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The Christmas Traditions Thread ;) (in July, oh yes, for real)

(105 Posts)
70isaLimitNotaTarget Wed 24-Jul-13 14:09:57

Hello, all Christmas Lovers 'tis time to settle down and consider the Christmas Traditions. Then in December when everyone else is running about , tearing out hair and raging at Amazon/Post Office or supermarket of choice, we've got it sorted. wink

(Bit of background here) I was born in the late 1960s so Christmas in my day <<old gimmer emoticon>> was much more low key. Memories were a pillowcase of presents and buying tangerines from the market.
Then age 8+ my mum especially was very meh about Christmas, too much effort (though she didn;t actually do much) . Meals got made because we had a family friend who visited,and cooked , then I used to cook. Any decorations were done by us.

So when I had my own DC, I had a mental image of how I wanted Christmas to be. DH takes the mick says I'm over-compensating for my youth. I like to do things to build up to the Day. Doesn't have to cost much.
And every year as the DC get older, things change. We add a new Tradition each year, some get abandoned.
The DC are involved more now but when they were little I wanted them to think it was all 'seamless'. in hand, here we go. grin

I do a £2 jar from January. Try to save £4-6 a week, then we open it, put it in the bank and share the money out. (DH,DS,DD and me)
I save my Sainsbury Nectar points (and use the extra points vouchers) usually get £120+ in rewards for my Christmas food shop)

DS birthday is December so we don't do any decorations until 10-14 days before Christmas. Some of my decs are 23 years old, but every year we buy a couple of new ones.

We have a little advent calender (with decorations that are hung on a little tree) and room for a chocolate coin.So on Dec 1st it starts.
I do have an Elf on the Shelf that I made from a doll (A-Team - liam neeson one) before it was a Dr Who doll (Christopher Eccelstone- he was scary). I made clothes from felt blush. He hides round the house each night.

When DS was about 3-4 yo I made a little sleeping elf in a bed and we walked down the Playhouse with a candle in a jar to peep.
I put lines of candles in jars on the lawn to make a guide for the sleigh.
We did Reindeer Food (once) edible glitter, coloured sugar and porridge to scatter on the lawn. It sat like a lump of vomit for days shock hence only once.

We do a family day out to London. See the lights. Go to Hamleys. Count the Hamleys bags.
Winter Wonderland (though last year it was really busy)
DD and I go to see a ballet

DH,DD and DS go to the cinema to see a film while I do the food shop in peace.
DH and I have a child free shopping day at end November.
Then we take DC to Lakeside/Bluewater to do their shopping (with their share of the £2 jar)

On Christmas Eve, we used to feed ducks or reindeer, now they are older we go for a walk (park usually) and they come back to their Christmas Hampers in front of the fire.
Lunch is chips,salad,fish fingers for DS, veg grills for DH and I.
Trifle for us, ice-cream for DC.
We have crackers and poppers etc on the table.
We watch a Christmas Film.
Check out Santa Tracking (online)
DD does a tray for Father Christmas (which I eat)
We do a late night buffet- sandwiches and crisps things.
DS sleeps in DD room (grumble grumble) grin so we can hear them wake up and open their stockings. They can't go downstairs until the fibre optic little tree (on a timer) lights in the hall.
The lounge door is covered in wrapping paper that they burst through.

I do the same meal every year for Christmas Day (I don't like these new fangled 'different' meals).
Has to be dark and has to be finished in time for Dr Who.
I spend all day pottering about, cooking, setting the table, watching the soaps as I work.
Candles, all my nice crockery (I have a Christmas Cupboard ) , popper, crackers, lovely tablecover.
We don't eat Christmas Pud so I don't make one (or Christmas Cake but I like fruit cake and cheese)

The DC used to dress up(fancy dress) on Christmas Eve but they are too old now.
Christmas Eve Hamper (CEH) is in a nice festive box: new PJs, annual, jar of sweets, hot chocolate sachet,a Christmas mug, mini biscuits, bath bomb.

