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Help me plan christmas - I really need your input ladies I´m totally stuck with a unuasal problem!

(44 Posts)
inneedofrain Sun 08-Sep-13 13:27:17

Hi All

Ok here goes, the first thing I must make very very very clear is that we have to WORK all over christmas, without outing my self think of something a bit like a hotel, December is a very busy month for us work wise and it is total chaos in trying to keep dd entertained when she is not at school and let us all have some christmas fun

Next thing is that I absolutely LOVE christmas.

Ok we have one DD(6) and she loves christmas too, But couple of years have been a bit of a nightmare and I am thinking of changing somethings around this year.

Ok still not sure if I am going to do the christmas elf for december,
In the month of December we do the following.
Advent calender which each day gives dd a piece to decorate the advent tree, She gets two little gifts on the 6th December and the 24th

Santa sends DD a letter in reply to her letter,

22nd and 23rd we do Christmas craft bits, eg last year we made a christmas bag for the renideer food, we make paper chains, christmas laterns, Christmas decorations etc. This year I think we are making a santa stop here sign!

24th, in the morning Miss Claus sends DD a letter asking her to make reindeer food with a hamper and all the bits, and Rodoplh asks DD to make him and the other reindeer a runway. We normally make something for Santa to eat (last year it was a giner bread house) at some point during the day we get a video message from Santa for DD.

The eveing of the 24th We (Dh and I) give DD a christmas eve hamper, normally contains, christmas towel and flannel (bought in bulk a couple of years ago) Hot Chocolate and a Christmas Mug, Christmas Pjs, A christmas DVD and blanket, and the book A night befor Christmas and her Christmas Stocking and a small christmas soft toy. We have found this to a be sure fire way to calm her down, So she gets ready for bed, we all snuggle up under the blanket and watch DvD whilst drinking hot choc and then do the runway and the reindeer food, put stocking out and the food for santa etc and off to bed to read A night before Christmas.

So far so good, I think but if anyone has any suggestions to improve please tell me!

Ok christmas morning starts with me getting up and going to work at 4am, I am normally back up at the house by 7.30. DD will come downstairs in her PJ´s and dressing gown and we do her stocking, WHICH will contain Christmas Clothes and hair stuff (gets her dressed easily with no problems) and other little bits etc.

By 8:30am we (dh and I) have to go back to work, so DD has a extra thing from Santa, he leaves her a treasure hunt little presents scatered all over the house with clues to the next one, DD does this will Granny and normally buys us and hour to a hour and ahalf, We come back up for about 10ish and all have christmas breakfast (NOTE DD will have had a snacky breakfast if she wants one whilst she does her treasure hunt)

Now something around 11am we start opening presents, we tend to do this in stages (as we have to go back to work often through the day) This is where the problems start! We have very little family but lots of friends and DD gets very very hyper at opening presents, and if they are NOT intersting enough she gets upset. Ie someone bought her crafting bits which DD was not happy about as she needs help to do crafting stuff, etc (please NOTE we had great fun with them boxing day),

We don´t have a sit down christmas lunch as the nature of our work, so we tend to do a cold buffett. Last year we made the HUGE mistake of doing this as and when the grownups where hungry and not setting the table up / having it at a set time, result was DD got over excited and hungry!

This year I am thinking about setting the table up and having a proper buffett (everyone at the table etc at a fixed time) so hopefully that should break the day up? Would this work do you think???

I am also thinking about putting all the little presents DD gets from friends, DH and I, School friends etc into a lucky dip box, and Letting DD dip into on and off? Would this be a good idea?

What could I do with the larger presents? (I mean things from DVD´s to her 1 or 2 large presents) Id like to spilt them up during the day so that we all get to see her open them etc, and get to spend time with her playing with them but I can´t have a repeat of last year as both DH and My Dad get really ratty and frankly unpleasant (TO ME) when DD was hyper etc. All suggestions welcome please!!!!!!!

I would just like to say that Last year was the first time I got to see DD open her stocking etc. which made my christmas so much nicer! Also whilst I am very grateful to my parents for comming and spening christmas with us otherwise DD wouldn´t get a christmas at all, they are old and often don´t want to play with her / have a christmas nap etc whilst leaving DD to entertain her self when I´m working. DH can be difficult and has problems dealing with DD if she is not behaving perfectly (which is a whole different thread) not to mention being very very busy at work so I have a lot on my plate and I really really need some help working everything out for this year!

