There are boxes of mince pies piled high in festive packaging in eye-catching prime position displays in the local supermarket – so there is no doubt that Christmas is coming.
And it’s something many people have been looking forward to for months, in the belief that coronavirus will be well and truly defeated by then.
We all thought life would be back to normal and we would be able to celebrate by eating, drinking, putting on our paper hats and pulling crackers with far more enthusiasm than normal.
But that now looks like it may not be the case and many people are starting to wonder: Is Christmas cancelled?
When announcing the new rule of six, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was “too early to say” if big parties could be held at Christmas.
And when asked whether families would be able to celebrate together over the festive season, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Not necessarily.”
So how different could Christmas be this year?
Now the rule of six is coming into effect, it will mean a much stricter control on the number of guests around the Christmas dinner table.
And there will be additional rules to bear in mind when the local lockdown restrictions come into place for Birmingham, Sandwell and Solihull – they will mean you cannot host anyone in your home or garden unless they are in your support bubble.
So any guests you want to join you on Christmas Day would need to be part of your support bubble.
Where that extra restriction isn’t in place, you would only need to limit the total number at the table to six. But even that could pose problems in having to exclude family members or friends – for instance a family of five could only invite one grandparent.
The Birmingham restrictions will be reviewed so, fingers crossed, they could be lifted by the time Christmas comes around.
Turkey farmers are also waiting to see exactly what is happening, as smaller festive feasts will mean lower demand for a big bird.
The office Christmas knees-up is part of the festive season for many. But this year that rule of six is going to come into play.
Groups attending any venue for drinks and food can’t be any larger than that number.
And if you separate into parties of six, you won’t be able to interact with the other groups, so it will be a much smaller-scale celebration than usual.
These might still be able to go ahead.
If planning an indoor or outdoor face-to-face performance in front of a live audience, schools are urged to follow the latest advice in the Government’s performing arts guidance.
This is a case of ‘Oh no it isn’t’ for many festive productions.
The pantomimime season has more or less been cancelled by coronavirus.
This means shows including Goldilocks and the Three Bears at Birmingham Hippodrome, Peter Pan at the Alexandra Theatre, Beauty and the Beast at the Old Rep, and Cinderella at the Grand Theatre Wolverhampton have all been moved to Christmas 2021 instead.
Indoor theatres, music and performance venues were allowed to reopen with socially distanced audiences from Saturday August 15 but have had to rearrange their programmes.
Many shows had already been moved to next year during the uncertainty that overshadowed everything during lockdown.
Many Christmas attractions are being scrapped because it will be too difficult to follow social distancing guidelines.
Birmingham’s German Market has been cancelled this year – it willl be the first time since 2001 the seasonal shopping attraction has not taken place.
Organiser Kurt Stroscher said: “Christmas markets like this are a place for socialising and ‘cosy closeness’, which couldn’t be offered with social distancing and hygiene rules introduced to help protect people from Covid-19.
“Consideration was also given to the possibility visitors might not adhere to the social distancing rules and behave in ways that they have been used to in the past. Under no circumstances did we want the Christmas market to become a place that promotes the pandemic.”
Worcester Victorian Christmas Fayre has also been cancelled, but a range of smaller festive attractions across the four December weekends will be arranged instead, including food markets, a Christmas trail for families and acoustic musicians. This is one way of keeping the festive cheer alive in the absence of the usual main attraction.
Christmas services and carol singing
Places of worship have reopened with a limit of six people attending per group, according to new guidelines for England. That’s a maximum per group, not for the building as a whole.
Birmingham Cathedral is among those places that have reoepened. It has a ticket-only booking system to limit numbers.
Face coverings are required inside all places of worship.
Christmas church services should be able to go ahead, but without the congregation singing. This means carol singing won’t be happening this year, whether inside or outside a church.
Government rules on churches say there should be only one singer, stood behind a screen, and recommend that recorded music is used instead.
The idea of Santa sitting there with a face mask over his big white beard seems pretty absurd, but the traditional festive grotto might need a makeover. Social distancing is going to mean no more sitting on Santa’s knee for a start.
Matthew Wise, managing director of Great Grottos, which runs more than 200 grottos in shopping and garden centres across the UK, told the BBC he expected the Christmas grotto to “move away from enclosed structures towards more expansive open staged settings with decorative backdrops.”
He said this would allow Santa, his elves and all the families to social distance safely.
Mr Wise said: “Garden centre grottos may prove to be the likely winners. They are able to delay their decision making on Christmas until the latest point and react more immediately.”