Christmas tips and advice
The car needs defrosting, the trees are bare, we are being bombarded with images of reindeer, stars, tinsel and mince pies. All this lead to just one conclusion: that Christmas is nearly upon us, and with that, comes one of the highest stress periods for parents. Every year it seems as if there is a bigger, more expensive plastic toy that the children just must have, and it’s hard not to get caught up with the mass consumerism that surrounds this time of year. We can place excessively high expectations on ourselves as we feel under pressure to give the children the ‘perfect’ Christmas. According to the mental health charity Mind, one in ten people feel unable to cope this time of year, and 41% of people surveyed in 2015 felt that they overspent, often on a pile of toys and presents that never get played with.
It doesn’t mean that we have to go all “bah humbug!” and reject the idea of Christmas shopping entirely; a balance can be struck. Here a few ideas about how to plan Christmas on a budget and how to choose gifts for children that actually last beyond Boxing Day.
1. Give the gift of reading! Books are such a wonderful present for children and their parents alike. A new book can teach children new words and concepts and open their mind to new possibilities. It also makes a wonderful activity on a cold day for parents to snuggle up on the sofa and read a wonderful story with their family. Why not choose a festive themed book, such as “Coming Home” by Michael Morpurgo, a beautiful rhyming tale of a plucky little robin coming back to his family at Christmas, suitable for all ages. Alternatively choosing a classic hardback book can last a lifetime for a child, especially if you write a personalised message in the front cover. We love the Winnie the Pooh collection, or a collection of nursery rhymes for younger children. You can often find brand new books at bargain prices on eBay or ask your school or playgroup if they have a Scholastic scheme which often has great deals.
2. Get crafty! It is a truth universally acknowledged that grandparents love handmade gifts from the children. For younger children, encourage them to add finger print ‘baubles’ to a Christmas tree picture which can then be framed as a lasting memento of their tiny little hands. Older children could decorate a plant pot, with paint, stickers or ribbon, and help plant some spring bulbs such as hyacinths. Homemade biscuits or truffles can also be very gratefully received by those with a sweet tooth. Children love new activities and it can be a fun way to spend time with your kids while bopping along to Christmassy songs on the radio!
3. Share the stress! If you’ve got a full house this Christmas, don’t put all the burden of hosting on yourself. Everyone loves to help this time of year, so why not ask family and friends to bring a dish or ingredients for a recipe to cook together. Children can help with jobs too: in our family, everyone gets stuck in with the ‘potato peeling parade’ on Christmas morning! You can often find tips online about where to get the best bargains on wine, Christmas pudding and the all-important Turkey, but you might also find your local butcher or greengrocer is able to help you make your money go further, while also supporting small businesses.
From all of us at Overton Preschool Playgroup, we would like to wish you a very happy Christmas and start to 2019!