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First 'proper' Christmas - sounds silly, but how should I do it?!

(65 Posts)
pipkin35 Wed 24-Nov-10 12:26:50

OK. Have an 18 month old girl and nearly 3 year old boy.

Now, this will sound ridiculous BUT, we've never had a Christmas at home, just the 4 of us.

All the years me and OH were together before kids (10 yrs), we went to his parents. When DS was 1, we were at his parents. Last year we went to my best friends for the day (down the road) with the kids. She's not around this year.

Neither of our parents will be around - OH's in London, mine in Torquay - both planning on coming to visit after Xmas.

I am fine with that and can't wait to just start our own traditions but have a couple of questions on how to do it all!

Do I do stockings yet? Is there 'much point'?
Do I spend all day cooking - or just M&S the lot?
DD is up and awake at least 2.5 hours before DS.
What are your own traditions - or what did you do with similar age kids etc...?

I adore Christmas. Have bought a fake tree and was planning on putting it up after the 20th (cos that's DS 3rd b-day) - was going to get him to help me decorate, or is that unwise do you think?

Ideas welcome!

oh4goodnesssake Wed 24-Nov-10 13:37:05

My advice would be to make everything as easy as possible so M&S is a great idea. Also, don't expect too much - we have a similar age gap and I expected it to be a perfect Christmas and with 2 toddlers, nothing is perfect. They don't really know that it's special and if you are relaxed about everything then you'll all have a much better time. You have many more Christmases to come and it's not until they are older that they can really get involved in all the decorations and putting stuff out for FC. Just enjoy being together as a family and take lots of pictures and film so that you can look back in years to come. Have a great time x

taffetacat Wed 24-Nov-10 13:44:49

Agree wholeheartedly with oh4 - make it as stress free as you can. Don't worry about what you "should" be doing, or that you're missing something. A happy family Christmas is a very special thing, and often comes with parents that are relaxed and happy themselves.

Do stuff that you want to do and that makes you happy. If you like cooking, then cook a bit. If you like doing stockings, then do them. But don't feel obliged, as they are young.

When mine were similar ages, we did stockings as the elder one did "get" it. He also helped decorate the tree - the lower branches were very precious baubles were ( and still are and he's 7 now!, little one 4) at the top out of little hands' reach. For me, decorating the tree with the DC is one of the greatest Christmas pleasures. But go with what pleases you.

doggiesayswoof Wed 24-Nov-10 13:58:58

I would go with M&S - spend the day hanging out with the family and not away in the kitchen. Having said that I do a bit of baking with my 2 on christmas eve. Mine are 6 and 2yo.

Stockings would be nice imo - your nearly 3yo will love it, and will be interested in what your DD gets even if she is too young to notice.

Personally I wouldn't let DCs help decorate the tree until about 4yo but I am a bit uptight!! 3yo would really enjoy it I bet.

Meant to say we don't really do a traditional Xmas meal - DC wouldn't eat it - we just cook what we like and everyone gets to choose part of the meal. It means we have some strange and random menus but it's great fun.

Pompoko Wed 24-Nov-10 14:23:01

My best advise would be to get all their toys out of the packaging add batterys and stick back in the box without all the exece cardbord and little wire ties. If they have something big (trike, doll house, train set) have it set up ready to play with, dont worry about wrapping these toys.
this saves loads of stress as toys are ready to go and over excited children dont have to wait
This year for stockings we are leaving that till boxing day morning so we can have some peace affter a god drink on christmas

RhinestoneCowgirl Wed 24-Nov-10 14:27:46

DS has 'helped' decorate the tree for the last couple of years (he is 4 now), just keep precious things out of the way and be prepared for rearranging things a bit after they've gone to bed.

I've always done stockings because I love all that stuff, but the first year we put something out for FC and his reindeer I think DS was 2.5yrs. He was really excited that the reindeer ate the carrot (checked in the morning!).

