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Heston Blumenthal and co's top Christmas tips

From delicious food and beautiful decorations to curtailing children’s tantrums, six experts provide simple suggestions to help you have the happiest Christmas

Posted: 21 December 2013
by Kate Donoughue

Heston Blumenthal, Michelin-starred chef

If children are helping you cook, don’t expect them to make a dish from start to finish. It’s the interaction that’s the best thing – they can learn from you and you can learn from teaching them.

Mimi Doe, author and founder of

Get lots of books from the library for the Christmas period and in the run up to Chrisitmas read one story each night by candlelight. Candlelight has a wonderful soothing effect and will calm festive excitement, ensuring a good night’s sleep.

There’s an old legend that you can communicate with the animals at midnight on Christmas Eve. Encourage the chances of a chat by making ornamental seed balls for birds using pinecones, peanut butter and bird seed, and supply carrots for bunnies.

Annabel Lewis, founder VV Rouleaux

Go for a bracing walk in the woods, setting the children the task of picking up fir branches, cones and berries. On your return home, spray your findings with gold and silver and make into wreaths.

Nellie Shepherd, party designer to the stars

Keep back a few gifts and wrap in some of the used wrapping paper, putting crackers between the layers. Then extend the joy of Christmas by playing Pass The Parcel on Boxing Day to festive music.

Penelope Leach, parenting guru

Make sure your children eat lunch and take naps at their usual times. This will stop your children whinging through the day as they wait for a late lunch and then messing with food that’s too fancy for them.

Give gifts at intervals from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day instead of in one huge indigestible pile. This increases the chances of children being pleased with each one (and remembering their "thank yous").

Stephen Russell, Barefoot Doctor

To prepare yourself for the busy nature of the big day ahead and get yourself into a similar mindset to your delighted children, discipline yourself to rise even earlier than your children on Christmas Day and spend 15 minutes or so in silent contemplation, feeling yourself, with every passing breath, divested of layer after layer of the onion skin of your adult self, until you feel yourself as light and vibrant as a three-year-old.

The late Rose Gray of the River Café

Choose your bird wisely. If you’ve got very young children, quails, partridge, grouse and small birds are the ultimate fast foods, which takes the pressure off timing and cooking.

To help children eat, give them a hearty breakfast, hide the chocolates and make the meal fun. Let them help make a pannetone, panforte or mincepies the week before so they have something to look forward to.

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Christmas, Xmas, children, kids, presents, gifts, Boxing day, activities, crafts, wrapping, decoration, Heston Blumenthal, spiritual parenting, mimi doe, penelope leach

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Posted: 26/01/2011 at 06:25

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