Michael Witte

All your holiday decorating and entertaining questions answered.

It’s the most nerve-wracking time of the year! There are presents to wrap, birds’ necks to snap, and soon guests will be here! Yes, it’s the most frightening time of the year!

Fear not, however. No matter the holiday issue – from decorating the tree to brining the turkey to blowing all the Christmas lights in the neighborhood to making sure your oven breaks down on Christmas Day – Mr. Grumpy Santa is here to answer your questions and help avert disaster. Let us begin.

Q: Dear Mr. Grumpy Santa,
Every year, we set up a pink artificial tree, but this year we want a more traditional look. Is it OK to buy a cut tree and spray-paint it? If so, what color? —Earlene

A: Oh, absolutely! Mr. Grumpy Santa has been pushing for more spray-painted trees for years! The trick is to spray-paint it outdoors before bringing it inside, lest drifting spray land on carpet and drapes, forcing you to spray-paint the entire room to disguise your faux-pas. As for the actual color, avoid pink, as you’ve done that before and it’s so expected. Consider red, blue, purple, gold, or magenta.

WATCH: Join The Grumpy Gardener As He Shops for the Perfect Christmas Tree

Q: Dear Mr. Grumpy Santa,
When should we put away our Thanksgiving decorations? How many Christmas trees should we decorate? —Brenda

A: Thanksgiving items should be put away the day after Thanksgiving, especially the left-over turkey. I have found that leaving it out on the table for three days or more has a decidedly adverse effect on flavor. Plus, neighborhood cats will shatter glass doors and crawl down chimneys to get at it.

If you are a faithful reader of Southern Living, you know that every room of the house should have its own tree, with the possible exception of the bathroom, as fallen needles in the tub can be annoying. This problem is easily solved, however, by placing an artificial tree in the powder room. Maybe you could ask Earlene for her pink one.

Q: Dear Mr. Grumpy Santa,
What do you think of those reindeer decorations made from pieces of logs? —Pat

A: Everyone loves a good fire at Christmas.

Q: Dear Mr. Grumpy Santa,
Is it true Christmas Eve is the best time to do your Christmas shopping? —Angel

A: Yes, because last-second shopping provides the perfect excuse for not being able to find expensive things that are sold-out.

Q: Dear Mr. Grumpy Santa,
What is the perfect Christmas gift for a man? —Linda

A: If we’re talking a real man here, you can’t go wrong with whiskey. Last year, Mr. Grumpy Santa’s son presented him with a bottle of Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon. Tears flowed.

Q: Dear Mr. Grumpy Santa,
I have a Christmas conundrum. Every year, my sister-in-law and her family come to visit. We enjoy it very much, except for one thing. They used to stay with us, but since my mother-in-law and her husband moved to town, SIL and family stay with them instead. Because they don’t want to hurt our feelings (and maybe because they like the feel of cheap sheets and futons) they stay the first night at our house and head over to MIL in the morning.

This would be fine, except that by the time SIL and family can get here after work, it’s 1:00 a.m. Last year, they hit a deer on the interstate on their way up, and my brother-in-law had to hose the guts and fur off of his battered bumper on Christmas. My question is: Do we have to stay awake for their arrival, or can we just leave the door unlocked and the hose in the driveway? Also, any advice for how to keep flies and Labradors out of deer guts? —Virginia

A: Congratulations on confiding in Mr. Grumpy Santa, Virginia. There is nothing he enjoys more than listening to people's problems, as it confirms his own superiority while allowing others to aspire to his heights, an endeavor doomed to failure.

Kudos on putting out the cheap futons and threadbare sheets! What better way to show your indifference? Few people stay with Grumpy during the holidays. Perhaps it's because we put 50-count Bolivian burlap sheets on the guest beds along with pillows stuffed with cat hair. Rosie, our pet tarantula, also enjoys meeting guests from inside her glass terrarium on the nightstand.

Whether or not to stay awake for your guests’ arrival depends on whether you can. By 1 am, I'm generally passed out on the sofa with a six-pack of empties scattered about. I like to leave the front door open with a hose handy too, in case I get indisposed on the front porch and need a quick clean-up. Show your guests the same courtesy. After all, they brought you fresh venison for dinner! Dispose of the guts in a neighbor's trash can.

Q: Dear Mr. Grumpy Santa,
Should Christmas presents be presented to children and opened one-by-one, so that each child can fully appreciate the nature of the gift? Or should Christmas Day be an insane free-for-all? —Amy

A: It depends on family traditions. Mr. Grumpy Santa’s father was of Germanic descent and believed everything should be conducted in an orderly fashion. Therefore, on Christmas morning, he rose promptly at 9 am (four hours after us), consumed a leisurely breakfast of coffee, juice, cereal, and toast with jam, turned on the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and only then began to dole out presents, explaining the significance of each one at great length. By the time the last present had been opened, it was dark. The family of Mrs. Grumpy Santa, however, behaved like velociraptors being served an Angus cow. Present-unwrapping consumed an average of 4 seconds with shards of gift wrap and guttural, ravenous sounds filling the holiday air.

Q: Dear Mr. Grumpy Santa,
What are some indispensable side dishes for Christmas dinner? —Jean

A: Cranberry jelly with can ridges intact, store-bought stuffing, instant mash potatoes, Bavarian sauerkraut, salsa, pork rind green bean casserole, and trail mix.