Get a Tip

All tips > Leisure & fun > Christmas

>> Christmas <<

These tips have been contributed by other parents, carers and professionals. We hope they will give you some ideas to try, but if you need further help why not post a question on our forums or talk to our site experts.

Christmas tips

submitted on 30/1/2014

Netbuddy has created a downloadable resource full of useful tips and ideas for enjoying the festive season. You can download it here. Christmas tips (731.0 KB)


Personalised gift guide

You can create a personalised Christmas Gift guide for your child at Rosy and Bo which you can share with friends and family. Means they still get to choose a gift for your child, but can also be reassured they'll get it right.

Help yourself!

submitted on 20/12/2012 by Jenny

Putting food onto large plates/ bowls and letting the family help themselves has saved my sanity re Christmas dinner. My adult son with ASD is very fussy about different foods being on the same plate. This way, he chooses what he wants to eat and actually will try one thing at a time.

Sensory tree

submitted on 11/12/2012 by Kathy

We have sensory items on our christmas tree. Different textures, smells and things that make sounds - so the little girl I look after with a visual impairment can enjoy it too!

Have a whip round

submitted on 5/12/2012 by Kerylee

Friends & family never seem to know what to get George for Christmas and what they do give him nearly always ends up getting broken or ignored. So this year I've suggested they contribute towards buying him a tablet, which he will definitely use. I think they're quite relieved not to have the stress of choosing something for him.


RNIB Santa letter

submitted on 27/11/2012 by Kathy

The RNIB have a write to Santa service. He replies in Braille, large print or audio CD.

Use foil

submitted on 24/12/2011

Foil is an excellent wrapping paper. It is very sensory and makes for an easy to open present!


Prepare a calm space

submitted on 13/12/2011

I used to worry about Dan's behaviour when spending time at family member's homes over the festive season. Basically, I'd take him and hope for the best! However, I've found that planning and preparation in advance hugely helps. I work with my family and we make sure we have a calm room or a space he can go to for when it all gets too much. I put his favourite blanket in there. Having some time alone, or just with me keeps meltdowns to a minimum.

Don't forget the giving

submitted on 12/12/2011

Help and encourage the person you are caring for to give gifts. This provides an excellent opportunity to work on social skills like thinking of other people, other people's needs and interests and being kind and helpful. I support my daughter to make gifts for her family and friends. She also looks forward to actually giving out the presents as well!

Ready to go

submitted on 28/11/2011 by Teresa

When we give our daughter a gift, we make sure all packaging is removed, batteries are in, and it is set up ready to use as soon as she's unwrapped it. For someone with limited attention and suspicion of new things it can make the difference between acceptance and rejection.

Plan ahead

submitted on 25/11/2011 by Samantha Sefton

I always give my two ASD children 'jobs' to do at Christmas – eg: take coats, offer nibbles round etc. Giving them something to do reduces their stress of having people in the house. I also make sure they can escape if it all gets too much, either to their rooms or a designated quiet space. I also give them an itinerary so they understand, for eg, that people stand around and chat a lot, and that is part of the occasion.

Ribbon for wrapping paper

Instead of using wrapping paper, I wrapped a present in a piece of material and tied with a ribbon. Once the ribbon was in person's hand she pulled and hey presto, she had unwrapped it herself!

Good Christmas gifts on line

submitted on 28/11/2011 by Teresa

This site has some great Christmas presents. It's recommended by the National Autistic Society, Mencap & other charities. www.cheapdisabilityaids.co.uk


A few of my favourite things

submitted on 7/10/2011 by Socksoff

Christmas Presents. Wrap up some old favourite toys as Christmas presents if your child is not keen on opening presents as they have new and unfamiliar things in them. You can secretly hide some favourite things in the weeks leading up to Christmas -sometimes unwrapping something familiar is very reassuring!

Trabasack

submitted on 14/12/2010

A great Christmas gift idea is a Trabasack. It's a lightweight bag that is also a lap tray that you can work, eat or play on. It has a firm tray surface on one side, a space in between to put your things and a bean bag in a pocket so that it sits comfortably and level on your lap. Useful for anyone, but ideal for wheelchair users.

Week to view calendar

submitted on 14/12/2010 by Di

Print off a week to view calendar page - from your PC or the internet and add a picture of your planned activities during the Christmas holidays (divide into morning, lunch afternoon etc) and this will help put your child at ease about the plans for the week!

Christmas decorations

submitted on 9/12/2010 by Savvymum

If your child can't cope with decorations being on the outside of the house, try telling them that the house is getting dressed up for Christmas!

Smells

submitted on 1/12/2010 by Alessandra Bester

Add cinnamon to your child's playdough to gradually introduce the new smells. One thing that people with Autism complain about the most during Christmas is the many different perfume smells coming from visiting adults – ask your family and friends to hold off on the perfume!

Make 'special time'

It's easy to get overloaded with Christmas preparations at this time of year, so plan daily activities to make some special time for your kids – ie 5 to 10 mins of undivided attention. Let your child take the lead, tune into their world and see it through their eyes. www.maketime2play.co.uk


Jack and Tom are friends

submitted on 1/12/2010

Christmas can be a time when you may have to explain to other children why your son/daughter is a little different, and it's not always easy. The Autism for us website has a brochure – 'Jack and Tom are friends – can you spot the difference?' you can use for ideas. www.autismfor-us.org


Decorate slowly

submitted on 1/12/2010 by Alessandra Bester

Don't put up the decorations when your child is sleeping – do it in front of him/her and if possible, get him/her involved. You can also gradually introduce changes into the environment, first introducing the Christmas lights for sensory play.


