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 Christmas

  • When packing up the decorations, put in a letter to yourself, which you'll find next December. Write your hopes for the year and your tips for a successful Christmas (and what not to do!) Get the children to do it, too. (Stepfordsroastingonanopenfire)
  • If you want to make leftovers go a bit further, blitz them up and then add stock to make a soup. If you're going to freeze it, do it before adding the stock to save space in the freezer. (BiscuitStuffer)
  • If you have a digital camera and children too young (or reluctant) to write thank you notes, take a snap of the child with each present and then email it to the sender with a simple thanks so much, he/she loved X. (Cll)
  • If you're heading up to the parents/in-laws for New Year, check out if there are any indoor playcentres nearby and when they're open over the holiday season. Being able to take the kids somewhere to let off steam will help everyone's nerves! (Berta)
  • Make a shopping list before you head to The Sales. That way you're looking for what you actually need and can avoid impulse buying. (hugeheadofangelhair)
  • If you have some champagne left after a party, put some sultanas in the bottle. It doesn't change the taste but the sugar make it bubbly again. (thelma2008)
  • Relax, it's Christmas! (CinnamonStix)
  • Keep kids in bed until you are ready to get up by putting an alarm clock in the bedroom and telling them the alarm will go off when Santa has been and left the presents. (MummyClausGoneCrazy)
  • Don't wrap sex toys in the same ^unlabelled^ wrapping paper as the Power Rangers. (bambiandthumper)
  • Christmas stockings should contain the following something to eat, something to make, something to keep and something that makes them laugh. This ensures at least half an hour of peace first thing. (mummydoc)
  • Prepare your Christmas dinner in advance. You can pre-cook at freeze stuffings, bread sauce, cranberry sauce and pre-prepared sprouts. It makes Christmas day so much easier. (bon)
  • Never combine the unaccustomed wearing of false nails with the wearing of 'magic knickers' at any festive event where use of the facilities may be required. (Peachy)
  • You do not need new clothes for the party. If you choose something in a rush between school drop-off and work, what chance does it honestly have of being nicer than anything you already own? (TheBrandyButterflyEffect)
  • To avoid tears on Christmas Day, don't forget to check what batteries are required for each present, and ensure you have a good stock in the house. (Reggiee)
  • If your children are getting a DS LIte or similar for Christmas, to avoid disappointment, make sure that you've checked the instructions as it's reputed to need a long charge (e.g. 8/16 hours) like a mobile phone. (Enid)
  • No matter how well you think you've hidden your children's Christmas presents, always, always, ALWAYS cover them in a bin liner so they cannot be glimpsed (sob). (estar)
  • A sleeping dog left alone in a room with a Christmas tree decorated with chocolate baubles will soon wake up. (cornishgirl54)
  • Don't throw away Christmas catalogues. Find a large piece of paper and your children will be happy for hours cutting and pasting furniture into their 'house'. (CliffRichardSucksEgg)
  • Children rarely care how much you spend on presents as long as they get a stocking full of tat and something in a big box. (TheBurnAGuyEffect)
  • If you want to avoid living with a Christmas tree that looks like a Woolworths explosion, but don't want to exclude the kids from helping to decorate, then why not buy them a tree for their bedrooms. Let them throw as much tinsel and baubles over as they please and everyone's happy! (melaniespeaking)
  • Don't throw away old Christmas cards, instead cut them up to make gift tags for next year. (muminthemiddle)
  • Stuck for pressies for the kids? Ask other parents what their children loved as favourite toys at a similar age. Some of our most successful presents were hot tips from other people. (isitmidnightalready)
  • For cheap and easy Xmas decorations, cut out stars from old cereal packets and cover them with tin foil. Hang them on the tree with wool or cotton thread. (Lolasmum)
  • Get the children to help you sort out old toys and clothes for charity. You'll remember things they've loved in the past and you're teaching them about caring for those less fortunate. PLUS you'll have lots of room for whatever Santa squeezes down the chimney this year! (candy)
  • Save time writing Christmas cards by not sending any this year. Spend the money on sherry instead. (FrannyandZooey)
  • Make a list of everyone's name and address who sent you a Christmas card this year and store it in your Christmas box for next time. (Bookswapper)
  • Start Christmas shopping - now! If you haven't already.. (hormonalmum)
  • Wrap presents as you buy them. This means you won't have so much to do at the last minute when you are busy with all the other Christmassy things. (chocolatekimmy)
  • For Christmas my partner and I give each other a booklet of emergency time out vouchers. Valid for a year, we can cash them in anytime we really need a rest. It's fun to design them and it costs nothing! (hosannainIXELsis)
  • If anyone suggests buying your DC a 'toy' drum for Christmas, just say no. Even the toy ones are MUCH TOO LOUD. (MsMarple)
  • Taking the tree down? Wrap it in a dust sheet/old blanket to prevent dragging needles through the house. (champagnesupernova)
