‘I spend £7,000 a year on Christmas decorations – but I just can’t resist’

"When mid-November arrives, I can finally get my Christmas decorations out of the double garage that I had purpose built for festive storage.

It’s a long wait for me as I think about Christmas at least once every single day of the year. Whether it’s during the August heat or rainy April, it’s guaranteed to be on my mind. I’ll start planning in January, as soon as the previous year’s decorations come down. I get an idea in my head, then I have scraps of paper lying around the house with my vision sketched out.

I constantly scour the internet for new pieces, and I order from Orlando in Florida as they have the biggest, most unique and best decorations. I’ll end up spending around £7,000 each year, plus hundreds on postage and overseas customs costs.

My husband, Andrew, thinks that figure is a low estimation and says he’d love it if I only spent that much in reality! He knows I’m quite sensible with money though, and I don’t tend to treat myself to extravagant purchases or dress in designer labels. But when it comes to Christmas, I just can’t resist. It brings me so much joy and gives me a child-like excitement.

I don’t ever want to grow up, and I love basking in the happiness of the season. I feel as if I’m living out a fantasy each year. The only thing Andrew moans about is when he has to help me carry all the decorations from the garage, which is at the end of our garden, up to the house as it’s quite a long walk. I usually end up with a bad back for a few weeks.

It takes me around five days to put the display together. I don’t want any outside help as the decorating is a big part of the fun for me. I stick on the Christmas songs and work my way round the house, putting everything perfectly into place – the exact way I’ve imagined everything for the past 10 months. I like to get the old favourites out, such as my Santa Claus on a throne, which cost £1,800, and my very first decoration – a much smaller acrylic Father Christmas that I got from a little shop in Cambridge when I was 25.

I remember all those years ago, when we were in our new house, a baby on the way, just wanting to make the first Christmas there as special as possible. I named my baby son Joseph – I chose a Christmas biblical name, of course. He definitely enjoyed all this growing up, but he’s less interested now.

From that very first decoration it became addictive. I’m so sentimental about all my decorations, of which there are thousands, and display as many as I can without it looking overcrowded. I even put some of my furniture into storage to create more space for them in the house. In the rare instance I do get rid of something, I sell it and give the money to charity.

This year, I’ve done a party theme in the kitchen and dining room. I’ve got nine new mannequins dressed in ball gowns, and the hallway is Candyland, which appeals more to my nieces and nephews – they love it. I’m also really into reindeers at the moment, so there are a few of those dotted around, plus an elf section and a Nutcracker area.

We’ve recently built a bar in the garden, so I had a new place to dress. I put my 6ft Harrods bears in there – they’re real show-stoppers and I got them for my birthday last year. I treated myself to a new life-size nativity scene too, which has gone in front of the house. It’s nice as I live opposite a church and religion is very important to me. I help them decorate their tree each year. The OAPs think I’m bonkers.

It has become a bit of a competition now on social media, and everybody wants to have the best display. I don’t like telling people where I got my decorations from because I spend so long researching them and ensuring I have the most unusual items. I have to keep some mystery!

I grew up in an ordinary family, with parents who did their best for me, my brother and sisters. They all enjoyed Christmas, but nobody loved it quite as much as me. We used to have a fairy with just one eye at the top of the tree, plenty of tinsel and foil ceiling decorations. We used wrapping paper to cover the bucket at the bottom of the tree and I’d look forward to doing it.

When I got older and our business [Joanne and Andrew own a building company] became more successful, I started to spend more to make it even more special. I know how lucky we are to be in this position – my son wants for nothing – so I do try to share our good fortune. I buy advent calendars for all the children in my village, and invite to take pictures with my Christmas display. They’re all very supportive of me. Every single one of them has tuned in when I’ve appeared on This Morning, which means a lot to me.

I often get recognised by strangers who stop me when I’m out and about, and my house is near a primary school so the kids will all call out to me asking when that year’s display will be ready. I even get messages from people in China and America on social media, asking me for advice or complimenting my display. I love being Mrs Christmas. It’s a role I think I was born for. It’s not just my house that gets Christmas-ified. For the whole of December I wear a Christmas jumper every day and watch different Christmas films. Even my nails get a festive design.

We have lots of family traditions, including a Winter Wonderland visit, Christmas dinner at The Ritz, throwing parties at our house and seeing shows which I book months in advance. I rejoice in the whole build-up and struggle to articulate just how much I love it all. I truly cannot comprehend people who don’t like Christmas. It baffles me.

When Christmas is over, everything feels so drab and miserable. Putting my decorations away breaks my heart. The only thing that keeps me going is thinking about next year."

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