Spreading out the Christmas gifts

Dad Mike shares his tradition of present opening over a couple of days – and explains why it works for his son and siblings.

We have found that Christmas can be a very overwhelming experience with young children especially those with additional issues. Therefore we are a little ‘mean’, and this has applied to all our kids, including our older ones who are now adults, but we spread presents over both Christmas Day and Boxing Day. We allow the kids to open one present at a time and enjoy it for what it is. That way it keeps the excitement there, allows them to actually use/read/enjoy each gift at a time rather than it all being over and done within a short space of time. They get to appreciate the gift as well. This is more relevant now living with a child with brain injury as he finds it difficult to regulate his emotions and excitement. The massive high can soon become a massive low with mood swings. Spreading out the gifts certainly helps us. Even if we only keep back one special thing for Boxing Day, or the day after, it just helps spread the ‘high’. Our son is aged 14 now and all our kids have been used to spreading presents over a couple of days – it keeps the excitement going and stops them being overwhelmed. Keeping back something big or expensive, which they really want, can also be overwhelming – but better to spread that than make it all just too much in one go. Additionally keeping back the presents from family and friends which may have been sent as you won’t be seeing them is just one way to spreading things out. If you do this let the gift giver know so if you do speak to them on Christmas Day they don't ask your children did they like their presents. On Christmas Day morning when I was a child we were allowed our Santa stockings from the end of the bed with a few small toys when we woke up. Everything else was "look and don't touch" until after breakfast... it made it special for longer.
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