Christmas Morning Stocking:selection box, tiny Lindt reindeer or teddies. Underwear. Earrings for DD. Keyring for DS. Books (I Spy book or paperback)
All wrapped with extra sellotape to keep them busy grin

My DC are 11 and 13 now so every year it changes and in a couple of years my DS won't be out of bed until noon. The presents are getting smaller and more ££. (So that's why we need the stockings. Little 'filler' presents but useful and only a couple of £ each).

Come and add to the list (if you've managed to read this far)

And - Yes I KNOW it's July before anyone says it,
But this is THE CHRISTMAS THREAD. wink

LadyLech Sun 28-Jul-13 10:55:10

I had many magical Christmases as a child, and hopefully am recreating those now for my children. Some of our traditions are:

Rule 1: Finish your Christmas shopping before December starts so you can enjoy Christmas (can be interesting as both my DC have November birthdays, but I usually manage it).

House is decorated first weekend of December. We all go and choose the tree together. I decorate it, the children do the room. Whilst we do it, I drink mulled wine, and we play Christmas songs, eat mince pies and burn the Christmas scented candle.

Under the tree is a 'tree present'. This is heavily disguised, with several layers of wrapping etc, but each day the children get to feel and sniff the presents and make a guess. If they guess accurately, they get to open the present. If not, it goes back under until the next day. They've never yet guessed. On Christmas Day, it is opened and there are clues to the present within the layers. They can only open the last layer once they've worked out what the present is. As a child, it wold sometimes take me all day at guessing. Very frustrating but great fun.

If we have time, a visit to a Christmas market is in order. I also take the children on a shopping trip with my mum one day. They'll buy their gifts for the family, see FC and do whatever activity the mall has got to offer (ice skating etc). On the shopping trip, my DC also buy a new decoration each year. If we get time, they also make decorations for family too.

At some point, the children will write to FC, and they are allowed to ask for three things. One bigger item and two smaller. We will write letters of an evening, and post them the next day when it is light. Once the children are asleep, I steam open the letters and remove the letter. I replace it with a blank piece of paper, and they post that. The actual letter then turns up in the bottom of their sacks with the three items they have requested ticked off.

Christmas Eve, we usually see friend during the day. In the evening, my parents come over, and we play games, the children get a small tree present to open (usually new pjs and something nice) to get Christmas started. They throw the reindeer food, leave a carrot and mince pie and a glass of wine and go to bed. The half eaten mince pie and carrot is then left for them to discover in the morning along with the empty wine glass.

I always say on Christmas morning that they're not allowed to come in to us until 8am. In reality, I usually wake up about 6. DD1 is usually awake, but I have to get her to wake DD2 up. It's a bit of a running joke as I'm very strict about them not waking me up grin they bring their FC presents in and they open them up on our bed, taking turns.

FC is usually very naughty, and always bring them something I do not approve of. Every year, he brings them a big stash of bubble gum (I don't normally let them eat it), chocolatey cereal and other things they are not normally allowed. The DC love this. They also get an annual supply of vests, pants etc which they like, because if they need any during the year, I buy them cheap plain ones, but my DC tell me that FC is much better at buying them underwear because he buys them the decent stuff (tatty teddy, Disney pants etc that usually cost a fortune!). They also get clothes, books, replenishables and a few toys in their sacks.

We always have a nice breakfast, with Buck's Fizz and pancakes. We shower and then settle down to opening presents under the tree. We only open the presents from us. This takes us to mid morning, normally.

Then we go to my parents, and open more presents. Santa leaves a small sack of things for everyone at their house and before lunch we open those. After lunch, we open presents from each other and the children have time to play with their new toys, whilst the men fall asleep on the sofa.

We have a buffet tea of cheese and bread in the evening, and then we play a game. Often FC will bring a new game in one of the sacks, and so we will play that. Chocolate chilli roulette is also played every year. The TV is not turned on on Christmas Day at all.

