...should be seen and heard no more loudly than, say, a light aircraft. Jet engine levels of noise are strongly discouraged. And rocket ship levels will not be tolerated apart from on Christmas morning itself during present opening. (Grandparents are strongly advised to turn off their hearing aids during this time. Everyone else - there's cotton wool in the bathroom cabinet).
And on a more practical note, posting a letter up the chimney is all very well but what if you live in a house with no chimney, as we do? Simple; the rule in our house is that the children write Santa a note with a short summary of their Christmas list. Leave it with the carrot, mince pie and glass of sherry / whiskey / red wine / whatever you've convinced them is his favourite tipple (funny that it's the same as yours, isn't it?). Then, once the tots are in bed, cut a potato in half, carve the bottom of one of them into a semblance of a reindeer hoof, wipe some mud on it from the garden, and leave Rudolf's hoofprint on their note for them to find on the end of their beds with the stocking in the morning. Watch their faces when they see it. Magic.
2) The Christmas meal
Ignore the brussels' sprouts that your mum prepares every year as part of Christmas lunch. Whilst this will not make them disappear in a puff of smoke (because of course they do that anyway when they eventually get eaten, boom boom), it will mean there are enough of them left over on Boxing Day to be turned into soup with the left over ham stock from Christmas Eve. Quite how the most noxious vegetable known to man can be turned into one of the world's most delicious soups I don't know, but there you go, it works - you heard it here first.
3) The in-laws
Be kind. One day - with luck - you'll be in their shoes.
Pull out the box of Pictionary and / or Trivial Pursuit. Divide into 2 teams; men vs women. Light blue touch paper and retire 10 paces to watch in wonder as the family ignites...
For a more congenial experience, our family rule is that there must be a trip to see The Polar Express in 3D at the London Imax. Watch the animated snow fall inches from your children's noses as they reach out to try and touch it, and round the afternoon off with tea in one of the Southbank restaurants. Beats braving the Christmas crush on the local high street any day of the week.
The tree and the decorations are never - NEVER - to be put up until a maximum of 3 days pre-Christmas. This means that the magic is all the fresher once the big day arrives. Tree decorations should preferably include:
- home-made tat that you made at school 35 years ago which your mum still can't bring herself to throw out and so has passed it on to you for 'recycling'
- garish balding tinsel that you insisted on buying when you were seven and bling was the new black, and which your mum has been delighted to finally pass on to you with the insistence that since she had to use it for 35 years, so should you...
- tasteful designer glass baubles you bought on a pre-child trip to Prague and which you put as high up as possible to stop small hands interfering with them
- home-made gingerbread cookies lovingly baked and decorated by yourself and the children and which you proudly hang on the tree, only to discover that the mouse problem you thought you'd dealt with last May needs attention once more...
Note; the 3 day rule is allowed to be broken if Christmas is not being spent at home, obviously; there's nothing worse than arriving back from the grandparents on Boxing Day evening to a decoration-free home.
What about you? Are there any rules in your household?
This is a sponsored post.