Christmas is rather a competitive activity, isn't it? From those rather ghastly households attempting to out-decorate their neighbours by festooning their brickwork with flashing reindeer, to the restaurants fighting to see who can charge the most for a Christmas lunch, this is the season of getting ahead.
Of course, nowhere is this more apparent than on the high-street. Indeed, many retailers wouldn't show an annual profit if it weren't for Yuletide - which is why window dressing becomes such a priority for stores throughout November and December.
Traditionally, London's Oxford and Regent Streets form the zenith of this festival of marketing display; and Selfridges - just beyond the junction of the two - usually wears the crown. Many hundreds of tourists and locals take the stroll from Oxford Circus tube, for the sole purpose of admiring the windows of the venerable department store (for their part, Selfridges hope a fair proportion of them will then enter and spend, spend, spend).
This year is different though. Selfridges has made a fair fist of their decorations, I admit. The theme is snowscapes, and we're greeted by a host of exquisite, tiny figures taking delivery of a range of giant gifts. All very festive and imaginative. But in 2013, John Lewis has trumped its neighbour.
In a truly stunning blaze of creativity the rival shop has filled its windows with animals. Not real animals, you understand - but creatures built from the goods on offer within. This has probably been done before, but I'd wager the execution has never been as fascinating, compelling, witty and joyous as these constructions.
So, if you're in the position to brave the swarming tribes of last-minute gift buyers, I urge you to head up West and spend a while marvelling at the windows of John Lewis. As I hope my amateur snaps show, they are an absolute triumph.
Magnus Shaw is a blogger, copywriter and consultant