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5 Tips for fostering over the festive period


Whilst Christmas is a magical time and many of us look forward to the festive period to spend time with our families, for many children and young people in foster care it can be a time of very mixed emotions. Christmas can sometimes be a confusing and overwhelming experience while bringing up so many emotions.

Christmas can be a triggering time for foster children, while some remember past experiences and others may have never celebrated at all. It is important to be sensitive and to be prepared for children to display unpredictable behaviours.

So many foster carers demonstrate their expertise and dedication at this time of year by putting their own Christmas experience second to that of the children in their care. There are some simple things that foster carers can do to try and help ease their worries during the festive period.  

  1. Arrange a visit for the child to see their birth family in advance

A lack of contact over the Christmas period might cause the child to worry. Work closely with the child’s social worker and the child’s birth family can support the child to enjoy Christmas without feeling guilty. If a visit is not possible, send a handmade card or a phone call on Christmas Day could be arranged.

  1. Encourage the child to feel part of family celebrations

Small things can help them feel included, this could be their own stocking or a Christmas-related duty like setting the table or preparing the food. You could decorate the tree together with personalised baubles or have fun games nights together.

  1. Think about diversity and your child’s own traditions

While it is important to respect the child’s culture and diversity all year around, it is important to remember their customs and religions as well as your own. It is important to continue traditions for your birth children while asking your foster child if they have any traditions, interests, or hobbies they would like to include or create a new tradition together to give them a sense of belonging.

  1. Maintain a calm environment and talk them through the day

Communicate plans and let children know about visitors coming to the house. Lots of visitors could be overwhelming so remaining calm and explaining the structure of the day is a good way to ease any surprises that may make them nervous.

  1. Children might not feel comfortable to receive gifts

Some children in care may not have received gifts in the past and may find the attention too much for them. To help, spread out present giving over a longer period to relieve pressure.


We are here to help over the Christmas period so it is important foster families remember they are not alone. If this is your first year of fostering at Christmas, there is a wealth of support available through our 24/7 phone line to ensure your Christmas runs as smoothly as possible while looking after your family's wellbeing over the Christmas period.



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Date published

21 December 2023

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