Christmas is far and away one of my favourite times of the year - always has been, but it has taken on a whole new meaning for me after becoming a father.
Seeing the faces of your children as they experience the magic of Christmas can be one of the most rewarding things a parent can experience - but it also comes with its fair share of stressful moments, too.
Unless this is your first Christmas as a family, you will doubtless have realised that spending the big day together can come with its ups and downs - particularly when it comes to present giving (and opening, and making, and playing... you get the picture).
Nobody wants to spend Christmas Day having arguments or regretting ill-preparation, but thankfully experienced parents the world over have taken to the internet to share some of their best family Christmas tips - and I have compiled some of my favourite ones here. Because I'm nice like that!
So, without further ado, here are some of my most fool-proof tips for festive family harmony on - and around - the big day.
Stock up on batteries
Sure, we all long for those bygone days when Christmas didn't have to involve the latest hi-tech gadget or game, but the reality of Christmas these days is that you're going to be unwrapping at least a couple of battery-powered gifts. Whether they're sing-along ABC dinosaurs, tiny jittering Hex Bugs or the latest handheld console, you can avoid the last-minute rummage through the ‘random stuff’ drawer by making sure you've got the right batteries before the big day. Simple, yet effective.
This one is probably more relevant to the parents of smaller children, but it depends on the present or situation. A lot of toys meant for babies and toddlers contain a horrendous amount of excess packaging - including plastic fasteners, cable ties, knotted string and numerous other puzzles ready to perplex you once you open the box. Save the hassle on Christmas Day by opening the box up in advance - your child won't notice a few undone bits of tape - and removing the more hard-to-handle fastenings. You'll thank me on December 25th!
Perform those pesky updates
While we're on the subjects of techy presents, if you're giving a gaming console, computer, entertainment player or other software-powered gift, you might like to set it up and load it before the big day. This is partly to check it works, but also to perform the pesky system, hardware and software updates that so many of them will insist on before first use. While you're at it, you can ensure you've got all the right cables to make it work, too!
No more changing the Christmas CD
If you're entertaining over the festive period, or you just want to have some Christmassy tunes on while you're preparing the turkey, why not splash out for a subscription to an online music service? Services like Spotify Premium, Apple Music or Google Music contain countless Christmas playlists, if you need some fast inspiration, or you can create your own. If you're really canny, you might even be able to wangle a free trial for the Christmas week, meaning you don't need to break into the present fund to do it.
To absent friends
If for some reason you aren't able to be with the ones you love this Christmas, why not grab yourself a webcam and use a video-calling service like Skype or Google Hangouts to spend the day virtually together. If you've got an iPhone you could try Facetime - though make sure you're using Wi-Fi to save on any massive phone bills - or if you have a laptop there's a good chance it has a webcam built in. Heck, you could even do this via some smart TVs these days, so there's no excuse to miss out!
Prepare your equipment
If you're hoping to capture the big day on a camera or video device, make sure you've charged them up in plenty of time. If you're trying out a new camera, make sure the memory card it comes with is big enough to store all the photos you're planning to take. The last thing you're going to want on Christmas Day is a full SD card that you've then got to sit at the computer to sort through!
Avoid the Boxing Day sales queues
This one applies just as much to the pre-Christmas period as it does to the sales, and probably goes without saying, but remember that many retailers offer just as many - if not more - discounts and bargains on their websites as they do in the shops themselves. So save yourself the hassle and sit in front of the TV to do your bargain shopping this Christmas!
Henry Elliss is a digital marketer by day and a pun-loving, dad-blogging, photo-taking, Lego-making, beard-wearing, child-caring father of two and husband of one by day, night, weekend and every other moment. For more family adventures, reviews and parenting hints and tips, visit Henry’s Fatherhood blog at www.henrysblog.co.uk.