FOR all your Christmas shopping inspiration – the Festive Gift Fair at the NEC in Birmingham is the place to start.

When I first stepped inside the hall, you could immediately see why the event marks the start of the festive season for most – despite only being mid-November.

Christmas music and entertainment kicked-off the festivities, plus the hundreds of stalls overflowing with gift ideas for all your family and friends, and decorations to ensure your home is ready for the most wonderful time of the year.

Visitors to the Festive Gift Fair are encouraged to wear their Christmas best – with a sea of people wearing festive jumpers, outfits and accessories - to really help you get into the seasonal mood.

I was pleasantly surprised with all the goods that were on offer – think Christmas tree decorations, party games, children’s toys, jewellery, clothes, comics, beauty gifts, homeware, gifts for your pet, charity memberships – plus plenty of festive food and drink (my personal favourite part). Stalls in the food and drink aisles were happy to let you try before you buy – with plenty of cheese, savouries, sweets, chocolate and alcohol on offer.

The Fair does get rather busy – I attended on the Friday and the hall was heaving at around midday – so if you attend the event on a weekend, expect it to be even busier.

But, to kick-start the Christmas season, the Festive Gift Fair at the NEC in Birmingham, is the place to be.