I love Christmas, doesn’t everyone? I love the sacredness, the socialising, the weather (even though I do fantasise about a white Christmas) and the simple fact that a year has been achieved and is in-the-bag!
But don’t get me wrong, I do resent the pressure and the forced ‘jolly’ imposed by the commercial drivers of our society and when there’s loads of stakeholders in a family’s Christmas, there are all the more people to keep happy and potentially… disappoint.
In a big family, Christmas is on steroids. So, how does a super-size family do Christmas? Here are a few tips.
1. Visit the glorious neighbourhoods who decorate in lights
This is cheap and cheerful at its finest. Google the best and most bodaciously decorated streets with lights, inflatables, laser shows and carol singers. We LOVE that there are people in our world who do this sort of thing, and we totally indulge our family on their efforts. In fact, we have even developed an awards system for our favourite categories:
‘The Griswald Award’ - for extreme but unintelligent use of lighting
‘The Barely There Award’ - for the home owners who have inadvertently relocated themselves into Christmas Light Street!, and;
‘The Prada Award’ - normally afforded to a family who has out-sourced its Christmas light design and construction to a pro.
Visit enough of these and your kids will come home so satisfied that stringing up their own tortured strands of fairy lights will be pure magic. Boom!
2. Check out your city’s big department store Christmas windows
If you live in Sydney, a big shout out to the people at the DJ’s CBD store. These guys produce the goods every year.
Our little one’s imaginations are charmed and captivated by the wonder of these large-scale dioramas. Our big kids critically analyze them and remind us that last year’s were superior and that they could probably do better themselves - an activity for all!
Whilst you’re in the city, If those sleeping rough pull at your heart strings (and it should)… extend the tradition by making ham sandwiches and cookies with the kids before. Encourage them to hand these out to the needy on the street corners.
You never know, you might bring a Christmas smile to another, or in the least, it might keep Christmas-self-entitlement levels where they ought to be. You will manufacture some of the best, most teachable moments you’re ever likely to get with your own kids.
3. Do a Carols by Candlelight
Buy your glow in the dark-everything at Target the day before and set yourselves up with some chips, dips and a DIY cheese platter (some bubbles are good too).
Turn up early enough and the Wiggles, Paw Patrol or something like it is on offer; stay long enough and your older kids will attempt to wander off when they’re bored.
Your little ones will be so shattered you might just score a sleep in… or an early wake with bad behaviour. Meh.
Additionally, for those with older children, loud and enthusiastic singing from dad causes these kids unbearable embarrassment, which doubles the entertainment for us adults!
4. Get good at the heat
It took me a few Summers to realise this, but kids love cubes of ice (straight from the freezer tray) just as much as a Callipo! Sure beats stickiness under-foot and we can now finally start saving for that deposit.
No air-con required here, kids are in the pool ’til dark and the echoes of Marco Polo are the suburban soundtrack ’til dusk. And it wouldn’t be a good day in the pool if it didn’t turn a cloudy green from all those sweaty bodies!
Don’t bother with bathing the children either - A swim anyone? Just might need to dodge those candy wrappers and hair ties, heading toward the pool filter. And get used to that green hair, kids!
If you don’t have a pool, get friendly with a generous neighbour or check out the local public pool scene and make this your default entertainment option.
Pop some aloe vera spray back in the fridge - If you have more than four kids and you never have a sunscreen malfunction, you’re a better mum than me. Poor little lobsters.
5. Wardrobe and laundry economic austerity season
Kids are only allowed to wear boardies and there’s a no-sock policy for the month.
For the items that can’t be cleaned satisfactorily by the chlorine, they’re thrown in the wash, along with their pockets full of congealed candy cane.
All the best for this Christmas, I hope it’s a special season for your family.
And by the way, when you’re feeling pressure to initiate activities (and more) for your kids these Summer holidays, perhaps motivated by a fear that they may experience the deadly condition known as boredom..
Stop! Inhale, exhale and remember your own childhood. Remember the olden days? when children were forced to use their imagination… Tell ‘em to go build a fort!
hugs into the festive ether…