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It’s never easy leaving your little ones at nursery, particularly when they're latched on to your arm or leg.

But with Christmas around the corner, it’s the perfect time to get some Christmas shopping done. 

6Credit: Getty

Plus nursery workers get a sneaky insight into what kids really want from Father Christmas - and can tell us what gifts are most likely to keep them quiet.


Sharon Birch is the owner and founder of award winning outstanding rated child care provision, Footprints Learning for Life nursery in Hartlepool.

She said Christmas is a fabulous time to be in the nursery as the children are filled with wonder and delight and it’s a magical time of discovery and spectacle. 

She said: “They learn all about the Christmas story and everything that comes with Santa – reindeer, elves, grottos and presents, good food and pudding and so much more. 


“It’s a great time to talk about kindness and caring for each other and giving. 

“It’s truly magnificent to watch their little faces light up when we learn Christmas songs, wrap presents, play games and decorate the many trees we have.”

In the nursery, they dim the lights and let the twinkling trees take over at the end of each day. 

They also serve hot chocolate and warm mince pies to parents when they come to collect their children and each child receives a small gift from their very own Santa Claus. 

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She added: “We collect gift items for the children to deliver to a local care home where they sing songs to the residents. 

“We also give gifts to the foodbank, the Hartlepool Giving Tree and our local refuge.

“On the approach to Christmas I can heartily recommend some gifts that Father Christmas might like to deliver, with the help of his troop, to your excited little ones this year.”

The nursery founder revealed the top nine gifts you should buy your kids this Christmas to keep them quiet for at least two hours. 


Dressing up costumes will keep kids’ occupied this Christmas.

Anything dressing up is a good idea, whether it’s an animal costume, an occupational uniform, superhero set, or fantasy, as all children love dressing up. 

Nursery expert Sharon said: “The world of make believe and pretend is a place of learning and exploration about the world around us. 

“Children become engrossed in a fantasy land, a place they can be whoever they want to be, and their imagination whirrs at a fantastic pace as they exercise their playing skills through experimentation, communication, and building relationships with each other.”


Mud kitchens are another great Christmas gift idea for little ones as it will keep them occupied for hours. 

The outdoor mud kitchens are great for children to get messy, enjoy creativity with open-ended play and imagination.

Plus, kids’ can be free to make wonderful creations without fear, building confidence and a great sense of self. 

Sharon suggested filling the mud kitchen with old pans and utensils so that children can explore and create for hours!


Sharon suggested musical instruments - while they’re noisy - will keep kids quiet and occupied for hours.

She said: “Children love to make noise and will forever if they can. Music enhances brain function in children and playing instruments helps the body and mind to work together. 

“It can be a rattle for our babies, musical mats for toddlers, or a drum kit for your four year old, all children love them.”


Children love jumping, bouncing and rebounding - it’s a simple pleasure that releases stress and endorphins so mini-trampolines are a great Christmas gift to keep kids busy.

Sharon explained that it requires coordination and concentration but bouncing up and down helps to focus their brains and settle their mood - plus they could be bouncing for hours.

She said: “Trampolines are brilliant for all ages as they provoke sensory stimulation, and they are a fabulous exercise for strengthening bones. 

“It also takes them outside for fresh air and releases excess energy before bath and bed.”


The nursery expert explained there’s been an influx of building games using gears, whether it’s a wooden puzzle or making a car or robot creation, or building an imaginative structure. 

These are fab for keeping kids quiet at Christmas as gear games are great for understanding mechanics, have developmental benefits for problem solving and using fine motor skills. 

Sharon explained they aid critical thinking and are brilliant for developing STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills in early childhood.


Sensory balls are another great Christmas present to keep kids occupied, especially for babies, but good for all ages. 

Sharon said: “They are great for tactile and sensory stimulation, easy to hold and lightweight, and they help to develop spatial perception and eye-hand coordination. 

“They also aid visual stimulation and colour and shape recognition. Little ones love them, to touch, throw, taste, squeeze, suck, using all senses and brilliant for helping to focus attention.”


Another gift you should give your little ones this Christmas to keep them quiet for a few hours is a toy dinosaur - after millions of years, they've had a resurgence! 

