CLAUS FOR CELEBRATION: Whether you beach it or backyard it, make Christmas special by doing what works for you.
CLAUS FOR CELEBRATION: Whether you beach it or backyard it, make Christmas special by doing what works for you. iStock

Do the big day your way

IT'S beginning to look a lot like Christmas in our house ... already. The tree went up spectacularly early this year and the house is filled with jolly but jumbled Christmas songs sung by my almost five-year-old daughter, including my favourite which somehow features Six White Boomers landing in the hay (from the Batman-version of Jingle Bells).

There's also a lot of Christmas discussion on my social media feed, including one story which popped up recently about how you must give your child only three presents. Needless to say, the comments section under the story was quite colourful and not everyone was "wrapped” in the idea (ho, ho).

This made me realise that how we celebrate Christmas does not need to be set in stone. Want to give your child more than three presents? Go for it.

I spend all year watching my child grow and develop new passions and interests, and as I see something I think she might like, I find it and put it away for her birthday or Christmas (which both happen in December so there's a whole stockpile of pressies stashed away at the moment).

So there's no way I could possibly limit myself to three presents for her - I love giving gifts way too much. Does it matter? No. The main thing is to teach her gratitude and share with her the joy of giving.

Did you put your tree up early like I did? Or are you patiently waiting for December 1? Is it a big tree or a little tree? Maybe there's no tree or maybe it's a stick with some tinsel festively entwined around it. Does it matter? No. It's your tree or lack thereof. If this is what works for you, there's no need to branch out in other directions (ho, ho).

Do all the presents under your tree come from Santa? Or do they all come from family members?

I had the presents of mind (ho, ho again) to declare early on that the gifts in the Christmas stocking come from Santa and the presents under the tree come from me. I spend so much time and effort choosing gifts for my family I want the credit thank you very much. This is what works for my family and I'm sure you do what works for yours.

How about present unwrapping? Do you have a wild free-for-all of everyone opening their gifts all at once, with children shouting with delight as Christmas wrapping paper gets ripped and flies across the room?

Or do you like a more ordered process where people unwrap one present at a time, so you can focus on each present and give people the chance to say thank you?

I'm unashamedly a control freak when it comes to present time. We usually have a very small gathering (on average four of us) and if we didn't open one present at a time, the whole thing would be over in 10 minutes. I like to stretch it out and savour the joy of seeing people opening their gifts. But if you have a gigantic family gathering you'd be there until sundown and the turkey would be burnt to a crisp if you took it one present at a time. Again, just do what works for you.

Hot turkey? Cold prawns? Traditional pudding? Aussie pav? Church? Beach cricket? Christmas Day is all yours to celebrate it exactly how you wish.

Spread some love, create your own traditions, be thankful and do whatever makes the day special to you. Bah humbug to the Christmas dictators. Make it a happy day by making it yours.

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