Okay, so everyone has their thoughts on this topic, so I thought I'd throw in my two cents. First up: When the season actually starts. Personally, I don't think there should be ANY Christmas commercials until the day after Thanksgiving. There is a holiday between Halloween and Christmas, in case you'd forgotten. I'm fortunate enough to work someplace that recognizes the importance of Thanksgiving (and so do our customers). Also, Christmas commercials are a reminder that winter is on the way, which is not exactly welcome in early November. I don't know, the day after Halloween just seems too soon to start hawking snow globes or Christmas sales. Also, nothing annoys me more than ABC Family's "Countdown to 25 Days of Christmas." It's not enough to have a pre-Christmas movie special; we need 25 Christmas movies before Christmas. But even that isn't enough anymore; now we need the pre-pre-Christmas show.
Second: Is it "Merry Christmas" or "Happy holidays"? My answer is both. The truth of the matter is that while Christmas may be the most widely celebrated holiday in this country, it's not the only one. So I generally tell people "Happy holidays" through most of December because there's a whole season of days to celebrate. But then right before December 25th I switch to "Merry Christmas." My rationale for this is that, even if someone doesn't celebrate Christmas, you can still wish them well for the day. Like wishing a happy Fourth of July to someone in Canada or England. Personally, if someone were to wish me a happy Hanukkah I wouldn't be insulted.