Our Christmas Traditions
Our Christmas Traditions – when you’re a kid you don’t really think about the things that you do each year at Christmas as it’s a given. It’s not until you’re an adult and have children of your own that you realise that it’s these traditions that make Christmas special. It’s those things that our children will remember.
My Childhood Christmas Traditions
I was born and brought up in a little village called Rishton in Lancashire and my Nan would visit us most years from Exeter, Devon where we live now.
We always looked forward to my Nan coming as she would always bring us treats.
Every year without fail my Nan bought us all a new dressing gown, slippers and pyjamas (nightdresses for us girls). Looking back they were really old fashioned grannyesque nightdresses with quilted dressing gowns with material buttons. My sister and I always got the same but in a different colours or patterns.
We always went to Sunday school and took part in whatever crafts and carol singing they were doing.
My Nan was an amazing baker and whenever she visited she always made various things including jam rolypoly. We all fought over being the helper and would play with the biscuit scraps for ages
The Christmas number one was always something to be anticipated. We used to listen to the radio for the top 40 countdown every Sunday whilst my mum ironed our school uniform, and Top of the Pops was a much watch. Of course you had to watch it ‘real time’ which I know is quite retro these days.
A trip to Rays – this was a local shop that sold a bit of everything. Growing up with a single mum meant that it was always up to my Nan to make sure that we bought our mum a Christmas present. So we went to Rays to choose something. I remember buying her this like picture frame on a swivel stand (a bit like a mirror) that was full of coloured sand that you tipped up to create sand patterns. It was really naff but my mum said she liked it.
Christmas films – any Christmas films that were on the TV (all four channels) were something that everybody looked forward to. Santa Claus the movie and Home Alone were my absolute faves.
We had an Advent Calendar that was shared between the three of us. It wasn’t like the calendars are now. There weren’t even any chocolates in the doors. It was pictures that represented Christmas such as a Christmas Tree, a mince pie, the Three Wise Men etc. We had to take it in turns to open the doors, and we loved it.
My Mum used to pay weekly for a food hamper for Christmas which was delivered in these huge polystyrene boxes. They were full of all sorts of what we considered ‘treat’ foods. We had ham in a tin which you had to open with a little key that came on the side of it. It came out of the tin in a huge blob like mass and was covered in jelly. It makes me cringe when I think back to it, but we really enjoyed it at the time. There was a cupboard in our lounge where all the good stuff was kept – boxes of biscuits, the Christmas Puddings and mince pies, bags of nuts and the tubs of twiglets and crackers.
Creating our own Christmas Traditions
When Ryan was born we had to make our own traditions, based on what we enjoyed of our own childhood christmases.
I love the idea and thought behind the Christmas Eve Boxes, but it wasn’t heard of when Ryan was little, but we had our own things that we did every year without fail.
Every year the kids get new ones to wear on Christmas Eve. In the last few years, it’s been matching family pyjamas which I really like. I’ve yet to convince Chris to wear matching pyjamas but one of these days we’ll get him to do it.
Christmas Eve Just Us
Christmas Eve is definitely a hot chocolate and Christmas movie day. We quite often have takeaway or pizza and snuggle up on the sofa ready for a solid few days of non-stop eating. We don’t make any plans with friends or family on Christmas Eve as it’s OUR day as a little family. Something we’ll carry on for as long as we can.
I love seeing all the colour coordinated glamorous looking trees, but I love our tree. Our Christmas decorations have been collected over the years or made by the kids an mean so much more. We buy a new Christmas decoration each year so we’re building up quite a collection. I feel quite nostalgic when we unpack these as we remember where they came from or who made them. We always decorate the tree to cheesy Christmas music whilst eating Christmas sweets and chocolates.
Writing Father Christmas a Letter
The kids love doing this and then we make a special trip to the post box to post the letter off. It’s such a lovely thing to do each year.
Father Christmas visit
Who doesn’t love to take the kids to see Father Christmas. We’ve been to some lovely ones and also some not so lovely ones over the years. I think we missed a couple of years as Isabelle was terrified of him. The worse one we went to was one that just ended up being a photograph opportunity that you could buy for an extortionate amount of money and we were shuffled along like an Aldi checkout.
Where do you put yours? We started off by putting it at the end of Ryan’s bed l, but one year he was terrified about Father Christmas being in his bedroom so we started putting it outside his bedroom door and we’ve carried this on. The kids all have different stockings. Ryan who is a fully fledged adult these days has a knitted one that stretches so much that you can fill it with quite a lot, and we still fill this up for him each year.
We always do a few Christmas Crafts in the lead up to Christmas. This includes making Christmas Bisuits, decorations, cards and other handmade presents. The kids always enjoy this and like to choose what crafts they do.
Christmas Day Outfit
We always have something new to wear. We do get dressed for Christmas Day, I know a lot of people like to stay in their comfies, but I like something with a bit of sparkle in it.
Elf on the Shelf
We now do the Elf on the Shelf, but be warned. Once you start it, there’s no going back. You can find loads of inspiration online for what you can do that range from really easy to putting in a ridiculous amount of effort. My only advice would be to plan this as its the absolute pits when it gets to 10pm and you’re have to think of what to do with the Elf!
Christmas morning always starts the same way. I’m always awake first and I either noisily make my way to the loo to wake the kids up or send the dog upstairs. I then make Chris a coffee and myself a cuppa before the kids pile onto our bed with their stockings. I should at this point mention that even the dog gets in on this as well. He has his own stocking and you’ve never seen such an excited dog! This is probably my favourite part of the day when the excitement is at its highest. We then make our way downstairs for the present reveal.
We have a lovely Christmas Market in Exeter and we make two separate trips. One with the kids (a nightmare) and one on our own (total bliss).
I enjoy these things far more than the whole buying and wrapping presents which I find quite stressful. I love seeing my children’s faces on Christmas morning but the pressure to spend seems to get more intense every year.
What traditions do you have with your family?
Updated post – Originally posted 30/11/18