If you’re already feeling the strain of Christmas on your sanity and bank balance then spare a thought for Emma and Roy Hann.
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The devoted couple have an incredible 12 children with another on the way which means their festive period involves serious amounts of preparation.
“We try to buy in bulk and our children aren’t materialistic but the cost of Christmas is still huge,” says Emma, 45.
“We try to save throughout the year and just be careful with spending and do the best we can.”
With children ranging in age between three and 23, Christmas in the Hann household requires serious levels of imagination and resourcefulness to cater for such a different range of tastes and ages.
The family consists of Rachel, 23, Sophia, 22, Polly, 20, Charlotte, 18, Alice, 16, Annabelle, 14, Jennifer, 12, Isabella, 10, Jonas, nine, Enos, six, Eva, five, and three-year-old Posy.
Another daughter is due in February. And bar Rachel who is married, they all share the family’s five bedroom former council house home in Dundee.
Christmas is delivered on nurse practitioner Roy’s salary as Emma is a full-time mum.
And with 14 mouths to feed their Christmas food bill is “massive”, but it’s the presents that cost the most – coming in at more than half of the £2,000 price-tag.
Emma says: “We’re very budget-conscious so we try not to spend more than £50 on the younger ones and no more than £100 on the older ones.
“We don’t do a lot of gifts and try to get one big thing each, as well as their stockings.
"The kids have always been pretty good about it but mostly they’ve asked for a mixture of toys, a phone on a contract which we’ll pay, make-up, box-sets, a Kindle, and Lego.
“I know some big families start preparing early on in the year but we’re last-minute people, which works as the children can change their minds about what they want quite a lot.
"It also means we can get the best deals we can possibly get – we bought a lot on Black Friday.
“We just try to do the best we can and buy them things we know they’d really like. Luckily, they’re not that bothered if others have more spent on them. The non-commercial side of it, the story of Jesus, is very important to us too.”
The couple always wanted a big family but never imagined they would end up with so many children, and although they don’t rule out having more after their new daughter arrives, Emma admits she and Roy may have to stop at 13.She says: “We never had any number in mind, we just wanted a big family. But we’re shocked we’ve had so many and I’m 45 so I’m pretty much near my end.”
And now they have turned their Christmas routine into a fine art, one or two extra mouths to feed should not make life too difficult.
On Thursday they will get through an incredible 10kg of turkey, 4kg of ham and 10kg of potatoes – “the kids love their potatoes,” says Emma – as well as 2.5kg each of carrots and parsnips, 60 chipolatas and two huge trays of stuffing.
And this is on top of they 28 pints of milk, four dozen eggs, and as many as 20 loaves of bread they polish off every week.
It’s often too much for one trolley at the supermarket although there is enough space in their seven-seater Renault Megane because they never take the children shopping with them.
“Definitely not,” says Emma. “They’re always trying to put stuff in the trolley and it’s just too much having children crying on the floor of the shops!”
The younger ones still firmly believe in Father Christmas so Emma and Roy maintain the Christmas spirit for everyone by hanging up stockings for all 12 and it’s a nightmare getting them all in bed on time as they are always so excited and overtired.
“Then getting all the presents under the tree while everybody’s sleeping is practically impossible,” sighs Emma.
“You have to time it right and over the years, we’ve got used to staying up beyond the realms of possibility to try and make it all work.”
And tasks that are a challenge for families with a couple of children turn into monumental feats when
they have to be multiplied for the Hann’s brood.
“Trying to sneak the stockings out of the bedrooms which they all share, fill them with gifts and get them back in the right rooms is a nightmare,” says Emma.
“Sometimes I’ve looked at the stockings I’ve got left and realised it’s the not the right one so I’ve gone wrong somewhere. It’s a pain, although it is worth it when it all works out.
“In the past, we’ve been sitting up all night sorting Christmas presents and putting out their stockings, and then within half an hour of us going to bed the kids have woken up and we have to start all over again.”
Preparation starts two days before Christmas Day, with Roy making the trifle and banoffee pie desserts – none of them like Christmas pudding.
And on the day, their Christmas starts as soon as the first children wake – as early as 5am.
Roy, 44, says: “Funnily enough, it tends to be the eldest kids who want to get everybody up. I think, ‘Please no, don’t, we’re still sleeping!’”
But this year they’re missing Polly, who is on a voluntary mission in Oregon, America, while Rachel is jetting off tomorrow to spend Christmas in India with her husband.
“Christmas morning is really noisy,” says Emma. “Everyone’s always on our bed opening their stockings so that’s a worry wondering if the bed will hold up.
“Thankfully, it always does.”
Roy gets the giant turkey into the oven first thing, and gets on with the rest of the food preparation once all the presents are open while Emma “keeps everyone quiet and happy”.
Roy says: “We’ve got a big cooker with two ovens which helps, but sometimes at Christmas it doesn’t feel like it’s enough when you’re trying to make everything happen at the same time.
"We try to do as much preparation beforehand but some has to be done on the day and it’s hard work.”
After the big feed at 3pm, the children play with their presents, then they all play board games and watch TV until everyone starts to flag.
The youngest will be in bed by 7pm, with exhausted Emma and Roy not far behind them! “It’s so tiring and we fall into bed at the end of it,” admits Emma, “but then we do most days.
“It’s chaotic, but Christmas with a family of 14 is great fun and we love it when everyone’s there together.
“We feel very lucky.”
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