Because family time can often cause some stress!
Even if you love your parents or in-laws, the thought of spending Christmas with them – even digitally – may cause some tension. You know that they mean well, but they just can’t help pampering their grandchildren sending gifts from afar. To add to that is the never-ending stream of festive candies that’ll have kids bouncing off the walls and the late nights (or early mornings) trying to schedule in those all-important video calls. Before you know it you may be dealing with overtired children, oversensitive parents, exhausted partners, hurt feelings and more. How can you make this a peaceful Christmas for everyone in the family? We’ve put together some handy tips as our holiday gift to you. You’re welcome, mamas!
Let’s start with the biggie! Through this turbulent year, you may have carefully instilled values of saving, generosity and charity with the aim of a peaceful and pleasant Christmas – you may see that disappear in a flash as grandparents look to give the one gift that will earn them instant creds and even longer Skype calls for the whole year. Conversely, your teen may not want to put in any thought or effort into the present for a much younger cousin or a not-so-favourite aunt.
It’s time that you circulate a memo about the hierarchy of gift-giving amongst your family members. Encourage everyone in the family to gift shared experiences and spend time together, rather than anything material. If you do want to give something physical, try to upcycle toys and household items (a fun DIY project for the kids), buy second-hand or make things yourself. If that’s not possible, encourage buying small, useful and long-lasting gifts rather than giving in to what might be a passing fad.
Read more: Sassy Mama Christmas Gift Guides 2020
Ideas For Experiences And Time Together (In The Future)
The usual key to spending peaceful holidays together as a family is to spend time together and have special shared experiences. Although, as the global events of this year have shown, we definitely shouldn’t take it for granted. When the world finds itself in a safer place and the opportunity to travel to see family and friends finally returns, here are some suggestions of how you can maximise the quality time spent for all:
- Spend some time with your partner and leave the kids with the grandparents. Not without leaving them a fun task to complete though! Ask your kids to make a scrapbook with the life story of each grandparent. It’s a great bonding activity and helps the grandparents relive their lives. The kids get to know their roots and at the end of it, you have a lovely gift for the grandparents (they could also do this remotely over the holidays).
- Similarly, use cooking and baking together as a shared experience. Each day’s menu can be suggested by one person. It’s a good way to learn traditional family recipes as well.
- Take the children out grocery shopping, whether you’re here in Hong Kong or staying with family in your home town. It’s always great for them to see what fruits and vegetables are available locally. Depending on how old they are, you can involve them in menu planning, budget discussions and researching recipes online. It’s an easy and effective way to get them interested in food.
- Play games together. Charades, Pictionary, Monopoly, Scrabble, etc. are always family favourites (you have online versions for many as well). You can also get children to change the rules and have the family play it as per their new (and hopefully, improved!) rules.
- Keep the TV on but connected to your Google photos on random selection mode so that it keeps showing pictures from different times in your life. These are fun to watch and also start amazing nostalgic conversations and reignite bonds.
- Gift experiences in advance, like spa treatments, musical shows, theme park tickets etc. to those who will most appreciate it. Your mum may never treat herself to a manicure but will love it coming from her daughter or grandkids (social distancing permitting).
How To Reduce Waste And Clutter
As we’re all spending a lot of time in our own homes this year, why not turn your attention to minimising waste, or clearing out the old or unused and passing them on if in good condition? Mindless wastage and a messy house can agitate the mind (not a very peaceful Christmas!) and it’s important to instil a sense of organisation in your young ones.
- As a rule, only small portions of food should be served. Let everyone take seconds if they want more. Get your little ones excited about making a cake with the leftovers for a pet or dogs in shelters.
- Collect gift wrappers that you can easily reuse and discuss how to reduce, reuse and recycle.
- Teach your kids to organise their own clothes and clear out what they no longer need. Make a game of it, if necessary, with points for folding and putting away clothes, hitting the bullseye by throwing dirty clothes perfectly into the laundry basket etc.
- Assign age-appropriate household chores to your children and all your nieces and nephews around. This helps keep the house neat and tidy and take a load off the host. Just as you have seen in classrooms and public washrooms, keep a clipboard with duties assigned and get them to tick it off as they complete a task.
Dealing With Tiredness And Tantrums For A Peaceful Christmas
Even if you are not travelling far this year, there can still be tantrums over the festive period. Perhaps children may be going through a difficult phase (teenage hormones), or are overstimulated (especially the youngsters) and then, in turn, become overtired. For children who may have special needs, a change in the usual routine can have a knock-on effect. Here are some tips to deal with the ups and downs that kids may face:
- Make a dark tent for younger kids to crawl into for a snooze, or if they need some down-time.
- Quiet time should be strictly followed for at least an hour in the afternoon.
- Before the holiday season, have a serious discussion with the children about acceptable behaviour and “trouble zones”. Along with them, set what the consequences will be if they (or you) breach these limits.
- Long walks (either alone or with the family) are highly recommended.
- If you have a child with special needs, be a matter of fact about the difference and the requirements your child has. Without being defensive, embarrassed or apologetic, talk about your child being differently-abled.
- Don’t forget to take a quiet ten minutes for a cuppa every time you need it!
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in December 2019 and updated in December 2020.