Will there be trick or treaters this year? Photo: Bekir Donmez

Is it too early to be baking for Christmas?

Okay, it’s not Halloween yet but I am already in Christmas mode. 

I got all my ingredients for the cake (I don’t make pudding anymore but bake a fresh one – delicious – when needed) and I have already made my mincemeat for the many (many) pies that will be baked.

I love this time of year as I am preparing for my favourite day. I love the big day, cooking the big dinner and everything that goes with it.

I don’t mean the commercial frantic stress but the calm beautiful long evenings in front of the fire or the days in a steamy kitchen making edible gifts for friends and family.

This is the time I make chutneys and relishes, write recipes for friends and bind them in little books (this year’s one will go to Canada), start sewing little gift bags and so much more.

It is also the time when I am thinking of gift ideas for food lovers. I would write ideas down in my notebook (yes, I still use pen and paper) and come November, I publish my now famous (at least I think it is famous) gift guide.

I think, this year’s gift guide will include some ideas for homemade gifts just in case we can’t get to the shops when needed.

And maybe this year is the perfect time to get back to basics and think about how many gifts we or the children really need (gosh, I am getting all philosophical here!)?

Next week is Halloween and normally, I have little bags filled with sweet treats next to my door in case trick or treaters are calling. Over the years, the local kids have grown up and are now too cool to call, so most of the sweets are eaten by the wonderfully greedy Mr T and myself.

This year, people are asked not to call to houses for treats and I can only imagine the disappointment for kids as they are planning their outfits and route for the best treats. My mum loved Halloween, not for the parties but for the eager kids who called and shouted to get the best treats. They loved calling to the house as I was at the door handing out treats while my mum was at the window doing the same – double whamming!

We would sit in the morning filling bags, making sure that all bags contained the same amount of sweets and my mum would eat with delight any uneven number of sweets (just to be fair to the children of course) as she had an awfully sweet tooth herself.

We now have a few new smallies in our road and the parents might bring them to the door – if they do, I will have little bags ready (it’s tradition after all in my house) and if not, Mr T will be in for a treat with his favourite sweets (I always make sure that there is some Bounty for him).

As much as I love this time of year, it also brings to mind that my mum isn’t with me anymore to share the laughs and to craft and bake together. She loved this time of year as well and we spent wonderful afternoons together.

Now, how many sweets per bag are sufficient?