WITH the government’s rule of six looking likely to remain in place until Christmas, many of us will be planning a toned down festive season.
However, Amy Horton, 33, Chelmsford, Essex, is doing nothing of the sort and has already began stockpiling in preparation for the biggest party season ever.
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The mum has already booked her Tesco slots, and has even purchased an extra freezer to accommodate all of the extra food she has for her bulging guest list.
On September 14 the rapid increase in cases led to Prime Minister Boris Johnson announcing the Rule of Six – banning more than six people gathering at any one time and putting pay to huge family Christmases.
While Boris has since hinted that he may suspend the rule of six over the festive period, with death rates still at 76 a day in the UK, it is looking less and less likely.
But despite the bleak statistics Amy is still determined to have the best Christmas ever, even if it means taking huge risks and clearing the supermarket shelves…
I’ve always been Christmas-obsessed and super-organised – and this year I am hosting Christmas for the first time in the new build three-bedroom semi detached home I have just bought with my husband, IT worker Robert, 40.
And, happily, I am super-prepared for it. It might only be September but I’ve stockpiled Christmas treats already, spending £1.5k in the past few months on decorations, gifts, food including a turkey, gammon, sprouts, custard and gravy.
I’ve also stocked up on our favourite custards, frozen ham, trifle, Victoria sponge, lemon drizzle cake and more.
I’ve always been Christmas-obsessed and super-organised – and this year I am hosting Christmas for the first time
Last lockdown flour disappeared from the shelves so I’ve got four kilos of plain and self raising as back up and I buy a half a kilo weekly to keep us going until December.
Meanwhile, I’m sorted for Christmas pickles, pickled eggs, Yorkshires, cheeses, cauliflower, spinach, cranberries, turnips and relish.
All I need now is honey roasted cashew nuts
I’ve stocked up on Italian beers for special occasions and wine and prosecco. I have our Christmas napkins and table runners already bought.
Usually Tesco’s and other big supermarkets offer their customers special Christmas delivery times. I’m worried these won’t occur this year due to coronavirus so I’ve booked slots as far in advance as possible.
What is the rule of six?
The clampdown, first introduced on September 14, comes as coronavirus cases continue to soar across the UK.
The new measures were introduced across England to lower the number of people meeting in groups indoors and out.
Under the former rules, no more than 30 people could meet inside with up to one other household, but this has been slashed to just six.
The new rules also stipulate that the six people can be from different households, in an attempt to bring rules in line with outdoor gatherings.
Anyone in your support bubble counts as one household.
The rule of six also extends to gatherings organised outside.
On September 22, Boris Johnson announced a tightening of the rule of six during an address to Parliament.
Under new measures, no more than 15 people will be able to attend wedding ceremonies and receptions.
Matt Hancock said the rules would be in place for the "foreseeable future".
"I really hope we can turn this round before Christmas. I think that, in a pandemic, Christmas is a long way off," he told BBC Radio 4.
"Three months is a long time in a pandemic and I very much hope this strong rule, together with the local action we've taken in places like Bolton… I very hope much therefore this can work to do that by Christmas."
New £200 fines have been announced if Brits meet in groups of more than six indoors or out, doubling for each repeat offence up to £3,200.
Marshals will also be brought in to enforce social distancing in city centres.
The "toughening up" of the rules is a bid to stop the virus' spread.
I have my menu done and my final extra Christmas order ready to go for weeks..
Meanwhile, I’ve bought pressies for my daughter, Sophia, eight, including My Generation dolls and LOL Surprise sets spending £200 – and I plan to spend another £50 on clothes plus we've set her up a special Go Henry kids bank account so relatives unable to travel or get to the shops can gift small amounts of money instead.
Many mums I know are doing the same to help take the pressure off people who want to buy children gifts but may have to self isolate and can't go shopping.
And it might sound bonkers but I’ve even shelled out £100 on a special Christmas lockdown freezer so we can pack everything in.
I’m not normally this organised but round one of lockdown in the spring taught me to be prepared for anything – and that includes December 25, which is HOW MANY days away.
Last lockdown I was prepared and spent hours scouring Tesco for canned goods and items I knew my families needed.
When I was pregnant with Sophia my "super-nesting and stockpiling love took over. When she was born I had enough nappies, baby cream and lotions for a whole year. I loved the sense of organisation it gave me.
When Brexit talks began I built my stash up again of canned goods, cleaning products, shampoos, soaps, even tampons and kids toys.
Brexit gave way to lockdown and allowed me to hone my stashing skills further
It's saved me being stressed.
I didn't have the worry of shopping battles, long queues and empty shelves and could even help out my pals and neighbours.
I was working fulltime as a sales manager and what with homeschooling Sophia and keeping a clean house I had to stock up in advance.