All children love to play with them for hours as they get lost in an interesting invented past world, explained Sharon. 

Sharon said: “Their curiosity in the world around them really helps to develop intrigue, provoke interest and has a huge impact on learning. 

“They really do help children discover the earth, and life and the natural world. Dinosaurs are everywhere – they adorn coats, pyjamas, lunchboxes, everything!”


Sharon also recommended LCD writing and drawing boards as well as doodle magic mats for children this Christmas.

She said children love these, especially for those quieter moments when they want alone time or are worn out after being on the trampoline or playing in the mud kitchen. 

Sharon commented: “They are brilliant for mark making, learning to write and draw letters, numbers, names and are fab for communication, for dexterity and developing the pincer grip. 

“Then in one wipe, it’s all gone! No paper or broken crayons to throw away. 

“But equally, there’s nothing wrong with good old paper and pens and pencils if you like the old-fashioned way of a roll of wallpaper and crayons. 

“Children will play for hours writing and drawing and making wonderful creations.”


Nursery expert Sharon revealed one of the current must haves is anything Superheroes. 

She explained that superheroes are great role models and help to develop good moral values so they’re a great Christmas present for little ones. 

Sharon said: “Solving problems, working hard, being kind, helping people, are all positive reinforcements for evolving wholesome personal characteristics. 

“Superheroes help little ones to explore ideas of the world, responsibility, qualities, truth, comradeship and compassion. Anything superhero will ensure your little one will have hours of delight and inventiveness.”

The nursery expert went on to explain that anything that provokes imagination and learning through play and discovery will have your child entrusted for hours. 

Plus, it doesn’t have to be expensive, just creative. So you don’t need to go mad this Christmas with buying presents to keep kids quiet. 

Sharon said: “An old sheet becomes a superhero cape, wallpaper and pens become a masterpiece, old pots and pans become the best dinner you ever tasted.

“Give invention, and your child will reward you with the gift of creation!”

6A great toy will feed kids curiousityCredit: Getty - Contributor 6A mini trampoline is a great way to use up your kids energyCredit: Getty 6Dinosaur toys are a sure winner with kidsCredit: Getty - Contributor 6Keeping kids minds occupied can be trickyCredit: Getty 6A quiet house for the holidays is possibleCredit: Getty

Meanwhile, I rent my kids’ Christmas presents and send them back when they’re bored – it saves so much money

This Christmas-mad mum has already done her present shopping for the next THREE YEARS (and they’re all neatly wrapped too).

Why not check out this super-organised mum sets 12 alarms a day and arranges her daughter's playtime with military precision.

I rent my kids’ Christmas presents and send them back when they’re bored – it saves so much money

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Tags: christmas parenting kids’ christmas presents my kids’ christmas kids’ christmas whether it’s when they’re they’re great christmas gift a great christmas are brilliant children love children love your little ones the world around father christmas your little one help to develop for little ones especially in the nursery will keep kids explained wallpaper are great for children the children to keep kids for all ages children delight dressing up christmas sharon said

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I charge my kids for Christmas dinner and my pals pay £70 per head – people say I’m greedy but I’m not a charity

CHARGING your guests for their Christmas dinner can be a quick way to make yourself unpopular.

But for Helen Robertson, a busy mum of two, she chooses to charge her guests for their Christmas dinners, and has no regrets about it.

8Helen Robertson 43, an admin assistant from Hitchin, Herts., lives with with her sons Peter, 17 and George, 11Credit: Damien McFadden

As ab administrative assistant, 43, from Hitchin, Hertfordshire, with two sons, Peter, 17 and George, 11, Helen wants to go in the new year with zero debt.

Speaking exclusively to The Sun, she said: "Sitting in front of my computer I happily typed into my Excel spreadsheet.

"But I wasn’t inputting work for my office job.

"Instead I was out my Christmas dinner finances - who’d paid, who’d not and who wasn’t going to. 

"I decided I would charge for Christmas dinner in March this year after racking up an eye-watering £2.5k debt over previous festive periods which took me practically all year to pay off. 

"Last year, because of the lockdown, it wasn’t too bad. But realising it was back to normal for 2021 and I was due to cater for 12 something had to change.