I do a roast but nothing too outlandish.

RhinestoneCowgirl Wed 24-Nov-10 14:28:53

Also we do have a lot of presents (other people buy for the children) so try and space them out a bit. The children just want to play with the first thing they've opened anyway.

LivinInThe80s Wed 24-Nov-10 14:29:26

Keep it as hassle free as poss - M&S is definitely the way to go! Just get some nice goodies to eat and drink for you and your OH, and all the DCs' favourite things - no need to have food fights on Xmas day smile. I would let them decorate the tree - you can "re-decorate" it more artistically once they've gone to bed grin
Agree with Pompoko too - some of those toys can be a right bugger to open so do it all the night before, check batteries are in etc. so you don't have tantrums on the big day.

girlywhirly Wed 24-Nov-10 14:29:30

The 18mo won't know about the stocking if you don't give it to her straight away, so wait until both are awake before opening. You can include practical items like novelty toothbrushes, character socks and pants, tableware and cutlery, as well as toys and books. Only put sweets if you don't mind them being eaten immediately.

Cook what ever you fancy. Don't expect the DC routine to stay the same, my 16mo fell asleep just before lunch one year, so we ate and he ate 2hrs later! If they like a roast meal, fine, but don't feel obliged if not.

Only use unbreakable things to decorate your tree, and if DS has made anything at playgroup/nursery, make sure it is displayed in a prominent position. You can tweak it after the DC have gone to bed if it's a bit uneven!

I think if you take the best elements of your own childhood Christmases and those of DH, and then add traditions you would like to start for your own family you will do well. This topic is groaning with ideas.

melodyangel Wed 24-Nov-10 14:42:28

My wonderful Mum cut the tinsel into inch pieces, gave them a twist and then let DS1 throw handfuls on to the tree - great fun but you have to be relaxed about having a very sparkly tree! It looks better than you think but isn't exactly chic! Perfect for a 3 year old boy!

For stockings when DS2 was little we filled his stocking with plastic fruit and veg to go with his main pressie which was an oven.

Have the best Christmas day/ week and enjoy making all those new traditions that make Christmas so special.

higgle Wed 24-Nov-10 16:56:49

I have a hard backed notebook and after Christmas each year I make a note of what went well and what didn't then the next christmas I look at it to remind myself. The one note that keeps getting repeated is not to buy too much food ( got it right first time ever last year) and not to leave everything until the last minute. Also to do last bit of Christmas shopping for food at the co op which is always empty and not at Tescos where you can't get into the car park.
I'd say do do stockings, even if they onlyhave little things in them as my sons are teenagers now but their favourite family photographs are of them as babies/toddlers being somewhat amazed by their Christmas presents.

funnyperson Wed 24-Nov-10 17:22:18

Hello there; agree do stockings do a mince pie for santa and carrot for the reindeer explain how santa is going to get in if you dont have a chimney and arent going to leave a window open. deffo have crackers and silly jokes and paper hats. You and DH could do the tree. The 3 year pold could help make a decoration to go on the tree -out of cardboard and glitter. We still hang up those my children made at that age. Buy some special things for the tree with DH which are going to be part of your family tradition. Dont worry about the maincourse food too much but have the 3 year olds fave pudding and your husbands fave pudding and something special at tea time. It is a magical time in your marriage dont forget so make it special for the two of you too. Do a present 'from santa' in the stocking -usually chocolate. Arrange to go just the two of you with the three year old to one of the many shows for small children in the holidays.