  • If you want to go out with friends on New Year's Eve - get them to bring their kids and sleep over - that way you can save money on babysitters and there's more folk to help out with the kids the next day. (Unknown)
  • Cut up an old Christmas card into a jigsaw puzzle and keep it in a matchbox for use on trains or planes. (Unknown)
  • Use raffle tickets on presents under the tree to add to the excitement on Christmas Day. Give each child the appropriate half of the ticket, then they have to find the present with the matching number on under the tree. (frannydandy)
  • Remember to jot down the sender's name when Christmas presents are opened, ready for thank you letters. (katzg)
  • Always have some small extra presents wrapped up for emergencies. Children often get surprise presents from school friends and this saves a last minute shopping frenzy trying to reciprocate! (fuzzystone)
  • Don't try and fit in too many relatives and visitors at Christmas! Make sure your children have plenty of time to chill out and enjoy playing with their new toys. (roisin)
  • Let your children each choose a new decoration for the tree each Christmas. It's a lovely way to help create memories for them - and when they leave home they can take their decorations with them. (janeite)
  • At Christmas, put the baubles back in the box and decorate the tree with biscuits shaped like stars and santas. Much more fun and safer with toddlers! (Bettys)
  • Christmas pressies from relatives: if asked for ideas tell them some small but high-quality item to add to something the kids already have, like a Brio tunnel. In that way, the kids get pressies you know they will enjoy as oposed to more plastic tat to be left around / stood on / sucked up the hoover in the not-too-distant future. (isitmidnightalready)
  • Put a box for each child out of their reach (on top of the wardrobe?) and keep all their gifts in there. Saves you loads of time and you keep tabs on how much you've bought. (Christmassbee)
  • Have two trees this Christmas: a nice one downstairs, and a little one upstairs that your kids can 'decorate' themselves. (mustrunmore)
  • Warning: don't buy your kids Christmas presents too early - they often change their minds during the last couple of weeks before Christmas and it's then either too late or very expensive! (stephj)
  • When wrapping presents up for birthday or Christmas, selotape the correct batterries to the gift. That way the child can use it straight away and save tears. (Gigantaur)
  • Christmas is just around the corner, start looking in Charity shops for bargain presents. (Tortoise)
  • When wrapping birthday/Christmas presents, sellotape the correct batteries to the box. that way when they open them they can play immediately without the need to hunt the house or run to the shop (Gigantaur)
  • Before wrapping the Christmas presents for the kids, take the toys out of their boxes, and take off all the tags and ties and sticky tapes. (BlueberryPancake)
  • Do not wrap the children's presents in the same wrapping paper that Santa uses. It'll save lots of confusion and questioning. (Armadilla)
  • Let your children choose a new decoration for the tree each Christmas. It's a lovely way to help create memories for them - and when they leave home they can take their decorations with them. (Janeite)
  • Remember, you're in charge of setting the traditions in your family at Christmas. If you don't fancy being woken by your kids at dawn every Christmas Day, don't let Santa leave stockings overnight in their room. Have them appear on the day instead. (clairer)
  • If you want to avoid living with a Christmas tree that looks like a Woolworths explosion, but don't want to exclude the kids from helping to decorate, then why not buy them a tree for their bedrooms. Let them throw as much tinsel and baubles over as they please and everyone's happy! (Melaniespeaking)
  • Snowman gone a bit lop-sided? Put a stick down the middle to make it stand straight. (Porpoise)
  • If there are still presents that haven't yet been played with, hide them away and bring them out on days throughout the year when the children are bored or stuck inside on a rainy day. (Pans)
  • Look up your local Christmas ice rink and take the whole family ice-skating. It's a great way of getting everyone outdoors. And skating under all those twinkly lights is a magically festive experience.
  • To save time when wrapping presents, pre-cut lots of little bits of sticky tape and stick them along the side of table. This way, you won't have to keep stopping to cut tape. (MerryMellowmas)
  • No matter how well you think you've hidden your children's Christmas presents, always, always, ALWAYS cover them in a bin liner so they cannot be glimpsed (sob). (estarofwonder)
  • For a lovely Christmassy fragrance in the home, make a pomander using an orange, ribbon, a drawing pin and some cloves. Wrap ribbon around orange and secure with drawing pin. Tie in bow or a loop for hanging. Poke cloves through orange skin. (mont)
  • Every year, put your Christmas photographs in one album. You build up a lovely collection of family christmases and can see how much the children have grown over the years. (stonekins)
  • Let your children each choose a new decoration for the tree each Christmas. It's a lovely way to help create memories for them. And, when they eventually leave home, they can take "their" decorations with them. (janeite)
  • Get each member of the family to make their own Christmas stockings, using colourful pieces of felt. They can personalise them with their favourite Christmassy shapes and feel extra proud to see them hanging on the fireplace!
