How early should Christmas start?

A white Christmas tree with coloured baubles

A pretty Christmas tree display in a shop (taken during November!)

It’s now December and a lot more Christmas is around us.

For example, as of yesterday classrooms at our local school are decorated with tinsel and trees and Christmas parties are in full swing.

Obviously though, Christmas items have been on sale for a while now, along with decorated shops and Christmas centric advertising campaigns. And some will say it all started too early.

I’m ok with Christmas things around in October (on a small scale) and November, although I do find hot cross buns on sale in December a bit much in preparation for Easter!

Has Christmas got earlier?

But did you know that Christmas promotions stated in early spring (that is, during September) back in 1912 and even in August 1914? And complaints about Christmas starting ‘too early’ and ‘earlier every year’ were made in 1954 Britain and 1968 USA. So it’s not really a recent thing that Christmas is getting so early!

Ads for Christmas were published in November 1885, and retailers started with Christmas ‘events’ as early as November in 1888 and 1893.


Why have Christmas so early?

Well, it obviously works for retailers to promote Christmas earlier, or they’d have stopped it long ago.

Earlier promotion and reminders of Christmas encourages some people to shop earlier which means

  • less fluster and rush later on for those people
  • being able to spread the expenses of Christmas over a longer period
  • having more time to think of specifics gifts and finding it
  • spreading out the number of shoppers which is good for retailers as there are fewer crowds, less staff needs, reduced risks of stock run outs, and income is more spread out

I found it fascinating to learn that an American social reformer by the name of Florence Kelley strongly supported early Christmas shopping promotions to stop “the inhumane nature of the eleventh hour rush”. She felt that the shopping frenzy in December was “a bitter inversion of the order of holiday cheer”, and I must say I agree! From her essay in 1903, a huge campaign was waged to bring shopping forward as part of Kelley’s fight against child labour and abuse of overtime.

12 month calendar

When should Christmas displays start?

Some people like Christmas advertising to start well before December as it

  • inspires them to start Christmas shopping (to reduce the last minute stress and financial burden)
  • makes them feel good and builds the Christmas spirit
  • can give some good ideas, with time to implement them
  • is a reminder of better weather and holidays ahead.

So how do you feel about Christmas being presented to us from September? Would you prefer it started in November or December?

Christmas shop displays

Should shops always have traditional Christmas displays, or is a modern interpretation ok?

Collage of shopping centres decorated for Christmas

Some examples of Christmas decorations in shopping centres*

Updated mall displays are controversial?

I came across an article entitled “You’ll never believe the newest Christmas controversy“.

In short, a chain of American shopping centres (malls) has decided to modernise their Christmas decorations around where Santa sits. Apparently, they’re swapping traditional details like trees and wreaths for a winter wonderland feel.

Ok, winter is not a theme that says Christmas to us Down Under, but using interactive screens and a light show could be interesting. And from a business perspective, it could make their malls stand out as fresh and different.

But shoppers disliked it so much that the malls reverted to Christmas trees and poinsettias.

How should shops display Santa?

There is a lot to be said for the traditional decorations – it continues a tradition, obviously, and helps people feel the Christmas magic they experienced as kids, and lets parents share that same magical experience with their kids.

Christmas tree beside Santa's seat in a shopping centreIn particular, displays around Santa and that end up in Santa photos probably are better keeping a somewhat traditional feel – who wants to look back on family photos and have one or two photos stand out as dated rather than Christmassy?

Of course, when it comes to the crunch, as long as a smiling Santa is there and children feel safe and welcome, the background is just that – background.

Shopping centre decorations

I like seeing shopping centres (including strip shops and council buildings) having some different themes for their decorations – for instance, I’ve seen some beautiful silver and purple themes which are stunning.

So I think perhaps the Santa seating area needs to have many traditional elements, but other decorations can be modern, classy, traditional or just interesting!

Would you agree with me?

How would you react if your local shops used a modern approach to decorations around Santa this year?


* Images courtesy of LoveSanta and torange.

Merry Christmas Maldon!

What a lovely surprise we had on Saturday!

We drove to a lovely country town called Maldon, up in the Macedon Ranges. A reminder of the gold rush of the 1850s, Maldon is a beautiful old town with many gift shops, cafes and antique shops.

They also have a Christmas shop which of course impresses me!

Christmas in July displays in Maldon - Mrs Claus, carollers, wombats, kangaroo pulling a kaola in a sleigh

Some of the displays in Maldon this July – a mix of traditional and Australian 🙂

Christmas in July

Unbeknownst to us, Maldon is the middle of a two week mid-winter and Christmas in July celebration!

All of the shops were invited to decorated their windows to suit the theme and Christmas decorations and tress are all over the place. My children loved eating lunch below a Christmas tree and seeing an Aussie Santa sleigh on the counter.

As you’d expect, not all shops joined in but many do have a themed window which made walking along the street fun.

Some of the highlights were…

  • a Narnia scene, complete with snow-covered ground and a huge White Witch
  • a rat camp, complete with a copy of “the Great Rastby”! This was the hardware shop’s window and I loved how the Christmas tree decorations and Christmas lights were actually nuts and washers!
  • one window had a sign “All I want…” above a shelf with lolly teeth missing the middle teeth. This one actually won first prize despite being the simplest
  • one shop had a display of Australian animals in Santa hats and the like

There are also some activities throughout the town so if you’re close enough to visit Maldon, have a Christmas outing during the school holidays!

Share your Christmas story