We all had that Christmas Day moment as a child: an incredible new remote controlled car or a brilliant doll house with working interior lights and an actual elevator that we couldn't wait to play with. We flipped the switch, we waited for the magic to happen and … nothing. When you're planning your Christmas shenanigans this year please, for the love of the light in your child's eyes, take this list with you.
1. Don't forget batteries
This reminder gets thrown around every Christmas. If you're buying gadgetry for your kids - and since you're a cool dude parent, you probably are! - for goodness' sake, buy the batteries. Not just any batteries: don't lob a packet of AAs in with a set of walkie-talkies if they need a 9V. Mark my words, all the hard work you've done to hunt down the must have electronic toy of 2012 will be undone the minute your son or daughter realises they're going to have to wait 24 hours to play with it. It's like if someone gave you a voucher for a day off - alone - but you weren't allowed to use it until 2014. Cruel, right?
Granted, in this day and age you probably can go out and buy batteries from your local convenience store, even on December 25. But between the madness of racing to grandma's house and having afternoon tea with the Robinsons and getting to dad's place before the meat is carved, finding time to do it is another issue.
2. Store a spare gift
There is nothing quite as devastating for a young person than to be the only one without a present. Watching other kids unwrap theirs and (assuming batteries have been included) have the best time of their short lives is torture! I know, you have a super organised list that includes everyone you could possibly need to buy for, but on the off chance that someone may be missed, keep a spare in the cupboard. It need not be a pony or a laptop - books, craft activities, Lego and board games all make fine stand-in gifts. In my experience of being a spoilt, ungrateful child on Christmas Day, the point is not that I received the most amazing presents in all of history, but that someone remembered me. Pop a nice ribbon on top and you know you'll be covered if your cousin Jane's new boyfriend's daughter also turns up at the Christmas tree.
3. Take stuff for the car
The Christmas Day drive is perhaps the least enjoyable tradition of the holiday season, but it's made infinitely worse by cries of "I'm bored!" from the back seat. Your future self will thank you for remembering to bring something to entertain the troops, especially on those tiresome final legs to and from dinner. Fully charge and pack the portable devices - game consoles, mp3 players, tablets, ebook readers - and throw in some drinks, snacks, earplugs and Bandaids.
4. Word everyone up on Santa
Everyone loves that awkward moment when Uncle John exclaims, "Ha ha, Hamish is Santa this year! Hilarious!" only to realise that at least half of his audience still believes the jolly old man is real. Whether you adhere to the school of 'Yes, an old man visits every house in the world except for those with naughty children in them and a variety of others for religious and cost reasons' or take a moderate, pragmatic approach, make sure friends and family are on the same page. There's nothing jolly about even more crying on Christmas Day.
5. Remember the message of Christmas
I don't mean that you should drag out the Nativity Scene (necessarily). At this time of year it can be a serious challenge to just take a few steps back, breathe deeply and remember that it's supposed to be a joyous time to be spent with or thinking about loved ones. Giving, not receiving. Hugging, not shouting. Christmas has long established itself as one of the most emotionally wretched, stress inducing holidays of all, so give the kids a bit of a warning upfront, try to take a little timeout if you can (even if that means hiding in nanna's toilet) and roll with the punches. If you have a couple of valium on hand, they may also help.