Police have issued a warning to people looking to put their Christmas goodies out early: it is not just the youngsters curious about what is under the tree.
Hamilton tactical co-ordinator Senior Sergeant Freda Grace said many thieves were on the lookout for early Christmas trees.
"What we recommend to deter this and prevent becoming a victim of yuletide burglars is not to put presents out until Christmas Eve. That way not only do you keep thieves guessing, the joy of Christmas is that much bigger when young ones are surprised at what Santa bought them."
She also warned shoppers not to leave high-value or attractive items sitting on the back seat.
"They are a magnet for opportunist thieves to smash a window and make off with that camera, iPod or other easily transportable item. Either take them with you or lock them in the boot."
Evergreen Christmas store manager Kevin Lin said that, when asked for advice, he always suggested that trees and lights be set up away from windows and doors.
"I do advise that people should not put up trees where they are visible from outside - it's just a way of keeping things safer," he said.
Despite the warnings, Waikato folk are gearing up for a bright and colourful festive season, according to Mr Lin, who said lights in particular were a popular item.
"Not so much the decorations, but people are into lights in a big way and their popularity is growing," he said.
So is the expense, with many shoppers willing to part with more than $100 a pop as they become increasingly immersed in the Christmas spirit.
One wall-sized light set wishing people a "Merry Christmas" has a retail price of $2500. "We ordered eight and we only have one left," Mr Lin said, pointing to the flashing feature on the wall.
Customers were also focused on Christmas themes, with many arriving in store with a full description of requirements.
"Red and gold is very popular, but also very traditional, and blue and silver is also very popular," he said.
Festive ribbon is also crossing the counter in 10-metre rolls as people look to add flair to gifts and table settings.
"New Zealand is still not as full-on as the States," said Mr Lin, whose family arrived from Taiwan 20 years ago.
"But we are catching up fast, if this year is anything to go by," he said.
- Waikato Times