tinkloveshercowprintslanket Wed 24-Nov-10 17:25:46

i would do stocking for 3 year old
i would mand s
agree you and dh do tree kids can watch
have fun grin

tinkloveshercowprintslanket Wed 24-Nov-10 17:26:10

and chillax

jugglingjo Wed 24-Nov-10 17:47:30

When our two were little the bits I remember best were funny things we did to do with Santa.
My DH dressed up as Santa and gave them a glimpse round the door, probably early on Christmas Eve evening.
Then we'd creep downstairs all together and find our stockings/ pillowcases near the fireplace/ hung from the mantle-piece, footsteps made of flour or similar. A carrot with a bite out of it, a glass of beer half drunk, a mince pie with a bite out of it. You get the idea !
My OH is really good at all these theatricals, and I love creating some magic too.
We always have quirky weird things in our stockings ( like these new rubber bands which form in to shapes, which my DS is crazy about just now )
Proper presents are properly given in our house, but everyone's different. Maybe I like a thank-you after all that shopping. And I feel the Santa bit is for the extra magic !
Other things we've enjoyed together at Christmas include watching a movie together. You could try Toy Story, especially with your older one. Or similar.
Also love to see them in their nativity and Christmas plays at school or church. Feel Church comes in to it's own at Christmas !
For us ( & especially me ) food is not central, but my OT always helps rustle up a nice veggie roast, with plenty of roast potatoes and parsnips, a nut loaf, and buttered carrots and a cauliflower or broccoli in cheese sauce. A few sausages too, and various chutneys and jellies.
Last year we went for a snowy walk in the woods, but just as often I take the kids round to a friends house in the afternoon so they can compare and play together with their new presents.
As other posters have said you have a great opportunity to do what makes the four of you happy. And they're at a good age to BEGIN to create some magic and some family traditions of your own, drawing on what you value most from your own experiences.
- You could always have more than one tree if that helps at all !

jugglingjo Wed 24-Nov-10 17:55:53

By the way we've had some great Christmases and some disasters !
The morning's always been good, and lunch, but sometimes spending that much time together (with the high expectations the day tends to bring ) becomes a bit much by the afternoon, hence the idea of spending some time with friends too.

PercyPigPie Wed 24-Nov-10 18:03:25

Ours enjoy putting out reindeer dust to help Santa find us (porridge oats and glitter), stuffing dates with rolls of marzipan, decorating the cake and going to a Christingle service on Christmas Eve,

Gracie123 Wed 24-Nov-10 18:40:35

Can't believe everyone does Santa already! My DS was terrified last year and I just assumed he was too young [3]. FiL insisted on dressing up (despite being warned not to) and scared him half to death sad
I approached the topic again this year (toy santas in shop displays everywhere) and he told me in no uncertain terms that he does not like Santa and does not want him to come to our house - even if that means no presents! shock
Obviously we are going to get him presents - just not sure whether to try Santa again next year or just give up and explain that it's all just a game to make him feel better about it confused

wonka Wed 24-Nov-10 18:54:07

Plan a walk in the afternoon, they get really overwhelmed and over stimulated, even on the quietest Christmas, they need time out (and so will you) a walk has now become part of our whole day and stops the whining later.

jacksgrannie Wed 24-Nov-10 18:55:18

Our grandsons always come to us for Christmas. You will have a lovely time - the three year old may well remember this as his very first Christmas.

Make the meal as easy as possible. I find that the children usually love Christmas dinner (basically meat and veg).

You might want to cook a few special things beforehand - your son might like help with the mince pies. Otherwise, M & S is the way to go.

Stockings definitely. Our grandson loved his at age 2 and now it is the highlight of the day. In our house a traditional stocking must contain a tangerine, a Cox's apple (these are in the bottom), chocolate money, sugar mouse, and various small wrapped wooden/traditional toys.

A very good tip if you have 2 small children is to have 4 identical stockings. Then you have the fun of hanging the empty ones on the door knob (or end of bed or wherever). When they are asleep you can then swap the empty one with the one you have filled beforehand in your own bedroom. This saves the trauma of a small child waking up to find you filling the stocking!

Don't forget to put out the glass of sherry, mince pie and carrot for Santa and Rudolf. And don't forget to make sure the sherry is half drunk, crumbs and half carrot left in the morning.

