Plan my Christmas!(6 Posts)
I'll have a newborn and an almost 4 yr old. I'm having building work done at the moment and whole house redesigned. Should be finished October just before baby is due. So no option to make any food gifts between now and then.
I need cheap but lovely gifts for family as I'll be on mat leave.
Normally I would do chutney and suchforth.
Also where to spend Christmas? At home or with family?
What gifts for the kiddies?
What to do in December when I'll be off work with them both?
So you can’t really do much prep ahead of time - by the time your kitchen is ready, you’ll have your hands full with a newborn.
I’d be trying to get gifts bought, wrapped and stashed before October. The Argos and Smyths sales are usually around September so you should be able to pick up something for the four year old then.
If cash is tight, give the new baby practical gifts that you’d have had to buy anyway. If you have toys from when the 4year old was a baby just wrap those up. The baby’s gifts are really more for the benefit of the older sibling really.
Follow the bargain thread on the Christmas board and you’ll definitely get ideas for gifts.
In the meantime stockpile crafts for the 4 year old that he/she can do independently. Separate them into paper bags so you can just grab one and have everything to hand. Christmas coloring pages with crayons in one, play doh with Christmas cookie cutters in another, etc
You can “Christmas up” most ordinary activities. A walk in the park can become a foraging adventure for pine cones to decorate. A walk around the neighborhood becomes an opportunity to spot Christmas trees. Add a bath bomb to the bath, etc
We have always had a special basket of Christmas books and dvds that come out of the attic for December.
What I wouldn’t do is anything that requires consistency or excessive input from you - so no complicated advent calendars or elf on the shelf.
A few things to consider...
How far would you be travelling to be with family? If you are travelling a distance would you be staying from (say) Christmas Eve through to Boxing Day? By car or public transport? Can you pack and unpack all your presents without your older child seeing their stuff (assuming you 'do Santa')? Will you have somewhere to stay that you can hide if it all gets a bit stressful with a new baby? If all of that fills you with dread then stay at home.
If you stay at home will people be coming to you? Staying or just coming for dinner? Can you cope with hosting duties? Will you have to/choose to cook? Will you be able to just bugger off and hide if it gets a bit much?
Having various ideas to occupy the almost 4 yo is a good idea - here's my epic list of things to do (copied from a few threads on various sites over the years, and well used here when DD was small and I was working FT and needed things to occupy her!).
1.Write a letter to Santa
2.Colour in some Christmas pictures (free printables)
3.Make some Christmas Cookies
4.Make and decorate some salt dough decorations.
5.Watching Christmas Dvds
6.Making and decorating a gingerbread house
8.do potato print wrapping paper,
9.go out and look at all the christmas lights then home for hot chocolate,
10.have a charity day when we sort out all their toys and take the extras to the charity shop,
11.bake biscuits to take to the local fire station to say thanks for working to keep us safe over christmas while we are busy having fun,
12.decorate the tree out the front with strings of dried fruit and popcorn for the birds,
13.stick cloves in oranges
14.cook some fudge/coconut ice for rellys
15.decorate xmas biscuits
16.put xmas decs up
17.choose xmas tree
18.write a letter
19.make a Christmas present for dad
20.go out and collect holly and fir
21.Make some reindeer food (porridge oats and glitter in a little jar, the idea is that the reindeer will see it twinkling from the sky and come down and stand nicely for Santa to do his thing whilst filling their tums! A lot of people spread it outside, I find a bowl is easier as the DC can see just how much the reindeer have eaten in the morning.)
22.put on Christmas Carols/Music and have a dance
23.bake mince pies
24.drink hot chocolate and watch a film (polar express)
25.Do a Christmas kindness each - just aim to do something for someone else that is just kind. Like buy the person behind you in the queue their coffee or help someone to carry their shopping or something else similar.
26."See if you can go for a whole day without asking how many days it is till we put the Christmas tree up"
28.make card for Nanna, Granny
29.Make some crackers?
30.Learn a new christmas song
31.Learn a christmas joke
32.Go for a walk with a torch
33.Go to Carol service
36.learn the words to a Christmas song or poem and recite to Dad when he gets home
37.Make mum a cup of tea
38.Make a bookmark
39.send a Christmas card to someone who has not found any room at the inn
40.make paper snowflakes (one of the few crafty things I know how to do!)
41.Collect pinecones, leaves and twigs to paint and turn into a centrepiece.
43.Track Santa (for Christmas Eve)
44.Read a Christmas book (How the Grinch stole Christmas)
45.Go door to door and sing Carols
46.bake stained glass biscuits to decorate the tree with
47.put baby jesus in the nativity scene if you have a nativity scene
48.make mince pies/cookies for santa
49.have a fashion show and pick the outfits that everyone should wear on christmas day
50.if it snows...you can put in, "build a snowman
51.Make a Christmas crown to wear
52.What did the three wise men bring?
What do you think the Wise men would bring today?
Name three things you need to make christmas pudding?
Sing jingle bells backwards?
Name three things that glitter?
Imitate a turkey?
