Christmas is a time for laughing, having fun and spending quality time with the family. When your child is coming home from a boarding school in the UK for the Christmas holidays, the celebratory period becomes all the more special.

You have the chance to reconnect and cherish each other’s company. If you are thinking about boarding as an option for your child, visit Alexanders School for more information. This article discusses what it means for families when their children come home for Christmas.

Getting everyone back together

Often, Christmas is the only time in the year when everyone can simultaneously switch off from their busy schedules to spend quality time together. Family comes first at Christmas and if your children are coming back for a while from boarding school you want to make sure you have as much free time as possible.  

Take time off work, cancel your other plans and show your children how much you’ve missed them.

Enjoy festive traditions

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Get everyone involved and excited in the lead up to Christmas. Pick out a tree together and spend an afternoon decorating it while the Christmas tunes blast out in the background. Take a walk or a drive around your local neighbourhood and the spot houses with the most Christmas lights.

Pick up some freshly made mince pies from a market and listen to carol singers. The magical glow that comes from twinkling Christmas lights, home-made festive treats and the smell of falling pine leaves is priceless.

 


Having fun together

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Christmas is the season to be jolly! Don’t nag your children about schoolwork or exams. Instead do things as a family which everyone enjoys. Head out together to see a special festive show. Or partake in some good old fashioned family fun by digging out the board-games. 

Bring blankets and pillows into the family room and stay up all night watching Christmas films. It you are feeling the lack of snow here in the UK then take your loved ones ice skating to get in the frosty festive spirit!

Creating warm memories

When your children spend a lot of time away from home it is important to create warm memories at Christmas time which they will cherish when they go back to school. As well as having fun and playing games, spend time reminiscing.

Dig out your old home movies and laugh at the crazy things your kids said and did when they were little. Watching happy memories on camera will bring you closer – as well as getting everyone in stitches as you show embarrassing childhood clips!

Sharing perfect gifts

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Giving the perfect gift isn’t about spending loads of money. As well as getting your children what they asked for, be sure to include a special extra present which has sentimental value. Your child will appreciate it this when he or she goes back to boarding school and is missing home.

Create a collage of fun family photos, paint them a picture or gift them an old family keepsake that has a special meaning behind it.

Christmas is a time for family and it is all the more special when you can welcome your kids home from boarding school. Take as much time off as you can and create a memorable celebration for your loved ones with fun games, festive traditions and perfect presents. 


Useful links

The Guardian
The Guardian has a range of articles offering tips, ideas and information on Christmas.

iVillage.co.uk
iVillage.co.uk has suggestions for creating your own family Christmas traditions.

Time Out London
Time Out offers reviews of festive family shows in London.
 
 
Today, the 3rd day of January is the perfect day to think about Christmas. Go look for the memory card and download the photos and videos you took onto your computer – if you haven’t already!

Do you see the pictures? In all cases the same thing happens. First, your family is measured. People smiling, talking… and when hours go on, people are laughing much more and that starts the first lost gazes… Yes! Your family start getting drunk! (And you knew that it was the best moment to ask for money, hehe.)
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When you have seen all the pictures, start remembering the best moments of Christmas. For me, one of the best moments is when you have to buy all the stuff to prepare the table for Christmas Eve. When my mother deals with it, there is not any problem but, of course, all family have to help with the preparations and this year my father and I had to go to the supermarket and the mess came home, we forgot almost everything except the chips and the dessert. My mum had to go to the supermarket again.


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Another favourite moment is when my niece sees the Santa Claus presents. This has an easy explanation and it’s because, at the moment, she is the only child in the family- so all of us are waiting the whole year just for this moment, just to see the happiness in her eyes.


Another great moment is when my cousins and I go out to have a drink and go to the clubs. This year we had breakfast together at 7 a.m. This would repeat at New Year’s Day, when we had the traditional churros with chocolate.

When was your best Christmas moment? Do not be shy, leave a comment!
 
 
Three months before Christmas

At this point, Christmas is only a faint glimmer in the horizon. Make like a wise man (or woman) looking at the star of Bethlehem – stay on track with some preparation. For the epic family gathering, make sure that orders are completed early for all of the condiments, sauces, wine, meats, cheese platters and so on.  This can be ordered in advance from food hampers specialists like Forman and Field, who can provide a deluxe spread on the big day with minimum hassle. 
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Two months before Christmas

At this point in time, it's too early to be thinking of presents. Unless you truly are a die-hard Christmas tragic, and simply must get into the shopping beforehand. The majority of the world will curse your resourcefulness, but you will be the winner come mid-December, when the rest of us poor sods will be stuck in massive queues.  Another thing to think about now is making a Christmas card list. If you are one of the quaint and old-fashioned types who still do this – respect!

