Christmas is fast approaching, it is one my favourite times of the year especially now that I am a parent. I thought Christmas was ‘magic’ when I was a child, I presumed that Christmas would become less of an event as I got older. I was wrong, once you have your own children and are able to see Christmas through their eyes, that’s when Christmas is truly magic.
Over the years Paul and I have become accustomed to a range of Christmas traditions which we have since adapted, built upon and have even created some of our traditions to share with our children each year.
Here are some of the things which we almost always do each year throughout the festive period:
Our Christmas Traditions
Writing At Christmas
- Handwriting Christmas cards for family, friends and colleagues. J now writes his own cards to his class friends too which is lovely to see.
- I always ask the kids to write a Christmas list, this usually happens once we receive our annual copy of The Smyths Toys Catalogue which tends to inspire them with a fair amount of ideas for gifts.
- Following the big day, I take time designing thank you letters which we then write and send to those that we received gifts from.
- Waiting for the local ‘Inshore Rescue’ Santa to visit in his rather bright, noisy sleigh and of course taking blurry photographs as evidence of his visit.
- Ever since the PNP has existed Paul and I have created personalised videos from Santa for each of the children. It doesn’t matter that the videos are fairly similar the kids still love watching them.
- J has a class Christmas party each year at school which he get’s dressed into party clothes for. E will no doubt have a similar ‘shindig’ at Nursery.
- I have always taken E to the local Tots Group Christmas party, it will sadly be our last year at ‘Tots’ and so we will be sure to make the most of it.
- We usually attend the local Cricket Clubs Christmas Party, the kids run around with their friends whilst the adults can have a drink at the bar. There are hours of super cheesy games to be played and of course the man in the red suit pays a visit. The kids flipping love it as do we!
- We are really lucky to live quite close to a town which hosts one of the UK’s biggest ‘Dickensian Christmas Festivals’. Whilst we may not have time to visit this year we try to fit this in if possible. It’s such fun, people are dressed up, kids can go on rides, there’s a huge range of Christmas stalls and whilst it may be cold, crowded and cramped it certainly gets us in the festive spirit.
- We always make time to visit our local DIY stores Christmas Grotto, the displays are stunning and the kids love looking at all the twinkly lights.
- We tend to have a drive out in the car around our local area to look at everybody’s decorations. We often play games such as ‘Who can spot the first Christmas tree’ and such like.
- Putting up our Christmas tree as a family – We take a whole day over this as it can take almost a day to put together and get the sodding lights on the damn tree! We then ask the kids to decorate the tree before correcting the decorations once they have gone to bed.
- Putting the fairy on the tree – Whichever of the kids feels most inclined will put the fairy on the top of the tree, this of course requires some serious camera action to snap those festive photos.
- The kids have their own Christmas tree and a box of decorations which they can put up and take down as they fancy. The tree is usually placed in one of their rooms and becomes a toy for a few weeks.
- We also hang lights and a wreath outside of the house along with the mandatory ‘Santa Stop Here Sign’.
- We always buy the Christmas edition of The Radio Times which Paul and I then use a highlighter pen to highlight any programs or movies we fancy recording and then set the Sky box to work upon.
- We have always read The Night Before Christmas to the children on Christmas Eve, this is a permanent tradition and one which we all look forward to. We also read a wide range of other Christmas themed books in the run up to Christmas which are kept on display for at least three weeks before the big day.
There are of course certain movies which must be watched over the Christmas period, these include:
- A Muppet Christmas Carol
- The Snowman and now the Snowman & Snow Dog
- Raymond Briggs – Father Christmas
- The Nightmare Before Christmas
- The Santa Clause (1,2 and usually 3 for good measure)
- Home Alone (both 1 & 2)
We also have a range of shows which we tend to watch annually depending on whether they are being aired, these include:
- The CBeebies Christmas Panto
- The latest Julia Donaldson adaptation (this year it is apparently ‘The Highway Rat’)
- Book adaptations (this year our list will include ‘Wer’e Going On A Bear Hunt and Roald Dahls latest remake)
- Mrs Browns Boys Christmas Special the kids don’t get to watch this don’t worry!
- Paul would also like to list ‘Die Hard’ movies as a Christmas TV essential?!
The Count Down To Christmas
The kids have a wooden advent calendar each which are magically filled by the Elves each night, they also have other calendars which are given to them by friends and family. The calendars are usually placed on the kitchen table each morning for the children to open and enjoy.
A Plate For Santa
Each year the kids make refreshments for Santa and his reindeer which are then left out for him to consume whilst visiting. Last year J suggested that Santa should stick to water to avoid drink driving, Paul and I were rather disappointed by this but followed his advice until he went to sleep that is!
Stockings or Sacks?
- We no longer hang stockings, we now use personalised sacks which are left out in front of the fire on Christmas Eve. Each child has a sack which is magically filled come the morning time.
- In each of the children’s stockings they always receive a Lindt Chocolate Santa, a bag of chocolate coins and a Thornton’s personalised something or other. Tis tradition and all that!
On Christmas morning Paul insists that he should go downstairs to ensure that ‘he has been’. He then returns with breakfast which we eat in our bedroom before getting dressed and heading downstairs in age order (youngest first). The age order thing originates from Paul’s upbringing and the breakfast in bed malarkey is to ensure that the kids actually eat before going ‘parcel blind’.
- Making a ‘Chocolate Log’ – As a child I became accustomed to the delights of Christmas cake and Christmas pudding smothered in brandy sauce mmmmmmm. Sadly Paul nor the children are keen on such fruity delights and so I tend to make Delia Smith’s chocolate log. A few years back my Dad was so impressed by my efforts that he was convinced that the chocolate log was store-bought. It has since been an ongoing joke…
- It doesn’t matter whether we are eating Christmas dinner at home or elsewhere, there will always be pigs in blankets. It simply isn’t Christmas without them.
When I first met Paul we often spent Christmas day at his parents and later visited my folks eating in a similar fashion to The Vicar Of Dibley by which I mean consuming more than one Christmas Dinner! After having J we swapped it about a bit, visiting my parents first and then relaxing closer to home at my in-laws.
Once J was three- years old we stuck to sharing Christmas Dinner over our own table, this seemed to work really well as the he could enjoy his parcels without the interruption of travelling elsewhere. It has been a little stressful over the years though, trying to cook dinner for eight whilst trying not to miss watching the kids open their parcels is challenging to say the least.
This year will therefore be different once again as we will be opening parcels here at home and then visiting my parents for dinner before heading out to the in-laws to kick back and have a drink.
There are certain drinks which we associate with Christmas, each year Paul and I do a ‘big shop’ in preparation for the big day. We will usually always come home with:
- Coca Cola (in glass bottles!)
- Mulled Wine sachets and a bottle of red.
- Dumpy Beers which don’t tend to last long.
- By late November the Christmas CDs have usually found their way to the car and are being played regularly.
- Since receiving my beautiful VQ Dab Retro Radio last Christmas I now have the pleasure of being able to tune into HeartXmas and listen to Christmas songs 24/7 should I wish.
As you can see we have a ton of traditions and I’m fairly sure I’ve missed a couple. I’d love to hear all about your Christmas traditions so please leave a comment, drop me an email or get in touch via social media.