It used to be that Christmas had arrived in advertising terms when the Coca Cola 'holidays are coming' truck chugged on to our TV screens. Not anymore...
I have decided to go down a different route of present buying and have been looking more at timeless pieces that will give years of enjoyment. Here are the best gifts for children I have come across, some are suitable from 6 months on...
Many of us get swept along by our desire to create the perfect Christmas for our family, but even the Archbishop of Canterbury has expressed concern at the amount of pressure, and especially financial burden, that some people subject themselves to at this time of the year.
Kids can be picky and there's never any hiding the truth. If they don't like something, you're going to know about it! So finding gifts for kids that don't break the bank and hold their attention all year round can be hard going.
The commercialisation of Christmas is one of the biggest swindles of our time. The holiday is supposed to be about giving to those in need, and about cherishing what we have, more importantly who we have.
This is a time of year when my faith is not just tolerated, but happily shared by people of other faiths or none. The entitlement of somebody standing up and complaining about a cup - a cup! - when their faith is so openly embraced is staggering, and shows a complete disconnect with some of the harsher aspects of life. Please, let us enjoy Christmas in peace and goodwill, without these petty complaints - it is the season for it, after all.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could exchange personal, meaningful pressies, carefully wrapped and labelled well in advance, stored safely out of sight until the big day? Wouldn't it be magical to sit back and soak up the atmosphere on Christmas Eve instead of desperately searching under the spare bed for the gifts we hurriedly hid there months ago?
Expressing gratitude in our lives is something we can so easily forget to do, especially whenever our focus gets stuck on what is going wrong, rather than appreciating what is going right.
The Christmas commercials have landed, and with them the moral outrage and corporate cynicism of the masses, not ironically in the lazy, easy-activism format of internet meme.
So call me the Grinch if you enjoy being around people in the festive periods. Call me Victor Meldrew if you are one of those overly happy people who just LOVE Christmas. Call me a miserable old bitter Scrooge if are one of those people who are always so chirpy, you almost scare people.
John Lewis has said that the purpose of the ad is to raise awareness of the elderly and the importance of being together at Christmas through "thoughtful gift giving". But, in an age of intense commercialism, does the ad have mixed messages?
For my sins (I've atoned for them now) I used to be in advertising. One of the very first ads my brother and I ever created (the responsibility M'Lu...
Why is the commercial exploitation of Christmas so readily accepted in the United Kingdom? Why don't people make an effort to lobby their Member of Parliament for change? Why don't Britons register complaints at the stores and malls displaying Christmas signs and décor unseasonally early?
This evil puppy trade is both cunning and sophisticated - knowing exactly how to manipulate public emotion, con local authorities and even forge documentation. It doesn't matter what your background or education is either - as long as you're prepared to part with your money you're fair game.
I wonder if the folks in the shelter would continue to shrug if I asked them if there was any hope on the horizon. I wonder if they, like me, finally see a source of optimism in Jeremy Corbyn.
So-called Hallmark Holidays such as Valentine's Day, with bleach advertisers even getting on board, shimmer with the very best of intentions, but the crudeness of brands piggybacking on their popularity really dilutes their brand equity.