Christmas traditions. Doesn’t seem like something we can create, does it? It feels like it should be something we’ve always done; until we realise that we’re the parents, and now we have to set the traditions the way we want for OUR children. Daunting. My children will be two and three this Christmas, so traditions, while fairly new, are beginning to take shape. As lots of our readers are parents with children under five, I thought this could be a useful exercise to share, and learn from each other to make that time slightly more magical and special!
The run up to Christmas involves things like, opening the advent calendars, helping to throw handfuls of raisins into the pudding and decorating the house. Then we turn things up a notch, we buy a special ornament every year for the tree and the children take it in turns every year to put the star/angel on the top of the tree. Don’t forget days out, visits to Santa Claus (Hamleys and Harrods, Debenhams or the town square, I don’t think it matters), Winter Wonderlands, the Bluewater fair and of course take them somewhere where they’ll see a huge Christmas tree with lots of lights!
There’s a beautiful woodland near to me in Wales which opens in December, you go there to “choose” your tree which they cut down and deliver. The choosing of the tree can take all day, and is tremendous fun, Christmas 2011 lead us to a white woodland! The little log cabin there offers mulled wine and a Santa Claus! Really lovely. My husband celebrates his birthday in December and part of his present always involves tickets for him and the eldest (the baby has been too young) to go to the Pantomime on the 23rd December, this year there’ll be three tickets in his card, and he’ll return to a drunk wife. (I jest).
Ah Christmas Eve is special, whether you “do” Father Christmas or not, you can make this day and night special and fun. In our household we have a winter walk late afternoon, we take torches and glow sticks (this is ideal for tiring out the children), we then have supper. Supper on Christmas Eve tends to be “buffet” style, I make lots of finger food (I will blog some of the recipes as they are time savers!), your children may be too excited to have such a large meal. We then do a Christmas film (we choose The Snowman as it’s not very long) and then onto a special bath. For the special bath I light candles in jars (NEVER on the side of the bath) on the floor and across the windowsill (out of reach of the children), we turn off the lights and have glow sticks in the bath, glitter (you can sprinkle it in!) and bath “fizzers” (bath bombs). The longer they’re in the bath the more tired they get. We leave a brand new pair of pyjamas on the beds, and once out of the bath they have “new jammies” and slipper socks, and to bed they go. I don’t expect everyone to copy me, these are traditions we have, which I fully expect to change as the boys grow older; however I’ve listed some below that I’ve picked up (stolen!) from other peoples’ traditions. As the children get older, lots of non religious (and religious) folk tend to head over to midnight mass.
Traditions I have seen elsewhere.
1) Leave a hamper on the doorstep on Christmas Eve morning, filled with make your own hot chocolate sets (I have a jar recipe for this on the blog) new pyjamas, colouring books and small “make no mess” crafts, like sticker books and perhaps a small packet of sweeties. Parents have a lot to do on Christmas Eve too so a distraction technique is worth its weight in gold!
2) Send your partner out to the cinema/their parents/to pick pine cones while you do the food shop. I’d like to add to this and say, while doing it online is a great idea, book your slot early or you may not get one. You may get substitutions that you don’t want, and after a helpful sherry you may not be able to drive to get what you want…and of course you don’t want to miss the “condemned meat aisle” (discounted products) from the supermarket. That said, you’ll need to apply your game face. Christmas Eve food shoppers take no prisoners.
3) Stand outside the sitting room door (door way elsewhere, house lay out dependant) and sprinkle talcum powder around your feet. This is to give the illusion that Santa Claus has been in. This photo is from The Party Artisan .
4) Cook your turkey through Christmas Eve night, take the bacon off on Christmas morning and make turkey flavoured bacon sandwiches for breakfast! Yum!
Enjoy it. Don’t end up like me with lists and flapping and bent over the dishwasher for the WHOLE of December. Be thankful for the family around you to enjoy it, they’re the most important thing. Oh, and have gin. Lots of gin.