Parties should be fun, not fraught. Our Senior Family Worker Rebecca Welch is planning a festive bash for families on December 22; here she explains what she thinks about when putting together the perfect party.

1. Look at the environment. Is it familiar, is it going to be overwhelming, would an outdoors party work better? I'm planning a small-sized hall with plenty of space for guests so they don't feel crowded.

2. Have a calm, quiet breakout space where children can go if they get too overwhelmed. It could be a sensory space, with lots of toys, beanbags and messy play. I will plan an area like this at one end of the hall, with any music or games at the other end.

3. Think about structure. Some children need a clear timeline for the party, while others might not cope with this and will need more flexibility and fewer demands. Make sure there's a choice of activities on offer and don't create too many expectations.

4. Consider potential triggers. It could be certain songs, games, fancy dress or queuing for party food, and try to work around them.

5. What tools can you use to support children or your child? You could use visuals to support with transition points. If you're going to a party with your child, take ear defenders if they use them and a safe object, such as a favourite toy or cuddly blanket.

6. Look at children's sensory needs, and consider your lighting, noise, visual stimuli and any smells at the party that could be a trigger.

7. Think about the timing of the party. If it's the same time of day when a child would usually be having a nap or eating, it may cause disruption and anxiety. Plan time after the party for your child to relax and recover.

Would a party that is on straight after school be too much for your child? It wouldn't allow any time in between for your child to decompress.

8. Don't participate in party food if mealtimes cause stress, or take safe foods with you if you're going to someone else's party.

9. If Santa is going to be visiting, let people know in advance. Not everybody is a fan of the man in the red suit!

10. Above all, don't feel any pressure to confirm to societal norms. I'm inviting siblings - it's great for families to be together. Do children need to wear party clothes? Do you really need the perfect pictures? If they spend half an hour alongside their friends then that might be enough .. and a massive achievement.