Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall. ~ Larry Wilde
Christmas certainly has that extra bit of magic when you are around children. The excitement they feel is contagious and you find yourself wanting to make each year more magical than the last.
The cost of Christmas has been rising with many people / influencers discussing all the high-cost presents that they will be buying for children this year. I saw one story recently about a woman who had spent almost £5000 on presents for her son and had sent in a photo of herself with all the presents wrapped under her tree. The pile was honestly like a mountain, and even I found it overwhelming to think about opening all of those!
When I was a child, we weren’t exactly flush. I never wanted for anything don’t get me wrong, but I come from a family that was split at a very early age and my mum was a hard-working single mum for most of my young life.
From all those years, I have one memory of an actual Christmas present and that was a stuffed golden retriever that came in a wicker basket with a smaller stuffed puppy to match, which Santa had left at the base of my bed and not under the tree… so out of character… perhaps it was a “how the hell am I going to wrap that” moment, so just left it on my bed.
That is the only memory I have of an actual present. I have such amazing memories of waking up and running in to wake up my mum and run downstairs as fast as my feet could carry me to see what was under the tree but never what was inside the brightly coloured wrapped boxes.
I have plenty of memories of decorating the tree and the bannisters, covering the windows in fake snow spray and little plastic stickers, making hot chocolate and my mum strategically placing brightly coloured foil decorations (you know the ones from the 70s, 80s & 90s) with blu-tac on the ceiling under my very specific supervision. I remember Christmas Day morning. After I had opened my presents and got dressed, the doorbell would go and I would barrel down the stairs to beat my mum to the door and open it to see my grandparents with my Santa sack (which I still get given my gifts in, even now in my late 20s). We would all sit down for the obligatory Christmas dinner which I am not a great fan of to be honest, but it’s tradition and I just remember wishing the adults would hurry up and eat their dinner so that I would be allowed down from the table and get the board games out from under the stairs for us all to play! The main thing I remember from the day is laughter and just noise… so so loud!
I have gone off onto a bit of a waffle, but I have so many great festive memories and I get a warm and fuzzy feeling reliving them now. The point I am making is the magic of Christmas for me when I was a child and even now, is the presence of family not the presents. Children will not remember what you spent or what they got, but the times you shared.
According to recent research, the average British adult will also fork out £548 on Christmas gifts in 2021, a £72 increase from 2020’s budget. Overall, the UK is planning to spend £25.6 billion this year on Christmas gifting alone. With nearly 1 million children in the UK under the age of 11 facing Christmas without a warm home and fresh food according to a news report in the independent it really makes you grateful for what you do have and makes you think about what the true value of Christmas is. Here are some helpful tips to keep the magic of Christmas alive for everyone:
A tip that my family have used for generations is that Santa brings 1 small gift, normally a colouring or activity book and the rest were from my family. This way other children will not feel heartbroken that Santa brought Jimmy a bike and football and an iPad, but he only bought them a colouring book. Not all parents can afford to give their children all they have on their wish list so to make life a little easier for them this is a great tactic to make sure every child feels included.
‘Preparation’ and ‘Planning’ are your friends
Plan your days in the lead up to Christmas well. Don’t leave everything last minute like the shopping or the wrapping. Do it bit by bit and leave yourself time! Christmas dinner … plan plan plan. You can prep everything possible the night before and write yourself a step-by-step list of timings etc then when you wake up on Christmas morning and everything is busy you have direction, order, and a little sanity!
Have realistic expectations
I’m pretty sure that children are not going to become angels on Christmas day. Especially as you may or may not (don’t worry we won’t tell) have been keeping your kids in line for the last few months with the threat of the naughty list and no presents! Well now they have the presents and no fear of Santa for another year! They may test your boundaries, they may be extra loud and probably obnoxious, but it’s expected with the excitement and extra sugar from the selection box! I’m not saying that bad behaviour is acceptable just because its Christmas but don’t put any extra pressure on yourself by expecting them to be perfect!
Remember to relax and have fun
Christmas really is about spending quality time with family and friends. The quality of the time will not be the same if you are not relaxed children can often pick up on vibes from their parents and what’s the worst that can happen? You burn the turkey!!! …. Extra pigs in blankets it is! Don’t sweat the small stuff enjoy the day and laugh as much as you can! It is your Christmas too!
The world is full of things to make parents feel inadequate and the amount of guilt you feel at times as a parent about “failing your child” can be overwhelming, when ultimately your child is healthy and happy! Don’t let Christmas become an occasion where you miss out on the magic and fun because you allow your feelings and worries to take over.
I hope you will take some of this on board and have a wonderful Christmas!