Thanks if you have gotten to the end of this.

inneedofrain Sun 08-Sep-13 18:47:28

Aleene, I do see what you are saying, and believe me something needs to change, and I guess everyone is yelling at their screens going fgs do this or that or xyz. But I´m too close to the situation to see it clearly hence the thread wink

Believe it or not I was still doing a full christmas roast for everyone up untill last year when I said if you want a christmas dinner (to Dm DF and DH) you are going to have to help, everyone said no thanks! So it was agreed we would do a cold buffett, DM and DF and I agreed what we were each going to do etc, only I realised on Christmas eve that nothing had actually been done, raw meet in the fridge, nothing peeled, prepared etc. I said oh we better get on with this and Dm and Df said well we´ll see you tommorow and popped down the local bar! I have a suspicion they resent the fact that I´m not cooking "proper" christmas dinner.

Floralnomad I would never just pop over to the neighbors we tend to have a chat in early december about what / when / how etc. They like most of this country will be in mass at somepoint, and have there own family etc so I wouldn´t go if they were not ok with it.

raisah Sun 08-Sep-13 18:47:36

If everybody likes to eat something in particular then
A) they make it in advance so you can freeze it or bring it fresh on the day
B) you make it & freeze it beforehand

Sit down & write a list of what needs doing & divide it amongst the adults so you are not near to a breakdown in December.

Shopping - do it all online so you are not traipsing around the shops in December.

Cleaning - get a cleaner in the week before xmas to do a deep clean

For things like baking & decorating get your dd involved so she is involved & less likely to moan. You can print out recipe cards & pre- weigh out ingredients & store them in bags or jars. It can then be an activity for your dd to do with gps, all that's needed is butter/eggs/milk and mixing. Hopefully this will avould the 2am morning baking scenario.

From Nov everytime you cook a meal, make double portions and freeze.

If you do work in a hotel, is it a possibility that your parents & dd could have lunch there so you could get to see them through the day?

raisah Sun 08-Sep-13 18:52:55

Sorry I just read nobody helped you last year. Fuck that. If they want a meal book them into a restaurant / pub & get them to pay their own way. It's not fair on you & bloody selfish & lazy of them to opt for a cold buffet to avoid cooking a posh roast.

inneedofrain Sun 08-Sep-13 18:55:11

Its all such a bloody mess and I´m sick to the back teeth of it all.

YourHandInMyHand Sun 08-Sep-13 19:05:46

Can you not afford to get some staff in to help just for xmas day??

YourHandInMyHand Sun 08-Sep-13 19:06:30

Or if can't get people in that day get them in on a random day like the 28th say, and do your xmas day then?

raisah Sun 08-Sep-13 19:06:53

Can you not get some temporary staff in to help over the Xmas period. Even if it is just one person it would be worth the cost to avoid a breakdown. 150+ animals is a lot for 2 people to manage by themselves.

I really feel for you, you are trying to make sure everyone has a lovely time at the expense of your own sanity. I really hope that you come up with a plan that avoids a repitition of last year. You need to have an honest chat with your dh & your parents about Christmas arrangements.

FriskyHenderson Sun 08-Sep-13 19:30:47

Are you committed to having your parents over for the day?

Because quite frankly you seem to be packing a lot into one day, when expectations are running high, with a lot of rushing around and pleasing a lot of people.

If I was you, I'd junk the parents, and go for a child centred minimalist day. Get DH's friend over, have a takeaway or just graze on shop bought stuff. Open everything in one go then play hide and seek in the wrapping paper. Have a bonfire and toast marshmallows.

In a few short years your DD will not believe in Santa - ooooohhhhhh could you convince the friend to dress as Father Christmas for the day grin and stay in character? !?!

FriskyHenderson Sun 08-Sep-13 19:31:48

Basically - chill
You don't have to do so much.

UniS Sun 08-Sep-13 19:59:23

don't cook every thing from scratch. Buy stuff ready made, even if its not going to be quite a traditional British Christmas menu.

Yes the business stuff still has to be done but that's the same on any other day isn't it? what does dd "DO" while your at work on other days during the holiday? and why can't she "do" much the same for part of christmas day? My DS was 6 last christmas and spent a chunk of time reading the beano annual ( from his stocking) behind the sofa.

I'd be inclined to have a "present opening" slot of time for "big " presents for all of you, not just dd. take turns, appreciate each others gifts, they can be played with/ read/ eaten later.

If dd likes watching dvds by all mean give her a dvd to watch over one of your work slots. Its it practical for her to watch a dvd at work if you don't have another adult to stay at home?

