25 October 2014

When Should We Start Thinking About Christmas?

Whoville 'How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)'

It's the 25th October, only 60 days until Christmas! I know to lots of people it probably feels like quite a long way away, but I can't help feeling it's closer than we realise. I absolutely love Christmas. I've been known to start playing Christmas music early in November and I've already bought at least one present. I'm always the first to start decorating the house with tinsel and lights, and to place our plastic Christmas wreath on the front door. I think a lot of people grow out of Christmas, but I'm certainly not planning to. 

What I'm wondering is, when should we start thinking about Christmas? When I say thinking, I mean seriously thinking about it - choosing what presents to buy friends and family, what meat to eat on Christmas day etc.. Supermarkets have started trying to sell decorations and I have seen a lot of advent calendars in the 99p store this week; magazines will have already made their December issues, including where to buy the latest Christmas jumpers and ideas of things to fill your stocking; and restaurants have already started taking Christmas bookings. So it's clear that some of us already are thinking about it, but when is it socially acceptable to start talking about Christmas with others? 

Got enough presents there Lou? 'How The Grinch Stole Christmas' (2000)
For a lot of people nowadays Christmas revolves around presents. It seems to be the main feature of the day. Whether we are eagerly anticipating opening a present we've been waiting months to get our hands on or anxiously watching our parent's reaction when they receive a set of body wash for the third year running,  a lot of time is spent thinking about presents. Sometimes finding the prefect Christmas present can be quite stressful, not to mention expensive. No one likes to be caught in the last minute rush on Christmas Eve where you end up choosing something completely impersonal or out of budget just because you have no time and/or patience left. Believe me, I've made that mistake a lot of times! 

With online shopping some of these problems can be averted but preparation is still key. Deliveries around Christmas time can be unpredictable and I wouldn't advise ordering something in the week running up to the big day, unless you are willing to risk presenting a wrapped up receipt. More and more people are starting to buy Christmas presents earlier. Having worked in retail for the last month, I've had quite a few questions about whether there will be any Christmas deals and I've heard the phrase 'early Christmas present' more than once. In fact, just today one of my colleagues mentioned having already bought all of her Christmas presents! Now I'm not suggesting we should all be that organised but perhaps thinking about them now would be sensible. Especially as spacing out the buying process could help keep our bank balances healthy. 

Another question I'm interested in is when should we start decorating, thinking about the food we're going to eat and playing Christmas music? A lot of people follow the 1st December rule. But if you are going to order your meat from a butcher then you'll need to do this well before December (I'm not sure when exactly because we just get a turkey from Sainsbury's each year). Even if you're just getting a turkey though, you need to work out how many people are coming to lunch or dinner, and if you're inviting family to stay. You may have to work this out earlier than you think, they might already have a couple of options and you'll need to make your offer known before they make plans. If you're going to go away for Christmas, you'll start planning even earlier. 

'The Bare and The Hare' (2013) by John Lewis

Finally when is it okay for Christmas advertisements to start appearing on TV? I said in my post last year's about Christmas advertisements, that as soon as the Coca Cola ad had been seen the Christmas season had officially started but of course not all companies can wait for Coca Cola. In fact I am sure that all the big department stores have already made plans for this years advertisements, if not already filmed them. I'm keeping my eyes out for the first one I see. 

There is a lot of growing resentment out there that Christmas has been taken over by commercialism. It's turning into a display of decadence rather than a time of good cheer or a religious holiday. I can't deny that Christmas has got a bit out of hand, but thinking about it earlier can prevent this. Last year the government predicted that on average British households will spend £820 on Christmas and I wouldn't be surprised if they predicted even higher figures this year. But by being prepared for Christmas you should be able to cut down the amount you spend. 

My conclusion, it's comes down to personal preference. But if you want to spend less time and money worrying about it, then starting to think about it soon might be a good idea. 

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