The next day, we go home and open presents from other people. Boxing Day tends to be a quiet day where the children put their presents away, have time to play with them etc.

Then every day between the 27th and New Year's Day, we will have people over (or we go to them). This is either family or friends, and every day we swap gifts. If it is someone that we usually do not swap presents with, then often there are small tree gifts (small present up to £5) that are opened. Every day, there is always a little something to be opened.

Then the weekend before I go back to work, we take the tree down and our latest tradition has been to invite the local mums and dads that We're friendly with, with their children over for drinks at ours. We all catch up, before going back to work on the Monday.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Sun 28-Jul-13 10:56:26

fuzzpig -the cinema/lunch treat.
A couple of years back I took DS and DD to see A Christmas Carol (IIRC on 23rd) not in 3D thankfully - DD was [shocked] by the doorknocker.

After I promised them a Frankie & Benny lunch....but it was shut. Some problem in the kitchen.
But DS didn't believe the hastily written sign as he could see people eating. (They were finishing pudding/coffee)
He made me go in and double check hmm, he was very judgey. I was blush that my ratbag DS didn't believe them or me.

So I took them to McD (at least they don't mind his strange ways there)

LadyLech Sun 28-Jul-13 10:59:25

Forgot to add, we all watch the box of delights on the Sundays leading up to Christmas, and muppets Christmas carol on Christmas Eve. These are my husband's traditions.

Chihuahuahua Sun 28-Jul-13 11:22:47

There's a new disney 'princess' film coming out early december, 'frozen' based on the Snow Queen.

Might try to book tickets for Christmas Eve.

fuzzpig Sun 28-Jul-13 16:44:58

I'm really looking forward to Frozen. The trailer (which didn't actually include the princess character, it was the snowman etc) was really funny. I'm pretty certain that will be the film we see for our trip.

I'm not sure we'll make the Pizza Hut the traditional lunching place (we are going there for lunch on DS' birthday next month though) as so many places are more pricey. Unfortunately the little ones don't really like Nandos. I do love F&Bs though.

iloveholidays Mon 29-Jul-13 09:07:53

Love this thread!!!

My DDs will be 4.9, 2.9 and 1.1 this Christmas and it will be our first Christmas at home and I can't wait!!

Last year was our first year with the elf so he'll come to stay again when he delivers the advent calendars. The elf brings Christmasy related DVDs, books and art and craft stuff over the few weeks leading up to Christmas.

We try to do something Christmasy every weekend including Winchester market, garden centre, decorations, grandma's decorations etc etc.

Girls come in to do stockings first thing, which I've already started collecting things for. Determined to get better quality things rather than plastic tat this year!!

Then planning to come downstairs and have breakfast, then get dressed, showered etc before opening the presents under the tree! Last year we were at family's for Christmas lunch so the presents got opened very quickly so will be an effort to stop the DDs this year I think but start as we mean to go on!! Lunch at 1ish and then hopefully I will have hidden a few presents to have after lunch.

Can't wait!!!!

MumofWombat Tue 30-Jul-13 12:13:44

Another one who loves this thread!

I have always loved Christmas, but between my inlaws and the fact it just doesn't feel Christmassy in the Australian heat I've just not enjoyed the lat few years. Probably didn't help that I was pregnant last year so I couldn't even drink to dull the pain!

DS will be 2.8 this year, and I'm really really hoping that he is going to 'get' it this year a bit more so I can go all out with it. I'm a bit crafty so I've got a ken doll and green, red and white felt so I'm going to do elf on a shelf. I made a Christmas quilt so that will be on the sofa, and an advent calendar filled with matchbox cars for DS on the wall. I've also made (if i say so myself!) beautiful santa sacks for the DCs. We got a wombat decoration when I was expecting DS and a nice one each year for him (I want to do the buy a nice tree decoration for each if the kids - I got a Kookaburra one for DD last year, so they can have them when they grow up).
One tradition we have started is that we cook Christmas Day brekkie on the BBQ (I know, how Aussie!).
I'll come back to re read this thread to plan some more - definitely want to steal the baking cookies on Xmas eve for Santa one.

