Over the last three weeks have covered many aspects of Christmas, so for Day 22 it’s time to put some of what we’ve learned into practice.


While we have stressed the need to make it your kind of Christmas – removing any trappings or traditions that will only increases tensions not alleviate them – there may still be some elements of the big day that you want to include but are nervous about how it could turn out.


Today for My Kind of Christmas, we focus on trialling your Christmas Day plans.


This is especially important if you, your child or your friend normally stick to a rigid routine day in and day out.


For example, even if you don’t go for a traditional Christmas dinner instead opting for a known favourite meal, eating it at a different time of the day to what is the usual routine could also cause anxiety or upset.


It’s true that not every change or unpredictable element can be practiced or introduced beforehand but if over the next couple of days you can test the waters on some of the bigger aspects of your celebrations it may just make the day a more enjoyable one for everybody.


From speaking to families connected to the Society we have whittled it down to four ideas that are simple to try between now and Christmas day.

1. Eat your main meal in the afternoon. If, as we said, you normally eat breakfast in the morning, a sandwich at lunch and have your hot meal in the evening then a full three course meal in the middle of the day – wearing paper crowns, with the telly on, surrounded by presents, may not go down well. So if that’s the plan, why not start eating the larger meal in the afternoons leading up to the big day? Alternatively, don’t go for English convention and eat your Christmas lunch in the afternoon, have it in the evening when you would normally sit down as a family, after work and school.

2. Start filling the days with DVD and pre-recorded movies . One parent told us that not being able to watch The Chase at the usual time caused so much upset her son couldn’t eat. There are lots of ways around this from recording past episodes to not watching TV at all. However, as you are likely going to have visitors and siblings around lots of the time it may be advisable to start DVD watching now. This familiar comfort can be replayed if necessary, can be paused and will hopefully be enough of a ‘known’ that any anxiety from missing regular shows will be lessened.

3. Ask gran to pop in! Now, we know this one may add to the stress of other members of the household but if you have planned to have an extra half a dozen relatives around on Christmas day then get them to pop in casually – and briefly – between now and then. On previous days we have discussed the need for boundaries and how it’s okay to say no to visitors and other Christmas conventions, but if you have decided that this is one aspect of Christmas that will be staying in tact then best to ‘get used to it’ as much as possible.

4. Chill out! If you’re a parent you’re probably thinking: ‘if only!’ But in all seriousness make sure there is a place in your home that’s always free and ready to be used as a chill out area. And start using that area from now on. If things become fraught, for any reason, ahead of Christmas Day or other family gatherings, by using the chill our area as a way to bring calm and safety back it will be the ‘go to’ on Christmas day as well.


Other things to think through in keeping ‘no routine’ routine ahead of the day:

  • Don’t wear new perfumes received as gifts. The smell could be overwhelming and distressing in a day already filled with overload. 
  • Include as many familiar things as possible and practice or do trial runs of everything else.
  • Pick your battles. If it’s not worth getting stressed about, just leave it. At the end of your life you won’t wish you had spent more time trying to get your kids to eat brussel sprouts – but you may wish you had enjoyed more chilled out time together.

Keep these tips handy with our reminder poster