12 Days of a low key Christmas

For most children, Christmas is a magical time of the year, with stockings over flowing and plenty of events with lots of friends and family to see. However, for children that have experienced trauma this may leave them feeling overwhelmed and anxious so it’s important to try and keep it low key over the Christmas period.

Here are some ideas for a low key Christmas and try reduce any negative emotions for our children,

Day 1. Picking a Christmas tree – Do the decorations on a separate day so it doesn’t get overwhelming, perhaps a few decorations each day up until Christmas day.

Day 2. Advent calendar – Instead of having an advent calendar, why not donate to charity? Collecting things in a cardboard box over a few days for a charity and drop it off when its full, it’s a great way for children to give something back to the community, most supermarkets collect tin cans and pasta for their local food bank or you can even collect toys and donate your local charity shop. This also saves the chocolate and sugar rush in the morning from the advent calendar!

Day 3. Games day – Why not have an old school games day? Search for those board games in the back of the cupboard

and play some games as a family, it is Christmas after all. Or play some therapeutic games like some of the ones below;

  • Row, Row, Row your boat (sitting on the floor and doing actions also holding hands and moving back and forth to the song (good for special awareness, regulating and soothing)
  • Pass the ball using cotton wool balls and straws (need a flat surface) – Blowing the cotton ball to each other or a little competition who can get to the end of a table first. Good for calming, using up energy and regulating breathing.
  • Make a messy Christmas picture using play dough, leaves (collect them from the garden) non- toxic colours e.g. food colouring, collages from cutting up papers and making a Santa face.

Day 4. Decoration making day – Creating decorations for the Christmas tree and add these on as the tree as the days pass

Day 5. Shopping day – If you need to get your Christmas shopping done, try and get it done early in the morning to avoid the crowds or even doing it on online.

Day 6. Walking – Do a beach or park walk, burn off some of that energy and help to regulate that build- up of emotions it’s free and walking is great for everyone’s mental health. Make sure you wrap up warm though.

Day 7. Self care for parents – It’s important that parents get some time alone, even for an hour or two. Go and grab a coffee or relax in a bath, take some time out and give the kids to family members for a few hours, I’m sure they won’t mind.

Day 8. Crafts day – Hand made Christmas cards are always a great touch for loved ones, so grab some crafts pens and papers and lets the children get creative. It also means you don’t have to buy Christmas cards.

Day 9. Letter to Santa – Let the children write/draw a letter to Santa good to know what they want but also if they are holding any secret wishes. You could even make a wish box instead and put them in there that way you will know if they have any secret wishes.

Day 10. Have movie day – It might be a little bit overwhelming during the Christmas season but everyone loves a good movie day, so stick your favourite film on a grab the duvet. Maybe even putting on those new Pyjama’s! There is no rule that you must do things by the book, Christmas for you is whatever you decide and is best for your children.

Day 11. Matching PJ’s– It can be a little overwhelming having a full Christmas Eve box for some children, so we would advise maybe some matching PJ’s, this could help with new children feeling a sense of identity within the family or bonding as “you all look the same”.

Day 12. Christmas Day – The big day can be very overwhelming, don’t forget to have fun but too many presents and too many people around the dinner table could all become too much for a child that has experienced loss and trauma. Break it down into smaller tasks some presents on boxing day, one family let the children help to wrap the presents, so they knew what was coming so no major big surprises (but you could keep one or two). Ask visitors to spread out over time or visit family friends in the two weeks leading up to Christmas or afterwards. But remember to enjoy and have fun.