How to have a Happy Family Christmas

Prevent a meltdown with these festive family do's and don't to ensure a happy holiday for all.

How to have a harmonious Christmas

Don’t Give your children their big or much requested presents just before the rest of the family arrives. It’s unrealistic to expect small children to share a brand new, longed-for toy with a horde of invaders.

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Do Give the older children their presents while the babies are having their post-prandial sleep. Then they’re guaranteed an hour of marble-run fun without a 15 month-old’s ‘help’. Plus, it gives them time to enjoy it by themselves – especially if it requires some sort of construction or deep reading.

Do Split Up! Get one adult to play games with a couple of children; another to do colouring and another to sit and have a cuddle. Share the load so you can all get some one-on-one time together and not peeled pulled in all directions.

Don’t Stay In. Cooped up children are fractious children. Try to get out and get some fresh air and let them have a run in the park, let them throw stones in the river or, try out that new bike/scooter. It will help them burn of some excess energy also. You’ll have the whole place to yourself –  so you can get on with the dinner or have a sneaky glass of bubbles and some chocolate – as all the other families will be busy killing one another indoors!

Do Keep Diversions Handy. Christmas crackers, bubbles, balloons, party poppers, and tiny stocking fillers can help you through the tricky moments. This is also a good time to open those craft and art gifts.

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• Do Stick To your normal rules (or, a slightly more relaxed version of them). Don’t stop disciplining them ‘because it’s Christmas’. And make it clear to your relatives in advance that it’s your house – and that all children abide by your house rules.