16 days ’til Christmas: The Literary Agency Advent Calendar

Christmas boot

In the run up to Christmas, the Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency will be posting an entry from one of our authors each day, offering anything from writing tips and their inspiration, to Christmas memories and their wishes for the year to come.


Radhika Sanghani

How to survive the festive season

1) Presents

There is nothing worse than spending a month’s rent on presents for close friends, family, Secret Santa at work and the nephews/nieces who already have better smartphones than you. In turn all you get is some expired bath salts and more scarves to add to your growing collection.

Boycotting presents makes you a Grinch, so how about taking a leaf out of the Three Wise Men’s books and going home-made? Once everyone’s seen the dried pasta photo-frames and decorated jam jars, they won’t be demanding gifts from you. And at least when they say “you really shouldn’t have”, you’ll know they really mean it.

2) Family fights

I am dreading the annual Christmas family fight. Last year’s was based around the lack of turkey (my vegetarian mum will only make a nut roast), the year before was because there wasn’t enough red cabbage, and the year before that I spilled my orange juice on the special-occasions-only White Company tablecloth.

This year the tablecloth has been resigned to everyday use, and I’ve decided we should get the fight out of the way as soon as possible. Which is why I will be spending Christmas Eve having a glorious family argument until the early hours. That way when we wake up on Christmas Day we will be too exhausted to say anything except ‘pass the brandy sauce please’.

3) Bad TV

Christmas Day = Aladdin, Madagascar 1 and 2, all the Harry Potters, all the Lord of the Rings and the festive Elf and Love Actually.

I have watched these films every Christmas for the past five years. But this year I am putting my foot down. Instead of re-watching the films I can recite in my sleep, I’ll be turning off the TV.

Don’t panic, I’m not trying to re-live number 2. I’ll just be turning it off so we can plug in the iPad. Nothing like a modern family Christmas.

4) The tree

If it’s real the pine needles will go everywhere. It doesn’t matter if you have wooden floors or carpets – those pines will root themselves in and stay there for weeks to come. No amount of vacuuming can ever get rid of them.

So I’ll be embracing a plastic tree. Not just one of those faux-pine ones either. If I’m going fake, I’ll go as tacky as possible. Think in-built flashing lights, fake snow and fiber-optic branches.

5) Mulled wine

Even after all these useful tips, there’s still only one way to really cope with Christmas: to be so merry you could rival Mr Claus himself. My chosen method of inebriation will be M&S mulled wine or mulled cider if I’m feeling fancy. (Top tip: the Tesco version is much cheaper, but not worth it)

When the vat, yes vat, has been emptied of its festive juices, there is always the brandy butter to finish off.

Radhika Sanghani‘s debut novel VIRGIN, a funny and daring novel that candidly explores its protagonist Ellie’s sexual journey, will be published by Mira Books UK and Penguin US in August 2014 . Translation rights have already been sold in Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Norway, Poland, Brazil and Serbia.