Mum-of-14 says Christmas preparations for her massive family begin in January


Jennifer Johnston, 42, from County Down, Northern Ireland is mum to 14 kids and has revealed how she orchestrates Christmas for all of her kids from busy dinners to filling every stocking

Jennifer Johnston with nine of her fourteen children, seven week old Freya, Jaxon, 22 months, Ebony, three, Heidi, four, Sofia, six, Lydia, eight, Alfie, nine, Joell, 12, and Kaleb, 14 at their home in Newry, in Co Down. Jennifer Johnston, 42, has recently given birth to her 14th child and she told PA news agency about the festive fun of trying to cook Christmas dinner for one of the biggest families in the UK. Picture date: Monday December 13, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story ULSTER Family . Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Jennifer Johnston has the challenge of cooking Christmas dinner for one of the country’s biggest families

A mum to 14 kids has explained how she manages to celebrate Christmas Day with “preparations starting in January”.

Jennifer Johnston, 42, from County Down, Northern Ireland, gave birth to her 14th child in November and every year faces the festive challenge of throwing Christmas for her entire family.

This poses challenges from seating everyone for dinner to making sure there are enough gifts to go round, Cambridgeshire Live reported.

Jennifer and her husband Marks’ full family is: Chloe, 23, Dylan, 21, Ethan, 20, Nadia, turns 18 on Christmas Eve, Kezia, 15, Kaleb, 14, Joell, 12, Alfie, nine, Lydia, eight, Sofia, six, Heidi, four, Ebony, three, Jaxon, one, and Freya, who was born in November.

Jennifer said: “I always loved kids and I always wanted a big family. It was always my plan, but I didn’t think we would go this far.

“My mum is one of eight, that is the biggest family we ever knew, but we have gone even further.”

Preparations for Christmas for the family begin in January
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Out of the 14 Johnston children, only the eldest Chloe has moved out of the family home near Newry.

Preparations for Christmas start early in the Johnston home.

Jennifer said: “We have to start preparing for Christmas around January, saving for things and then putting things away. Keeping an eye on things and comparing prices, because it is an expensive time of year.

“But the craic in this house at Christmas is just brilliant. There are just so many presents.

“I do all the cooking for Christmas dinner myself. Normally I can get everyone around the table, but I have a breakfast bar there as well, some are round the breakfast bar and some are round the table.

“My dad gets the turkey for us every year, he keeps a couple down on the farm and we always get the biggest one. My mum has it oven ready for us, so we are very lucky.

“Santa is going to be very busy with our house.”

Christmas will be a double celebration this year with daughter Nadia turning 18 on Christmas Eve.

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Jennifer said she always wanted a big family but admitted she never imagined this big.

She added: “My mum is one of eight, that is the biggest family we ever knew, but we have gone even further.”

Jennifer said laundry and cooking were amongst the biggest challenges she faces every day.

She said: “Keeping up with the washing and looking for socks, every morning we are looking for socks and they are so hard to find.

“Knowing what to make for dinner every day, that is a big challenge.

Jennifer Johnston with nine of her fourteen children, seven week old Freya, Jaxon, 22 months, Ebony, three, Heidi, four, Sofia, six, Lydia, eight, Alfie, nine, Joell, 12, and Kaleb, 14 at their home in Newry, in Co Down
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“If I could have a chef, that would be the one thing that I would want. The cooking is a big thing.

“On an average day I get up about half six, start to get them ready for school, get their breakfast, teeth done, coats on and out the door for school.

“Homework is just crazy, it’s very hard to get them all to do it sometimes but we always get there.

“They love TV, computers, phones. They socialise now through the PlayStation. Some of them are into hockey and some of them are into football.”

Not surprisingly, the Johnstons are currently building an extension onto their home.

“It’s to make a bigger living room area, we are going to make a big open plan, because we are already thinking ahead to the grandchildren,” Jennifer said.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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