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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

BiddyPop Wed 07-Aug-13 16:00:26

Oh, and Helga, the Live crib is just off Grafton Street for shopping, and Stephen's Green for playground and feeding the ducks (bring your own bread).

The National Art Gallery can be magical too, and free, coming up to Christmas and they have "family packs" to follow with kids getting colouring things and activity sheets to follow a trail - that's close to Grafton Street, and right next to Merrion Square which has another (smaller) playground to allow little ones run.

LentilAsAnything Wed 07-Aug-13 19:04:27

Well, I do like to be organised. DS will be three by this Xmas, so maybe for next! smile

BiddyPop Thu 08-Aug-13 14:43:38

Sorry, last one for Helga (I thought of it last night as DH and I were planning trip to Cork this weekend so I'm meeting him off luas Green line).

Bewleys at Leopardstown is very handy. Just off M50. And walking distance to luas GREEN line, which goes to Stephen's Green. So walking distance to Pearse Street train station and handier for lots of kid friendly things in city. And quite possibly a better option for leaving car, but still getting onto N7 quickly (shorter trip from town, safer, and while a few minutes further from N7, only a few on the motorway).

ohforfoxsake Thu 08-Aug-13 14:50:13

OP I am inspired! I am going to sit down later and go through this thread with my Christmas notebook. I'm away at the end of Nov/beg Dec so need to get sorted in Oct.

I don't think it's too early to start at all. We'll be back to school before we know it, then away for oct half term, kids birthdays, then I'm away, DH birthday when I get back. Best crack on!! grin

HelgatheHairy Thu 08-Aug-13 21:37:28

biddy I need to save this thread somewhere! We're not good with driving to Dublin, generally go once a year or so and take the train but with baby stuff would prefer to drive.

BiddyPop Fri 09-Aug-13 09:23:19

Helga (I was going to PM you but can't seem to),
If you can manage the drive TO Dublin but prefer not to drive IN the city, either hotel at Red Cow (there are 2 I think) and red line luas, or (my preferred) Bewleys hotel at J14 Leopardstown (off M50 southbound, only 10 mins further driving) and green luas line would be good options to bring all the clobber with you but have public transport for the city traffic parts. There are a couple of nice hotels in Dun Laoghaire town which is not much further than Leopardstown (10-15 mins drive) and handy for Dart train or 46A bus (the gold standard in Dublin Bus) instead, but you are going into traffic a bit more to do that - but there are also a couple of playgrounds and nice coffee shops and shopping (and a theatre, cinema too) in DL itself as well.

Sorry, back to Christmas. Low maintenance for Olivia. Empty freezer as much as possible now (clear out all the odds and ends) and fill with a mixture of useful family meals for post-birth and getting ahead on Christmas prep (so make and freeze mince pies, have your breadcrumbs made for stuffing or even buy M&S stuffing balls now, soup, stock, prepped and blanched veg, par-boiled potatoes for roasting - can all be frozen now). And stock up on things for easy prepping of meals and snacks for all - tins of soup, good fish fingers or chicken goujons if older ones eat them, oven chips, part-baked bread rolls (in case you need some and can't get out logistically as much as weather-wise), plenty of tea, coffee, toilet rolls etc. Make use of convenience even if you don't normally - so rather than a block of cheese (or as well as), have 1 bag of grated cheese, have a tube of jus-rol croissants to bake, have good pizza bases and tomato sauce to throw together a pizza or have a good readymade one frozen, a couple of jars of good sauce for foods you like or a readymade sauce eg. peppersauce for DH to throw together a steak and baked potatoes dinner easily etc.

Decide now how you want your Christmas Day to be. Who is cooking? What do you want (traditional turkey feast, own family traditional meal, something fast and easy)? And how can you achieve that when you are busy elsewhere - buying a pre-prepared roast ready stuffed, order the whole lot from M&S or similar to just throw in oven, only cook a turkey crown (would that feed the group on the day and leave no leftovers to be dealt with?)? Or will you go to someone else to eat, so maybe suggest you bring the wine and soft drinks rather than anything you have to spend time cooking/prepping?

