7 Tips For A More Successful Sensory Christmas!

Nov 30 , 2022


Julie-Anne Dietz

7 Tips For A More Successful Sensory Christmas!

"I know as a parent that you want your child to enjoy Christmas events, but how everyone else enjoys it will be different from how your child enjoys it.”

Jeanette Baker-Loftus - Sensory Processing Disorder Parent Support Community - US


I really love Christmas – who doesn’t – I love the traditions, the Carols, the lights, the movies, even putting up the Christmas tree despite my cats really liking this bit much more. I love it because I grew up in a family that loved it. My mother and father made it special for me and my three sisters. I was really lucky.

I also understand that Christmas can be a real challenge for many people too. For those who are alone and lonely, for those have lost loved ones and for those with other physical and emotional challenges, the reflections and symbolism associated with Christmas can be troubling.

This line of thinking led me to check in with one of my favourite websites – Sensory Processing Disorder Parent Support produced by Jeanette Baker-Loftus to find Tips for a More Successful Sensory Christmas. I like Jeanette’s site because it reflects lived experience and offers a number of practical how to and what to do actions that should assist with caring for people with multiple diagnosis including Sensory Processing Disorder, Autism, and ADHD.


The site has 30 tips for a More Successful Sensory Christmas and is worth a read. I have chosen my top 7 and here they are.

Top 7 Tips for a More Sensory Christmas

  1. Routine - Keep a routine as much as possible. Using visual schedules can be helpful so they know what is next.

If you have made some flash cards as I call them i.e. a card containing a small amount of information or simple picture, held up for kids to see, as an aid to learning or basic communication, around this busy time is a good time to use them.

Being forearmed is forewarned when it comes to transitioning from one activity to the next e.g. from opening present time, to play time, to mealtime the visual flash cards can assist to prepare your child for what is happening or expected next.


  1. Decorations - Include your child with decorating the tree but remember flashing lights or musical decorations can be too much for a child with SPD.

I love a good decoration and so do my cats, but that’s another story. You know your child better than anyone else so only you can tell whether this one is a goer or not. Where possible make dressing the tree a celebration for the family to share. Not only does this promote inclusion but as parents and siblings we can model actions, use new language and show respect and enjoyment for the activity. Then you can all enjoy the result together.


  1. Your Family - It's ok to have a personal family only Christmas.

But Christmas is about family RIGHT – yes right, but if including extended family and others in your Christmas plans means potential real overload, then it may be worth tempering your invitation list. Of course, I am not saying locking family out, and please see as much of them as you can at Christmas, but what I am saying is plan to take into account the best environment for your child especially on Christmas Day.


  1. Shopping - for children with SPD a Christmas shopping can be unbearable. Try to shop without them if possible or shop in smaller shops with less people.

This one is a no brainer, where at all possible attempt only one thing at a time. If the purpose of your shopping is a visit to see Santa, make that your sole purpose. See if you can book in a time, rather than standing in a long queue for an extended period of time. If your purpose is present shopping, where at all possible, do this on your own and enjoy your coffee break too.


  1. Don’t Rush - Try to make Christmas day last for days or a week, not everything all on one day.

Yes – officially Christmas Day is the 25th of December for those who celebrate it around the world, BUT it’s worth thinking about trimming down the daily activity and spreading activity across a couple of days. This will require a basic timeline of activities. You could prepare for this working on a piece of paper where you brainstorm everything that is happening in one day, then working with this information to see if it is possible to transfer activities across other days.


  1. Food - Stick to your child's sensory diet as much as possible during the holidays to keep them regulated.

A friend of mine has a 7-year-old with ADHD. I remember her telling me last Christmas that her child seemed a little more anxious and overly stimulated leading up to and including Christmas. Later she realised that the family had varied their dietary routine which upon reflection was having an impact on her child’s behaviour. Once she had become aware of this she went back to the standard diet and this really assisted. Still enjoy the yummy food but try not to vary normal dietary routine too much.


  1. Lower expectations - As most children with SPD will have meltdowns during holiday events and dinners as they get overwhelmed.

I know this can be a hard one because you have worked so hard setting standards and being as consistent as possible – even though no two days are ever the same, but if ever there is a time to ease your own expectations now is the time. I am not suggesting to allow kayos to reign but see if you can go with the flow (within reason) to optimise enjoyment for all.


Oh yeah there is a 8th

“Enjoy yourself! Have a glass of wine and have a Christmas that works for your family, it doesn't need to work for everyone else!”

May I take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. Thank you for being one of our customers or for taking the time to read our blogs. I do hope you find the information useful.


May you have a safe, restful and enjoyable Christmas in 2022.


Take Care – Live Your Best Life!



Founder & Owner - DEO




The information in this blog is not medical advice and does not replace the information that your child's therapists gives you. These are just ideas and information that Jeanette Baker-Loftus and I have learned over the years of being both a parent and an adult living with SPD and from living in a family with a sibling with complex disabilities. If you are concerned for your child, young adult or adult, please always seek medical attention through a family doctor, pediatrician or therapist.

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