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Stress-free Christmas


20141206_212807.jpgWith family visits, freezing temperatures, hyped up kids, not to mention all the scrumptious dishes you're expected to whip up, the Christmas holidays are often an exhausting time for parents.
So how do you keep your Christmas relaxed yet make your kids and everyone else happy? These are my top tips to minimise the stress this Christmas.

In the weeks before hand
The first thing you should do is adjust your children's expectations and make sure their expectations are within your budget. Children love getting involved and being creative so if you have time, be inventive and help them create something as a present or help them bake something.

Wrap your presents as you buy them - this will definitely save you time on Christmas Eve.

I always buy and wrap a couple of extra presents for Christmas - some sweet-smelling soap, chocolates, bath essence - then if someone drops in or gives you a gift unexpectedly, you'll be prepared with something for them.

A couple of days beforehand
If you haven't already, start cooking. Now's the time to make anything that can be done in advance. Sausages in bacon and cranberry sauce for example can be done well in advance and frozen. Peel all veg the day before and bag up and store in the fridge. Set the table the night before as well - you'll have more time to make it look really special and Christmassy.

I suggest putting batteries in the kids' presents before a7ae110b1bfdcd187dbc2c9a0d4af278.jpgI wrap them. You can even test and assemble the toy beforehand before Christmas when they are in bed!

Don't forget to recharge the batteries on your camera or video recorder.

On the day - make it easier on yourself

Don't drink too much or it'll spoil the day - you can liven up (and water down) champagne or sparkling wine by mixing with a fruit puree (watermelon, strawberry, raspberry or pomegranate are nice). You can even make your older children feel grown up by giving them a grown-up glass of bucks fizz - just use orange juice and lemonade instead of your champagne, and don't muddle up the glasses!

The big feast
Make sure your kids don't fill up on chocolate gifts first thing in the morning by preparing them a quick but appetising breakfast but remember Christmas is about having fun with your family- if your children don't like sprouts for the rest of the year, they're not about to start now.

Delegate tasks for the Christmas lunch so you're not stressed getting everything ready on your own. In my family we have the kids on the potatoes and sprouts, the older ones laying the table, my brother carving the meat…there's plenty to go around!

After you've eaten

Sit back and relax - enjoy your family and friends and then, why not make a game of it? The classics are the best. Amongst the games consoles and paraphernalia under the tree this year, make room for a Monopoly or Cluedo, then sit down as a family to something you can all enjoy.

Christmas evening
Have an activity planned for Christmas evening - whether it's a walk before it gets dark, a game or a film. It'll keep everyone in the Christmas spirit!

Boxing Day and beyond - get some fresh air
Days out in the festive period can be cheap or even free if you're clever about planning. Why not visit some of the local, free attractions such as Blaise Castle, Ashton Court or Leigh Woods. You'll blow away some of the cobwebs and walk away some of those calories! The fresh air will do you all the world of good and the physical activity will help ensure everyone gets a good night's sleep.

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