Cooler temperatures herald the start of the festive season. No sooner had we hung up our broomsticks and binned those Jack-o-Lanterns than tinsel and panettone started appearing on the shelves of our local Lidl. With kids in the mix, there’s so much to get excited about at this most magical time of the year.

Get in early for your personalised letter from Santa, complete with elf rosette, at, with a portion of the cost going to Unicef. The Model Shop is also sending out application forms to its little loyalty card customers to write in with their wish list and receive a personalised letter, with a chance to win some goodies too.

Each year the Portable North Pole website launches a free personalised video from Santa himself. For those of us with believers among our offspring, this is worth taking the time to set up properly – with added features such as uploading recent holiday snaps so that Santa can prove to the kids that he’s been watching what they’ve been up to this year.

For those of us who simply love Christmas, upgrades are also available at a fee. The grown-ups’ version of this video makes a great gift for a BFF of your tween – or your colleagues – often with hilarious results.

We understand only too well that keeping expenses down is top priority for those of us with multiple mouths to feed, especially at this time of year. Don’t get suckered into buying early and stocking up – only to discover that you forgot who you bought for earlier in the year – resulting in multiple gifts for one relative and virtually nothing for the other side of the family.

Turn this task into a fun shopping expedition – sort the kids out and make a date with your in-laws to tackle the mountain of relations together. Start by getting together at your house and deciding what to buy for whom – then hit the main shopping areas en masse, while delegating the other gifts according to proximity to one’s home. Try not to be overly ambitious and imagine that you will manage to complete this task in a matter of a morning –as you will suck all the fun out of it.

Planning is key to ensure that you don’t turn Christmastime into a materialistic feast for your family. Politely discourage your respective families from asking the children what they want for Christmas. Instead, keep a list of several things which the kids randomly mention that they would like throughout the year.

Donating to the person’s favourite charity and putting the receipt inside their Christmas card will surely elicit a smile

That way, if someone asks you to give them gift ideas – as, let’s face it, not everyone is attuned to what’s trending in tweendom today – you can keep track of who you’ve told to buy what. This is crucial, unless you want little Harry to be presented with three Rubik cubes on Christmas morning.

Instead of focusing on the ubiquitous present giving and receiving part of Christmas, why not take the high road and give the gift of charity to the person in your life who has everything (or to men who, let’s face it, we all find it impossible to shop for).

Donating to the person’s favourite charity and putting the receipt inside their Christmas card will surely elicit a smile. Take the kids to visit elderly relatives, armed with old-style games like Ludo and a pack of cards, to spend a couple of hours playing with them while giving them some much longed for company.

Remember, Christmas is about the joy of giving, so take the time to find that special gift which perfectly suits the receiver – while giving yourself extra kudos for knowing your inner circle so well.

Try to think up original gift ideas – experiences, which you know a person would not splash out on for themselves, such as a spa day for a frazzled mum or a wine-tasting workshop for a busy dad, which will surely be remembered and appreciated long after the festive season ends.

In a similar vein, a term’s worth of tennis lessons for your tween or an ‘own a pony day’ for your horse-mad daughter will brighten up the cold, dark winter days. Personalised pressies always make the receiver feel extra special.

Lastly, remember to pencil in those special Christmas experiences which, over the course of your kids’ childhood, become long-standing family traditions. Wrap up warmly before you take the ferry into our capital city to marvel at the fairy lights in a fun way to spend some quality family time together. Check out the local Christmas festivities in your area or go further afield to visit one of the many mechanical crib displays, live cribs and Christmas markets. Soak up the festive atmosphere and discover the magic of the season through your children’s eyes.

Crysta Darmanin is editorials manager for the Malta Baby & Kids Directory, both online and in print. Check out the ‘What’s On for Kids’ family-friendly events, updated daily to fill the Christmas holidays with fun. Join the conversation on the Facebook group and follow .