When the DCs are older I am soooo planning a Christmas back in the UK, and will get my family to book Santa trains etc in advance!

OliviaIsOffTheGinMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 30-Jul-13 12:14:36

I need low maintenance Christmas things please.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Tue 30-Jul-13 12:46:44

Jings Olivia you've got nearly five months to plan shock grin

Here on The Christmas Thread, low maintenance is not the way forward wink <<gavel>>

lunar1 Tue 30-Jul-13 14:24:17

The only thing we do that ive not seen on here is that FC puts a goodie box on their beds. It is basically breakfast!

I reuse the same Disney gift boxes every year, and they have a drink in each, a jam sandwich, a pot of fruit and a couple of choobs. my children put eating lowest on there list of things to do so saying FC brought breakfast is a great motivator. they also get a couple of printed colouring pages and a 4 pack of crayons (saved from restaurants) each to keep them happy till we go down.

i get up at about 5 to get the boxes out the fridge and bring up. stockings are downstairs in front of the fireguard for everyone. at about 6 my mum sneeks into the lounge, turns on the train that FC brings for the bottom of the tree and then she fixes the wrapping paper to the lounge door for them to break through.

OliviaIsOffTheGinMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 30-Jul-13 17:04:56


Jings Olivia you've got nearly five months to plan shock grin

Here on The Christmas Thread, low maintenance is not the way forward wink <<gavel>>


Well this isn't the poncey thread yet is it?
Where do I go for being organised but low maintenance then?
I am having to be V organised because I am expecting twins around Xmas.

LentilAsAnything Tue 30-Jul-13 17:28:53

Wow, Olivia, twins! Congratulations!

fuzzpig Tue 30-Jul-13 20:26:22

Oh I don't know Olivia I'd say mine are fairly low maintenance, they have to be or in our house they wouldn't get done grin

And congratulations! thanks

70isaLimitNotaTarget Tue 30-Jul-13 20:33:33

Aww congratulations on the Twins-to-Be olivia

I had my PFB in the December 1999 (Millenium Christmas) and though I was as organised as all-getout, when DS arrived, we sort of by-passed the big day, though i was decorating like mad when the HV arrived.

High maintenence needn't be poncey wink

BaconAndAvocado Tue 30-Jul-13 20:56:44

This thread is bloody gorgeous!

Loving all the wonderful traditions and will take the time later to read through them all and make notes.

The Yuletide begins in earnest chez nous with Stir Up Sunday, usually last Sunday in November. Everyone has a stir of the cake mixture and makes a wish.

We have a wooden advent calendar with lots of little boxes into which I put an activity or clue (find something yummy under your pillow- a small chocolate Santa). This was very hard work the first year but I've now built up a bank of ideas so,have them at the ready.

This year I'd love to take 2 youngest DCs to Lapland UK.

Another tradition of mine, usually carried out in September, is an evening with Nigella's Christmas recipe book, though I may not be hankering after her glossy, perfect life this,year.....

Keep this thread going, it's warming the cockles of my heart smile

OliviaIsOffTheGinMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 30-Jul-13 21:00:14

I have started my own thread here
Sorry for hijack

hippoherostandinghere Tue 30-Jul-13 21:11:55

Just watched the trailer for Frozen it looks funny, will definitely fit a trip into to see that close to Christmas smile

BaconAndAvocado Tue 30-Jul-13 21:38:40

Me too hippo now that DD has overcome her fear of the cinema/theatre a Christmas cinema trip will definitely be a new tradition for us!

BiddyPop Tue 06-Aug-13 10:03:49

Lentils, sorry I was offline over the weekend.

