Christmas is my favourite time of year. With just over 6 weeks to go, I am getting very excited and we know many of our customers are already planning theirs too.

Christmas is my favourite time of year. With just over 6 weeks to go, I am getting very excited and we know many of our customers are already planning theirs too. A huge amount of work goes on behind the scenes here to make sure it is just right for them, starting in some cases more than a year before products even go into store. Everything we do is geared to give our customers the best festive food, drink, decorations and gifts.

Tonight we launch our Christmas advert. It marks the start of our Christmas campaign, celebrating what makes Christmas special – a time to see family, have fun and give to others.

We had great fun building sets and laughing at fashions and toys of years gone by as we set the scene for the story of a family’s Christmases over six decades. We wanted to show what a real Christmas is all about - not a perfect, airbrushed one - but the ones we recognise from our own lives. I hope, like me, it reminds you of the special times you have spent with family and friends over the years. Those dreadful jumpers you may have worn or the presents, as a child, that you felt changed your entire world.

We’ll be asking our colleagues and customers to send pictures of theirs too. You can have a sneak preview of the 90 second version of our ad below, created with Wieden+Kennedy.

For all of us here at Tesco this is our busiest time of year.  We will be moving millions of products around the country, making thousands of home deliveries and green hats will start appearing on more than 300 of our stores from next week to get into the spirit!  Customers are already pre-ordering their turkeys and over the Christmas period we expect to sell around 9 million bags of potatoes, 1.5 million turkeys, 3 million bags of parsnips, 13 million packs of mince pies and 1.4 million finest* Christmas puddings.

Online shopping will be popular of course. Last year, 20% of our online customers were ordering their groceries via tablets or smartphones. This Christmas, we expect it to be over 30%. Many will be made on our new hudl. We also have a new design team for homeware and lifestyle and our Scandi, baking and retro collections have got people talking.

So it’s all hands on deck, and with our Helping Hands programme likely to be more popular than ever, we will see more than 5000 colleagues from our offices spend time in stores. They’ll provide almost 100,000 extra hours of support to ensure our customers get the best possible service.

But whilst Christmas is a time for family and for celebration, we know these remain tough times for many of our customers. While the economy may be showing signs of improvement, our customers tell us their household budgets remain under pressure.

Our aim at Tesco is to ensure that nothing gets in the way of a brilliant Christmas and reassure people that it remains within reach despite these challenging times. We know that we can help make our customers’ Christmas that bit easier, that bit more fun – and that’s what we’re setting out to do.

One example of how we’re helping our customers’ budgets go further is with Clubcard Boost. Until 20th December customers will be able to exchange £5 of Clubcard vouchers into £10 of tokens to spend on finest* wine and champagne, toys and bikes, hudls and mobile phones, clothing, homeware and gifts, amongst many other products.

But Christmas is also about thinking of those in need in our communities. We’ll be will be running our third Neighbourhood Food Collection, working alongside charities Trussell Trust and FareShare. It is now the biggest food collection in the UK and we aim to have reached a total of 10 million donated meals by the end of this year. I’m always amazed by the generosity of our customers and together we can do our bit to make sure everyone has a Christmas to remember.

PS just as I am posting this I get an early Christmas present - we have won Retailer of the Year at the Quality Food Awards last night in Park Lane, which is a great way to kick off Christmas.