  • Save money and make your own Christmas cards. Use silver foil to cut out snowmen/stars/baubles and stick onto coloured card with a little glitter. It's so easy, even your toddler can help! (batey)
  • Type out address labels for your Christmas cards, will not take much longer than writing and will be ready for next year. (MarmadukeScarletbloodstains)
  • Spend Christmas Eve preparing treats for when Santa visits. He loves mince pies, biscuits and sherry – and don’t forget something for the reindeer!
  • On Christmas morning gather around the tree and let the family take turns handing out the pressies. Make sure there are 'to/from' labels attached - the person whom just received a gift gets to choose who gets the next one. It's a great way of making the gift giving & receiving process last!
  • Ask the kids to choose their favourite Christmas pop tunes. Then get them in teams, choreographing dances for a big, lively dance-off - they'll burn off that festive excitement in no time!
  • Create a Santa's Grotto in your garden using some chairs for the walls, cardboard boxes for the roof and an old sheet to cover it up. Decorate with festive leaves - and get Dad to dress up as Santa and have fun with the kids!
  • Keep the kids occupied by getting them to write their very own Christmas pantomime. Get them to use their imaginations by making costumes out of whatever's lying about the house. The whole family will have fun when they perform it!
  • Look up your local Christmas ice rink and take the whole family ice-skating. It's a great way of getting the family outdoors and is also fantastic exercise. Bring along a thermos filled with the kid’s favourite hot drink - this is the perfect family festive day out!
  • Try making your own Christmas crackers! Save the tubes from toilet-rolls - use a whole one for the middle and chop in half for the ends. Cover with wrapping paper, put a cracker-snap through the middle and fill with home-made paper hats, jokes and treats.
  • Have a games session with the family to keep everyone occupied - play traditional games like cards, pictionary or charades, and create a Christmas quiz with a prize for the winner! (yellowhiar)
  • Make your own recycled Christmas cards - cut up last year's cards into Christmassy shapes like a snowman or star and stick onto a plain background - or combine with old gift tags to make a creative collage. It's fun to do and avoids waste!
  • Have a traditional games session with the family and play cards, pictionary or charades, then create a Christmas quiz with a prize for the winner.
  • Organise a Christmas treasure hunt around your garden to keep the family active. Invent festive clues and get them hunting for little presents, like golden chocolate coins, before they are allowed to get onto the big ones! That will keep everyone excited
  • Collect popcorn, cranberries, star anise, cinnamon sticks, acorn shells, seashells with a natural hole, pinecones, citrus fruit peels and apple slices with cloves stuck into them. String together for a pretty tree decoration. Use only popcorn if you want it to look like snow.
  • Get the kids into the festive spirit by writing and decorating their letter to Santa. Encourage them to talk about their hobbies and school as well what they want for Christmas. Get out the pens and glitter to make the letter really sparkle.
  • Buy heated hand warmers to pop in your gloves when going out for free-range wintry walks with the family over the festive season, especially before your big Christmas dinner, to get some fresh air and stay warm whilst working up your appetite!
  • Get each member of the family to make their own Christmas stockings, using colourful pieces of felt. They can personalise them with their favourite Christmassy shapes and feel extra proud to see them hanging on the fireplace!
  • Collect match boxes to stick onto your very own homemade advent calendar. Make everyone pick an outdoor family activity and pop it in a box along with a treat... you'll have plenty of ideas for what to do in the run up to Christmas!
