When it comes to decorating for Christmas, there are no set rules – but how early – or late – do people start to trim their tree?
It seems everyone has an opinion on just when is the right time to bring out the festive decor.
For most it’s sometime around the start of December, but some people trim up as soon as the nights draw in.
Traditionally, Christmas decorations should go up on the first day of Advent, which this year is 3 December, the fourth Sunday before Christmas.
Mike Beatson-Smith has had his tree up for several weeks already.
The creative director from Ilkley, West Yorkshire, put the tree up first – and decorated the outside of the house a week later.
He said: “Halloween comes down, and Christmas goes up.
“We have about 20,000 lights up and a pink tinsel curtain covers the glass apex of the house, which is 15ft high and goes right up to the ceiling.
“When I tell people I’m putting my tree up at the start of November, I get some odd looks but they all know that I’m Mr Claus, so they just go with it!”
This year, Mr Beatson-Smith has already hosted a Christmas dinner for eight people – on Bonfire Night.
He said his love of Christmas comes from childhood, when he remembers the excitement of driving through Hull with his parents, looking at the festive lights.
“Christmas starts early for me, and in an economic crisis we need every bit of cheer we can get,” he said.
Another early festive decorator is interior designer and influencer Siobhan Murphy, from Castleford, Leeds, whose style can be summed up in the title of her book, “More Is More Decor”.
She said: “I love Christmas and especially the build-up, getting the house trimmed up, the Christmas songs on the radio, everyone asking “When are you putting your tree up?”
“I love seasonal styling, so for me it’s the earlier the better. I like to squeeze out every single second of festive joy.”
She said her work as an influencer means Christmas advertising campaigns need to be prepared long before the festive season, often in September.
“I have been known to shoot a campaign and then think, well it’s up now and it looks pretty, so I’m just going to keep it up!”, she said.
“Like in all aspects of life, my advice is always do what makes you feel good.”
Christmas lights are not always just about the decor – sometimes they are more sentimental.
Take Saskia, from Bempton Grove in Hull, who – along with her two siblings – decorates their house inside and out on 1 November each year.
For them, it’s something they do in memory of their mum, who died on Boxing day 13 years ago.
She said: “We were out in the rain, we were out in the wind, nothing stops us from putting things up. People have been walking past and taking photos, and saying how good it looks.
“We wake up in the morning and it just makes us really happy.”
She added: “It’s really sentimental for us and our family. We’ve gone a good few years without her and it makes us happier as a family.
“I think it would make her proud of us all.”
On the opposite end of the scale, many people leave their tree decorating until much later. Marianna Easter lives in West Yorkshire but grew up in Norway – and has adopted the Scandinavian tradition of celebrating Christmas on 24 December.
She said: “It’s a Scandinavian thing. The idea is that Little Christmas Eve – the day before Christmas Eve – is when you get ready for Christmas.
“It’s a day to spend preparing for the festivities ahead – from food to decorations.”
She adds: “When I was a child, Little Christmas Eve would be set out to prepare the tree and get everything ready. Christmas Eve was the day when we would have our main celebration, when we have our Christmas dinner and all the presents.”
Now married with two daughters, aged 11 and seven, the family like to mark the traditions from Norway and the UK.
“We open our Christmas presents on Christmas Eve, usually after a lunch of celeriac soup, salmon, and some pickled cucumber, things like that.
“On Christmas Day we still have turkey and all the trimmings, so I like to differentiate.”
The family also leave a carrot and mince pie out for Father Christmas, but also some Christmas porridge for the Nisse – the Norwegian version of Santa Claus.
According to folklore, the Nisse (or Jul Nisse) guards farm animals and plays tricks on children if they don’t leave porridge out for him.
“The porridge is slightly tart and you sweeten it with sugar, cinnamon and a knob of butter ” Mrs Easter said. “It’s very creamy and delicious.”