You might be surprised to learn that the UK supermarkets Tesco, Waitrose and Morrisons unveiled their festive foods for Christmas to the press in July this year. Harrods' Knightsbridge store opened its Christmas department in July, hoping to tempt people to shop early and to capitalise on tourists visiting the capital for the Olympics. Christmas has also come early to Asda who opened Santa's grottos in August - which the supermarket says were designed to encourage people to start saving for the festive season. What's more selected branches of Tesco have had dedicated Christmas aisles for a month or so already.
What's going on? It seems that this early Christmas drive has been inspired by research commissioned by the supermarkets which showed that almost half of Mums were more worried about the cost of Christmas this year than in 2011 and that a third had started to buy earlier in the year . . . some as early as late Spring.
Lots of folk get fed up with Christmas coming earlier in the shops and claim it dilutes the festive spirit but I take a different take on this. For me, living in the countryside, Autumn has always been a time of harvest – and of jam making, bottling, pickling, freezing etc. So as the nights start to draw in I am always thinking ahead and inevitably preparing for Christmas becomes part of the ritual. Doing things in advance these days helps busy Mums, especially those of us who are working with families to care for at home, and so planning for the festive season to come not only saves money but precious time.
City folk have the same problem and why shouldn't they pick up some items for Christmas and store them away in a cupboard till needed? In these times of rising prices and shrinking budgets it makes sense to spread the load, to say nothing of the time spent in preparation – after all who wants to spend a frantic few days battling down a crowded high street and cooking up a frenzy in the kitchen because you are under pressure?
With this in mind I have spent some time looking at the Christmas trends for 2012 in food, drink and festive decoration. I've poured over catalogues full of glass baubles fresh from Germany, scoured celebrity chef's new creations for Christmas and pondered over press releases for novel and inspiring Christmas food and drink launches.
I want to create my own spin on Christmas Chique this year with versions of dishes and decorations that are the height of Christmas fashion, which are quick and easy to prepare and that won't cost a fortune . . . so watch this space!
If you have any ideas or would like to share any tips then please get in touch.