Christmas customs

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without the rituals: dressing the tree, ignoring the carol singers, starting on the sherry too early...

And, in these cash-strapped times, comforting Christmas customs will be more important than ever (particularly when the kids realise Santa didn't bring a Go-Go Hamster). So we've put together a smorgasbord of your best yuletide traditions for you to feast – and, no doubt, massively overindulge – on.

Deck the halls with boughs of holly: the run-up

  • One week before Christmas Day, we go out, led by me, to find the biggest, most perfectly shaped, most beautiful Christmas tree going. This can take a while! DCs get excited, then a bit bored. I eventually find the tree. DH tells me it's too big. I insist it is just right. Get back home, put tree in tree stand, undo the netty stuff, tree springs out and fills the room. DH adjusts the tree to fit in room, muttering all the time that it was, in fact, too b****y big! BCNS
  • Put the tree up about a week before Christmas with no help from anyone – just me, my glass baubles and Allegri's Miserere on CD. Preceded by lots of men twirling trees for me at local market. SalVolatile
  • We always have a real tree (although, this year, it's more likely to be a twig from the garden – they're free). DH puts the lights on, then goes and gets tea, while I try and manage a toddler and a nine year old who put all the decorations in the bottom square inch! Wait till they are in bed and then redecorate tree in anal but sensible fashion. Hodgins
  • The tree is only finished when the Christmas octopuses are flung at it. There are five of them – they have googly eyes and pipe cleaner legs and roll through the branches and stick where they will. Twiglett
  • When the DC were little, we used to put the decorations up after they'd gone to bed. They thought the Christmas fairies had done it – their faces were a picture. They do the same for their little ones now. jumpingbeans
  • When I've finished the tree and put everything away, I get a drink and just have the fairy lights on around the fireplace and on the tree. Then I find the part in It's A Wonderful Life where George realises he's alive (you know, when he's on the bridge and his lip is bleeding) and watch the rest of the film from there! You can't beat it. It's magic! Ladymariner
  • We have a set of Provencal santons - lifelike dolls of the Holy Family. The DCs spend a good few hours creating a crib for them from a cardboard box. The innovations year on year can be spectacular. Last year, DS2 drew loads of spiders and DS1 made them a loft extension. Weblette

Troll (now, don't get any ideas) the ancient yuletide carol: Christmas Eve

  • Christmas Eve is always the day we take the children to visit Father Christmas. After that, we go out and (with that week's child benefit), choose the 'family present'. Most years, it is a big board game. We also buy 'picky' bits for tea that night and have a 'carpet picnic'. We always buy the children new PJs and bedsocks and they open them after tea and a bath.
  • I always read the girls The Night Before Christmas at bedtime – only we have the Australian version! eidsvold
  • We have a long walk in the afternoon, no what matter the weather (nearly), then come back for dinner for the boys and an early bath. They get to come downstairs to put their stockings on the hearth and we sit with milk and hot chocolate and look at the Gratitude Journal - this year's scrapbook of all the great things we have done this year. bythepowerofgreyskull
  • After they are all ready for bed, we hand out a new DVD, they write their 'thank you' letter to Father Christmas and also leave wine and chocs – and carrots and water for every single reindeer. Finally, DH and I fall into bed, and give each other our own pressies. Christmas Day is about the children, so DH and I have our time in the early hours of the morning, before the place turns into a grotto. PsycoAxeMurdererMum
  • We must always watch the Muppet Christmas Carol DVD on Christmas Eve (snuggled up in new jammies); otherwise, it's just not Christmas. Hodgins
  • DH puts the boys to bed, while I prance around outside in the garden like an idiot, ringing little bells while he says, 'Listen! Sleigh bells! Quick, close your eyes and go to sleep – I think Father Chrismas is coming!' We always make sure there are Father Christmas's footprints leading from the fireplace to the presents. And each child has a little jingly bag hidden among the tree decorations, with a mini surprise gift inside. moosemama

See the blazing Yule before us: festive nosh

  • We start the day with Buck's Fizz and, generally speaking, it's downhill from there. AdragonIs4LifeNotJustHalloween
  • I always cook the ham on Christmas Eve, so the house is filled with the smell, and then we have some of it with eggs for Christmas Day breakfast. MrsMattie
  • Christmas Day breakfast? Always stocking chocs! SallyStrawberry
  • My mother always serves up half a grapefruit with a cherry on top for breakfast. I'm sure it was probably chic in the 60s. LynetteScavo
  • We have waffles, with squirty cream, all together in our bed while we open the stocking presents. The children love it. wtfhashappened
  • I help my mum cook Christmas Dinner, which is a massive rack of pork. With it, we have homemade sauerkraut, potatoes, softly cooked apricots and prunes, and homemade cranberry jam. We are too full for pudding. QuintessentialShadow
  • We each get a chocolate santa from my parents. Not one of those expensive jobs – just a common or garden choc santa – but it isn't Christmas without them. Mum decided one year that we were all too old to have one and there was b****y uproar! ladymariner

