One week to go and counting . You can imagine that in a house with four children the excitement as Christmas approaches is reaching fever pitch. We are a noisy household in any event with everyone, me included, shouting to be heard over the general cacophony. At meal times we try to talk in turns but this rarely works as the younger children need to blurt their thoughts out as soon as they are formed and often have forgotten what it was that they wanted to say by the time their turn comes around. The older two have learned to talk really quickly so that they can tell their tale before they get interrupted but the frustration of never finishing a sentence gets to us all and before we know it the volume has increased again. Our poor neighbours.

Anyway, the general feeling of excitement and anticipation mounts. In contrast to my children, I build up to Christmas in a much quieter way. Obviously there is the masses of stuff that needs doing first but once the presents are bought, cards posted and food planned I can start to feel Christmassy. The catalyst is often the decorating of the house. A couple of weeks before the big day we make for our local farm armed with wellies, a saw and various shot cords to cut down our tree. It takes a while. Usually, I find a tree of the correct dimensions, the children moan that it is too small and start choosing ones that would not look out of place in a shopping centre and then gradually the reality of the situation strikes them and we end up chopping down the one that I picked in the first place. Parenting is all about patience. The tree is strapped to the roof and off we go.

Decorating it falls to the children and they adorn it with a few delicate and carefully chosen baubles which pre-date them and then lots of stuff they have made at school over the years or acquired from school fairs. I used to be a bit precious about having a stylish tree but maturity and experience have taught me that this is a pointless goal and so our tree is an eclectic mix of glitter and tat just like millions of others. I draw the line at tinsel though. A girl must have some standards.

The decorations round the rest of the house are up to me and are predominantly made up of lights. I adore fairy lights and have plenty up all year round but at Christmas the whole house twinkles. Barely a room escapes and it looks beautiful and festive and warm and welcoming and I love it. It takes ages to go to bed though. All those switches.