I really don’t ‘do’ Christmas until December as a rule, but once you have children there are lots of things that need to be ready to start on the 1st December, so I find myself getting set up earlier and earlier… This year we are going to hospital on the 20th Dec in the hope of encouraging baby 4 out to be home by the 25th – so there is even more pressure to be ready early!!
There are a couple of things we like to do in our family that have proved popular, they are mostly free and this year we are adding in the challenge of completing a kind act as part of our Advent celebrations… I’ve found the link below so you can download your own calendar if you fancy having a go – it’s from an American site, so we used the blank version and amended it slightly. It’s important to us that the kids learn about sharing and giving being an essential element of Christmas, and that they don’t get completely obsessed with the ‘getting’ part. For example we always put an Oxfam (or similar) gift in with their presents.
We also like to wrap our Christmas books up and open one each day of Advent for a ‘surprise’ and in addition to the normal countdown. These aren‘t new books, although we sometimes add a new one or two if we see something magical… There are some old favourites in there and we try to make sure all the kids have something age appropriate. Good places to get cheap Christmas books are to ask around from friends with older kids, pop to the charity shops or if you prefer new then try The Book People, we also use library books.
We always have a clear out of old toys, books and clothes that we don’t use anymore and take them to a variety of places to be re-loved. This is largely tolerated by the kids under the guise of making room for new things.
On the 1st December we also have an Elf that comes to stay with us for the whole month, he then reports back to Father Christmas on our behaviour… although there was an initial cost (you could make your own for free?), it’s now free and the fun of trying to find where he is every morning is well worth the cost. He’s not naughty as we try not to encourage that, but he is curious and has been found in some unusual places – the only downside is when it takes so long to find him we end up running late for school (and of course remembering to hide him after a long day!).
I’m sure there is so much more than this to go and get ready, but it sounds like plenty for now. So, off to the loft with me…