(I don't know if you already have other smallies, so will assume yes you still need some magic. If not, you can reduce this accordingly - but still put up a tree to have the photos in years to come).
Get smallies to do pictures, colouring in free printable colouring sheets from internet, which will occupy them (maybe it could be something they do at the table while you sit near them feeding new babies) and can then be the decorations on walls etc. Simplify decorations - a tree with string of lights, and decorations yes, but don't worry about swags of holly and ivy over mantlepiece etc.

Use the internet for ordering presents (and food shopping), and get things wrapped if the service is offered. I was going to suggest writing cards while feeding (I did loads of Sudokus one handed) but that may be too optimistic. Perhaps, if you can find them early, try to get the cards written before birth in batches of 5 or 10 at a time in peaceful moments (that half hour watching tv before bed?). Littlies love licking or sticking on stamps so that could be another distraction for them after birth at home.

When you are sitting snuggling new babies, bring older ones over for a Christmas story together (either you reading or getting them to read to new babies if old enough). If you don't have Christmas storybooks, borrow from library. Practise singing Christmas carols together, turn on a Christmas DVD for older ones (maybe with some microwaved popcorn) while you are sitting feeding littlies in the same room. You might not want to get into full on baking sessions - but if you have cookie dough or pastry frozen in advance, you could do "baking" with the biggies while littlies are napping by just rolling out and cooking them (and a LOT less mess).

And don't have huge expectations - hope for loads but be prepared, at least mentally, to retreat to just yourselves hunkered down in your "cave" at home. Buy in a few tins of biscuits or boxes of mince pies for entertaining visitors, and be prepared to kick them out. Maybe try to set up a changing station downstairs as well as upstairs, and where you can keep a few spare clothes as well for emergency changes, which allows you to stay in the thick of things if you want. But be organised as much as possible beforehand - about the whole thing, not just Christmas.

Best of luck!!

chanie44 Sat 10-Aug-13 13:04:47

Some great ideas on here. My dc will be 3.8 and 1.4 at Xmas, so still too young to fully appreciate Xmas, but I want to make December fun for them.

I'm doing
Xmas eve hamper
Elf on the shelf
Letter to Santa
Snowman soup
Reindeer food
Decorate gingerbread houses
Visit the Xmas lights in Oxford street
Xmas eve buffet party for family

ApprenticeSeamstress Sun 18-Aug-13 23:43:52

I am so happy to have found this post!!
I've been so worried about Christmas since the OH got a job that means we won't be traveling 'home' to our families. Last year was the first DD didn't believe, she was ill and I really felt we'd lost the magic sad So I was worried saving it would be even more difficult without the big family vibe.
But MN to the rescue! I have made a pinterest board with all the ideas I feel will work for us, and am more excited about Christmas than I have been for a while.
Thank you!

Ps.. What is snowman soup?

WaitMonkey Mon 19-Aug-13 10:21:19

Snowman soup is just hot chocolate powder in a Christmas mug, usually finished off with a candy cane to stir with. Topped with a few marshmallows. grin

RoastedCouchPotatoes Mon 19-Aug-13 18:56:31

Our traditions-

We make stockings for the oets!
Letter to Santa
Gingerbread houses
Sparklers on Christmas Eve for Santa to find us!
Homemade gift or card for Santa to find.
Ice skating two days before Christmas!
Treasure hunt for the younger ones...

Also, my parents were Finnish (we moved when I was 8) so I continue some traditions, which is porridge for lunch (whoever finds the almond in it has to sing, but as a kid I hated it as I was terrible at singing, so usually they just 'perform'- so tell a joke or do a silly dance for instance) and we celebrate on Christmas Eve, which is fun as we get to visit friends on their Christmas the day after.

SugarHut Sat 31-Aug-13 19:26:08

I love this!!! Just marking my place to post properly when I get back later smile x x x

BankerMommy2010 Sun 01-Sep-13 07:27:33

Oooh! I love this thread. Seeing as it is now september, I feel
It is perfectly acceptable to start talking about Christmas, I am a huge fan of Christmas and since having my son back in 2010 it has made me more determined to make Christmas extra magical, the past few Christmas' I have really gone to town, but my ds has been to young to understand but this year (he will be 4 in feb) is the first year he really understands whats going on.

