Opening Christmas gifts is always pretty darn brilliant, let’s be honest. But we find a lot of the excitement comes from the anticipation. We like to weigh up the size of the present under the tree. We might give it a shake or a squeeze. We want to know what it is…or do we? Oh the thrill of it! Here we have some suggestions for extending and personalising the gift opening process.

Gifts & wrapping box

The Personal Storybook

Here is a delightful idea to bring fun, joy and laughter to any gift giving. It’s the notion of a personal storybook to accompany the opening of presents.

For the special people in your life the likelihood is you will buy them more than one gift for Christmas. If you are anything like the How to Christmas team, you will shower your nearest and dearest with presents. If this is the case, you can now add to the experience by taking them on a storybook journey as they delve into their bag of treasures.

It is not so easy to achieve with children on Christmas morning, when all they want to do is tear into their gifts. But for Christmas Eve it is perfect, as you will discover from our Storybook Three example.

Type-out each story on the computer. Add photographs, pictures, stickers or drawings if you want to make it more elaborate. It is important to keep each segment of the story on a separate page so the recipient cannot read ahead. One page is equivalent to one gift.

Imagine folding over several pieces of A4 paper and binding them with string or Christmas ribbon. Each half of that A4 sheet can carry a passage of the story.

Here are examples from which you can work: one each for a man, woman and child. But use your imagination and knowledge of your recipient to make their storybook pertinent to them.

Storybook One:

Page One: Bob (insert your gift recipient’s name here instead of Bob) loved Christmas: time off work, carols on the radio, mince pies and a drop or two of mulled wine. But for the best wine and the best mull he needed…

(Open the first gift here: a delicious bottle of red wine and a bag of mulling spices attached)

Page Two: Bob warmed the wine, dropped in the bag of festive spice and was immediately transported to Christmases past. He remembered doing the Hokey Cokey with the neighbours at a house party one year as cinnamon scent filled the air. Mr. Thornton at number 9 put his left leg in and left it there. It was a prosthetic. Bob was traumatised for a time – but a few weeks later, he was talking again…even smiling in time. Nowadays he laughed so readily at such Christmas oddities which is why he would love…

(Open the second gift here: a gift card to allow the purchase of  film “Bad Santa”)

Page Three: It wasn’t lost on Bob that Billy Bob Thornton starred in this American comedy. A Bob and a Thornton, together again. Of course, it’s always best watching movies while munching away on…

(Open the third gift here: a bag of mince pie flavoured ‘Joe & Seph’s Gourmet Popcorn’ in a retro metallic popcorn bowl)

Page Four: Bob loved the film. He laughed. He laughed a lot. But as the end of the story drew nigh, he started to yawn and wondered if could make it to the end. Nothing to do with “Bad Santa”, you understand, and everything to do with the mulled wine. Thankfully he owned a…

(Open the fourth gift here: Bialetti stovetop coffee maker, a Christmas mug and Christmas coffee)

Page Five: The freshly brewed coffee did the trick and Bob was able to stay awake to see the hilarious climax to the film. That letter at the end from Bad Santa – just genius. Bob could now take himself off to bed quite happily. He pulled on his…

(Open the fifth gift here: pair of Christmas motif pyjamas)

Page Six: Bob was the kind of bloke who could drop off quite easily on the couch watching a film, but struggled to doze off once his head hit the pillow – whether caffeine was coursing through his veins or not. He needed the soothing calm of music to ease him into the land of nod, so it was just as well he possessed a…

(Open the sixth gift here: Roberts DAB Digital Radio)

Page Seven: Bob tuned into his favourite, soothing station and was soon in a deep sleep – dreaming of false limbs, naughty Santas and the kind of Christmas joy all friends like Bob deserve. The End.


Storybook Two:

Page One: Susan (insert your recipient’s name here instead of Susan) adored Christmas: decorating the illuminated twig tree, singing at the top of her voice to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” and having a big night out with the girls. The outfit that night had to be red. Susan always wore red at Christmas, which went perfectly with her vibrant red…

                                              (Open the first gift here: lipstick by Chanel)

Page Two: With a gloss like that, there was some serious mileage in those lips. Not that Susan was thinking about puckering up. She’s a good girl she is! Actually, maybe a bit too good – so just as well she poured some bravery into her blood for the night’s festivities with…

(Open the second gift here: a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Champagne)

Page Three: Ooh! The fizz worked wonders. The bubbles went up her nosey and down to her toesies. There was a massive night ahead of her – she could smell it in the air. But that couldn’t be right. If she could scent an impending joy-fest, she couldn’t possibly be wearing enough…

(Open the third gift here: Tom Ford Neroli Portofino perfume)

Page Four: A good spritz later and Susan was ready for the night ahead. Lippy? Check. Dutch Courage? Check. Heavenly aroma? Check. And what a night it was. It all goes a bit hazy for Susan after a while, though. It must be something to do with all that…

