I am having such a lovely time at the moment reading all the amazing Christmas home tours and festive posts that are all over blog land! One of the things I love most at this time of year is reading about how other families enjoy the Christmas season and all the special things they do to make this time of year magical. I am often inspired by their ideas and over the years, we have added some really lovely activities to our own Christmas build-up.
With that in mind, I thought I would share some of our family’s favourite Christmas traditions with you (if only to be reminded of special times myself!) This is such a precious time of year and we always do our very best to make memories our children will carry with them forever.
Here is a list of some of our favourite family Christmas traditions:
1. Buying the tree and breakfast at the farm shop
We are ‘real tree’ people. My husband would never consider an artificial tree (even though, when the children were small, I tried to convince him that an artificial option would be far more practical). After a few years of driving all over town trying to find the best Christmas tree for the cheapest price, we eventually agreed that, whilst it was a more expensive option, the trees from our local farm shop were always the best and lasted the longest. And the best thing about the farm shop? The farm shop café of course! And more specifically, the farm shop café breakfast. We virtually never allow ourselves a fried breakfast (maybe once or twice a year) but one of them is on the day we buy our Christmas tree. We go first thing in the morning, pick the tree, and then have a family breakfast together. It’s become one of our favourite Christmas traditions and often signifies the start of the Christmas season for us. (For local folk, Farrington’s farm shop is the one I’m referring to!)
2. Decorating the tree with our special Christmas ornaments (and taking turns to put the angel at the top.)
So, after the farm shop breakfast has been digested, we usually wait until it’s getting dark to start decorating the tree. I just love watching the children, faces lit by the Christmas tree lights, talking about each decoration as it comes out of the box and re-living the memories attached to it. Our tree is not co-ordinated or magazine-worthy, but it has such sentimental attachment, I don’t think I could ever bear to change it. (And I know the children would be devastated if I tried!) We always have to check the photos from last year to make sure the right child takes their turn to put the angel at the top of the tree. These details are of the utmost importance you know. Fair is fair!
3. A visit to Father Christmas
When you have kids, Christmas wouldn’t be complete without it would it? However, for the first time this year, we haven’t booked!! (Horror gasp!) I’m thinking we will try to squeeze in a Santa visit somewhere when the children have finished school (we just haven’t had a chance to fit it in!) but if not, we have just booked ice-skating so at least that will soften the blow!
4. The Christmas Story book
This is a cracking one. When I was little, my Mum used to read us a story every year in the build up to Christmas about a brother and sister called ‘Peter and Jane.’ It told the story of the children’s build up to Christmas, the big day and all the fun they got up to afterwards. The book belonged to my Mum when she was a child and you can still see her writing in it from when she was tiny and decided to make a few ‘additions’ to the story! It’s now hanging together, literally by a thread but my two love to hear it every year at bedtime in the lead up to Christmas.
5. The Posada comes to visit
The Posada is a little knitted ‘Mary, Joseph and a donkey’ along with a candle and a notebook which is sent around by the church to families in the community every Christmas. There is a sheet with the set which suggests ways to use it and it basically encourages a quiet moment to sit with your family and remind yourselves about the real Christmas story and the reason we do all this every year! You can then write something in the book – a prayer or a story or a note to other families – which gets passed on to everyone else who receives it after you. This picture shows our little artist drawing a picture in the book after a little bit of quiet time reflecting on the birth of Jesus.
6. Watching a Christmas film
This year, I have insisted on no Christmas films until December. I felt like we peaked too soon in previous years! We almost made it but that last weekend in November just felt too Christmassey to hold out any longer! Most weekends in December, we try to find time for a Christmas film. It’s my favourite way to get into the Christmas spirit! (And the pup loves to join in the snuggles too!)
7. The candlelit carol service
Our church holds a ‘carols by candlelight’ service every year on the Sunday before Christmas. It is an event I have attended since I was a child and I really wanted my own children to experience it too. One year, it even snowed as we were leaving! It was like something from a Christmas film!
8. Making mince pies for Santa
We always make ‘proper’ mince pies a couple of days before Christmas. I remember when I was young that those days leading up to Christmas Eve are loooong! Any activity that occupies a child’s ‘pre-Christmas’ excitement has to be a win! And my two love making real pastry – there’s nothing like getting your hands into the mixture and ‘smushing’ is there? No oven-ready pastry for us at Christmas thank you!
9. A ‘Christmas Lights walk’ on Christmas Eve
This is one we added in the last couple of years (our first Christmas with the dog I think!) as the result of a blog I follow mentioning it. So, on Christmas Eve, when it gets dark, we wrap up warm, put the lead on the pup and head off for a wander around our local area to take in all the Christmas lights. It really is so special. We always chat away about our recent Christmas experiences and all the plans we have for the remainder of the holidays and we all LOVE it! It’s a quiet moment of calm amongst all the frantic rushing around. Really magical.
10. The night before Christmas (with a hot chocolate)
This is one for after our Christmas lights walk. We come in from the cold, get into our PJ’s and cuddle up with a hot chocolate while my husband reads ‘The night before Christmas’ before hanging the stockings and putting out Santa’s mince pie.
11. Christmas PJ’s
I wish I had started this one earlier! Some of our early Christmas photos feature all kinds of weird and wonderful nightwear combinations! We’ve even got some that show our son wearing nothing more than a nappy! What were we thinking? It was December for goodness sake!! Anyway, in recent years, new PJ’s have been purchased and saved specially for Christmas eve. Those Christmas photos look so much better with a nice pair of PJ’s!!
And there we have it. A few of our favourite Christmas traditions. I do hope you are all making the most of this special month. I’m going to take a break for a few weeks to enjoy the time with the family. I will be back some time around the new year – no doubt I’ll be in a frenzy of new year’s good intentions and organisation! I hope you all have a wonderful, happy Christmas. With lots of love from my family to yours….
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