Ten Top Tips for Christmas

Updated: Dec 24, 2021

Caroline Pringle, our Families and Professionals Advisor (Child Enquiries), shares some top tips for the festive season

It’s that time again to share our Christmas tips!

How different last Christmas was for us all with very few families able to meet at Christmas due to covid restrictions. Possibly your family gathering was on ‘zoom’. With all the bubbles and tiers last Christmas it might not have been so frantic for you, and this may well have helped your children who may find gatherings stressful and overwhelming. However, many people want to make up for it this year!

At the time of sending you this information there are no plans for any Christmas restrictions, but with news of the new variant and revised mask wearing rules things may change. I am aware that covid is rife in many schools so you may have been or will be affected if family members get covid and have to isolate. I am also aware that some schools are not showing their nativity, or Christmas play to a live audience this year but are sending out a recording instead to parents.

I am sure your Christmas will be a very exciting time, full of decorations, flashing lights, and a lot of noise and hopefully no covid!

I will take this opportunity to share with you some new strategies and some that members have used over the years. We hope these will enable you to manage the festive season however you celebrate this year!

  • Maintaining a routine: it can be helpful to maintain consistency through the Christmas period by keeping key aspects of the normal routine the same, such as the times of meals, or the routines for getting ready in the morning.

  • Visual schedules: Using a calendar or a visual timetable to prepare your child for Christmas day can be really helpful. What better resource than the traditional advent calendar (I will leave you to decide if you want your child/ren to have the sugar rush of a chocolate one!) this can be an excellent way to count down to the big day. It is important to know how this type of countdown will affect your children; for some children highlighting the day and the build-up can lead to high levels of anxiety or over-excitement. If you need any help with a visual schedule, then do contact me (caroline@fragilex.org.uk 01371 875100).

  • Preparing for guests: If you are having guests over during Christmas, try making a calendar which shows their photos and names to let your child/ren know when they are coming and going.

  • Letting family and friends know: let those sharing Christmas with you know your plans in advance and how it is going to work for your family.

  • Introducing decorations: Sometimes the new and different decorations can be a bit of a shock. Think about decorating gradually and try to involve your child in changes to the house e.g., let them handle decorations or help to decorate the tree in stages. Some families find it better just to have one ‘Christmas room’ with decorations.

  • Managing visits: If you are visiting family or friends, this could well be a home they are familiar with. However, try to be the first to arrive, or first to go into a room so your child/ren doesn’t have to enter and feel overwhelmed.

  • Spread presents out: A big pile of presents may be overwhelming, so introducing presents one by one can help to make it more manageable. Some people may also find it easier if the presents are not wrapped, to reduce the anticipation of waiting to find what is inside. It may also help to encourage your child to include realistic gifts on their Christmas list, to avoid any disappointment.

  • Christmas dinner: Dinner time can be stressful, so think about giving the option of eating before or after everyone else. It can also be good to ensure not too much food is on a child’s plate. This can help with sickness too, which can happen when people get over-anxious or excited.

  • Having a focus: Giving your child/ren a ‘job’, such as giving out the Christmas presents or collecting wrapping paper; this can help to provide a focus.

  • Time-out: Make sure that there are opportunities for quiet-time, or ‘Christmas-free-time’. This can involve pre-planning a nap or some relaxing time during the day, especially around times which might be stressful, like when others are opening presents. Also making sure that there is a quiet place available that your child can go to (or be guided to) for some space during the day if things become too much. Try doing something that they find calming, such as listening to music or watching a favourite DVD.

Remember you are creating your own traditions that will work for you as family.

I hope you have found these tips helpful and if there anything else that has worked for you or your family, let us know your experiences and we will update our list!

All of us at the Fragile X Society wish you a very happy Christmas!