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Alice-Azania Jarvis: 'This year, Christmas really has come too early'

In The Red

Oh, God. Or should that be Christ? Or Christ-mas? Whatever, this is serious. I have begun to receive Christmas press releases. Already. Long-suffering readers will be well aware of my loathing for advanced holiday adverts. Press releases, my friends, are but a professional extension of this. Like adverts and those prematurely festive decorations, both forms of peddling encourage you to spend – spend early and spend more. Neither idea, as far as I'm concerned, is a wise one.

It's possible that Christmas press releases are even worse than their billboard equivalents, by virtue of their arrival directly in your inbox – as opposed to adverts loitering in your peripheral vision – and the "follow-up" calls they entail. No one phones after you've passed a poster of mince pies, asking what you thought of it. No one emails asking if you have any feedback on this year's Coca-Cola ad. After a release detailing the deliciousness of those pies, or Coca-Cola's must-haveness, they do. Several times. By the third call, believe me: any (very) early goodwill you may be feeling is long, long gone.

Premature press releases also tend to harbour an unholy combination of the inane and the unaffordable. For instance, we have: "Our bespoke and luxurious pre-selected range of hampers offer the finest cheeses, artisan breads, charcuterie meats and choice wines". Lovely stuff for those who, in autumn, fancy a posh picnic, though rather less lovely news for those of us who, still feeling the pain of our summer holiday expenditure, can barely afford a pack of cheese strings. Or there is this gem which is so ridiculous as to make the virgin birth seem downright scientific. "Diners at a London restaurant, So-and-So (anonymity, in this instance is, I think, best) are being asked to sign a legal form before they eat Christmas puddings, in case they swallow a silver charm by accident."

I doubt I would care about this on Christmas Eve. I certainly don't before Hallowe'en has hit. Heck, the schools have only just gone back. Why anyone deems these stunts a good idea eludes me. I'm sure they have little benefit. After all, if they leave me – who, come Christmas time, has only a few relatives to buy presents for – feeling as festive as sour milk, how must they affect those who have whole stockings to fill? In many ways, it's a surprise Christmas shopping still exists at all, so hideous are its cheerleaders. Perhaps, this year, we should boycott it. Santa, what do you think?