Follow me in merry measure: Christmas Day

  • DH and I wake up stupidly early, and wait and wait and wait for the boys to wake up! Eventually, we give up and start coughing loudly and, as soon as we hear a noise, we poke our heads around their door and watch them discover their stockings by the end of their beds. Then they bring their stockings into our bed and get settled, while Daddy fetches milk for them, coffee for us and warm croissants for us all to stuff while they open their stocking gifts. moosemama
  • Christmas Day is all about Routine. No one is allowed downstairs before 8am and Dad (or Grandad as he is now) sets up by the tree. Everyone else finds a place around the lounge. Dad hands out the presents, reading out who each one is from, and everyone gets a moment 'in the spotlight' while their one is opened. The HedgeWitch
  • The kids set the dining table for dinner about 2pm and then pitch in to get it cooked. Once we're all sat down, crackers are pulled, jokes read out and hats placed on heads. We toast, then eat. The traditional turkey dinner is followed by Christmas pud with homemade brandy sauce. Then, if we're not all too tipsy, we clear up and crash out in the lounge for naps until about 7pm. The evening is spent with alcohol and bad Christmas TV. TheHedgeWitch
  • We live in north Norway and the main day of Christmas is 24th December. After Christmas dinner, we head up to the cemetery. We have candles, seasonal decorations, a bottle of water to make the candles freeze in place in the snow, and a spade. The church bells are normally ringing as we enter. It is still and serene; totally dark except for thousands of candles on decorated graves. We decorate and light the candles, give thoughts to the year that has passed, remember our ancestors, and head home. QuintessentialShadow
  • Champagne, presents, a lovely walk, church (if I can remember the service time). Enormous and jolly dinner, homemade crackers. Raising a glass to absent friends, phone calls with family miles apart, enormous feeling of how exceptionally blessed we are. Love it, love it, LOVE IT. Sallyallyally

Sing we joyous all together: seeing the relations

  • Traditional fight with in-laws must be carried out after lunch, since we've all made an effort to cook it and we will sodding well enjoy it before we start the 'he said, she said' argument we've had every year for the past decade. twentynine
  • The traditional three-hour discussion between my parents and MIL on Boxing Day is about 'What did you call muffins when you were growing up in the 1950s? Really? We called them crumpets. And what about bread rolls?' And so it goes on. Kathyis6incheshigh
  • We just go with general acute depression, normally. We like to keep things simple. Flightattendant2
  • Our main tradition is my mum scrutinising me as I open each present and saying over and over and over again, 'Do you like it?' Then, 'You don't like it'. Then, 'I've got the receipt'. Then, at various intervals throughout the next couple of days, she attempts to give me said receipts and says things like, 'I don't mind if you don't like it – just take it back'. Very stressful. Pinkjenny
  • Driving hundreds of miles. Arguing with those we have driven to see. Threatening not to do it again next year. thity
  • DH is usually working, MIL winds me up and my middle sister always fights with my foul-tempered grandfather. My mum will lose the plot and start shrieking sometime between doing the sprouts and basting the turkey, while my dad gets ever quieter and more pissed. It's fab. liath

Fa la la la la... (simple Christmas pleasures)

  • My dad still buys me a Rupert annual, and has done since 1969. girlandboy
  • The children unwrap little stocking pressies, all covered in separate Santa paper, with messages on the cards, such as, 'For working hard on your Maths' or 'For being kind to Nanny'. And then potatoes, wrapped too, with messages like, 'For getting stroppy with your brother again'! ajandjjmum

... la la la la (the aftermath)

  • When we are tidying away the decorations, we write a little note to put in with them, saying what we hope for in the year ahead. They are mainly hopes for our children – for example, this year, I think we are hoping that DD will have said 'Mama' and might be walking, and that DS will be enjoying school and making new friends. It is lovely when you open the decorations box the next year and see what you have written. sunnytimer

Bah humbug!

  • Read Mumsnet threads on Christmas traditions: all new pyjamas, homemade mince pies, glorious Dickensian meals, jolly jape games and family sledging in the snow – and feel depressed. Submit 'Less Is More' annual Christmas post to Mumsnet. Convince self of same. Lift head, square shoulders and hiss, 'This too will pass.' Issy

Merry Christmas, Mumsnetters!

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Last updated: 16-Dec-2009 at 10:51 PM