Negotiation, bribery, blackmail. However you want to say it, Christmas is a time when this particular weapon is a vital tool in every parent's arsenal. I mean, how else are you meant to calm over-excited children whose veins are coursing with pure sugar as they eagerly await the arrival of Father Christmas?
Tell them to be quiet? Because let's face it: that pretty much never works.
The problem with Christmas is that eventually you can end up resenting Santa himself, with his cheeky round face and broad grin, making your children shriek and squeal like banshees.
But, as so many parents have done in the past, you can just as easily use big fat Saint Nick to your advantage, to negotiate with (or bribe/blackmail) your children.
Nobody wants to see an unhappy Santa, least of all your children. An unhappy Santa is a Santa who doesn't want to bring any presents on Christmas Eve; so hang a calendar on the wall for the entire month of December and draw a happy Santa if your child is good, and a sad Santa if he is bad. As soon as your kid sees an unhappy Santa, they'll be so traumatised that they'll vow to be good forever (or at least until January).
Elf is watching you:
Buy a small Christmas elf doll, and place it out of arm's reach in a well-used room in the house, such as the lounge or kitchen. Tell your impressionable young children that this is one of Santa's actual elves, and his sole function is to watch your kids throughout the day and report back to Santa every night. Move the elf every day to make it slightly more believable, and every time your child so much as hints at being naughty just say knowingly, "Elf is watching you..."
Get Grandad involved:
Say your child is being naughty. What's the one thing that will strike so much fear into them that they instantly start behaving? Simple: you pull your mobile phone out of your pocket and tell them you're calling Santa to report bad behaviour. All you're really doing, of course, is ringing a male friend, preferably with an authentic old-man sound to his voice.
"Santa wants to speak to you," you say, and hand the phone to your wide-eyed offspring. Your friend then asks your child very nicely to be good for the rest of the month so that he or she can have plenty of presents, and they're so worried about letting him down that they instantly agree. Works a charm!
Note: Be sure to choose a male friend you know well, and can trust. The last thing you want is to call someone who thinks they're a joker and who decides to hiss "I'M NOT REAL..." down the phone. Ideally you would call Santa, but unfortunately his number isn't in the phone book (I've checked).