(Open the fourth gift here: Smirnoff Gold vodka and its irresistible gold flakes)

Page Five: The morning after. Susan’s head was pounding. Nothing a couple of aspirin couldn’t sort out – along with a pot of tea, a hot shower and that rejuvenating…

(Open the fifth gift here: Ren Neroli and Grapefruit Body Wash)

Page Six: Refreshed but still somewhat delicate, a delightfully lazy Sunday stretched ahead of Susan. It was a perfect day to catch up on sleep (Susan really loved her sleep), as well as her recordings on Sky+ and the festive classics…

(Open the sixth gift here: a gift card to allow purchase of  films “White Christmas” and the 1994 version of “Miracle on 34th Street”)

Page Seven: As Susan saw the twinkling light dart around the Christmas tree at the end of the second movie she was reminded of her own wonderful tree in all its glistening wonder. As she turned from the couch to face it, she saw a small dark blue box under it and realised she hadn’t put it there herself. She opened the box excitedly but carefully and was thrilled to find…

(Open the seventh gift here: a beautiful Swarovski Crystal decoration)

Page Eight: In the box with the ornament was a note that read: “We love you Susan – now and always.” The End.


Storybook Three:

Page One: It was a magical Christmas Eve. Molly (insert the name of your choice here and adapt the following for a boy where required) had been a very good girl for most of the year. There was that time when she wouldn’t go to bed on time…and when she ate so much chocolate she was sick…and when she couldn’t get up in time for school. But overall, she had been a very good girl. Good enough to make Santa’s nice list anyway – and that meant Molly could be rewarded with a new Christmas Eve friend. In a beautiful box with a big satin ribbon was…

(Open the first gift now: the cutest teddy from the Charlie Bear collection)

Page Two: With a new addition to the family – a new bedtime buddy for Christmas Eve – Molly felt she couldn’t be happier. But then Mum & Dad searched at the back of the tree and found a gift bag that read: “Molly – please use these tonight.” When Molly looked in the bag she found…

(Open the second bag of gifts now: a special personalised cookie plate for Santa,  a box of chocolate chip cookies, a bag of glittery reindeer food and a carrot!)

Page Three: Santa would surely leave great toys for Molly now – and playing with toys was one of her favourite things to do in all the world – along with eating ice cream, tormenting her brother, catching ladybirds and spotting animal cloud shapes in the sky. Santa makes a star performance in the next gift, too. After all, he is Molly’s favourite. Why it’s…

(Open the fourth gift now: the book “’Twas the Night Before Christmas”)

Page Five: The brilliant poem made everyone very festive. There was still one more package for Molly to unwrap before she went to bed. It felt all soft and squidgy. When she tore off the wrapping paper, she unfurled…

(Open fifth gift here: a personalised Christmas stocking from to hang from the mantelpiece)

Page Six: With the name “Molly” across the top of the stocking, there was no way Santa could get confused. Molly’s old stocking didn’t have a name on it. This would definitely help him. Maybe that would earn her more presents. Sweet dreams Molly. Happy Christmas Eve!


Clues, Poems and Numbers

Another way of adding fun and intrigue to gift opening, especially when there’s a sack-full of items to unwrap, is by tagging each present with clues – some of them rhyming ones if you feel creative enough.

There might be a particular order you want them to be opened in as you develop a certain gifts theme, so number each tag as well in this case. Here’s an example for whisky lovers:

whisky and glasses_130737476

Tag 1: “Take to the Scottish Hebrides and you’ll get the feeling

There’s something funny and tasty coming out of Ealing”

The Gift: A gift card to allow purchase of the film “Whisky Galore!”, an Ealing comedy set in the Hebrides.

Tag 2: “Why should Scottish islanders have all the fun?

Get some of this good stuff down you son!”

The Gift: A bottle of quality whisky, like 16-year-old Lagavulin single

malt. It’s from the Hebrides, of course.

Tag 3: “You’ll need these too, but will have to cough up cash

Just to be sure our friendship doesn’t smash.”

whisky glasses in isolation_106299233

The Gift: Crystal whisky tumblers. There’s a long held superstition that if

you are given a sharp object like a knife or a potentially sharp object like

breakable glass you must receive a coin in return – that way you won’t

ever cut the friendship.

Tag 4: “Once you’ve put the last two gifts to good use

And you’ve delivered your body some boozy abuse

You might just need some friendly concern

So to this handy helper you might want to turn!”

The Gift: “The Hangover Cookbook” by Milton Crwaford – a witty and

helpful pocket-sized book of recipes and hangover cures.

Tag 5: “When you’ve adopted a chapter to cure ya

It’s time perhaps for a loud ‘Hallelujah!”

The Gift: A CD of – or iTunes gift card to allow download of – Handel’s “Messiah”, including the Hallelujah chorus.