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One month before Christmas

Aside from an annual review, bonus, annual leave and various other non-festive things going on, it's time for the madness to begin. Sporting or social organisations have parties and so do workplaces. It seems every workday is filled with pub afternoons and dinners. When not getting plastered on company time, it's time to start noticing and making mental notes about what your nearest and dearest want for Christmas. This is also the appropriate time to treat yourself. It's been a tough year, so a massage, manicure, haircut or facial doesn't go amiss right now. Anybody who is single should embrace Christmas parties as the place to mingle and meet new people.   


Just as important as the right outfit for a Christmas party is being a gracious guest and getting a fabulous gift for the host. Christmas gift baskets can contain all sorts of decadent treasures: like smoked salmon, Prosecco and a selection of heavenly cheeses.

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Less than one month until Christmas

'House and Garden' types will be pre-preparing shortcrust pastry, drying herbs from the garden and carrying out other impressive pursuits. Others will be busy ordering Indian and lamenting the lack of a tree. There are many ways to spend Christmas…

There are no hard and fast rules about when mince pies should magically appear, but they always should – regardless of their mode of delivery or origin.  Just be sure to pay the poor Dickensian urchin who brought them to your home, with a few matches and a tinderbox.

Resources

Preparing For Christmas

Even more tips for organising in the lead-up to Christmas.  

Holiday Decorating

Country Living get all festive with ways to make the house look like a glimmering bauble. 

Christmas Markets 

Find a nearby Christmas market to enjoy the Christmas cheer with loved ones. 
 
 
This week-end, Christmas will only be a month away and it will become acceptable to get the tree up and decorated! After all, many cities have officially switch on the Christmas lights and adverts for games and other presents have invaded our TV channels. Furthermore, Christmas decorations have taken their place in shops. If you are looking well, you will surely find a place to get a tree nearby.

The decorations

But before bringing the tree back in your home, it is time to think about the decorations. We all have a box somewhere in the house with our favourite tinsels, angels, snowmen, reindeers... bought or homemade. If you want your tree to look great, you might have to discard some of the oldest items, or those that will not fit into the general theme. Or even make some new decorations.
Indeed, decorating a tree should be more than just throwing a few tinsels and baubles along with all the stuff accumulated over the years. Of course, some decorations are traditional and had their place in our trees forever, but take care not to overcrowd it. Three or four tinsels, including an electric one, a dozens of baubles and a few figurines are more than enough. You can still use the rest of the decorations in the house to create a festive atmosphere in every room.
Decorating the Christmas tree is a great moment for everyone and marks the start of the festive season!
 
 
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There are many different types of food and drinks that we all love to consume at Christmas, from Minced pies to Mulled Wine. As time we get closer to Christmas everyone rushes to the supermarkets to buy the food and drink that we all love around this festive season.  When it comes to making your shopping list we all often forget what needs to be purchased! Below is a list of the must haves for your shopping list this Christmas:
-    Tins/boxes of Chocolates
-    Cheese & Crackers
-    Mince pies
-    Christmas Pudding
-    Cranberry sauce
-    Pickled Gherkins
-    Mulled Wine
-    Cream
-    Wine
-    Beer

-    Nuts
Of course not to forget the main ingredients for Christmas, Roast Dinners!
-    Yorkshire Puddings
-    Turkey
-    Gravy
-    Stuffing
-    Brussels Sprouts
-    Carrots
-    Parsnips
-    Roast Potatoes
-    Gammon


http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/occasions/christmas


 
 
There aren’t many of us who have started a countdown to Christmas (123 days to go!) and even less who have started shopping for presents. That is fine since it is still early- or if you like to enjoy the magic of the festive season by running and fighting the crowd on Christmas Eve to get everything ready on time. But if you want to spend a different and unforgettable Christmas in one of the best destinations, it is never too early to start planning.
Of course, you have guessed it; we are talking about New York, certainly one of the best places to ever spend Christmas. Think snow and crisp temperatures, carol choirs at every corner, a tree bigger than you could ever imagine, skyscrapers and monuments decorated and fairy lights flashing everywhere, and of course department stores windows displays in the spirit of Christmas and you will have NYC. The city literally turns into a giant winter wonderland.
Whether your favourite Christmas movie is Home Alone or A Wonderful Life, spending the festive season in New York is a unique experience.

But as you will not be the only one to have this idea, you’d better not wait before booking a flight and somewhere to stay. For some good shopping ideas, check this guide where you will also find suggestions of other destinations if New York doesn’t tempt you...
 
 
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Most people know that leaving their Christmas shopping until the last minute can result in frayed nerves, angry exchanges and a poorer selection of presents. According to loyalty-points company Nectar, it can also result in shoppers paying 50% more than their early-bird counterparts.

The further in advance yuletide gifts are bought, the more options that are available and the greater the savings that can be made. Here are five of the top sites for finding a pre-season bargain.


