I’m going to put it out there: I love Christmas! I think it’s telling that every member of my family feels this way – we’re cracking out the Christmas tunes as soon as bonfire night is over and done with. And I strongly believe that it’s because my parents always made a real effort to make Christmas special, with lots of different family traditions.
Now I have a family of my own, I want to keep all of those traditions, but also add some more of our own. This will be Max’s second Christmas, and I want to make it really special for him as I know he’ll be so much more aware of everything this time around.
We’re not a religious family, so Christmas for us is more about Santa than Jesus. But I do like the tradition of Advent calendars – it helps to really get that Christmassy feel going throughout the whole of December. I bought a wooden Advent calendar last year and I’m filling each day with a note detailing a special activity to do that day – decorate the tree, sing carols round the piano, wear your Christmas jumper, make Christmas cookies etc. Of course, there will be some still filled with chocolates, because who doesn’t love a bit of chocolate (plus, who has time to fit in 25 of these activities when they’re working?)
Decorating the Christmas Tree
Decorating the Christmas tree is one of the most special moments of Christmas for me – it’s when it all officially gets going! As a child, we would make an annual visit to a garden centre (garden centres always do the best Christmas decorations!), and my sister and I would be allowed to choose one decoration each to add to our collection.
I love that moment when the decorations arrive down from the loft and you rediscover all of these old favourites!
When it comes to decorating the tree, in my house, this is traditionally done to the soundtrack of Michael Buble’s Christmas album (that voice just IS Christmas to me!), with copious quantities of mulled wine being drunk. I’ve realised that I may have become a bit of a Christmas tree dictator over the past few years – my husband doesn’t get much of a look in, so I think I need to relax my approach and realise that it’s not the end of the world if not everything fits in the red and gold theme, or if a bauble gets hung 2 inches left of where I would have placed it. Or maybe I’ll just sneak downstairs in the night and have a sneaky rearrange!
When we were little we would visit Santa every year to tell him what we wanted for Christmas. One year we went on a special journey on a steam train which I remember vividly! There are so many fantastic Santa experiences around now, so I know we’ll be trialling lots of them over the next few years. This year we are going to Legoland which I’ve heard is fantastic – as Max will only be 20 months, I’m anticipating that he may cry at the sight of Santa!
Christmas Eve for me is about getting together as a family, comfort food, and making last minute preparations for The Big Day. It’s tradition in our house to watch A Muppet’s Christmas Carol and that’s definitely one I’m planning to carry on – after all, it’s only one more sleep ‘til Christmas!
I’m planning on making it a tradition to eat macaroni cheese for dinner (nice and easy, but comforting on a cold day), and as a treat, we’ll all open one present from underneath the tree. I’ve read about so many families that do this and I love the idea – the present will always be a new pair of pyjamas to wear to bed! We’ll get ready for bed in our pyjamas, then have a hot chocolate and hang up our stockings while we leave out mince pies and a glass of port for Santa, and a carrot for Rudolph of course!
Christmas morning is for opening presents! I hear stories that some people wait until after dinner to open their presents – what’s wrong with these nutters?! As kids, our stockings would be left outside our bedroom doors and we would be allowed to open 3 presents from the stocking before waking up Mum and Dad at no earlier than 7am to open the rest (nice lie-in tactic there parents!).
After the stocking presents it’s time for breakfast – smoked salmon, scrambled egg, and prosecco is the tradition in our house.
Have you heard of the Christmas Pickle? I read about this one somewhere a few years ago and I loved it. The Christmas Pickle is an American tradition: on Christmas morning, a tree decoration shaped like a pickle is placed on the Christmas tree somewhere and the first person to find it gets an extra Christmas present. I love this and want to incorporate this into our list of Christmas rituals.
This year will be the first time that we host Christmas in our own home. We’re planning on taking a bit of a cheat’s route with a turkey crown (pre-stuffed) rather than a full blown turkey, but the rest will be as tradition dictates – pigs in blankets, sprouts, red cabbage, and bellies so uncomfortably full that you just want to collapse on the sofa for the rest of the afternoon.
We’re buying some new games to play in the evening – we’re actually quite short on board games in this house, so we’re thinking Articulate and Bananagrams to start us off. Do you have any other suggestions?
I’m really looking forward to adding in more and more little Christmas rituals over the years. I love how every family has their own traditions, and yet somehow, they’re all quite similar! The knowledge that all around the world, people are celebrating the same thing as you is something quite special. What are your favourite Christmas traditions?