I DON'T know about you but I'm ready to get this party started. And by party, I mean the festive season. Which would ideally mean hibernating until after Boxing Day while wrapped in a duvet, mainlining slushy films and slurping down endless mugs of hot chocolate.

Alas it is not to be. Because Christmas means parties in the literal sense. The kind where women wear sparkly tops or the ubiquitous LBD (little black dress) teamed with reindeer antler headbands and dangly earrings that light up and flash.

Men will rock up in their best jeans, shiny shoes and well-pressed shirts with designer logos. It is the unspoken yuletide uniform. This is not a lazy, sweeping gender statement; parachute yourself into any Scottish town or city and you will see the same scenes played out.

It's like the Stepford Wives but with eye-watering lashings of Superdry and CK One. Yet, while on the surface everything is merry and bright, beneath ripples an undercurrent of seething resentment, decades-old grudges, uneasy truces, fierce alliances and unspoken dark deeds.

Yup, I'm talking about the annual office Christmas party. Over the coming weeks, dysfunctional groups of humans will cram themselves into bars and restaurants, making small talk at close quarters with colleagues they usually give a wide berth.

Crackers will be pulled and party hats donned. Then someone will order an expensive wine that's not included with the set menu – three courses of substandard grub already double the price of what you would pay at any other time of year – and the first ominous, dark storm clouds gather.

Even before the starters have been ordered, a growing tension fills the air. During the main course, battle lines are drawn. By the time the pudding arrives, full scale war is breaking out.

It begins with not-so-veiled barbs about missing stationery (typically a treasured stapler). Before you know it, the scab is ripped from a long festering wound and accusations are being hurled about who nicked the last of the milk from the communal fridge 18 months earlier.

One year I was in a big pub where multiple Christmas nights out were taking place. At the beginning of the night, you would probably have pegged the group of braying lawyers – or perhaps the shouty journalists – as the potential troublemakers.

But it was at the relatively quiet table over in the corner where the atom bomb went off. A woman called Tina (I know this because everyone began shouting: "Calm down, Tina!") stood up and shouted at her colleague. "I hate you, Bob! I'm fed up of your s***."

She went on to recite a long list of Bob's alleged misdemeanours which included never refilling the photocopier paper tray, not doing his share of coffee runs and taking a newspaper into the disabled toilet before stinking the place out ("You can smell it sitting in the canteen!").

Her eyes blazing with fury, Tina delivered the final hammer blow: "I know you ate my sandwich. And just so you know, I spat in it."

There was a sharp intake of breath. It was like when Dirty Den served Angie with divorce papers in EastEnders on Christmas Day 1986.

Bob visibly blanched, his queasy pallor all the confirmation needed that he was indeed the dastardly sandwich thief. Tina tried to throw a drink in his face which, naturally, missed and drenched the poor woman sitting next to Bob who emitted a banshee-style scream.

Mayhem broke loose. It was akin to a Wild West-style saloon brawl with people cowering under tables, hiding behind plants and barricading themselves in the loo (thankfully Bob hadn't been in to read his paper beforehand). Talk about a rammy.

Calm only resumed when the manager threatened to call the police. Profuse apologies and a hefty tip for the staff were swiftly thrust in his direction. Bob and Tina were separated to opposite ends of the room where they continued to glare each other.

Eventually Tina stormed off. I lost track of Bob after the tables were cleared and the dancing began.

What would it be like when they came face-to-face in the New Year? Perhaps they would pretend nothing had happened. Bob would continue to neglect the photocopier, shirk the coffee run and resume his questionable toilet habits as Tina angrily bashed away at her computer keyboard.

Later, while waiting for a taxi, I was about to step into a doorway to get out of the wind and rain when I realised there was a couple locked in a passionate clinch.

It was Bob and Tina. There is a thin line between love and hate right enough.

Seeing red

EVER since Melania Trump did the big unveiling at the White House last week, I've been trying to decipher the coded message she is sending to the world with her choice of festive adornments. Specifically, that eerie forest of crimson Christmas trees lining the East Colonnade.

At first glance it looks like she has skinned Elmo from Sesame Street and refashioned him as decorations. Stick a white bonnet atop each tree and we have an homage to The Handmaid's Tale with Melania as Mrs Waterford.

I'm not alone in feeling troubled by this arboreal selection. According to psychologists, the 40-strong collection of topiary trees "disrupt" the familiarity and comfort we associate with Christmas. Within nature red equals danger. Are these tactics of extreme psychological warfare from Melania?

Nor is she the only one to turn her back on traditional decorations. According to new research, unicorns, mermaids and dinosaurs are fast usurping tinsel and baubles among millennials.

The poll undertaken by American Express Shop Small found almost half of UK households now favour kooky alternative ornaments such as prosecco bottles, flamingos, llamas and rockets.

Can someone remind me how many dinosaurs, llamas and unicorns were present at the birth of baby Jesus?

Down with dried fruit

WHY is it so many festive dishes involve navigating the perils of dried fruit? Be it Christmas pudding or mince pies, they are a wrinkly and shrivelled hell. It's like chowing down on the corpse of Gollum.

I remember as a child delightedly biting into a mince pie only to instantly recoil when it dawned that it contained not the gravy-covered meaty goodness that I had anticipated, but rather a sickly-sweet clump of wizened fruits.

I have since found the best way to deal with this culinary Trojan horse is to scoff the pastry topping and discreetly hide the rancid filling in a napkin at the bottom of my handbag. What? I'm nothing if not infallibly polite.