Preparing For Baby's First Christmasby Kirsty Taylor-Moran
A baby’s first Christmas is a really exciting and special time, especially if it is your first child. My son is only going to be 7 months old this Christmas, and he definitely has no idea what is going on, but I am determined to start our own family traditions this year. It can be really overwhelming to plan, especially if before now you haven’t done much more than turn up at your parents’ or sibling's house for Christmas Day lunch.
Christmas should be magical for children and when I was little it all started with the decorations. I looked forward to the annual ceremony of bringing the decorations down from the loft almost as much as my own birthday. Christmas decorations are such a sensory experience for little ones, all of the sparkle, lights and the smells of cinnamon and pine. This year, we have decided the tackier, the better, and have draped tinsel, hung lots of fairy lights and covered every available surface with Christmas trinkets. I am worried that next year we might have to forgo the Christmas Tree if he is likely to pull it down and break the baubles, so this year we have made an extra effort. I am not ashamed to admit that I started assembling our decorations in mid-November this year.
When it comes to the big day, a good starting point is figuring out where you want to spend it. If you have lots of family members to see, this needs to be factored in. If you are hosting, you need to invite your guests, but if you don’t fancy spending the day at home or cooking you will need to make sure you make arrangements well in advance. We are planning on spending the day at home, eating and relaxing before going on a long country walk and passing the evening in front of a cheesy Christmas film. Deciding not to visit anyone on Christmas Day takes the pressure off and means we can enjoy the day at our own pace, and have all the leftovers to ourselves.
I keep joking to everyone that this will probably be our last truly cheap Christmas for a long time. Babies are not materialistic; they have no grasp of gift-giving or what it means to receive a present. They are also in the lucky position of not needing very much, this obviously depends on the time of year your baby is born but at this stage, we pretty much have everything we will need for him right through into toddlerhood. The wrapping paper is probably equally as interesting as whatever they are unwrapping! I have still decided to give him a few gifts on the day, little things that I have bought recently and kept back so that they can be wrapped and played with on Christmas morning. Longer-term, we are not planning on going mad at this time of year, I hope not to get caught in the trap of giving a ‘main’ present, plus stocking and so on. I often see the parenting present buying mantra of ‘something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read’ and this is loosely what we will follow in years to come. I do think it's worth bearing in mind though, that people love to buy gifts for babies, so you are likely to receive a few bits and bobs.
I love Christmas cooking and baking, and always make gingerbread cookies, a traditional Christmas cake and a few new recipes if I’m inspired by the likes of Nigella. At 7 months, we haven’t been weaning long but I do plan on serving up a full roast dinner on Christmas Day. I am researching recipes to avoid some of my key ingredients (honey, and salt!) and hope that not too much of the plate ends up on the floor. If you are travelling elsewhere on Christmas Day it is worth packing a compact high chair if your host doesn’t already have one - and don’t forget the bibs and baby cutlery if needed. It is worth packing the usual meals your baby will eat during the day in case there is nothing suitable or salt-less available.
The festive season is a great time to get crafty, from making your own decorations (Pinterest is great for inspiration) to creating some lovely sentimental keepsakes. This year I am planning on making some salt dough tree decorations with baby handprints, which can be repeated each year to see how much they grow and would make a thoughtful gift for a grandparent. I am also going to bravely attempt to paint some pottery at home, I want to have a unique plate for the reindeer/Father Christmas snacks that we will put out on Christmas Eve in years to come.
There is always lots going on for families at this time of year, there might be Christmas Markets, ice skating, festive evenings, concerts or light shows. We will bundle up warm and make the most of what’s on offer in our local area and hope to continue this every year. Family outings have such potential to make the build-up to Christmas extra magical and are a great opportunity to take photos that you can show to your little ones when they are bigger. There are lots of other traditions that you can start to establish already, family matching Christmas pyjamas, a festive-themed family photo in the Christmas cards, a woodland walk to forage holly for homemade Christmas decorations and so on. Christmas is about family and there are endless ways to make it special for children, even inexpensively.