My top tips for a stress-free Christmas

Dec 6 • Featured, Uncategorized • 882 Views • 9 Comments on My top tips for a stress-free Christmas

If you bought a copy of this month's Practical Parenting magazine you  may have seen a few tips from me on how to have a stress-free family Christmas. But if you haven't I just thought I'd share them with you here – and I'd love to hear yours, too:

*Don’t worry about everything being ‘perfect’
Christmas can be a stressful time for families – not just because of money, but because you're spending so much time together. If you try to make everything ‘perfect’ you’ll simply add to the pressure. So take it easy on yourself and try not to fret too much. If you’re doing the cooking, you don’t need to make cranberry/bread/brandy sauce from scratch, it doesn’t matter if the vegetables and side dishes are ready prepared or come out of a microwave. The most important thing is being together as a family and enjoying the day.

*Write down your timings
This is a tip I picked up from Nigella Lawson and it really works. Write down what sort of time you’re planning to eat, and then work backwards to find out what time everything needs to be in the oven. That way you can set the timer for whenever you need to put another dish in, you don’t need to spend all your time in the kitchen – and everything should be cooked perfectly.

*Stick to your child’s usual routine.
We've had quite a few Christmases in our house where the children have ended up asleep at the table (and in one case, with their face actually in their dinner). If you want your child to be able to make it through to Christmas dinner, let them have their afternoon nap as usual, and plan the timing of the meal around them. The grown-ups can keep going with canapés and snacks. And if you feel like a nap too, have one! Your guests will understand.

*Babies and little children don’t need lots of presents
I know, I know that there's a natural temptation to spoil your baby on Christmas Day – after all, it's their first Christmas! But it’s often said that babies are more interested in wrapping paper and boxes than the presents themselves – and it’s true! Trust me, if you ‘overwhelm’ your child with gifts they’ll quickly lose interest anyway. A few carefully chosen toys/games are all they really need. And don’t forget if you shop via KidStart you get money back for your child’s bank account or trust fund every time you shop.

*Buy a bumper pack of assorted batteries.
Inevitably someone will give your baby or child a fantastic, brightly coloured toy that they can’t wait to play with – but batteries won’t be included. So make sure you have a pack of assorted batteries (kept out of reach of little hands, of course) at the ready. This will save you from temper tantrums on Christmas Day. Yours, as well as theirs.

written by Liz Jarvis

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9 Responses to My top tips for a stress-free Christmas

  1. TheMadHouse says:

    Oh I so agree on the batteries, in addition to unpacking all the toys, those little wires are a killer. Also on the presents, my mum and dad used to say "something we want, something we need, sometime to wear and something to read"

  2. Mummy Bear says:

    Thanks for the tip on Kidstart. I didn’t know about that, d’oh!!

  3. Claire (20somethingmum) says:

    I say, for a stress-free Christmas, ditch the kids at the in-laws, and drink lots of champagne!

  4. Josie says:

    My stress-free plan is to spend the day at my mums’ – I will have my food provided all day, all-day childcare and my bed to nap in 🙂 x

  5. Trish says:

    As my boy has got older, my routines have changed. At primary school age, to stop him being overwhelmed with toys on Christmas Day, I used to pass one or two to him that were under the tree (especially dvds to keep him occupied!). Now he’s a teenager and will want to spend all morning in bed, we’ve moved the main meal to 4pm so we can have a leisurely day together without me fighting with him to get out of bed.

  6. Expat Mum says:

    Great points – especially about sticking to the kids’ schedules, no matter how pampered it might make them appear to other family members (which I once had to deal with). I would also add that if you’re "doing" Xmas at your house, you’re in charge, so people eat when you say, what you say etc. etc. Obviously you’re going to be a charming, pleasant host, but a little firmness is sometimes necessary. (Wink.)

  7. A Modern Mother says:

    Great advice about batteries! Also the tip about babies not needing lots of presents. I remember mine being fascinated with just the wrapping paper!

  8. Sam says:

    I totally agree with the batteries and I would also add that anything big that needs putting together should be done before it’s wrapped. The in-laws brought my son a tractor one year which required a great deal of construction – he was so distraught by the time it was finally in one piece he didn’t even want to get on it. Thus, in-laws were upset, my husband was beside himself with the stress of putting it together and all other presents were forgotten about, the day was a disaster and it was all down to one present!

  9. Viv says:

    Check presents for breakages or problems before the big day. I was so upset last year when my little girl unwrapped the Sylvanian family grand hotel and it was full of cracks. Also – I had bought it well in advance so I no longer had the receipt. This year – she has wanted an art set – so I have got her a "crayola spinaroo" – I have checked the box and there is only 5 sheets of the special round paper in it – so I have bought some extra from a seller on "Amazon" which seems to be the only stockist – oh – and I have bought the batteries it needs as well. Happy Christmas

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