Well-wishers have sent hundreds of Christmas cards and presents for missing Madeleine McCann to her parents.

Kate and Gerry McCann have received "a post bag full of cards and presents for the children, including Madeleine," according to the family's spokesman Clarence Mitchell.

The couple, from Rothley, Leicestershire, have 2-year-old twins, Sean and Amelie, who are expected to be given the gifts sent directly to them.

Mitchell said: "Kate and Gerry are strengthened by the sympathy and support that has been shown for them at this time of year.

"They are extremely grateful to everyone who is supporting them and remembering Madeleine at Christmas time."

Earlier this week, the couple said Christmas would be an incredibly difficult time if Madeleine were not found before then.

They said they planned to have a very quiet, private Christmas with family in the U.K.

Writing in his blog on the findmadeleine.com Web site, Gerry McCann said: "As the end of the year approaches we would like to thank everyone who has offered support over the last seven months and we ask you to stay with us as the search for our daughter continues."

The couple, both Catholics, are thought to be staying in Rothley for Christmas and are expected to attend midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, where prayers will be said for their missing daughter.

Madeleine's grandmother, Eileen McCann, 67, said she will not celebrate Christmas this year but will leave a present on her granddaughter's bed as usual.