When Christmas arrives, most of us spend a lot of money and time making the holiday ideal, so penny pinching and careful spending can go out the window.
For one mother, the holiday season is the time to go all out, having spent £40,000 on decorations in the previous six years.
Every year, Joanne Buckley-Smith transforms her home into a winter paradise with a different theme, and she begins buying as early as January to ensure everything is ready.
This year, the 41-year-old has spent £700 on a Santa light, £1,700 on two MacKenzie-Childs stags, £600 on a MacKenzie-Childs snowman, and $500 on a dancing Grinch from the US.
“I decorate differently every year, and I never do the same theme twice,” Joanne explained.
Despite the fact that I spend a lot of money on Christmas decorations, I’m not a big spender on myself – I’d rather buy my decorations than a pair of Louboutins.”
Her “normal 14 Christmas trees” have been replaced by “huge life-size figures and designer things” for this year’s decor.
Due to her passion to holiday decoration in her village of Halstead, Essex, the mother of one is known as Mrs Christmas.
“I’ve spent far over £40,000 in six years,” she admitted. But it doesn’t always look like that every year since I don’t utilize everything and there’s a lot stowed away.”
Each room in her house has a different theme, and it takes months to prepare and nearly a week to decorate.
This year, Joanne has also purchased a large sack of presents for £850, big baubles for £140 apiece, and nutcrackers for £600 each, all of which are new additions to her extensive collection.
Joanne and her husband Andrew, who own Braintree Van Sales and a property company, have mixed more traditional appearances with an eye-catching homage to The Grinch.
“This year, I went with burgundy and gold in the hallway and entrance, and then the living room is the Grinch area, which is like being in Whoville,” she explained.
“I have a huge dancing Grinch that arrived from the US a couple of weeks ago and that I ordered in August.” Then there’s my Santa and snowmen through the corridor.
The kitchen is decorated with MacKenzie-Childs products and has a Nutcracker motif.”
With the current cost of living issue on everyone’s mind, Joanne admitted that she’d “probably overdone it” this year, but her love of Christmas makes it all worthwhile.
Joanne not only spreads Christmas cheer at her own home, but she also performs an Advent handout for local school children and has given her adjacent church a new 10ft Christmas tree and decorations.
The mother also employs Santa to visit the neighborhood children and provide gifts.
She receives the occasional harsh comment, but it doesn’t bother her because she feels trolls are unaware of how much she gives back to her community.
“Every now and again, I get a bad message,” she added. It’s never about my Christmas attire, but about how much money I spend. Everyone assumes that I don’t help or give to others, yet I actually do a lot.
“I just got a new 10ft Christmas tree with decorations for the church, and I work a lot with the youngsters in the village and neighborhood.”
The three-person family intends to visit the Ritz in London for their traditional Christmas vacation and is unfazed by the cost of living problem.
“A lot of people definitely aren’t going to be able to go over the top as much as I can afford to do, so they can all just come and admire my property as many times as they like!” Joanne explained.
“If you have a Christmas spirit, you can manufacture things if you can’t afford decorations.” I’ve seen folks make their own Nutcrackers because the prices can be exorbitant.
“It’s become significantly more pricey this year.” Some of my American purchases have import fees that are as high as the item itself. It can be a nightmare, but America has the more elaborate displays.
“But it’s worth it for me since I like to have something unique that no one else has.”
Joanne will host eight family members on Christmas Day. Her son, too, is getting into the holiday mood by dressing up as a Christmas figure for the kids.
Andrew, Joanne’s husband, is still “going along with it,” but she claims he sits and shakes his head when she goes through the door with new decorations, oblivious to her obsession.
“In the lead up to Christmas, I like to throw a lot of parties and game evenings so family and friends can all come and have a look at our Christmas house – and spend an evening here,” Joanne explained.
“It’s taken me a little longer to install everything this year since I’ve been busy at work and normal everyday family life has taken over.” It took me six days to fit it in when I returned home.
“My teenage son isn’t as interested as he once was, but happily, I have my young niece and nephew who have taken up his enthusiasm.”
Strangers recognize Joanne when she’s out and about and call out to “Mrs Christmas” to tell her they’ve seen her on TV. But Joanne takes it all in stride, especially because she enjoys being renowned for her Christmas enthusiasm.
“I share my passion of Christmas with the entire community,” she added, “and the youngsters ask me all year when I’m going to put up my decorations.”
“I was recognized even when I was in Dorset in the summer.” My hubby was astounded. It was hilarious!”