Joanne Smith, 40, absolutely loves Christmas.
Each year she goes bigger on the decorations, presents and festivities, and she won’t let the coronavirus pandemic hold her back for 2020.
In fact, she says Covid will make her go even ‘more over the top’.
The mum-of-one usually spends £3,000 on decorations alone, but this year she’s already splashed £7,000 on turning her home into a glorious winter wonderland, complete with giant nutcrackers and a Grinch figurine.
Joanne, from Halstead, Essex, said that all the lockdown restrictions have made her want to go hard this Christmas, especially for the sake of her 13-year-old son, Joseph.
That £7,000 has gone towards 14 Christmas trees – the largest of which is 12ft tall – two massive Harrods bears that cost £1,900 each, a life-sized Santa that cost £1,200, and plenty of lights and baubles to make every inch of the home feel Christmassy.
Joanne said: ‘I will be going bigger this Christmas due to it being such a horrid year. I’m not letting Covid ruin our Christmas – the decorations will be extra OTT!
‘I’ve spent about £7,000 – and I started buying decorations back in January.
‘There are 10 different themed areas in the house, including the Grinch, the Nutcracker, a Harrods-inspired area, and one that’s themed around candy canes – that’s the most expensive at £1,000.
‘My son decorates his own bedroom however he chooses – he doesn’t let me get involved. That’s fine – but it won’t be up to my standards!’
It’s not just the inside of the house that screams Christmas.
Joanne’s garden is already packed with lights, decorations, and festive inflatables – plus three life-size Father Christmas figures.
‘I want to cheer everyone up in the village,’ she said.
‘Every time the local kids walk past the house, they’ve been asking me when I am going to put the decorations up for Christmas – I’m well known for it.
‘Every year, I have queues of people who line up to come and see the glittering displays.
‘It’s lovely to be able to make everyone smile.’
Joanne started buying this year’s decorations in January, and ignored all the rules by putting them up the minute the Halloween decor came down.
She now has such a massive collection that her husband, Andrew, had to build her a new garage over the summer to store all the decorations.
Although Joanne admits Andrew wasn’t into Christmas when they first met, she turned him around – and now the whole family wears festive jumpers throughout December.
The couple, who have been together for 16 years, married in August and now even Andrew happily embraces Joanne’s Christmas spirit.
She said: ‘My husband knows I am Christmas obsessed! He wasn’t so much himself when we first got together but he is into it now.
‘I even make a point that all December we all have to wear our Christmas jumpers together.’
Joanne has splashed out on Christmas decorations for the past three years – and believes she’s spent up to £20,000; saying she never sets a budget.
But the family also likes to give back; they donate to a homeless charity each Christmas and Joanne does shopping for the local food bank with her son every year.
‘I have lots of items I’ve collected over the years, but I’ve bought mostly all new items this year,’ Joanne said. ‘I started shopping in the January sales – I’m still buying things now.
‘I’ve also ordered some Christmas items from America – the import fees cost more than the items!
‘But it’s worth it as you’re able to get much more extravagant decorations that you can’t get over here.’
It’s a lot of money, but Joanne thinks the expense is worth it if it means having a magical Christmas – especially this year.
‘Usually we are a really busy family,’ she explained. ‘But this year, we haven’t been able to be as active as normal.
‘So Christmas has definitely been something to look forward to and concentrate on. I’m lucky my son is as into it as I am!
‘As Joseph is our only child, he has always had nice gifts. This year he was on the waiting list for the new Xbox and he is really into Airsoft.
‘He likes cars too – he has one that he drives around our property.
‘I don’t really have a budget for what I spend on gifts – we buy just whatever we see!’
Joanne, who is called Mrs Christmas by her neighbours, also prides herself on paying for everything she buys – and never uses credit cards.
‘Everything I buy is paid for from our hard-earned wages,’ she said.
‘It’s important for me that everyone is able to enjoy this festive time of year; especially after we’ve had such an awful year.
‘I am not letting Covid ruin our Christmas.
‘Every year we do the Ritz Christmas afternoon tea and we have a meal in London. I’ve still got everything booked and I’m hoping it will go ahead.
‘We will be spending Christmas Day like we always do – eating, drinking and playing games while wearing cosy pyjamas!
‘On Christmas Day, it will just be myself, my husband and our son.
‘After this year, Christmas is so special and just knowing we are all lucky to be here as there are lots of families out there that have lost so many.
‘I am a big kid really so I just love it! I’m addicted to Christmas!’
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