Top tips for enjoying Christmas with younger children

Top tips for enjoying Christmas with younger children

Shop early

It's a cliche but it does help to try and buy presents as early as possible. It’s less stressful and sometimes a lot cheaper. 

Shop online in the evenings when the little people are asleep or if you can squeeze in a mid week early Christmas shop, then shopping local in November or early December can be a lot quieter! We have some amazing independent retailers across East Lothian and it’s great to support them.

Shop without the children

It’s easier to keep things a surprise plus you can concentrate on everything much more efficiently without requests for drinks, snacks, pee stops etc!! 

Consider taking a half day for Christmas shopping. It’s a great time to blitz some shopping on your own. Or if you find that difficult book in a girly lunch and ask a more decisive friend to come with you!

Make lists for everything

Who’s coming when, meal plans, food shopping… Book your online food shop slots as early as possible (you can edit up until the night before with most). An ex's mother used to meal plan all year round which I thought was OTT but over the week around Christmas it's a lifesaver for me. It also means you are less likely to forget to buy things for your kids’ suppers too.

Encourage your children to write a list for Father Christmas too. It’s a perfect channel to have that discussion of ' oh no Father Christmas doesn't make them' or ' I think Father Christmas couldn't fit that down our chimney' - it's amazing what control a bit of magic can bring!  

Look out for cheaper booze offers in November / early December and make sure there's a cheeky bottle of prosecco hidden where you might need it if entertaining lots of people! 

Go outdoors

I'm always amazed how when it's winter, how few people take their children outdoors compared to summer time. Children love being outdoors all year round - as long as they are properly kitted out. Layers are good, gloves (they love touching everything) and a hat. No one will last outside for long once they get cold. 

Getting outside on Christmas day is a must in our family. A combination of Granny cooking the turkey to perfection and noisy, small children in every direction, hyped on sugar and chocolate means it’s the best option for all.

Plus with some fresh air they should sleep better so you can enjoy some adult time or a good Christmas movie in peace! 

Trying not to let children have ridiculous amounts of sugar can make your life so much easier, younger children really don't know if they're missing out and it's not fair on them if they have sugar highs and lows. 

New wellies, outdoor games and Christmas treasure hunts could be good ways to get all ages outdoors during the day. My kids love torches when it's dark and we’ve had all sorts of games with torches on Christmas nights.

Don't forget the sprouts!

We have an unwritten rule that every person at the table has to eat at least one brussel sprout. I have an Aunt who has refused for as long as we have known her, so it becomes a game each year. Most of us love them and so do all my children. It does help cooking them right - I can understand why people don’t enjoy over-cooked brussel sprouts!

And...give yourselves some family time.

And the most important thing to remember is that too many friends and relations can be exhausting and expensive. Christmas will happen again next year!

Caroline Freeman

Director of Fenton Barns Nursery, which specialises in outdoor learning and healthy lifestyles. 

Mother of four young children aged 7, 5, 2 and 2. 

Shop the Brug here.

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