This is a controversial question, and one that is likely to divide opinion across the land. Some will be of the opinion, “It’s never too early!” while others will be thinking, “It’s November! Don’t be ridiculous!” Here are some pros and cons to starting your Christmas prep with just over five weeks to go.
Pros: The earlier you start, the more likely you are to spread the cost over a few pay checks rather than sticking it all on the credit card in one huge lump. You may find that shopping in November is quieter than in December, particularly if you squeeze trips in during the week or late in the day. You can also get all your gifts wrapped way in advance and feel super smug when everyone else is up to their elbows in wrapping paper and sticky tape at the last minute.
Cons: If you shop too early you may miss out on last-minute bargains (though it’s also more likely that the items you want may be out of stock). Shopping in peak season may be busy, but it can also be fun with Christmas jingles playing and window displays in full festive glory. If you’re leaving it late, stick on some reindeer ears, plan your shopping route and be sure to stop off for a hot chocolate along the way. You’ll need to keep your strength up for all those queues!
Pros: By the time you’ve got your lights untangled and hung your baubles it often feels like it’s time to take the decorations down again. If you really want to get your money’s worth, why not get your tree on display and bling up your home now? It’ll give you an instant boost every time you flip that switch and see your front room lit up. If you’re really organised you could even make your own decorations. Get the whole family involved and make it fun!
Cons: If you have a real tree you may find that all your pine needles have dropped off by the time Christmas Day comes around, and you’ll spend the weeks in between hoovering them up or defending your tree ornaments from small children. Putting your decorations up this early may also draw tuts from family members, visitors and passers-by. Maybe it’s worth waiting until Advent at least to get the decs up.
Pros: It’s great to be proactive, and you may find that buying a little bit of Christmas fodder each week helps to spread the cost. If you have ambitious plans to make your own Christmas cake, mince pies and other sweet treats it’s wise to start early. After all, your might need to have a few tasting sessions before you get them right!
Cons: Stockpiling food may seem like a good idea, but you’ll only be able to buy goods with long sell-by dates at this stage in the game. And we all know what that means: boxes of After Eights and bottles of mulled wine that will never make it to Christmas! It may be wiser to just stick a few quid aside each week to cover the hefty groceries bill closer to the time.
Pros: The most important aspect of Christmas is celebrating Jesus’ birth, and it’s never too early to do that! If you’re a preacher or youth worker it’s a good idea to start preparing well in advance. Nobody wants to be writing their Christmas sermon/play on Christmas Eve! If you have children, Christmas-related crafts and baking are great ways to keep everyone occupied, especially with some fantastic carols playing in the background. Whatever your situation, it’s a really good time to start praying for friends, family, and those in need around the world, as well as for a greater personal revelation of God in the lead-up to the big day.
Cons: Can there be any cons to focusing on the Saviour of all the world?
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
(Isaiah 9:6, NIVUK)