Well, now that the battle of the Christmas TV adverts has well and truly began that can mean only one thing – it’s 5 Mondays till Christmas and it’s time to start getting organised! Christmas can be a magical time of year when family and friends celebrate together. Of course, there is also a great deal involved and it can actually be very stressful, especially in terms of managing children’s expectations versus the financial costs involved. In short, it is a very expensive time of year.
Firstly, it is very normal for children to have high, and even highly unrealistic, expectations in terms of what they want for Christmas. Many parents I speak to feel very guilty -they do not want their children to be disappointed on Christmas day and so they often go overboard and over spend – yet Santa is long gone before the credit card bill arrives.
Start to create the ethos that Christmas is a whole event, rather than just unwrapping expensive presents such as the latest phone or tablet.
So, once this is on the list, what else is there? Ideas could include:
- Going to see the Christmas lights as a family and buying hot chocolate afterwards
- Buying a tree together
- Making a Christmas cake
- Baking gingerbread men (and women!)
- Making paperchains as decorations
- Decorating the tree together
- Decorating the house together, with Christmas music on
- Writing a letter to Santa together one evening
- List of favourite foods everyone likes
- Buying a special toy for the cat and dog so they don’t get left out, and leaving it under the tree
- Singing carols
- Watching Christmas films as a family
- Going to the cinema together
You may well be pleasantly surprised by the ideas the children come up with. Why not start a new Christmas family tradition – it’s never too late for that.
What is a good idea to include in the list above is some kind of charity donation, and begin to talk about how Christmas is very much a time for giving to others. Charity collections are taking place now. Many schools will of course be collecting, so why not go shopping with your child to buy something, rather than doing that when they are in school? This way they are involved in the process. Tapping into the spirit of giving to others less fortunate is a cornerstone of what Christmas is about.
By creating a family plan of what Christmas means to you as a family, everyone can have a say and you can make far more of the festive period.
More ideas and tips will be coming over the next few weeks – next up – talking about money and financial expectations over Christmas, how Santa can help, and finally how learning to accept disappointment is actually a very important life lesson and how to manage it over Christmas.