Do 5 star jumps
Think of 3 words that rhyme with "Yule"?
Think up the next line of this poem:
At Christmas time the thing I like the best
Name 3 plants or trees associated with Christmas?
Name 3 animals or birds associated with Christmas?
Name 4 reindeer?
Sing a Christmas Song
Name 5 carols?
4 3-letter words from Christmas?
4 3-letter words from stocking?
Name a carol with someone's name in the title?
Name a song with Santa in the title?
What was given on the 9th day of christmas?
In the 12 days of Christmas - how many birds altogether were given?
Name two animals in the traditional nativity scene?
Make a snowflake out of paper?
Tell the story of the first christmas in less than a minute?
Name 5 christmas foods?
Make something to hang on the christmas tree?
Think of 3 names for father Christmas?
53.Make glittery tree decorations using cookie cutters as templates to draw round on card. Cover in glue, add glitter and thread on a red ribbon to hang.
54.making some place cards/ a decoration with names for Christmas lunch guests?
55.Visit ducks in the park to wish them a very Happy Christmas and give them some bread
56.Make secret den in order to discuss secret Christmassy stuff and wrap presents
57.Plan Christmas show for Daddy/Grandma/Grandad etc.
58.watch a christmas film under the duvet
59.Read a christmassy book
60.do some Christmassy puzzles (will find some online to print off I'm sure)
61.Write cards to school friends
62.write & post a letter to the big man
63.Sing carols or Christmas songs while you do the washing up (or some other chore)
Have a Christmas-sy bath. Use "Christmas scented" bubble bath/bath oil/essential oils or Lush bath bombs. Think orange, tangerine, cinnamon...
Basically, the idea of my list above is to give lots of ideas that you can have things prepared for, or just "grab and go" with something.
Yes, lots of regular outings or activities can be festived up - look at websites such as Activity Village, DLTK, cBeebies, Crayola, and homeschooling sites, to get free printable colouring pages, activity sheets and ideas for easy crafts (making snowmen, penguins, Santa all out of cardboard loo roll middles, lots of ideas with paper plates, and all sorts of other things to give you inspiration). Many of these will be done in Christmas, winter or other seasonal themes. Homeschool sites can be handy to get a theme and give ideas of how to do a good few different things with it - like making penguins as a craft, colouring sheets with simple activities (shapes, simple addition etc), a writing sheet with penguin pictures, a story involving penguins, an idea for baking/food, what to look out for on a walk ....all linked together around that week's theme (in this case, penguins - although maybe not so much for a seasonal walk in the UK!). And lots of other themes as well.
Woolly's idea of packs prepared ahead of time is good too.
Thinking of things that you can supervise, or be marginally involved in from a chair as you feed newborn (however you feed), or having stories to read while you feed or snuggle with a sleepy/napping newborn and older DC together, would be good.
We used to do a Christmas story for bedtime throughout December, and usually had a regular story as well. Even last year, at age 11, I was still having to do the French book we have of the mouse family's daily preparations (I have to read it in French and then translate to English) which we've been reading since DD was about 7 (she took an afterschool class in French that year and that book has stuck ever since!). There are absolutely loads of great Christmassy books for different ages - anthologies with poems, seasonal extracts from novels and short stories to pick something different every day, Mr Men seasonal books, Thomas the Tank Engine has at least 1, and things like "Father Christmas needs a wee!". We always put those away again after Christmas until 1st December (and we keep our copy of "Twas the night before Christmas" to read on Christmas Eve for the first time each year).
We also have a stash of Christmas movies and cartoons. Well, some have now gone to DCousins as DD is too old for some, but you may find lots in charity shops etc and on reduced tables in DVD shops. From a few short cartoons on one, to a full length movie, these can be great to watch together while you concentrate on feeding newborn, or on any bad weather days you may be confined indoors.
While baby is napping somedays, you could get older DC to make potato stamp paper to wrap their presents in, or cards for Granny and Grandad's etc.
Other days when the weather is good, get out to park or playground while baby is napping, and let nearly 4yo run, explore, point out things to them etc. Can you make a special "shopping trip" one day, early in the day before too busy, to let them choose a present from them for DH, and have a special hot chocolate and a bun stop somewhere nice while you feed DBaby, before heading home again? (That trip should, if at all possible, have no other shopping that needs doing, you're not dragging DCs around for everyone else, it is THEIR trip (ok mostly 4yo not baby).
In terms of where to have the meal, definitely think ahead about logistics, expectations of others and how it would fall to you (and DH) wherever you were.
So would you be expected to do everything if you stayed at home?
Would they expect you to do lots if you went to them?
Is there a good environment/atmosphere with others around (whether at home or elsewhere)?
Do you all like full traditional turkey dinner or something different?
Is the expectation of a formal meal a rigid one, with set timings etc, or is it more relaxed?
Do you have space to cater for everyone?
Would you have to host with beds as well, or just the meal/few hours in the middle of the day, or from early arrivals (including breakfast) until late evening but no sleepers?
Would people bring something if asked, if you host?
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