Ideas for a magical Christmas

Most of us have fond memories of Christmas as a child and, though it may seem as though youngsters are only interested in this year's must-have toys, it's those little family traditions that they'll remember as they grow up. Here are a few ideas that will put the magic into your kids' Christmas without breaking the bank.

make christmas magic for the children

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Time to decorate
Children like 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.

Another idea is to decorate the house but leave the tree free of baubles and tinsel... until Christmas Eve. If you can stay awake, wait until the children are fast asleep before decorating the tree and adding the presents. Their little faces are guaranteed to light up come Christmas morning.

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 and personalise it with each person's initial. Or give each child a balloon to blow up and tie to the top of the stocking so they will know which is theirs come the morning.

A letter to Santa
He already knows whether they've been good or bad but Santa still loves to hear 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, of course!). 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 - a little gentle 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.

And if you don't have a lot of cash to spend on piles of presents, devise a little Christmas treasure hunt for the children - not only will it add to the excitement of receiving gifts, the present-opening experience will last longer.

What made Christmas special when you were a child? Let us know below...