in advance you begin squirreling away cheese crackers and After Eights for the big day, the pre-Christmas panic is inevitable.

This year we have an added layer of pressure coming in the form of the cost of living crisis.

Not only will we face pressure to spend money we don’t have, but there will also be an added guilt that every pound we spend on frivolous Christmas purchases could have went towards the energy bills.

Cheers, Liz.

It’s as this point that Kirstie Allsopp would usually appear in her squillion pound home to tell us that Christmas needn’t cost the earth. All you need is a fully stocked craft room and eight hours of free time per day and you too could save a fortune by making resin earrings and clay mugs to gift to your loved ones.

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Back in the real world, Christmas costs money. I’ve accepted that there’s no way around the excess this month. I’ll buy gifts and treats – albeit in a more careful and considered way than usual – and then I’ll moan about being skint come January.

My daughter loves to ask me about what my childhood was like in the “olden days” of the nineties and early noughties.

The other day she asked about my favourite ever Christmas.

In answering the question, I found there wasn’t one solid memory I could recall for her. Instead, all the good bits came in snippets from various Christmases over the years.

I told her about mornings where my sister and I would get up at ridiculous o’clock and the incomparable rush of adrenaline we felt when our hands brushed the stockings that had been placed at the bottom of the mattress.

One year my stocking contained one of those wee cardboard trees that grows crystals and I was so excited to take it downstairs and set it up.

Other memories that come to mind are seeing my mum in whatever new top or jumper my dad had given her for Christmas, and the pleasure on his face when he knew he had chosen well.

Midnight mass was always a chore made wonderful by the fact that we were allowed to open one gift early before being sent to bed.

Weirdly, the only toy I can vividly remember getting for Christmas was the coveted Mr Frosty slush machine.

I’d lobbied hard for it and Santa delivered, but I can’t recall actually playing with the thing.

The rest of my best Christmas memories are all firmly rooted in the decorations and adornments of the season. There were no Instagram-worthy aesthetic Christmases in the nineties. Living rooms were a cramped riot of colour and flammable materials. Even now, I get a frisson of nostalgic happiness whenever I see a house that has those foil garlands hung from the ceiling.

I can’t stand the snobbish sneering towards houses – particularly council houses – that are lit up outside with festive trinkets and flashing lights come December. I will defend to the death the inherent goodness that these Christmas elves show by decorating their homes in such a way.

It’s an act of generosity to strangers. Sitting in their living room, they aren’t getting any benefit from the five hours it took to erect a giant blow up Santa in the front garden. But kids in the street and everybody who drives by will see it, talk about it, and enjoy it.

There is something so spectacular about Christmas decorations, in whatever form they take. Much to my neighbours’ bemusement, I always put my Christmas tree up in November. I do it because I know that when the pre-Christmas stress and panic sets in, the tree at least is a guaranteed source of yuletide peace.

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My daughter learned how to cut paper snowflakes recently and I had to bite my tongue when she got a bit carried away with it and made enough snowflakes to cover the Cairngorms.

My first thought was: oh God, I’m going to be picking up these tiny wee offcuts of paper until the New Year. But then I remembered the bits of Christmas as a child that made it into my highlight reel as an adult and I bit back the instinctive admonishment about mess and mayhem.

Parents are probably going to find this Christmas tough and money worries will take away some of the shine of the season. It’s hard not to compare your Christmas to others, especially when you see images on social media of groaning piles of presents and families enjoying expensive festive experiences.

But I’d be willing to bet that none of these things make it into the memory reel for those children either.

It will be the daft moments that seem inconsequential at the time: an uncle falling off his chair after pulling a cracker, tables nearly set on fire by the Christmas pudding and novelty gifts that make everybody laugh, that stand the test of time.