  • Do your Christmas shopping online. A nice evening with a glass of wine is far preferable to dragging kids round the shops. (LemonTart)
  • For Christmas and birthdays, buy gifts that can be 'built on' - eg lego or duplo, playmobil, train sets, dolls house etc. You can add to the set each year, rather than filling your home with endless new toys. (astrophe)
  • Before you wrap up presents that come in boxes - open the box and remove all those horrible plastic ties and little bags - when your child opens the present they can play with it straight away rather than wait for half and hour for you to liberate the imprisoned toy. (Jenkeywoo)
  • Don't forget to stock up on a range of batteries and have scissors and screw-drivers to hand to disentangle toys from the ridiculous packaging. (Monty)
  • Children love opening the paper as much as they want the presents. Wrap everything separately so that the present pile looks bigger and the unwrapping goes on for longer! (naughtynoonoo)
  • To prevent children sneaking a look at their presents under the tree use colour coding instead of name tags so they don't know which are theirs. (lockets)
  • At Christmas or birthday parties, elect a single person to concentrate on writing down who gave what to whom. That way you shouldn't miss out any thank you letters. (Bron)
  • Want a nice bulging stocking for the children but don't want to buy huge amount of trinkets? Take up space and make it colourful by adding a bit of tinsel between gifts and using plenty of tissue paper! (Lemon Tart)
  • Prevent small presents being chucked out by mistake on Christmas morning by having a box ready to put wrapping paper in once presents are open. (DingDongTiptoesMerrilyOnHigh)
  • Before wrapping up your children's presents open the boxes and remove all of those little twisty bits of wire holding the toy to the package. Make Christmas Day much less stressful. (Hulababy)
  • Wrap your Christmas pressies as you buy them and store them in boxes or bags specific to each member of your family. It will save precious time and very late nights in the week before Christmas. (cadeauxbury)
  • Dressing the kids up in costumes (Santa/snowman etc.) and sticking their photo onto cards, makes for much more interesting Christmas cards than the usual ones. (aliceb)
  • Serve Christmas dinner in serving plates down the middle of the table. DO NOT dish up! Let children enjoy choosing for themselves and take the pressure off worrying what fussy eater are, or aren't doing. (jillmurphy)
  • If your children don't like brussel sprouts, cook them until tender, soak them in butter and cover them in breadcrumbs...yum. (tabbaz)
  • Get the children to help you sort out old toys and clothes for charity. You'll remember things they've loved in the past and you're teaching them about caring for those less fortunate. PLUS you'll have lots of room for whatever Santa squeezes down the chimney this year! (candy)
  • Don't leave all the wrapping until the wee small hours of Christmas day or you will be so tired when your cherub tells you Santa's been (at quarter to five!). (Bellabop)
  • Save any interesting Christmas card fronts and invest in a pair of crinkly edged scissors, then in time for next year spend a wet November afternoon making funky gift tags - lots of fun and much cheaper too! (Mo2)
  • To delight kids at Christmas take big boots and sprinkle flour around them. On Christmas morning say it is the snow shaken off Santa's coat. (Law)
  • Put all this year's Xmas cards in with the Xmas decorations. Then when it's time to write next year's cards you've a handy record of everyone who sent you one this year plus a ready supply of homemade gift tags! (Cll)
  • When putting the Xmas decorations away, make a box of unbreakable things, so that next year you can give the box to your over excited kids and let them do their worst without worrying about cut fingers and broken baubles. (batey)
  • With Christmas close, it's easy for kids' activities to get lost in a whirl of shopping and cooking. Build kid friendly treats into the have to do stuff, such as playing with the dough whilst you make the mince pies, or going to the park before fetching the tree. That way, everything gets done but the kids stay happy too (candy)
  • Instead of buying Christmas tags, buy some card labels (aka strung tags) and get your toddler to decorate one side with glitter and stickers etc. (chicaguapa)
  • Young children are easily overwhelmed by piles of presents. So don't give them everything in one go - spread out the present giving over the festive season. They'll get far more enjoyment - and you'll get far more peace and quiet! (buffettheturkeylayer)
  • A quick and pretty Christmas present for Grandmas (from the kids) is some simple, plain glass candle holders decorated with a test pack of glass stains. Takes just a few minutes, but the effect is lovely - and personal. (Hulababy)
  • Instead of letting the kids open all their presents at once, keep some back and give them a few at a time over the holiday period. This keeps them entertained with 'new' toys instead of them being totally overwhelmed and taking the amount of presents for granted. (SantaFio2)
  • On Christmas Day we have 'lunch' at 5pm so that the children can play with their toys all day (having lovely snacks and drinks to keep them going). This gives the cook (me) time to make the big dinner without starting at the crack of dawn. (RudolphCAM)
  • For young children ration the presents to one every half an hour so they don't become overwhelmed and also have time to play with each gift. (calcium)
  • Don't buy expensive family christmas cards. Instead, make simple personalised cards with a photo of your kids which can then double up as a gift. (galaxy)
  • For Christmas cards apply lots of glue and glitter to rougly drawn shapes on plain card, then send to friends and family with a warning on the envelope: Glitter explosion imminent. (Tickle)
  • Use raffle tickets on presents under the tree to add to the excitement on christmas day. Give the child the appropriate half of the ticket, then they have to find the present with matching number under the tree. (frannydandy)
  • Get little ones involved in present wrapping by getting them to paint blank or coloured sheets of paper which can then be used to wrap presents. Even very young children can do this with finger painting, and they love seeing their wrapping paper being used afterwards! (Batters)
  • For long journeys at Christmas, wrap up some small gifts (reading books or drawing pads and pens etc.) that the kids can open along the way and stock up on non sticky snacks too. (karendb)
  • Save any interesting Christmas card fronts and invest in a pair of crinkly edged scissors, then in time for next year spend a wet November afternoon making funky gift tags - lots of fun and much cheaper too! (Mo2)
  • For family this year I've bought a pack of blank fridge magnets and chosen photos of our son to put in them. Each photo is personal, eg wearing tops made or bought by the recipient. They're light to post, can be slipped in with cards and they're cheap!
