WITH Christmas lights being switched on around the region and bauble-clad trees becoming a common sight, you cannot help but think about preparing for the Big Day.

Aside from the time with family, getting all your presents wrapped and trips to see Santa, one of the most important things to get ready is of course the food.

Dorothy at the award-winning Hazelmere Cafe and Bakery, Grange, got me in the Christmassy mood with her stollen recommendation - one of my favourite seasonal treats.

The traditional German cake - called Weihnachtsstollen or Christstollen during the Christmas season - contains dried fruit and marzipan and is often covered with sugar, powdered sugar or icing sugar.

It can be bought by the block or costs £1.65 a slice. Andy Swinscoe, at The Courtyard Dairy, near Settle, is also dreaming about the 25th and the crumbly and fresh Anster cheese, which he said goes down well with Christmas cake.

He is also busy sending out orders for Dale End Cheddar, which shot to fame last week on Paul Hollywood’s Pies and Puds.

For the centrepiece of the day, you could have the traditional turkey or opt for geese, duck, game, beef, lamb or pork, all available to order now from Watson and Woollard, Kendal.

If you are more of a fish person Kendal Fisheries are also taking Christmas orders, and in the meantime have a great deal on fresh fish pie mix. Containing cod, haddock, hake, halibut, salmon and smoked salmon, this would make a lovely warming winter dish and even better is the special deal - £5.50 for 1lb or £10 for 2lb.

If it will be lunch for one or two, perhaps English lamb rumps from Higginsons Butchers, Grange, would be more suitable. Minted or plain, these are approximately £3.50 each.

For dessert, Baba Ganoush, Kendal, are selling Irish Whiskey fruit cake in a range of sizes, ideal for Christmas. Although on Christmas Day it is nice to cook your own lunch, there is no reason whatsoever not to sample the creations of others beforehand.

At Burton Community Stores Cafe 27 bookings can now be made for the Christmas lunches on December 4 and 11. For just £12.99 you get a two-course meal, including a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, and on December 19 pensioners can enjoy a luncheon for £10.

At Growing with Grace, Clapham, everything is starting to come to an end, although mixed salad - £1.99 for 100g bag - are still available along with watercress. Leeks, although not quite ready, should be available soon.

These could be used for a leek and potato soup starter, or creamed or butter steamed as part of your main.