We usually put up our decorations on the weekend nearest to 14th December (which is my Dad's birthday), simply because that's what my Mam always did, but they may go up a week earlier this year. I think they may go up next Saturday, ready for my Grom coming round for Sunday lunch the next day (she's a HUGE Christmas fan and sings Christmas songs all year round!). They always come down on 5th January though.
I'm BIG on the festivities (nothing to do with the religious side of things - I'm Pagan and get to celebrate Yule a few days before Xmas, but I love the idea of Santa Claus and have the kids really invested in that!), and I try to get all my Xmas shopping done by 1st December, so I can just enjoy the whole month without feeling rushed and stressed. I just have three hand-made gifts to finish off at this point and then all my gifts are ready - I have already written all my cards and sent off those going abroad. I shop for Xmas all year round to spread the cost and ensure everything is ready well ahead of time. I spent a good couple of weeks writing them all out in fancy writing and decorating the envelopes. Some years I make some of my cards too, but I ran out of time this year.
I have loads of handmade decorations to hang on the tree and mantlepiece (mostly cross stitched), and we always make loads of white paper snowflakes to put up in our windows, and paper chains to drape around from the corners of the rooms to the centre of the ceilings (Xan loves helping to make them, and by next year, Josh will be old enough to get involved a little too!).
I also make little reindeer dust bags for all Xan's school chums, which he hands out on the last day of school - it's his little gift to them from him before they break up for the holidays.
This year, I've been beavering away on homemade gifts for family members and super-close friends:
- Blackberry jam made with wild blackberries we picked this autumn
- Blackberry liqueur for the grown ups (those wild blackberries again!)
- Crocheted scarves (I've also made about a dozen scarves for a homeless charity)
- A new crocheted blanket for Josh because he doesn't have one that fits his full-size bed (It's about half way done now)
- Pillowcases with crochet lace edging (two sets left to do and I'm finished!)
- Handkerchiefs with crochet lace edging
I will also be making mince pies and Xmas cookies closer to Xmas.