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Ask a Mum of 8: What's Christmas like for your family?!

How many presents do you think you buy just for you, your partner and your children?

About 60, and that doesn't include the stockings for the children.

I hate giving rubbish in stockings but at the same time I want to keep it cheap.

This year I put two nice gifts in and 3 confectionary gifts and always a satsuma and choc coins.

It's not going to be bulging full but I'm at peace with the choices I've made. Santa can't get all the credit 😂. This year I couldn't find all the stockings so had to improvise as you can see from the pic!

So if I add the stocking gifts, then the total number of gifts bought is about 116! And of course that's just for us, not including the extended family we buy for too.

Good grief! How long does it take to wrap all that?!

It's not as bad as it sounds.....I start wrapping when it's about 3 weeks till christmas.

I just do bits here and there. I know that a bit here and there means it gets done without even realising how big a job it was.

At some point I consolidate and order into separate bags. I have to make sure it's looking even/or at least even cost wise. Kids get to recognise if you've been unfair.

This is our tree this year, you can just about make out all the bags of gifts under it and stacked behind it!

It must be a logistical nightmare

Yes, it certainly could be! It's a lot of hard work.

I don't like panic buying and avoid it all costs. So I start a list mid November; I'd like to start in September but never do. However, mid November is always enough time.

I find online shopping has been great too especially this year.

What do your put on your list? And how big is it?

My list is a few pages long and gets messy but it lasts till its not needed any longer.

The headings I use for my list are: Food shopping, Kids, Family, Friends, Cards, Money gifts. As you can imagine, the kid's section is the busiest!

It must get expensive?

Yes it does, but I have a budget for the whole of Christmas each year. I keep to it within £200 each time. That's not bad for us!

I like the kids to also think about giving, as well as getting. It really adds to the workload and cost to help them do this, especially the younger ones but I feel it's very important.

They only give gifts for nearest and dearest; and tend to give homemade gifts where we can.

It saves money but is also more personal. This is what the younger ones made this year. Christmas tree shaped decorations and cookies inside presentation bags.

What's the most challenging part of Christmas day for you?

Well, it's actually opening gifts. I get very uneasy because the kids are so excited and it can get confusing with who has opened what. I can end up missing their reaction to a key gift or with no idea who gave them what.

I like to be able to thank Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles who've dropped gifts off for them. So I have a notebook and they have to tell me who the gift is from before they open it; what it is as they open it; and they're supposed to take turns opening presents.

I try to write down what they get and pay attention to their reactions. I contact everyone later to say thank you. However, you can imagine that this system doesn't always go to plan!

It must be a challenge to cook for 10 every evening anyway, but what about Christmas day?

Well remember that I didn't jump right into a family of 10 :). The children came along one by one, so we gradually and slowly needed to provide more meals and more substantial meals over a number of years.

So I didn't really notice the increase in workload, I just adapted over time. I certainly don't always feel like cooking, I think we all feel that way from time to time!

But takeaway is very expensive indeed for all of us, so that's a big incentive to be organised and have easy meals planned.

For Christmas, I start ordering the food we need for Christmas at the start of December, bit by bit, in our weekly online food shop. I find I'm less likely to forget things that way, and it also means I don't have to immediately find storage for all of it at once.

We don't have a large house or a big kitchen, so storage is always a bit of a


It's actually serving up the meal on Christmas day that's a pain. It seems to take so long to serve everything to everyone, as you might be able to tell from the pic above from this year.

Cooking it is OK ironically, Darren helps. The cooking is always surprisingly stress free.

Is it always crazy and hectic in your house anyway with all those children? Is it much more so at Christmas?!

It's not as noisy as you'd think.

On Christmas day after our big Christmas lunch, the kids tend to dissappear off to their rooms to play with their new toys, and the older teens are off to connect with friends on various devices. I can actually sit down then, take a breath and even watch some TV.

The amount of thought and effort that goes into Christmas day is enormous, by Boxing Day I'm literally reeling from the hard work!

I don't think this is ever truly appreciated by those around me. Not to feel sorry for myself, but rather, as with so much of parenting for all of us, it's pulled off in such a way that others don't realise how much work was involved! I suppose that's credit to all Mamas and Fathers who do this job every year - and everything else for the rest of the year as well! Well that's my positive spin on it. 😂. After the year we've all had, let's raise a glass to each other!

Find out more abour Denise and her family here.

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