Celebrating Christmas this year

With lots of Coronavirus restrictions, this Christmas feels very different to usual.

You might be struggling to enjoy this time of year or know how to make it special for your children. Whatever your budget, we’ve got some tips and activities you can do to have a happy Christmas with your family.

Celebrating Christmas: a small child reaches out to touch the lights on a Christmas tree

The festive period

  • Decorate your house early and get the children involved. Wear Christmas jumpers, silly hats and play Christmas songs whilst you’re doing it. The children will remember the fun they had.
  • There are lots of free apps where you can have video calls with Santa. It’s not the same as a grotto trip but we have all had to get used to video calling this year!
  • Dig out your favourite family games and puzzles and have a games night. You don’t need to buy new games if all your games are a bit over-used this year. Try swapping games with a neighbour for ‘new’ games that don’t cost you a penny.
  • Watch Christmas films together. You can make the room all cosy with duvets and pillows. Get some popcorn or any favourite film snacks. You could even ask your child to make paper tickets to the film so it becomes a home cinema.
  • Make Christmas masks and hats. You can recycle any cardboard boxes you’ve got (for example, cereal boxes) and unused decorations. Then, have a mini party with your favourite Christmas songs.
  • Try Christmas karaoke. There’s karaoke versions of all the classics with the lyrics on YouTube.
  • Host a virtual party. We’ve all got used to having video calls this year with loved ones. You could have a Face Time games night or sing carols together. Show off your crafts and give tours of your festive home!

Crafts and activities

  • We’ve got lots of ideas for festive crafts specific to your child’s age:
    Toddlers and younger children
    Older children and teenagers
  • Read lots of Christmas books with the children. If you don’t have books, see if your library is open or share books with friends and family.
  • Challenge your children to make a bauble from recycling and materials that you already have. You don’t have to buy lots of craft kits to have creative fun.
  • Try making decorations for the house, such as paper chains or snowflakes. You can be kind to the environment and use any post you don’t need as your materials.
  • There’s lots of gift ideas online that you can make together to send to friends and family that you can’t be with.
  • Write letters to Santa. You can encourage your children to write their wishes and hopes, as well as presents they’d like. We know presents may be tricky to buy this year.

Going outside

  • Even though we’re still in restrictions and tiers, it’s important to get outside and get some fresh air.
  • Look at what is available in your area that you can do outside while social-distancing. Some areas are having Christmas light trails.
  • Even if there’s not an organised Christmas light walk near you, you can wrap up warm and spot lights and decorations in your area.
  • Make a treasure hunt of things to look for. For example, try finding a reindeer decoration or a snowflake.
  • During the day, wrap up warm, go for walks and then come home and snuggle up to get warm. You can make hot chocolate to help you warm up. If you don’t have hot chocolate, you don’t need to buy any especially. You can use advent calendar chocolate or chocolate coins and melt these in warm milk.
  • Places like garden centres have beautiful Christmas displays. You can wander round these to feel like you’re in Santa’s grotto. Just keep an eye out for other people around you and make sure you’re staying 2 metres apart from them.

Christmas on a budget

  • Your children will remember Christmas for the time you spend together and the fun things you do. Not the expensive gifts. This year more than ever, focus on the family time.
  • Whether it’s Christmas or not, no child should go hungry. If you are unable to feed your family, get in touch with your local food bank to see how you can get referred. Try the Trussell Trust or the Food Bank Finder to start with. Local churches and places of worship often have food tables too.
  • If you have a small budget, you can buy frozen turkey joints and fill up on the vegetable trimmings. Roast potatoes are a classic part of a Christmas dinner and can be bought cheaply.
  • Facebook can be really useful for finding free and pre-loved toys and games. Lots of neighbourhood groups or ‘for sale’ groups are advertising free gifts that you can go and pick up. Whilst the toys may not be brand new, they are new to your child – and that’s what is exciting.

Look after yourself

  • Christmas is a busy time of year and this year maybe more challenging than others.
  • It is important to look after your own wellbeing as well as others around you.
  • We have put together a self-care advent calendar to help you create moments to support your wellbeing and that of your family.
  • Download our Parent Talk wellbeing advent calendar and give some of the activities a go.
  • But remember, don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day or two. Do what you want to, when you can.

Become a Secret Santa

Action for Children has a huge Christmas appeal this year with lots of ways for families to get involved. This Christmas, families in the UK need a Secret Santa more than ever. Here we’ve listed 8 ways that you can get involved in changing the life of a vulnerable child.

  • Become a Secret Santa. Donate to Action for Children’s Secret Santa appeal and you could make sure more children and young people have a hot meal, a present or a safe place to sleep.
  • Buy a virtual gift. In a year where everything has gone virtual, give someone you love something special. Choose a gift that could help a vulnerable child and dedicate this gift to a friend or family member.
  • Join us for some carols. Join Jon Snow and special guests on 8th December for a carol concert from the comfort of your own home. It’ll be an evening of sparkling entertainment and festive cheer. Tickets are £10 per household.
  • Take part in the Hinch Christmas quiz. For a suggested donation of £10 per household, join Instagram sensation Mrs Hinch and her husband in a quiz. It’s time to put your Christmas knowledge to the test!
  • Write your Christmas wish. What does your child want Santa to do to help children living in poverty this year? Help them write to Santa and ask for him to help other children this Christmas.
  • Find your jolly name. Are you a Reindeer Sparkles or a Jingly Snowman? Use our Secret Santa name generator and spread the word about Action for Children!
  • Buy festive clothing. Buy one of our fabulous festive jumpers, t-shirts or tote bags and you’ll make a big difference. Every purchase raises money to bring happiness, warmth and safety to vulnerable children in the UK.
  • Say thank you to our key workers. This year we want to bring a bit of Christmas sparkle and give an extra big thank you to all of our amazing key workers. Send us a message from you and/or your children to our key workers to say Merry Christmas and a big fat thank you.
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