It meant booking my weekly shopping slots ahead of time. I always take advantage of the £4 delivery saver' deal offered by Tescos. When it's operational you pay the monthly fee and you get delivery between Tuesday and Thursday at a flat rate. It encouraged me to plan ahead.
Now I book slots by using different chains. I have slots booked until the third week of October.
I plan what I need over that period and which shops to buy from. I also do an extra shop a month each month for back up supplies.
I know if one chain doesn't have slots viable another will and I know the best times to log on to get a slot – late at night and very early in the morning are times when more slots open up.
Morrison's always reliable and I switch between click and collect and home delivery.
When July came and lockdown eased I knew I needed to keep my stocks up so I never stopped stockpiling
My rule is always have two shops forward planned and one on the way. You can always cancel if you need to.
I also brought extra of the essentials like baked beans, canned spaghetti, chopped tomatoes and pasta for when the shortages occurred
When I started being organised during my pregnancy buying a 24 pack of loo roll was a monthly must for me and that habits serve us well. It meant no loo roll shortages for us.
People never criticised me l thought they’d roll their eyes when I talk about Christmas preparation.
When July came and lockdown eased I knew I needed to keep my stocks up so I never stopped stockpiling.
I still have boxes of shampoo and conditions, cleaning items and canned goods.
Our new home has a garage and I have plans to turn it into our 'never get caught short family super store!'
I focused instead on December, worried like millions that covid would kill Christmas.
My birthday is a week before Christmas . The thought of a birthday and the 25th being ruined terrifies me. It's a super special time so I '\forward-planned to save Christmas for our family and friends.
Now Robert’s dubbed it my ‘festive freezer’ because it’s overflowing with everything we need to hold Christmas lunch for eight people . as well as snacks for Christmas parties and New Year’s events.
The Rule of Six may be in force in December so I have researched marquees in case one family bubble has to sit outside and one inside.
This means we won't have an illegal gathering and the family can celebrate 'separately but together
I researched small marquees and heaters the tents. The Marquee can go up against the window with a carpet on the floor, decorations will make it as festive as the other room, chairs and cushions can make it snuggly. I can split the guests into separate bubbles. We can pass food masked and gloved through the door and all enjoy the same meal.
The key is we are still together, safe and staying 'Christmas lunch legal'.
The adults can all chip in and quites are around £200-250 for the kit we need. The fact we have to plan to be Christmas lunch legal in September seems weird, but you need to get in now if you want a nice marquee and kit.
I want Christmas this year to be about family being together. It may seem extreme we have to do this but I won't let the covid grinch ruin our christmas.
I refuse to be caught out when people rush to stock up in the weeks before Christmas – I am so organised I could hold a Christmas lunch tomorrow.
On the actual day we’re planning to sit down at 1pm.
Before that we’ll open pressies.
I have stockpiled my Christmas cards, and decorations and – just in case something goes wrong with the post – I’ve already wrapped and written them. Every year I choose a special wrapping paper theme just like the Kardashian do. This year it’s brown and red paper.
Meanwhile, I have got the decorations ready for the front lawn. I got a bargain £50 deal on three light up reindeer and a £40 light up polar bear which are now almost sold out! I have extra fairy lights, a huge christmas wreath ready and even collectable heirloom christmas baubles I plan to hand down to Sophia .
I’ve spent £250 on gifts for my daughter, £250 on Robert and he’ll spend 250 on me.
This year it’s all about practical gifts.
Robert works from home and he wants a special video doorbell because delivery drivers constantly knock on our door and he is doing zoom calls most of the day.
I have also stockpiled stocking fillers and mini gift packs in case the shops close.
My favourite are gingerbread hand sanitisers – I never thought I would give hand sanitiser as a stocking filler, now it’s a must-have pressie.
This year, after being together for 12 years, Robert and I decided to splash out on a forever Christmas tree.
It cost me £180 and it’s in its box ready to be unveiled.
It is green with frosting and fair lights and is a key Christmas stockpiling investment for me.
I have even stocked up on all the Christmas decorations in red, silver and gold. I’m worried people will buy them up, fearful shops will close.
My friends are used to my super organised Christmas ways – but this is the first year they are asking for advice.
I have even spoken to Sophia about how Santa can’t wrap the gifts this year due to covid and mum and dad have to do that.
Preparing the kids is critical this year more than even and our Elf on the Shelf will likely have a mask and social distancing theme.
That’s the other key reasoning I am Christmas organising and stockpiling.
It also means less pressure on the shops and more for other people.
So please people – get organised now.
In other coronavirus news, we told you how this mum is planning to ignore the rule of six over Christmas – even though her nan's got COVID.
And we previously brought you the story about the stockpilers who, during the first lockdown, protected huge hauls with everything from BB guns to chainsaws.
Plus this mum told us how she had stockpiled goods worth £5k – and was storing them in her spare room.
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