"I’m not a charity and while I love entertaining people it isn’t sustainable to cook a full Christmas meal with all the trimmings for friends and family."

Helen admitted that some guests had made her feel 'taken advantage of before.'

She explains that: "I don’t take the mickey - I’ve planned a lovely meal where everyone gets a starter, mains, desserts, canapes and snacks as well as a glass of Champagne or juice."

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The mum makes sure to be inclusive of all diets, saying that she: "includes vegans and vegetarians. Plus everyone has special requests like their ‘favourite trifle mix’ or ‘gravy, just so’. 

"Adults will pay £35 (or £70 with supermarket-brand booze which will give them access to unlimited white and red wine, beer, sherry and two glasses of Champagne or Bucks Fizz) while kids will pay £10. 

"I’m even charging immediate family with my kids, Peter, 17, and George, 11, shelling out from their pocket money… 50p at a time.

Her savvy son George even negotiated a discount of 50 percent by agreeing to help wash up.

I’m even charging immediate family with my kids, Peter, 17, and George, 11, shelling out from their pocket money


Helen reasoned that her prices are: "similar to what hotels in the area charge, so I’m not being unreasonable.

"But of course people’s reactions have been mixed - and there was a certain amount of surprise when I sent people an invoice attached to their Christmas dinner invite. 

"Within half-an-hour of the email going out I had five people tell me it was a great idea. And two even put a deposit into my special Christmas dinner day account.

Unfortunately some have called Helens meal: "the ultimate act of greed and selfishness and not in the Christmas spirit - and some refused to come.

"Meanwhile, other people are desperate for every detail wanting to know how I plan the menus, how I get people to part with their cash and how I ensure everyone gets value for money.

"Some mums and dads at George’s school have even asked me for copies of my menus, spreadsheet guides and emails I send telling people about the cost structure and how to pay me.

"I plan to do the big shop 10 days before Christmas, although I’ve pre-ordered the booze, turkey and any special requests which are hard to get.

Commandeering the entire family for the day, Helen has been running cooking drills in her mum’s kitchen.

She says: "Her kitchen is bigger and I am using her house to host so I’ll pay her a little for gas and electricity.

"If everything goes to plan I will make a small profit which I will use for a posh manicure because my nails get wrecked by peeling Brussel sprouts.

I’m not a charity and while I love entertaining people it isn’t sustainable to cook a full Christmas meal with all the trimmings for friends and family. 


"I also will need a facial because of all the grease and steam I put up with slaving over the hot stove and a massage but I figure I earn it.

The ultimate reason Helen is charging for dinner is the peace of mind knowing she wont have a huge debt to drag her down in the New Year.

As for if there are any leftovers, Helen says: "If there is any food left over everyone will get a goody bag and I will make sandwiches the next day.

For Helen: "A bank transfer is better than a cheap bottle of plonk or ‘thank you’."

8Reactions are mixed when Helen sends an invoice along with her Christmas dinner inviteCredit: Damien McFadden 8Helen puts on quite a spread and caters to even vegans and vegetariansCredit: Damien McFadden 8Some thought Helens choice to charge for dinner was 'not in the Christmas spirit'Credit: Damien McFadden 8Her menus have been requested by fellow parents at her child's schoolCredit: HELEN ROBERTSON 8The mum said if she makes a profit from her planning she'll get a manicure and a facialCredit: Damien McFadden 8Helen is charging adults £35 while kids pay £10 for their Christmas dinnerCredit: Damien McFadden 8Guests can also pay £70 to have supermarket-brand booze with their meal which will get them unlimited wine, beer, sherry as well as two glasses of Champagne or Bucks FizzCredit: Damien McFadden

See why this mum is spending £15k on my kids this Christmas – they get bullied because of me so they deserve it

Or why this dad, wraps up empty boxes and pretend they are Christmas presents – each time a child misbehaves I chuck one on the fire

More on Christmas...the former palace chef reveals what the Queen and royals eat on Christmas Day, as HRH returns to Sandringham to celebrate

And Primark has launched its Christmas PJs and there are matching sizes for all the family from just £6

Mum-of-22 Sue Radford decorates her ‘millionaire mansion’ - and there’s two Christmas trees and 25 stockings

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