I'm a mum-of-13, Christmas dinner costs us £300 & gifts £1.5k – I put it all on my credit card but I always regret it

CHRISTMAS is cheerful chaos for Emma and Roy Hann with their brood of THIRTEEN kids.

After wrapping gifts until 2am, then grabbing a couple of hours’ sleep, they are woken by Enos, 13, Eva, 12, Posy, ten, and Meg, six, who can’t wait to open their presents.

They do their best to sneak in a couple more hours in bed before Roy, 51, a nurse practitioner, starts the mammoth task of cooking lunch for not just their youngest four but also Rachel, 30, Sophia, 28, Polly, 27, Charlotte, 25, Alice, 23, Annabelle, 21, Jennifer, 19, Isabella, 17, and Jonas, 16.

Emma, 52, who owns a cafe, says: “Christmas Day is chaos and we are exhausted by the end of it.

“We’re always up far too early and there’s not much sleep the night before. We’ll be out of bed by 5am.

“Some years, when there were 13 of them at home, we were worried the bed wouldn’t hold everyone because they would all pile on.

“Once the kids have opened their presents, we hope that keeps them entertained so we can get a couple of extra hours’ sleep.

“The best part about our Christmas is it’s never boring. There’s a lot of people, a lot of fun and a lot of laughs.”

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Nine of the children still live at the five-bedroom home in Dundee, but when it comes to a Christmas family get-together, there are 18 mouths to feed with Polly’s husband Michael, 29, and their boys, Lachlen, three, and Mylo, two, swelling the ranks, The Hann’s Christmas dinner sets them back £300 and includes a 25kg mound of potatoes, an 8kg turkey, 2kg of sausages for pigs-in-blankets, piles of carrots and parsnips, plus 60 frozen Yorkshire puddings.

Peeling the veg begins on Christmas Eve, while the family sit down to eat in the living room, where there is the space to fit the two tables they need.

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Roy says: “The prep is constant and I try to get the kids involved.

“They always make the stuffing, and the older girls help me peel and cook. We aim to eat lunch at 2pm but getting the timing right is always hard.

“We’ve got a big range cooker now, with two ovens, but we still always end up without any space to cook in. Then you’re panicking.

“If the older ones join us for Christmas dinner, Polly brings a cheese grazing board and Rachel will do a dessert. That way it’s not all out of our pockets.”

The couple, who don’t rely on government handouts and claim only child benefit, usually spend around £1,500 on gifts and try to budget for £100 per child.

But they sometimes spend more — and some goes on credit cards.

Emma says: “We borrow from Peter to pay Paul. The presents go on credit cards to tide us over.

“We’re not good at saving and terrible at buying throughout the year. I have tried that in the past but the kids change their minds about what they want.

“We don’t have the space to store stuff, anyway. We tend to buy last-minute, starting about a month before Christmas, then have a really tight January.

“Roy only works nights and weekend shifts so he’s well paid for unsociable hours.”

When it comes to presents the couple have sometimes splurged yet other times they have cut back a little.

Before meeting Roy, Emma, who had a daughter at 19 who was adopted at birth, says: “One year, we decided to just get a £300 trampoline for everyone. Other times, we do more personal gifts.


“We’ve had Christmases where we’ve spent a lot of money and realised afterwards that it was really foolish as some don’t even get used.

“One year, three of the teenagers each got an iPhone 6, on two-year contracts. The cost on the day wasn’t too much but for two years afterwards we were still paying for them.

“This year, one of the boys wants a computer tower, but it might be out of our budget.

“I’ve been looking in Cash Converters to see if they’ve got any deals.”

Roy adds: “Sometimes we get a bit carried away. The budget changes every year. When we had our eldest, Rachel, I was a student and we had no money.

“We bought her a £1 stool. She absolutely loved it and carried it everywhere. I look back on those times and think how simple it was.

"As we had more kids, we would see them play with boxes more than their toys and using their imagination.”

For Emma, the hardest part of Christmas is managing her kids’ expectations and worrying she can’t meet them.

She says: “I don’t like feeling that Christmas has been a disappointment. I get ‘mum guilt’ trying to find gifts that will make them cry with happiness and it’s hard when that doesn’t happen.

“I have a constant guilt of not being able to do enough.”

But Emma, who has seven siblings, and Roy, who is one of nine, say they would not change their clan for anything.

Emma says: “We don’t have any regrets and we feel very lucky we have as many kids as we do.

“It’s a tough balance, feeling guilty for not being able to give as much as you should to them all, especially at Christmas.

“Some of the kids say, ‘You should’ve stopped after me’. But they all love their youngest sister, so they don’t really mean it.”

The Hann Brood

  • Rachel, 30
  • Sophia,  28
  • Polly,  27
  • Charlotte,  25
  • Alice, 23
  • Annabelle, 21
  • Jennifer, 19
  • Isabella, 17
  • Jonas, 16
  • Enos, 13
  • Eva,12
  • Posy, 10
  • Meg, 6

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