Christmas is just around the corner and whilst our kids may be reaching peak excitement thanks to all the build up at school and nursery, some of us parents are already exhausted by the idea and wondering if it’s acceptable to break into that bottle of wine we bought as a gift for our neighbour. Some parents make it look easy with their Pinterest inspired hand-crafted Christmas eve boxes, gingerbread houses that not only stand up unaided but are also edible, and a Christmas tree so coordinated it looks like it belongs in Harrods. However, for the tired but well-meaning amongst us, Christmas is largely about making it through the day with as little stress as possible. We’ve put this list of top tips together so that you can hopefully have a relaxing day, preferably with lots of sparkling wine.
1. Before You Wrap
Before you start that big wrapping frenzy in the run up to Christmas, it’s a good idea to have a good look at the packaging of the various toys and gadgets you have purchased. Firstly, do they need batteries or charging up? If so, try and sort this out before you wrap so it’s ready to use as soon as your child opens it. Let’s be honest, listening to a child whine about a present not working isn’t exactly in keeping with the festive spirit. Games consoles in particular may need additional software downloaded that can take time, so it’s definitely worth setting them up in advance.
Secondly, look at how the item is secured in the packaging. Does it have 3,000 of those bolt-cutter proof ties so favoured by manufacturers of plastic action figures and dolls the world over? Save yourself the hassle of searching for wire-cutters on the day and remove any excess packaging before you wrap. Your younger child won’t care or notice, and you can always tell your older child that Santa wanted them to be able to play with the toy as fast as possible.
2. Breakfast Is The Most Important Meal Of The Day
Some families go all out on Christmas day for breakfast with smoked kippers, scrambled eggs, sourdough toast. And whilst you probably think that sounds delicious, it’s only appealing if someone else does the hard work and makes it for you. On the other hand, it might be tempting to just let your kids have their chocolate coins for breakfast. It is Christmas after all. This might backfire though, leading to sugar crashes and tantrums and later resulting in you being continually pestered about when dinner is ready. Save yourself the effort, and the ‘hangry’ children, and get in some mini pastries, such as croissants, pain-au-chocolat, etc. Chop up some banana and you have a tasty and almost nutritious breakfast that your children will enjoy for minimal effort.
3. Have Bin Bags At The Ready
Whilst one adult might be in charge of handing out the presents under the tree, give another adult the important role of waste disposal. Have plenty of bin-liners at the ready and that person can fill them with discarded wrapping paper as the children go wild. You are much less likely to end up with a situation where someone has to search through the bins late in the afternoon searching for that crucial Lego piece that has gone AWOL.
Once the bags are full, place them by the front door. If you have guests, then there is a good chance one of them will offer to take a sack out as they leave. Sneaky, we know.
4. Prepare Much Of Your Christmas Meal In Advance
Homemade stuffing, gravy, cauliflower cheese and pigs in blankets can all be cooked and frozen beforehand and then simply re-heated on the day. Your starter can be something cold that doesn’t require preparation, such as smoked salmon and melba toast. Don’t bother with a whole turkey, especially if there’s just a few of you. Get a crown instead, it cooks quicker, is easier to carve, and there’s no arguments about who gets what meat. Peel and chop your veg the night before, keeping it in a pan of water overnight. There’s no need to go overboard on the veg either. Let’s be honest, your fussy six year old will probably announce to the dinner table that it’s “DISGUSTING” so don’t stress over it. Roast potatoes, parsnips, peas, and carrots will do just fine. Oh, and sprouts if you must. Bleurgh.
If you have a larger family that you are planning to host, then get everyone to pitch in. Ask each person to bring a side, such as a type of veg or stuffing, that can be simply heated when there. If they don’t like it, you will probably have to grin and bear it for the sake of family relations, but make a note and next year book yourself a nice holiday abroad instead.
5. Clearing Up.
Hopefully if you have done all the cooking, someone else will be along to do the washing up. If your kids are old enough they can consider it as a bonus Christmas gift to you. However, if it does all end up with you then try and clear as much as you can whilst you are cooking. If you have a dishwasher, run it straight after breakfast so it’s completely empty for dinner. If you are relying on the old fashioned method, then keep the sink topped up with hot soapy water as you are cooking and wash each item as you finish with it.
6. Let The Little Things Go
If your child won’t sit still at the dinner table, has eaten their weight in chocolate, or bed time is about three hours later than it should be, then try not to worry about it. It’s just for one day, and it is Christmas, after all.