Make Christmas magical for the children

It may seem as though Christmas is all about expensive presents these days but you don't need to spend a fortune to make it a magical time for children. Here are a few ideas that won't break the bank...

Young girl wearing Santa hat
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Time to decorate
Children love to feel involved and will love to decorate the tree and house. Take the whole family to pick a tree, no matter how big or small, and put the Christmas songs on as you decorate together. Making simple decorations or adding bows and glitter to shop-bought ones is also fun for the youngsters.

Take a tour
Wrap the little ones up warm and take a sightseeing tour of decorated houses in the area. Add a flask of hot chocolate and a few mince pies in a hamper to make it a real Christmas event. To make the return just as special, ask a friend or neighbour to switch on a secret decoration or light lots of tealight candles in the garden as a surprise.

Hang out the stockings
Nothing builds the anticipation quite like hanging out a stocking, ready for Santa to fill them with goodies. If you don't have a special stocking for every member of the family, try making one out of felt, or personalising shop-bought stockings with each person's initial.

A letter to Santa
He knows whether they've been good or bad, but Santa would no doubt enjoy hearing a little bit more about the children. Help them to make a card or write a letter to leave out (along with a glass of sherry, a mince pie and a carrot for Rudolph, of course!) and you can begin to formulate a reply in your head. Once your child is tucked up in bed, you'll be able to write a Santa thank you (in wobbly handwriting for an extra chilly North Pole effect). And don't forget to remind your little ones to be good all year!

How will he get in?
Every child knows that Santa arrives through the chimney, but what if you don't have a fireplace? Simple - buy a large rustic key and thread silver ribbon through the ring - hang 'Santa's magic key' outside so the children are assured he'll be able to get in with all the presents!

Time for bed
Getting to sleep can be tricky with Christmas just around the corner. Try to keep bedtime quiet and low-key to help the children relax - some low volume festive music and a seasonal bedtime story will set the mood.

Magical morning
We all know Santa put the presents under the tree but just to prove it, place a pair of wellies on the hearth or kitchen floor and sprinkle with plenty of magic snow (icing sugar mixed with silver glitter). Then carefully remove them to reveal a snowy footprint - it will make for a magical discovery for the children come morning.

Do you have any magical Christmas traditions? Let us know below...