We always go for a nice walk in the afternoon (with new trike or whatever) and not worry too much about precise nap times etc.

Whatever you decide to do, the most important rule is to be relaxed, not to worry about unimportant details like the dinner being late/not perfect, and enjoy it all.

Have a lovely time.

clippityclop Wed 24-Nov-10 19:21:23

That's fine, just explain that Santa will stll come to the house because he knows ds has been a good boy, and fill a stocking hanging from the mantlepiece instead of at the end of the bed. Put DS in charge of leaving out a mince pie or special biscuit (we do homemade ones specially) drink of choice and carrot for Rudolph. There are always crumbs left, muddy footprints on the hearthrug etc. Maybe get Santa to write a letter, explaining how he used to come to mummy and daddy's house when they were little? Our stockings always have a £1.00 in the bottomrapped in tissue, a new story book, favourite chocolates, crayons, Christmas socks and other special treasures, and always a toy musical instrument sticking out of the top - dc rush in to our room making a lot of tooting and banging to let us know 'he's been'. Dh and I fill a stocking for each other and we all open them together on our bed.

geordieminx Wed 24-Nov-10 19:34:54

Couple of tips from our house.

Buy the kids their own tree... Usually pick a teeny one up in tesco for under £5. They can decorate it themselves, and play with it as much as they like, stops them from destroying playing with the proper one.

Do starters at lunch time, main meal at dinner time and desert once the kids have gone to bed... Much less stressful.

Try and get out for a walk or 2... Stops cabin fever.

When you take the decorations down, write a brief note/letter, about that Xmas, milestones in your kids' lives, your hopes for the coming year. It's a lovely thing to re-read the following year. Can't wait to read ours.

taffetacat Wed 24-Nov-10 19:39:25

geordieminx - love your idea of making a note for next year

mathanxiety Wed 24-Nov-10 19:52:27

Gracie -- DS was determined to defend the house from Santa when he was small too grin He planned to tackle him when he emerged from the chimney and karate chop him. hmm

We spread magic reindeer dust outside for the reindeer too smile -- a little glitter and porridge oatlets on the grass (it gets blobby and slippery on the footpath if it rains). We have a candle on the table for Christmas Eve dinner. Then afterwards we open gifts from friends and family, if any, leaving the space under the tree for Santa.

Pipkin, Hassle free is definitely the way to go. Order in and don't get a 22 lb turkey for four whatever you do. blush Simple baking and icing cookies with the DCs has always been a hit with my DCs. They love that icing.

Try not to allow the DCs to get too caught up in the Christmas hype -- they're maybe too little for all that yet, but Christmas can leave everyone very Tired and Emotional.

Don't wrap the Santa gifts. Assemble anything that needs assembly on Christmas Eve, and check packages when you buy them for sufficient nuts and bolts, etc. You'll never be able to track down that essential missing piece on Christmas Eve. Same goes for assessing whether you have the screwdrivers, etc., that you'll need on the big night. Sherry for Santa on Christmas Eve is always most welcome.

For little DCs though, I think doing nice things with you is more fun that getting loads of stuff, so stockings with little things is lovely for the surprise element, and then eating icing baking together or just relaxing is very pleasant for all. I remember a lot of packets of crayons and drawing paper given as Santa gifts for the DCs at that age. Their school also ran a Christmas Boutique where the DCs could buy small items donated for the event for family members and they all participated. They were really proud to be able to give a little gift of something plastic, or a pencil or whatever struck their fancy, to a family member.

Tree decoration with small children is a very funny experience imo. You end up with a quarter of the tree plastered with ornaments and the rest bare, and they seem to love it so much it's worth it. You can always 'fix' it later.

PercyPigPie Wed 24-Nov-10 20:13:29

Gracie - all our children have been a few months old when they have had their first stocking - apart from anything else, you have to when you have more than one or the bigger child wonders why the little one didn't get a stocking.

You can always include clothes, bananas, new beaker etc.

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