The Perfect Hogmanay

1. Have you cleaned the house yet? No? Well just because the clean-up is tradition doesn’t mean you have to necessarily scrub the whole thing down. Choose some part, maybe a bit that hasn’t been cleaned in months, or has been particularly grimed by the onslaught of Christmas. The hearth, of course, is the chief ritual spot. Do it with a flourish, and maybe whilst wearing a theatrical apron and pretending you are Kim or Aggie from How Clean Is Your House?.

2. The Food. Hogmanay is not a night for fancy canapes or dainty snacks. What you want is decent honest food. Cook up some stovies, or haggis, or, for the veggies, a steaming plate of rumbledethumps (a potato and cabbage-based hash from the Borders), and pass around the bowls. Simple stodge that’s all about keeping everyone going till 4am. Of course, there are some foods you are supposed to eat, or at least put out, or take as first-footing gifts for everyone to stare at. Do not feel you have to make, or even eat, black bun. Better opt for shortbread which, even if everyone has already overdosed on sweet things over the festive period, will probably get eaten by February.

3. One word. Whisky. There has to be a dram or two, though it doesn’t matter if it’s the cheapest bottle of blended in Lidl. By the time the bells arrive you probably won’t be able to taste the difference between it and a 25-year-old malt anyway.

4. Water. Drink several gallons of it and you might survive the whole experience without too much damage. Also, some people may not be drinking, since they’ve booked themselves onto a New Year’s Day run or other physical ordeal, and require other libations. Their mistake. But you have to cater for them.

5. Turns. You may not have prepared yourself for reciting that version of Hallaig or A Man’s A Man For ‘A That, but the spirit of Hogmanay is upon you, and in honour of family tradition, you have to give it a try. One verse will surely be enough. Luckily, wee Connor, who has just started to learn the trombone, is up for playing a belated Jingle Bells.

6. Music. What version of Auld Lang Syne to play? Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Mairi Campbell, Jimi Hendrix or even the Carlene Davis reggae version? But please, please, please, not Mariah Carey. Alternatively just opt for a raucous singing of the song, and put on some stonking feel good New Year tracks. Nina Simone’s Feeling Good, The Zombies' This Will Be Our Year, MØ's New Year's Eve.

7. Singing. Before you see fit, post-bells, to start belting out Auld Lang Syne, do you know the lyrics? According to a Sainsbury’s survey only seven per cent of Scots do. The internet can help, here. But, hey, it's the spirit that counts.

8. Dancing. What no ceilidh? Come on, you can do the Gay Gordons in the kitchen, though the potential for minor injuries from collisions with the oven or other furniture are significant. Alternatively put on some old dance tracks and party like it’s 1999.

9. Television. Of course it has to be on. How else are you going to know when the bells happen? But what channel to choose? Will it be Jackie Bird doing her bit on BBC Hogmanay Live, or the Thingummyjig show on STV, with original host Jack McLaughlin back, as he says, “waggling my wallies once again”.

10. The bells. Don't miss them.

11. Burn something. Like maybe the letters from that love affair that didn’t work out last year, or just a bit of wood – a stick of juniper if you wish to be traditional.

12. First footers. They may come, leaving you with that warm, fuzzy feeling that, yes, community does exist and you are part of it. Or you may even try knocking on a few local doors yourself. In the absence of a bit of a coal, a handful of salt will do as a gift. But don't forget the bottle or your offering may be thrown back in your face!

13. Fighting. Avoid if at all possible. You know your own trigger points. Possibly you also know theirs. Steer clear if you can and back off when it's all getting heated. The last thing you want is to end up in A&E on one of the busiest nights of the year.

14. Crying. It’s just not a proper New Year if there hasn’t been the odd tear. Whether it’s crying over auld acquaintances that are no longer with us, something your friend or lover said, or just the sheer overwhelming nature of being slap bang in the middle of another festive season, it’s all about the blubbing. Go on, let it all out.

The Manageable New Year's Day

1. Delete. Delete. No, not the whole of last year, although that might be a good idea since there are various political events we could do without, but last night’s social media posts, the ones in which your face is streaked with mascara-lines, or your new neighbour seems to have disappeared inside your slobbery bear hug. Or, on second thoughts, leave them up there. Part of New Year has to be the shared self-humiliation. We all did it together.

2. Fluids. Hair of the dog, mocktails, Irn Bru, Berocca, sea buckthorn… anything to make yourself feel better.

3. More food. Because, of course, you may not have had enough this season. What you really need is something that sticks to the sides like the butcher’s steak pie, the traditional New Year option. Or, alternatively, just a gratuitous greasy fry up. The New Year really only properly begins on January 2, surely, so don’t feel the need to create that healthy New You just yet. That new kale diet is for Tuesday, and that's hours away.

4. Exercise. Put your body into a mild state of shock by doing something that you haven’t done in a while and getting out for a run or a walk, or even throwing yourself in some freezing water, loony dook style. Of course, you don’t have to participate in one of the organised sessions. A cold outdoor shower, or private ice bucket challenge can work the same magic. Stepping outside might also have the same effect. Alternatively just watch someone any of this, and take another Berocca.

5. Resolutions? Now’s the moment to change them to something that you might enjoy. Scratch anything that involves abstinence – you need something to get yourself through till the end of February. Resolve to create more me-time, watch more movies or spend more hours under a duvet.

6. Did you really sign up for a New Year’s triathlon? No, that was the old you, not the New Year New You. And all those people who sponsored you surely never really thought you would actually do it. The last thing they want is to see your perky face beaming out from social media.

7. Board games. Hard as it is to concentrate on Monopoly on a day like this, it’s the only time of the year you’re likely to get it out. Start the year by exercising your greed and drive for world domination.

8. The New Year’s Day movie. Christmas Day and New Year’s Day have got to be the two times in the year that the whole thing of everyone slumping on the sofa and watching one screen together is almost like honouring old-style tradition, the equivalent, in these days of multi-screen social fragmentation, of burning a juniper branch and wafting it around your living room, or doing a few turns. For the adults, there’s McMafia which starts on BBC One, stars James Norton and looks set to be the drama of the winter. Or the Bond movie of the day, Spectre. And if you’re looking for family viewing it has to be David Walliams' Grandpa's Great Escape.

9. Wake up any guests that are still lying around/lounging about the place and eating the leftover black bun or cold stovies and boot them out. It’s 2018, and what you need is to be on your own. Time to hibernate for a whole month, or long enough to grow a beard or turn into a Yeti.