Not COVID-19, not that naughty word, the even NAUGHTIER word (when mentioned in August)…

C . H . R . I . S . T . M . A . S!!!

For those that follow us on Facebook, you will have seen a post recently that started just like this. It was a post explaining that I was getting my butt kicked by one of my business coaches for already being late getting ready for the festive season. Plus, it was a plea for help, for some ideas to offer on my Zoom call that evening. Well, the post did really well, I got some fantastic ideas and it placated my business coach, for now! But it got me thinking, are there really Christmas shoppers in August? Plus when is the right time to start hanging the decorations and dusting off the Michael Bublé album?

To be able to write this effectively without using the words ‘festive season’ a hundred times over, I am going to have to just say ‘the C word’; out loud! Are you ready? 1, 2, 3…Christmas! Wait, no festive fairies fell from the sky?

So, hear me out, I tried being an “early shopper”. Making a list, checking it twice…then grabbing my sunglasses and suntan lotion and heading off to the shops. But here are the problems I found! The main one being that one year I got most the things I needed nice and early, I even wrapped them up and hid them round the house…have I mentioned that I have two nosy children? I felt relieved and somewhat smug. I could be one of “those people”, the ones who are prepared and can enjoy a nice, relaxed December! Wrong! Do you know what happened? I forgot what I had bought and for who and worse of all, I couldn’t remember everywhere I had hidden them all. This resulted in me still having to go out and brave the packed high street just to discover that I ended up duplicating a lot of gifts that year. Plus, the following year resulted in lots of surprise gifts being found around the house during the deep spring clean…oh look, another pair of festive socks wrapped in jolly reindeer wrapping found stuffed down the back of the cupboard after Easter! I clearly was an inexperienced amateur and failed to keep an accurate list to reflect upon once the dark nights drew closer.

The other reason I struggled with doing my Christmas shopping in the summer was the atmosphere. The previous business that I ran was VERY busy in the lead up to Christmas. I ended up working 7-day weeks throughout December and long days at that plus it was before Amazon Prime had become really popular. So, ignoring those years where I worked up until lunchtime on Christmas Eve and then ran around the closing, empty shops like a panicked ?; I love the thought of Christmas shopping in December. I have this romantic vision in my head of my family getting bundled up in matching scarves and bobble hats, finding some convenient parking close to the shops, walking around the Christmas market with a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine as carollers regale in the background. Who am I kidding? Christmas shopping for me usually starts with an argument over finding matching shoes let alone matching winter wear and ends with the kids whinging about over-priced sugary doughnuts whilst traipsing two miles back to our car! But I still prefer my Christmas shopping when it is dark outside and there are horrific cover versions of recognisable Christmas tunes being played on loop in the shops.

Ok, you got me, I’m a bah humbug!

I think ever since leaving home and trying out this adulting thing we all used to look forward to, Christmas has never quite been the same for me. I loved the first few years of the kids being young, the excitement as we counted down to the big man in red arriving. But as the kids have grown older, the magic has begun to wane again. Now, it is arguments over which kid ate the other’s advent chocolates and having to devise systems of booby traps to stop them from finding their gifts early. Sometimes, Christmas just feels like too much of an effort and overly commercialised.

So, where does that leave us? A retail shop filled with luxury, gourmet products that make ideal Christmas gifts…ran by a bah humbug! Last year I ignored the signs to be ready early. I went about organising our festive season the same way that I do my Christmas shopping, last minute! Although this worked really well for the dashers of the world (no pun intended!), we had lots of people (aka “early shoppers”) popping in during December for a relaxing coffee knowing their shopping was finished and saying “oh, I wish I had of known you had these earlier”.

I’ve spent the last 7 months of the year clock-watching; counting down…knowing it is coming. I have had many awkward conversations with one of my business coaches, who has worked not only in retail but in the restaurant world too and knows that not only is early Christmas planning required, but it is expected too! Plus the C word is starting to pop up in emails from my suppliers and I am receiving festive product brochures on a weekly basis! This year has been made even more difficult with the current situation of the pandemic. For those of you reading this blog from outside of Bradford, a week and a half ago we were thrown into a local lock down with about 4 hours’ notice. Friends and families are back to not being able to enter other people’s homes or gardens and are not allowed to meet in pubs, cafes or shops to socialise. At the moment our seating area remains closed, mainly because we don’t want to take the risk of encouraging people to sit and stay until things are under control a bit more but also because our team is currently still just myself and Abbey. I could sit and create a mouth-watering festive Bistro menu, but we don’t even know what Bradford’s rules will look like next week, let alone in 3 months’ time!

But, we have been busy looking at festive products that will be hitting our shelves…not just in December, but even earlier for any of you “early shoppers” that are still reading this and not polishing your Christmas decorations in disgust at my sullenness! We are also looking at ways of providing a festive option for our existing hampers, e.g. swapping out the regular jam for the ‘Berry Christmas Jam’ and swapping the regular marmalade for the ‘Yuletide Breakfast Marmalade with Calvados’ in our Yorkshire Teatime Treats Hamper. There will also be an all bells and whistles Christmas Hamper with mince pies, brandy butter, spiced biscuits, festive chutneys and stuffing…etc. Most of the hampers will be available for us to ship across mainland UK for you…PLUS our shipping is cheaper, quicker and easier than queueing at the Post Office yourself! For those that can collect from the shop or for local delivery (if the lucky recipient lives within 3 miles, that recipient could even be you!) there will also be an extended range with Yorkshire cheeses and/or meats! These are getting organised and refined over the next three weeks so that by the end of August (AUGUST!) they will be ready for pre-orders!

So, if you are chomping at the bit to get some artisan Yorkshire Hampers pre-ordered for your friends, families and colleagues, stay calm…they are on their way!

For my fellow bah humbugs, please bear with us! We wish you no harm…hang in there and hopefully we will still have some left come December 1st. But, if the “early shoppers” start to tip the scales, we can’t guarantee there will be any left!

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