1. myvouchercodes.co.uk 
This is the UK’s largest voucher site, providing more than 77 printable vouchers and 2,300 discount codes. The site works by searching the net for discount codes, which are mostly from large retailers. Keeping an eye on available vouchers can ensure big savings for those with specific presents in mind, particularly larger Christmas gifts such as sporting or electrical equipment. The site can be navigated alphabetically or section by section. The most popular deals are those highest in the list.

2. hotukdeals.com
This site provides pre-Christmas bargain hunters with a forum to share their discoveries. Visitors can search by category, or specify whether they want a voucher or a deal. Deals are rated by the site’s visitors, with the best appearing at the top of the list. The site is great for Christmas shoppers to slowly and cheaply build their yuletide stockpile.

3. groupon.co.uk
Groupon works on the basis of collective buying power. The company offers a daily deal in one of the participating cities. Inhabitants who are interested in the deal click ‘buy now’ and provide the company with their credit card details. If enough people commit in this way, Groupon takes their money and provides them with a redeemable voucher in return (known as a ‘Groupon’). Groupon is great for finding pre-Christmas deals from small and medium-sized local businesses.

 

4. voucherseeker.co.uk

This is a lovely voucher site to use, with a clear interface and a useful ‘help’ button that explains how to get the most from it. It can be navigated by searching by shop, product or category. Just enter the Christmas gift of your choice in the ‘search’ box and see what’s available.

5. formanandfield.com

Forman & Field are a food mail order company offering a fantastic selection of luxury gifts and hampers. Their Christmas hampers, filled with festive treats, are a great gift idea – find gift hampers here. The site is very easy to navigate, clearly displaying each product. You simply click ‘add to basket’ and then select a delivery day convenient to you. There’s also a choice of gift vouchers.


Resources

The London Word

Guide to buying Christmas presents

Love Money

12 cheap Christmas gift ideas

I Want One of Those

Huge range of Christmas gift ideas for all ages


 
 
Santa may be enjoying his time off, but somehow we’re already half-way through 2012!

Remember... The ones who are organised are the ones that will wreak the benefits!

 
 
How many reindeer does Santa have in order to drive his sleigh and what are their names?

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There are eight reindeer to help Santa Claus deliver the Christmas presents on the 24th of December night – and on time. Their origin came from a Christmas poem called A Visit From St Nicholas in 1807.




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In the poem were eight reindeer named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen. It was not until 1939 would appear the most famous and the leader of the reindeer, Rudolph, thanks to the wonderful Christmas story from Robert L. May.


Their main features are:

Dasher: The speediest reindeer
Dancer: The most graceful reindeer
Prancer: The most powerful reindeer
Vixen: Powerful like Prancer as well
Comet: He brings happiness to children
Cupid: She brings love to children
Donner: He represents the thunder spirit
Blitzen: The lightning reindeer
Rudolph: He is the leader. He leads the sleigh thanks to his red luminous nose.

 
 
Be organised

The first step is to make a list. Whether you do so on your smartphone, laptop, iPad, or the old-fashioned pad of paper, the important thing is to create a visual cue for yourself. This will show you exactly how many people you need to buy gifts for. The good thing about keeping a list on your phone is that you can carry it around with you as a reminder. That way you can always have one eye open for suitable gifts. It’s much more productive to buy something as and when you find it rather than panic buying in December, because then it’ll be the right gift.

Assign a space in your wardrobe for your Christmas shopping. Keep a copy of your list there along with any left-over wrapping paper. That way you can add to your stash as you see things throughout the year. This will not only alleviate the pressure of having to shop at the last minute, but also make the Christmas period slightly less expensive. You can spread the cost throughout the year and take advantage of seasonal sales.

Try to wrap as you buy and attach tags to the wrapping so you don't forget which present is which! But keep your Christmas drawer secret so others can’t shake the boxes.


Shop online

Two of the most stressful things about shopping are the crowds and the queues. Nowadays most stores sell their products online. Spending a day looking around for the perfect gifts is easier if you look for things you like and then buy them online once you get home.

Sales assistants should be able to tell you whether stock is available via the website and give you a reference number so you don't have to scroll through dozens of pages. A good tip to avoid extra costs is to try to shop at big stores that have a lot of different departments, such as John Lewis or Debenhams. At these places you can buy everything in one go and only pay one set of delivery charges.

Plan alternatives

If you can't find one ideal present for someone, creating gift hampers can be an exciting way to put together a lot of small treats. Food and cheese hampers can also be an excellent option for friends and family members who are tricky to buy gifts for.


There are always people you want to give token presents to at Christmas. Making Christmas cards and treats can be a great way to show you care. It's easy to cut up some felt or pretty fabric and stick it on to a blank card in the shape of a Christmas tree. It sounds simple, but these small gestures can make people feel special.

Many homeware shops sell festive jars and tubs with Christmas motifs. Making batches of chutney or fudge is easy, can be done in advance and makes a lovely handmade gift.


Resources
Craft Creations - get inspired!

Chutney recipes

Get organised for Christmas