There is no denying it that Christmas can be a terribly stressful time of year. The pressure seems to start earlier and earlier these days and there just seems to be a lot of demands. I thought I would share with you some of the ways I make Christmas easier and I also asked some bloggers for some advice on what they do too.
Keeping the Children Occupied
I tend to get the children doing Christmas crafts to keep them occupied whilst I get on with things. These can be for a purpose – such as Teacher Gifts – to help them feel they are putting something special in to say thank you. I find this really helps them give it their full attention and really put some effort in. I also find inspiration online or with recycled materials I see to encourage the boys to make new decorations for our tree. I am very much in the camp that they are only little for a short space of time and let them decorate the main tree how they like, and with their home made decs. Food Christmas activities also go down very well as the boys are allowed to fill themselves up on sweet delights that they do not normally have on a regular basis. This is even more exciting if they do not have to wait until after their dinner (snacks before are usually a big no no here too). Some of them are just one off to eat there and then, and other ideas mean they can snack on festive foods for a few days. Crafts also help with our son’s Sensory Processing Disorder to do some Sensory Crafts – like this Reindeer food we made last year.
I like to get them new books related to Christmas – whether that be a new reading book, colouring books (great for fine motor) and ones with activities – and if they have stickers too then that is fantastic. We have a bag of Christmas books and they go away with the decorations each year and then come out for the start of December. I think this tradition really helps to build up the excitement of Christmas with advent (which also is a big help as it helps manage children’s understanding of when Christmas actually is). This year we received Parragon’s Christmas 4000 Stickers: Frosty, festive and fun book (ISBN 978-1-4723-7893-4 £10.00). This book has so many fun Christmas activities and challenges (not to mention stickers) that there was plenty for my 6 and 8 year olds to share. Including a place for the children to write their wishlist to Father Christmas, Spot the difference, colouring in, drawing (including how to instructions), observation and counting skills, pairing, games, puzzles, jokes and more – not forgetting plenty of places to put all those lovely stickers. Books are also good for helping to relax – especially with them so hyper at bedtime! Not only is reading important it is for adults too. This year I have got the late Terry Pratchett’s final Discworld Novel in hardpack from Penguin Random House – The Shepherd’s House (ISBN: 978-0-857-53481-1 £20.00). It is beautifully presented, and easy to read – split into manageable sections. Whilst being readable by my 8 year old, I still found there were words slotted into the text that I had not heard of (but didn’t require looking up their meaning). I love how the book itself starts with a list of books by Terry Pratchett – a celebration of his greatness. The story itself is very quick to grab hold of the reader and get them wanting to know what happens next. A book of contrasts – endings and beginnings; dark and light; old friends and new; the good and the bad. Tiffany Aching has to summon the witches to protect her land.
Another way to help children get to sleep is with the use of light. Philips have a great selection of night lights for little ones which also make ideal stocking fillers: There’s the Disney Frozen Nightlight, £8.99; Sleeptime Mickey, £49.99; Frozen torches (chose from Anna, Elsa or Olaf), £5.99 each; Disney Nightlights and Projects (chose from Disney Princess or Frozen), £14.99; Winnie Softpal, £24.99 and the Olaf, Anna and Spiderman Softpals, £14.99 each. We have had an Olaf Softpal since July and our son still takes it to bed. It is soft enough to squeeze and treat like a toy and the light goes out when they are asleep. He has been so well used we had to replace the batteries (after panicking that it had broken because he loves it so much!)
Get the kids outdoors. It may be getting colder but you do not want all that excess energy and excitement stuck indoors! There’s plenty of Christmas events going on in the local areas and further afield. This year we have done The Stickman Trail with the Forestry Commission (based on the book), we are going to Legoland Windsor for Bricktacular (where we are seeing Father Christmas) and then Twycross Zoo as part of our final Stay, Play, Explore.
Dealing with Presents
Cat Parrott – “Start early is my best tip. It spoils December if you’re manically running around getting stuff ready. Although this year I haven’t taken my own advice because I’ve been busy with V (her baby), so I’m now in total panic!”
I quite agree. In fact I start buying on Boxing Day so that gifts, wrapping paper and tags can go back up in the loft with the Christmas Decorations. I wrap each of my children’s presents in different (coloured) wrapping paper – so I do not have to label each one (and no danger of them falling off), it is easier to visually sort into piles, and less likely that the wrong child will open the wrong present on the big day. I try to start early and wrap little by little so it isn’t all at once. In fact I have booked my ticket for London’s Toy Fair 2016 to see what the big toys are and then I purchase things as I see them. I think it is an idea to consider who you always buy for and whether what you buy greatly changes each year. I also make sure we see Father Christmas early – so that there’s time for the children to tell him what they want for Christmas whilst he still has time to visit the shops and buy what he needs.
Helen Jessup – Suggests using a spreadsheet. “I list what I’m buying for everyone& highlight it when I’ve bought it. Sometimes I add prices to make sure I’m on track. I also have one for the main meals over Christmas – what we’re eating & a shopping list for the ingredients.”
I have to admit I have never used a spreadsheet as I am an old fashioned paper and pen list kind of girl. But this makes so much sense to me as I could utilise it each year (especially remembering who to buy presents/cards for – as I could buy, wrap and tick off throughout the year and not forget!
As above I tend to get the children to make the children’s Teacher presents (with them) and this is a great way of giving the children a small responsibility for helping with presents. It also makes it cheaper. Alternatively you may want to utilise the internet for end of year gifts and there are so many great websites for gifts of all types, with many delivery options (whether you want it to be delivered to your home or theirs). For example Amazon have a wealth of clothes, gifts, toys, LEGO, books, blue-rays, the latest games and consoles and so on. It gives you time to shop around and compare prices. Especially if you check out the Amazon deal of the day.
BuyaGift.co.uk have a whole range of gift ideas: stocking fillers (perfect for a secret Santa), experiences, hampers, personalised, days out, adventures, pampering and general gift ideas. Perfect for absolutely everyone that needs a gift, or why not treat yourself! I have arranged an overnight Spa stay in a local hotel with a friend for the week leading up to the big day itself. It gives me something to focus on when trying to get through all the stress. The process of purchasing and redeeming my BuyaGift stay-over was really easy: I was sent a voucher with a code and pin. I then went on to the website where I had the option to change my voucher (if I wasn’t happy). I then obtained a phone number to book in and the whole thing was totally painless. My only problem was there were no weekends left in the run up to Christmas – but that’s to be expected with any good hotel in such an ideal location.
Louise Lloyd advises, “Not to move countries and have none of your stuff around you! I’m in major panic about Christmas and literally have no idea where to start this year. Will Santa even be able to find us?
Do you have any advice for Louise? I think the main thing is she has her family, and to me remembering that they are the most important thing is what Christmas is all about. And of course Santa will find Louise as I know she has been a good girl.
If you have a child with additional needs you may also be interested in:
I received the book from Parragon, the book from Penguin Random House, A voucher from BuyaGift.co.uk, and invited to Christmas in July with Amazon & Philips (on top of other previously disclosed review things) – all these are for purposes of an honest review and I all opinions are honest and my own.