"Green Santa" is in Belvedere House in Mullingar, Ireland. It is really lovely, but I don't know if it's done anywhere in the UK. but if you google it, you'll see what it's about.

Elainey1609 Tue 06-Aug-13 11:39:07

We star a £2 jar in January like many other people and save all points on nectar, boots, and tesvo points to buy Xmas shopping
I also save my costa card points which pays for my caffeine when doing shopping in the mosh pit that it the high street during December.

We have advent calendars
We spend day putting up decorations and Xmas tree with Xmas carols films and hot chocolate.

We make Xmas cookies and Mince pies
Watch Xmas DVDs
Go to the cinema once to watch an Xmas movie
Xmas activity sets
Go to a carol service

We each make Xmas box which we wrap up with small bits in which wee give to send to the soldiers at war helping our country
And some children based which we give to the local women and family shelter.

We visit Santa Claus and walk around the local garden centre which has a theme every year and places to have photos taken and raindeers that you can visit.

We each buy a couple of new tree decorations each year which we add to the mixture of ones we already have some very sentimental. We have a few that go back to when my grandmother was little during WWII

We always have a take away Xmas eve which we get after doing a drive around the area to see Xmas lights.

They set up thx Santa Claus tray which is a cookie, milk and carrot for each of the reindeer and little says only one to share between them all is not enough lol

I have a glass of wine Xmas eve and prepare all the veg while watching the carol service on tv

Just love Xmas wish I could do more, but time and money is a problem
But for me I just love the excitement on those faces throughout Xmas morning

LentilAsAnything Tue 06-Aug-13 22:24:29

Ah thanks, Biddy. Well, we can travel!

milk Wed 07-Aug-13 10:52:41

Drinking Advocaat is a must!

BiddyPop Wed 07-Aug-13 10:53:32

Lentils, see, these are the positives about pre-planning. You can find out about and consider things that are not local to you, as you have time to plan a trip and make any necessary bookings and arrangements.

DH is thinking about Christmas markets in Europe for a weekend but won't be home in time to do that. But I am working on skiing for the mid-term instead.

HelgatheHairy Wed 07-Aug-13 15:26:03

Biddy loving the idea of green santa and Santa train (was it you mentioned that?) we would be coming from Kerry so bit of a drive but could do it as part of a weekend in Dublin with a panto or something.

Not this year as DD will only be 4 months so a bit wasted on her yet!

BiddyPop Wed 07-Aug-13 15:56:58

Helga, Green Santa is in Belvedere House in Mullingar so not in Dublin (but possibly do-able en route up or down if you are driving).

In fact, I know some people have used the commuter train from Maynooth to Pearse to get the Santa Train, and then gotten off the Santa train in Maynooth and not returned to Pearse Street on it, so if you make Maynooth or near it your base (there are a couple of nice hotels I think), it could work well. And not need too much driving in the city centre (you're still near Liffey Valley if you want a shopping stop - although the centre is far more magical than LV).

But definitely wasted this year. DD was almost 2 (23.5 months) the first time we went on Santa Train and even then it was a bit beyond her. But at 4 she loved it, and she was looking for tickets both at 5 (we weren't going then) and 6 (when I missed the tickets) and has been hounding me since April this year for them!!

I'd suggest thinking about it for when your DD is aged 3 or a little older to really enjoy it - when she knows what Santa is about but the steam train itself will be fascinating too and the noises and steam etc won't be too frightening.

(Or maybe, having been in city on Sat for shopping and panto (and live crib on Dawson Street - not the most exciting but somewhat special with all the animals) and stayed wherever sat night, move car to Red Cow park'n'ride Sun morning, get red line luas into town, Dart from Connolly to Pearse, Santa train, dart to Conolly (although ST may stop there on return, I can't remember) and red line luas back - leaves you outside city boundaries and on road back to Kerry for the driving).

I need to stop trying to organise everyone's lives - but that's just what would occur to me.

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