This year has been very difficult for many. It has put a strain on relationships, family, health, work life, children’s education and for some, their finances. Christmas is an expensive time of year already, with the expectation of fabulous food and pricey presents, but this year’s Christmas is worrying some parents more than usual due to the impact of the pandemic.

Our recent study found that 42% of parents of 4-6-year-olds are worried about the financial aspect of Christmas or affording their children’s presents this year. Despite this, only 34% think that spending quality time with their children at Christmas is enough.

The findings also showed that children place value on family time above all else, with 41% saying the best thing about lockdown was spending more time with their parents, compared with playing more, having fun or playing with phones, tablets and laptops.

We know parents tend to put a lot of pressure on themselves to make Christmas magical for their children. This year has been particularly difficult for so many people across the country. But our polling shows that children value spending time together as a family above all else – that’s what Christmas is all about!

Our research also revealed that children prefer playing with household items, such as cardboard boxes or water jugs and doing activities like making dens with blankets, over playing with phones or tablets. It’s clear that, despite all the presents children might receive, it’s actually things around that house that pique their curiosity and inspire their creativity the most.

We know parents still want to ensure children get the presents they want, but we encourage parents to get creative, crafty, and spark their children’s imaginations, and lessen the burden on themselves – as what they are doing is already enough.

Here are a few child-friendly, crafty ideas to get you started this Christmas:

Paper chains can bring a spot of colour to any room, and all you need is coloured paper, scissors and glue! You can alternatively use old magazines or newspapers. It’s a great way to spend time with your children, ensuring they are being careful with the scissors. The activity will also improve your children’s understanding of ordering and sequence as well as their fine motor skills, as they cut and glue each ring.

Making wrapping paper is a wonderful way to save money, while also making your Christmas unique and a bit wacky! All you’ll need is paper, fruit or veg, and some paint. It’s a fun way for children of any age to unleash their creativity and come up with some brilliant designs, and also helps younger children’s sensory development.

Decorating your Christmas tree with pinecones might sound a bit strange, but it’s a brilliant way to make beautiful and lasting homemade decorations. Going outside with your children to find pinecones can help them connect with nature and giving them the opportunity to choose how they decorate them at home can improve their independence and creativity.