Thumbwitch Mon 09-Sep-13 00:39:52

After your updates, I'm even more inclined to think you should ditch your parents!! What a pair of buggers, to refuse to help you. angry

WaitMonkey Mon 09-Sep-13 10:30:46

Can your dh go out and sort the animals and leave you with dd, since he finds her hard to handle. Really hope you get a good Christmas, you deserve it. smile

Ragwort Mon 09-Sep-13 10:38:21

You are seriously doing far, far too much.

I have often worked on Christmas Day and wouldn't even attempt to do half of what you are trying to do, you MUST cut down on all the activitiy, it sounds a nightmare of a timetable (what if something goes wrong/what if an animal needs extra care??).

My parents also worked Christmas Day or Boxing Day and the 'treats' would be spread out ie: presents one day (although we got far, far fewer than you are talking about), special meal the next - that sort of thing. You don't HAVE to do everything on one day or buy into the idea that your daughter must have hundreds of special treats and activities.

Not sure why your parents need to come on Christmas Day, surely that is adding to the stress?

Unexpected Mon 09-Sep-13 11:07:08

Agree with everyone else that you are doing far, far too much with no support! And much of it is not necessary. I know you want Christmas to be perfect for your dd but she seriously needs some down-time in the lead-up to the day rather than an endless round of crafts, paper-chain making, hampers, special video messages etc. It's honestly not surprising that she gets over-excited when Christmas seems to be an endless round of opening stockings, presents, treasure hunt etc. and when you have high expectations of how she "should" react and enjoy playing with her gifts. It's time to nip that in the bud before it gets completely out of control. She would be just as happy with fewer activities and present-opening occasions and it would lessen the pressure on you in purchasing and wrapping. Whoever mentioned a walk had the right idea (and it doesn't need to be one with a "purpose" or with yet more presents at the end of it). If your dd is the only child she's very much under the spotlight from grown-ups so getting out of the house for some fresh air gives everyone a chance to breathe.

Having a fixed time for the buffet is a good idea and gives a structure to the day rather than just opening presents.

And finally, I couldn't see that you responded to the various people who suggested getting some help over the Christmas period but that sounds like the best idea of all! Would it be possible to do that?

Iamcountingto3 Mon 09-Sep-13 11:43:07

Blimey O'Riley - I'm exhausted just reading your Christmas day! Agree with everyone else - you need to take a deep breath, and think which of these things are VITAL to everyone's enjoyment of the day (ie not just x likes that, therefore I must do it) - honestly, if your dad doesn't get his homemade pork pie ... what happens?

Its very easy for expectations to ramp up around Christmas - every year or so a new tradition is added (so dh always loves x biscuits, df loves a pork pie etc etc) - and it suddenly you realise everyone's too busy doing to just enjoy being. And that's even without your workload.

I think I'd have a serious talk to your parents, and tell them Christmas is not working for you & dd (&dh) - so you're going to go much more low key ito prep this year, and focus on just enjoying it. Don't try and organise dd's day too much - give her time to mooch, play with her toys. Will she find it tricky if you spread out the present opening over a few of the time slots? My kids can take literally all day to open their presents - and spliting up present opening works really well as they get to enjoy each gift. You'll probably need to orchestrate - to ensure she gets a guaranteed 'good' present each time though!

I'd go with:

7.30-9: kids breakfast, stockings
9-10: can dd play with her stocking whilst you & dh work? Ensure there are a couple of tempting toys in there that need minimal grandparent help (maybe a puzzle & some colouring/book, depending on her likes)
10-12: brunch (think LOW COOKING ... eg pastries, smoothies, toast/bagels/james; maybe smoked salmon & scrambled eggs - not English breakie) and a couple of big presents, at least one which could keep dd amused
12-2:if weather is good, dd goes for a walk, if not she plays with her presents
2-4pm; more presents, to include a DVD; cup of tea for you!
4-6pm: dvd for dd, nap in front of TV for your parents!
6-9 buffet meal, play carols, relax

I think the idea of a visual day planner is a great one.

One other idea: I assume getting help on Christmas eve/day is very hard, but could you get a student/6th former to help in the week running up to Christmas? If you could get a bit more time int the week running up (to prep and/or relax) it might help you, and if you look for a vet student or similar, great work experience for them too.

And you need to get your parents and dh to do more. If they have 1/2 things they really love about Christmas ... then they are in charge of sorting those things. Let your dad make his own bloody pork pie grin

inneedofrain Mon 09-Sep-13 15:51:03

HI all,

Ok I´m back with a bit of progress and update!

Ok Dh and I sat down and bashed out some ideas.