Create a 'safe place'

submitted on 1/12/2010 by Alessandra Bester

Leave one room in the house, possibly your ASD child's room, free from anything to do with Christmas, so he/she can come back to the room as a 'safe place' if he/she needs to.


Gingerbread biscuits

submitted on 1/12/2010 by Alessandra Bester

I always bake lots of ginger bread biscuits and give one to decorate every day.

Stay calm!

submitted on 30/11/2010

Stay calm! If your child reacts badly to stress, staying relaxed and low-key over the Christmas period is one of the best things you can do to keep your child's behavior in line. Save the tantrum (yours) for when you get home.

Talk to family members

submitted on 9/11/2010

Talk to family members ahead of time. Discuss your child's specific needs, and gently but firmly tell them what your plans are. Be sure to let them know that this will make the whole experience better for everyone. Ask for their support.

Don't rise to criticism

submitted on 9/11/2010

Don't rise to criticism or "advice" from family members. Remember, it bothers you more than it does your child. You know best what your child needs, and providing it is your responsibility. Try and stay focused on your child.

Fill a backpack

submitted on 9/11/2010

Fill a backpack with things your child finds comforting or enjoys playing with - toy cars, a stuffed animal, a CD and CD player, or a few books. If your child gets overstimulated, find a quiet corner or a back room and pull out the backpack.

Toy library

submitted on 9/11/2010

Cerebra have a lending library where you can borrow sensory toys and equipment including bubble tubes. Borrow some new activities over the Christmas period. www.cerebra.org.uk/English/gethelp/library/Pages/default.aspx

Sparkly Christmas paper

submitted on 9/11/2010

For visually impaired children or those with a sensory impairment, buy lots of sparkly Christmas wrapping paper as it's very good for catching and holding their visual attention. Gold, in particular, or anything with a rainbow/prism effect seems to work well to stimulate those with visual impairment.

Personalised Father Christmas letter

submitted on 9/11/2010

Send your children or grandchildren a personalised letter from Father Christmas and support Cerebra at the same time. For £4.99 the child of your choice will receive a personalised letter, a Christmas card, a Christmas story and a bookmark.

Great Christmas gift idea

submitted on 19/11/2012 by Sarah Hall

Monster High do a handbag that plays music. Lovely auditory element. I think it would make a great Christmas gift! Find it here


Spread out the presents

submitted on 17/11/2010 by Anna Maria

Don't feel that all the presents have to be opened on Christmas morning in the traditional way. Our son would get so overwhelmed he couldn't cope so it was much easier to allow him a few gifts at a time throughout Christmas Day and Boxing Day. He opened them all in the end without any tantrums and was much calmer and happier, meaning we all had a far more enjoyable time!

Design your own wrapping paper

submitted on 17/11/2010

Get your family to design wrapping paper. Simply buy lots of plain brown paper and allow them to have fun with paints in seasonal colours.

Christmas wish list

submitted on 17/11/2010 by Jo Cousins

If family and friends are struggling for ideas for Christmas presents, email them a link to a website of sensory toys or ask for cash which you can put together to buy that (probably) expensive toy!

Christmas book

submitted on 18/11/2010 by Hayley

Our daughter loves looking at pictures and we have found it a great way of explaining different events to her. We have a Christmas book we've made with pictures of her and the family doing things at Chirstmas. We've included pictures of the tree, her in the school play, us all putting decorations up, etc. It helps her not to get overwhelmed with what's going on.

Christmas experience

submitted on 23/11/2010 by Paula Burns

I run a group for kids who have an autism spectrum disorder. Instead of having a Christmas party every year, we arrange an experience for them. They enjoy this much better. They and us as their parents are not put under any pressure to conform to the extra pressure and demands that a Christmas party puts on them.

Use calendars or planners

submitted on 23/11/2010 by Paula Burns

If your child has autism, it's best to plan and prepare them well in advance for Christmas, so there aren't too many surprises. This can be done with calenders or planners. These can also help to minimise their response to the huge changes to their routine and the excitement of others around them.

Opening cards & presents

submitted on 23/11/2010

My son has trouble with fine motor skills so I 'doctor' his cards and presents to allow him to open them easily. Makes for a much happier time for all and gives him a sense of satisfaction that he can complete tasks!

Prepare early

submitted on 23/11/2010 by Marie King

We prepare for Christmas early, with books about Santa. For us, it is about preparing our son for a change coming up, as there will be visits to the school from Santa and Christmas parties etc, which all make my son anxious. My advice is start early!

Play with wrapping paper

submitted on 1/12/2010 by Alessandra Bester

Give wrapping paper to play with ahead of Christmas, cut, tear... so your child gets comfortable with the noise and look of it. Choose less 'visually noisy' paper and avoid patterns that can produce sensory difficulties to your child.


Prepare for a crowded house

submitted on 1/12/2010 by Alessandra Bester

I've started to prepare my son for a crowded house at Christmas by inviting his friends around for Sunday Club and making a party for the family to have dinner or a disco. Announce visitors on your child's visual timetable. Allow quiet time if he/she needs to step out.


Got a tip to add to this page? Tell us

Tips on this internet site have been contributed to Netbuddy and are not the responsibility of Netbuddy. If you have any concerns about the person you are caring for, consult a doctor, therapist, teacher or other qualified professional. Please review the terms of use before using this site. Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by the terms of use.