  • Cut up xmas/ birthday cards to make gift tags - cheaper than buying ready-mades. (Modaddy)
  • An easy Xmas card: use silver foil to cut out snowmen/stars/baubles and stick onto coloured card with a little glitter. Even my two year old can manage this one! (batey) (Batey)
  • It's easy for kids' activities to get lost in a whirl of Xmas shopping and cooking, so build kid-friendly treats into the have to do stuff. e.g.Xmas cake in a coffee shop in town, playing with the dough while you make mince pies, or going to the park before fetching the tree. That way, everything gets done but the kids stay happy too. (Candy)
  • If you have very young kids who are into everything, set up the Christmas tree inside the playpen. (Jasper)
  • When Christmas shopping with a little one, make a little bag of goodies for your child to munch through. I always put raisins, bits of rice cakes, carrots, apple etc all together in a little bag, and give them to my child once I start serious shopping. (Jessi)
  • A micro scooter is a great outdoors toy for a preschooler or older child. Much easier than a bike to carry around and it takes up much less room in the car boot. (Tigermoth)
  • Don't forget to save all the Christmas wrapping paper and cards that you receive - it makes good material for collage making/ cutting and sticking etc. (Percy)
  • For all those visiting trips over the Christmas period, carry a handbag size colouring book and crayons or small chalk board with you to occupy bored toddlers. Works in the car on a long journey too! (Diddles)
  • To delight kids at Christmas take big boots and sprinkle flour around them.On Christmas morning say it is the snow shaken of Santa's coat. (Law)
  • To get little ones involved in present wrapping, get them to paint blank or coloured sheets of paper. These can then be used to wrap presents. Even very young children can do this with finger painting, and they love seeing their wrapping paper being used afterwards! (Batters)
  • If your child has a food intolerance to milk/colourings, make your own advent calendar. I used 24 mini raisin boxes filled with hair bands, sweets, magnets - anything they would like that would fit. I wrapped the raisin boxes in paper, numbered them and blu-tacked them onto a painted cardboard cracker. The kids can't wait to get started and no longer want a 'boring' chocolate one. (yellowhair)
  • Don't give your kids all their presents at the same time. Put some aside for different days and bring them out when throughout the holiday period. (Jona)
  • If you have a video camera, make the grandparents a compilation video of their grandchild for Xmas. It's cheap, you know they'll love it (even if they might bore their friends to death) and it'll make you sit down and organise the video tapes as well as reminisce about some of the great things the kids have done and said this year.
  • Buy season tickets to museums/local attractions or give them as presents. We were given one for London Zoo last year and it's great to feel you can drop in for an hour or so, we sometimes even go twice in a week. It really saves money in the longrun and is a fun family thing to do.
  • Get your toddler involved in making Xmas cards. Even the smallest like crayoning or painting - just cut their efforts into Christmassy shapes and stick on card - or let them loose with the glitter. They love it, it saves money and the relatives will appreciate their efforts.
  • Worried you'll never be able to get rid of your child's dummy? Try leaving it hanging on the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. When Santa brings the parcels he can take away the dummy in exchange. This worked for me with both my sons. (Loobie)
  • Save all your kids Christmas pictures that they bring home from nursery and use them as gift wrapping paper or cut them out and use as gift tags. (Jona)
  • Get your toddler involved in making Xmas cards. Even the smallest like crayoning or painting - just cut their efforts into Christmassy shapes and stick on card - or let them loose with the glitter. They love it, it saves money and the relatives will appreciate their efforts.
  • Start buying your Christmas presents in the Summer and if possible do it on the internet. There's nothing worse than a last minute trawl through the heaving high street, kids in tow.
  • If at all possible, don't plan more than one car journey a day over the Xmas holiday. It sounds great to catch up with long lost friends, but we learnt from experience that the novelty soon wears off for children who just want to be at home playing with their new stuff.
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