Regretfully with the type of animals we work with its not possible to get help in (don´t want to out myself), how DF, and could help out and belive it or not that is a reduced time table! I´m thinking about asking if anyone wants some work experience from the Course I teach at University (not sure if that would actually be more of a hinderance, as I´d have to oversee everyone)

That said there are a couple of things we can do to help the work side of this which we are sorting out -eg, new commecial dishwasher! smile

Imcounting, how do you split the presents up during the day? I´d like to do this, but have been a bit unsucesseful in the past so I was wondering how you spilt them into groups?

Definately going to do the visual day planner!

Ok, I´m going to get the coffee pot out and make a big pot of coffee up, i´ll get everything ready the night befor and switch it on by timmer!
Grown ups can have coffee and biscuits first thing, and I´m going to do ceral for DD. Am going to tell DM and DF that if they want tea they can find the kettle.

Also going to get Dm to bring her coffee pot down and we will put the mulled wine in that to save me having to make it as and when people want.

Ok, breakfast normally consists of 1 gala pie, 1 pork / game pie, boiled ham, dippy eggs, home made bread, french pasties etc, fruit, juice and a gazzlin other bits.

Ok, so change for this year!
I´ve order a new urn, so I´ll go back the old way of cooking my ham. Bung it in the urn with cider and honey each day and simmer very low heat for 3 days, so thats minimul fuss and prep and means I don´t have to try and fit in time to cook it! We can have it warm on Christmas Eve night and cold for the rest of christmas

DD would love smoothies and DM and DH have a bloody unused smoothie maker so I´ve put that on the list, also means I can do away with the fruit salad for breakfast.

The homemade bread and french pasties have gone: shop bought only this year, if anyone complains they will be handed the receipe! Only exception being DD (allergies) bits.

The gala pies and game pie are staying but I´m going to cook them a little earlier than normal, I´ve also told DF that he is going to help me make the bloody things! He can do all the chopping etc

Proposed Plan is at the moment a bit like this!

4am - 7:30 ISH,I´ll work

7.30-9: kids breakfast, stockings Coffee for me!

9-10: DD and DH will do the treasure hunt (its a 4 year tradition) and I´ll go to work.

10-12: brunch As above, plus DM and DF will come (this means that they will miss DD doing her stocking but will also mean they they don´t have to get up early), along with a couple of presents, DM DF and DH are going to set the brunch up, and I´m going to sit down!

12-1 DM and DF are going to clear the table and put everything away DD and DH will go for a walk. (While i work)
1-2 : dd and DM are going to make susage rolls and bung the necessary bits in the oven for buffett. (while I work)

2-4pm; more presents, to include a DVD.

4-6pm: dvd for dd, Dh and DF are going to work! DD, DM, me will sort the buffett out, maybe play a few games etc.

6-9pm: buffet meal, play carols, play board games with dd, relax

Does that sound at all workable?

Ok I have another question DF, DM and really DH are totally against adult christmas presents (DD and I have done little presents for all of them) but the grown ups don´t give to each other. I think this is WRONG, and gives DD totally the wrong idea about christmas, This year I would like to say as DD is getting older that christmas needs to have adult gifts with a limit say 15 to 20 pounds (token / funny gifts are fine) I think this would help DD WWYD?

RhondaJean Mon 09-Sep-13 16:52:04

I just want to give you a hug!

I have no ideas jsut now but will be back with suggestions at some point. But it sounds horrendous. I'm worn out at the thought.

We will work it out for you though ŵith all Thr great minds on MN...

Barbeasty Mon 09-Sep-13 17:58:44

I love the way DH's family do presents, and it definitely drags it out.

Essentially everyone takes it in turns to pick a present from unfer the tree and hands it to the recipient. Once you've watched them open it the next person picks. if it's for the person picking, it goes back under the tree.

Takes ages.

But would work better for you with presents for adults too.

ivykaty44 Mon 09-Sep-13 18:26:57

Someon on this board last year said they were changing Christmas to include Christmas even in a similar way to in some other Europeean countries.

So that they sat down at 7pm and had a roast dinner with wine and family and then father christmas arrived with the presents so that they opened some present on Christmas eve after dinner.

Then Christmas day was a lot more relaxed with a boxing day feel about it, with a few more present christmas morning and then a buffett lunch and more presents in the afternoon.

I have an Italian friend and she goes home every other year to Italy and there they have the big meal on Chrismas eve and then they she sneeks out to leave the stockings on the balcony and rings the bell so the children know santa has been. the Children just have their stocking presents go to mass and then bed

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