Mum turns packed lunches into an advent calendar with Christmas-themed snacks

What’s better than celebrating each day leading up to Christmas with a tiny bit of chocolate?

Turning your lunch into an advent calendar, too.

Shona Frost, 30, made sure to keep up the festive feeling by making her sons’ lunch boxes suitably Christmassy for every day in December.

Every school day Ralph-Albert Pearson, five, and Lewis-Oswalk Pearson, three, open up their boxes to find sandwiches turned into Christmas crackers, red and green treats, and bananas with the number of days left until Christmas etched into the skin.

As well as getting the family feeling Christmassy, the lunch boxes also serve as a handy solution to picky eating, getting the kids excited for their lunch each day.

The lunches have helped to deal with the boys’ fussy eating (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

That’s a huge relief for Shona, as recently Ralph-Albert had been turning down fruit and his little brother was following suit. Now they’re so excited about their advent calendar lunches that they gobble up every last bite.

Shona, of Bradford, West Yorkshire, said: ‘My kids aren’t big eaters and they would look at things, decide it was boring and not eat.

‘With Ralph-Albert in particular it had become a battle to get him to eat certain things. Fruit and veg were a real struggle.

‘Lewis-Oswald was a good eater until recently and then he started to do the same.

‘But doing these fun Bento-style lunches has helped a lot. They’re both eating a lot more fruit and veg now.

‘I always try to make sure I’m putting healthy stuff in there. The Christmas ones have had a few treats like a homemade biscuit or homemade fudge, but it’s Christmas.

‘Ralph-Albert used to struggle with colours. He only ever wanted to eat very beige foods but adding bright colours to foods he knows he likes is really helping him try new things.

‘Now he opens up his lunch and he’s so excited to see what’s inside. I really would recommend them to everyone.

‘It’s so great seeing their eating improve. When you see them open up their lunchboxes and their faces light up like “wow it’s reindeers” it’s an amazing feeling.’

The mum first started creating the Bento-style lunch boxes for her kids in June and noticed an improvement in their eating within a week.

While her kids have had a positive reaction to their Christmas-themed lunches, Shona says she has been criticised by some other parents for spending too much time on the packed lunches.

Her festive foods might look time-consuming and complicated but Shona insists they only take a maximum of 10 minutes to create. They’re not too pricey, either, as the mum dedicates a £7 budget each week for making 15 packed lunches – two for her sons and one for their dad, Scott Pearson.

Many of the items are homemade, with help from the rest of the family every Sunday. They’ve made tortilla crackers, biscuits, and special fudge for Christmas.

Shona said: ‘Ever since I started making the fun lunches, one of Ralph-Albert’s teachers often stops me to ask how I did certain things and if I can make her one too.

‘I make my partner’s packed lunches for work too but he’s not a fan when I give him the fancy ones because the other lads pick on him.

‘When I started sharing the meals on social media, I got a lot of stick for my “fancy Pinterest lunches” and people saying “we don’t have time for that” but they don’t take a lot of time.

‘A lot of people tell me I’m making a rod for my own back and if I don’t have time one day the boys will be upset and not eat but again that’s because people presume it takes a long time.

‘This is the first year I’ve done the Christmas lunches for December and I’ll definitely be doing them next year.

‘Coming up with all the different ideas and making them has really helped me get into the festive spirit. I’m so excited for Christmas this year.

‘I put my Christmas songs on and do the lunches and get really excited when they turn out looking alright.’

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