Planning The Perfect Christmas

Christmas is just around the corner now isn’t it? I love this time of year, and I absolutely love planning a perfect Christmas for all my family to enjoy. I love creating traditions and memories and menus and I wanted to share that with you because sometimes Christmas can get a little overwhelming.

Christmas as a single parent family

I have had to spend Christmas and the festive season as a single parent and I’ve also had to spend Christmas Day without my eldest daughter. The festive season is so much more magical when you’ve got your own children and it can be really tough if you have to share them. There are lots of variations to what works best for you and your family for Christmas and depending on where you are living it can feel quite lonely. If your work allows you to then try and surround yourself with as many loved ones as you possibly can.

When it comes to sharing residency of your children at Christmas we all seem to do different things. Some parents choose to split the time, others do alternative Christmasses. It really doesn’t matter what day your Christmas is if you want to save it for when you are all together. The system that has worked best for us, and has worked better during the school holidays, is dividing the break up between us. My daughter travels 100 miles away to spend it with her dad so we can’t just share Christmas day. Instead my daughter heads to her dads on Boxing Day and comes home on New Years Day. This way we get Christmas Eve and Day with her and then she get’s to celebrate further with her dad and his family. It just so happens to be my birthday in Christmas fog week so this gives me a bit of freedom too. It can be even more pressure trying to juggle Christmas as a single working parent.

Planning Christmas with older children

My daughter is now getting older by the second and so Christmas means something a bit different to her now. It’s not all about how many gifts or how big the gifts are but rather the smaller things and the appreciation for things like new clothes. However, she still loves to get involved in our regular traditions and will love sharing these with her baby brother as he grows up too.

Even though she still loves a visit to see Father Christmas (at the moment!) we are trying to do things that caters to her festive spirit a bit more. When you have older children, Christmas can still be really magical. I find getting her involved in things more and more make it special for her. She likes to help choose the food and engages more with certain films. If getting out to these Christmas events makes you a little anxious I have a post talking about how to cope with festive events in December.

All the best Christmas gifts this year

I think it’s very easy for us all to get caught up in spending lots of money on gifts for both immeadiate and extended family and it’s easy to whack things on credit cards. The best way to avoid getting into debt is to budget properly and start shopping early. I have some great tips to help get some extra cash and vouchers in time for Christmas. Buying one gift a week might be a more cost effective way than buying everything last minute and you can spend more time getting the perfect gift for each person. I’ve put together the Ultimate Christmas Gift Guide for some inspiration. This has his and her gifts as well as food related items and stuff for family and friends.

Adam and I probably buy gifts for aound 14 people, each other and our kids. Because of this I have some gift inspiration for girls that I know Evie would absolutely love and has done over the years. If you’ve got a pregnant family member you can look at my pregnancy wishlist for some things that might help them. If there’s a new baby in the family then I have a list of practical new baby gift ideas that could really help.

There are lots of company’s that offer some fabulous personalised gifts and toys that make ideal Christmas presents. Wicked Uncle are great for sending gifts direct to family as they gift wrap and name the presents. Paladone have an amazing range of branded Merchandise perfect for Disney and Star Wars fans. These days an advent calendar is basically a gift in itself too! If you have a book lover in the family then I have a fantastic list of books they might just love!

Our personal Christmas traditions

Over the years we have tried to create our own family Christmas traditions bringing things from Adam’s childhood and mine together.

Festive Family Occassions & Events we love

We recently had an amazing time at the Winter Wonderland area on our trip to Center Parcs in Longleat Forest. It was absolutely beautiful. We also went to Longleat Safari Park and did the Santa Train Express where Evie got a gift and a nice photo from Father Christmas. Attending the Christmas lights switch on is always good fun too.

We love walking around the Christmas markets this time of year and our plan this year is to visit both Salisbury and Winchester markets and have a browse. The is also a local craft and gift fare at our local theater in Andover so we will be visiting that too. Lots of these events offer freebies, samples and beautifully made gifts so it’s a great chance to shop small, shop local and find gifts with a personal touch.

I think going to a Christmas Market, visiting Father Christmas and maybe walking around the Festive sections in Garden Centres really help get me in the festive spirit!

Baby’s First Christmas

Felix had his first Christmas last year but he was only a couple of months old and got a bit overwhelmed with all the new sights and smells and people. Not to mention Adam and I weren’t very well. So this year we are making it a true first Christmas as a family of four. The thing is when you have an infant there isn’t a lot they want to do other than their normal routine and when you have older ones they want to play with their new things. I think however you do your baby’s first Christmas, try and schedule it around their normal routine if you can and make sure they have a quiet place they can go to if they need to sleep.

Baby’s don’t really need all that much stuff when it comes to Christmas, especially if they’re still very little. I think practical is best for under 2’s. However, a nice way to celebrate could be to have a personalised Christmas tree decoration or a 1st Christmas item of clothing to signify the occassion.

Where to get Christmas food and building a delicious hamper

I have asked my mum to do us a little hamper for Christmas each day which she loves doing as she can spread the cost and add to it when new things come into the supermarkets. Staples for a good Christmas hamper, I think, are some biscuits, an alcoholic drink and a cheese board. My mum also adds a Christmas decoration to ours which has become a little tradition. She has bought me a new Bauble or Christmas item for the last seven years or so and as a result our Christmas tree is quite the elcletic mix which I absolutely love.

Most supermarkets do a great range of lovely food or Christmas but Christmas Markets are also a lovely place to try and find something completely different and unique.

What to do during Christmas Fog Week

Christmas fog week as it’s now fondly known here is the bane of my life because right in the middle of it is my Birthday. I know this time of year can get a bit draining on bank balances and we can be left with that christmas bloat from all of the food. We are going to try getting down to the coast for a walk because it’s so good to get out of the town and go somewhere different for a few hours. We also try and see all of the family that we haven’t been able to see before Christmas. It’s a good chance to get loads of nice photos, set goals for the new year and let the kids burn of some energy.

For my birthday we usually go shopping and get a meal together. I use this as an opportunity to stock up on all the things like bath care products from unbought gift sets because it will last me ages and save me money throughout the rest of the year. Plus who doesn’t like a bit of indulgence on their birthday?

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