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5 ideas to make the run-up to Christmas magical for your kids

girl drawing a heart on frozen window with her mum in a warm December family scene.
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Make some family memories during December with these festive ideas

The run-up to Christmas can be a bit intense with preparations for the day itself and so many jolly festive events filling your calendar. These low-effort easy wins will add a bit of sparkle to any family’s Christmas season.

1.       Plan ahead for a magical Christmas with your children

There is nothing like giving a child a pleasant surprise: they are hardwired to love novelty and they can’t help but show their joy. But remember that small people also do well on a predictable routine, and they like to have a bit of control over their world. So it’s worth taking the time to ask them what they are expecting from their festive season. Even very small children remember things from last year, and older children may have ideas of their own from TV or from school.

Get a blank piece of paper and ask everyone in the family to shout out ideas. Writing them down will help you to remember them; and you can use the list to check off each activity. These lists will also tell you what your children think is important – so don’t be afraid to quietly delete unpopular activities from your calendar.

It’s fun to save the lists for each year, too, so you can see how your life has changed.

Whether it’s Christmas jumpers, a special film or hot chocolate at the park, your child will have some ideas that you haven’t thought of.

2.       Christmas books for all ages

A box of books that only comes out at Christmas is a great treat. Many popular characters like Spot , Maisie and Charlie and Lola have Christmas or winter adventures. And there is plenty of choice for older children, too: Tom Fletcher’s The Christmasaurus is a nice one. You’ll want to keep your Christmas book box current and relevant, of course, but remember that older children still enjoy flipping through picture books, and some have a sort of ageless quality to them so they can be enjoyed on different levels. Look out for Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman and Father Christmas .

You could also keep a few Christmas films ready – Polar Express , Elf and The Nightmare Before Christmas are good ones. And a playlist of Christmas music is always fun: ask your children what songs they want on it.

3.       Christmas making and baking

Crafts and cookery are fun in themselves and the results could be used as gifts, too. Rather than sourcing the bits individually it is sometimes easier to buy an inexpensive kit – shops like The Range have fairly good children’s craft kits for a couple of quid, or you can dive into the Baker Ross website. These kits make great stocking fillers, too.

Projects like making cards and wrapping paper are easy enough, or you could try gingerbread shapes or paperchains. If your children don’t always engage with activities, try laying the material out and stepping away: they might prefer to come to it by themselves. And most parents find that they have to do some of the trickier work, or to finish off when the children get bored.

4.       Festive screens

Look out for Christmas apps – many franchises like Toca Hair Salon have Christmas versions. It’s fun to slip them on to the devices that your children use around 1 December, and then quietly remove them at the end of Christmas. Or set a Minecraft Christmas challenge (though you may find that your Christmas gift is a house in Minecraft!) And look out for electronic advent calendars, too.

5.       Make space for Christmas

It is much easier to decorate a tidy, more-or-less organised house. And a tidy house is calmer for some children, which can help them cope better with all the excitement. So declutter early, before the Christmas rush begins. This might mean getting rid of some outgrown toys (we’ve got a blogpost with advice on decluttering toys ), or it might mean moving some items into storage. It’s easy and convenient to use a self-storage unit, and for complete peace of mind you can insure goods kept in your storage unit. If you’re considering self-storage in the run-up to Christmas, get a quote from Store and Insure – we may be able to offer you a better deal on insurance than your storage company.

It doesn’t take much to make a magical Christmas – just ask your children for their ideas!