After 2020’s wash out – and Omicron notwithstanding– there’s a lot to catch up on this year, with even more baubles and bubbly than usual
In the last week of August, I called my favourite country pub to book a big table for a Boxing Day lunch. Because, yes, I am that person – the fruitcake outlier on every WhatsApp group, wanting to make Christmas plans four months in advance. Hiya! As I write, we’re still in bonfire season, yet I am already consulting daily with my packed shelf of Christmas cookbooks (I’m planning to start practising a gingerbread martini) and signing off messages with the new female Santa emoji, my digital daemon from now until the new year.
So I am accustomed to the polite bafflement with which my early-doors Christmas enthusiasm is usually greeted. What I’m not used to is being told, as I was that day in August, that the pub was fully booked for Boxing Day already. This year I am no longer the fruitcake outlier. After last year, when Christmas was semi-cancelled by a last-minute lockdown, the world has gone crazy for Christmas.
If you are planning on an audience with Father Christmas this year, you’d better be top of the nice list. From Holkham Hall in Norfolk to the Tong Garden Centre in West Yorkshire, Santa’s grottos have sold out in record time. In London, the Liberty department store’s Christmas shop has been selling 38 baubles an hour since it opened, and is on track to sell 110,000 over the season – its highest figure ever. The Liberty beauty hall is set to sell enough fragrance to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool. By mid-October, “Advent calendar” was regularly among the top search terms on the Selfridges website. (These days, you can count down the December days with cheese or nail polish if chocolate isn’t your thing.) The mood this year is “Christmas – amplified,” says Meave Wall, store director at Selfridges. “Big, sparkly, all-round joyful.”