This years new tradition is elf on a shelf he will be arriving on the 1st December with ds advent calendar and the elf on a shelf dvd ill also make a letter from our elf explaining why he has been sent.

DH always has Christmas eve off but it sometimes falls that I have to work, this year I break up on the 14th for christmas so have lots of time to prepare abd get organised.

This year, I am planning to have all of the house hold chores done so we can spend the day tiring our ds out. We will do some baking first thing, Christmas cookies for santa and will then head out for a walk and some lunch, when we get bsck, we'll watch a christmassy film, before getting little man an early bath so our elf can deliver his Christmas hamper, tbis will be delivered to his bedroom and I plan to sprinkle lots of glitter and elf dust around the hamper to add to the magic, I am planning to put bew Christmas pjs in, Christmas slipper socks, a Christmas story book a short Christmas dvd and some extra goodies that I come across in the meantime. We normally have a takeaway so we'll gave tgis then we will set about leaving santa and the reindeers their goodies and will spinkle reindeer dust and light our runway then it will be bed for little one, hubby & I will then relax with a little Christmas tipple and when we're certain he is fast asleep we will start the big present haul to the tree for morning.

Christmas eve is definitely the most magical day if the year. I love it x

harrietlichman Sun 01-Sep-13 07:36:18

Fantastic thread! I have a Christmas Book in which I write all my lists and things to do. I have used the same book for the last 8 years, so can look back on each one and know what I bought/made etc. I open the book on the same day every year.

That day is 1st september.

You have no idea how much I love today!!! (Dh thinks I'm mad, and so do most people who know about it. I have a feeling that on this thread, I have found my kind of people!!!!!!grin

colleysmill Sun 01-Sep-13 07:58:44

My Christmas traditions have changed a little over the years but at the mo:

Real tree involving trip to our little independent local garden centre and tree gets decorated by everyone

Christmas eve - crib service in the village church followed by a pint in the pub next door by their log fire (usually the rest of the family join us).
Back for tea (usually something like beef bourgeon already cooking in the oven) then a slow walk to the village green where the local church does carols by the Christmas tree. Most of the village turns out with lanterns and its magical watching all the families turn out.

Christmas day is fairly traditional - present opening is done altogether with mulled wine in hand, dinner by candle light. Board games in the evening.

I like the run up to the big day - we usually fit in a trip to Santa on a steam train and I like the local Christmas market (adults only too crazy for little kids) this year ds is big enough for a pantomime so I'm going to look into that. We lost my mum 6 years ago and she loved the pantomime on Christmas eve. I love getting out the decorations that I remember her having when I was a child - particularly a little pottery nativity scene a friend of hers made many years ago. Very nostalgic

cazakstan Sun 01-Sep-13 08:21:46

From the first Christmas my youngest daughter was born (November. 27 years ago) we all have homemade stockings which used to go under the tree, they now go by the end of our beds, pressies also under the tree we all get new P.J.'s for christmas...and have smoked salmon and champagne for breakfast along with mountains of chocolate...I cook the turkey whilst getting slowly pissed 'cos no one else drinks the champagne...a slurp with orange juice is all my girls and partner have...just to humour me. We all shower and get dressed and eventually sit down at the dining table to a perfect Christmas lunch in our new P.J.'s. We have no visitor''s our close family day...just one day of the year we stay indoors. Eat till bursting, watch cheesy movies and play monopoly to death...which involves...screaming, lying and cheating to win. The one day of the year when we all wear our P.J.'s all day...our family tradition.

supermariossister Sun 01-Sep-13 08:32:02

happy 1st September harrietgrin enjoy opening your Christmas book

50shadesofknackered Sun 01-Sep-13 08:47:11

Awww Harriet that sounds lovely, enjoy today. I love this thread, I posted in July but I keep rereading it, it makes me feel all christmassy!

BankerMommy2010 Sun 01-Sep-13 11:04:22

So nice to come here and chat with fellow Christmas nutters!

I also have a book, although I tend to buy a new one every year as its gets full of lists and ideas and pages get pulled out when I go shopping.

Wibblytummy Sun 01-Sep-13 15:25:52

Ah finally the 1st of Sep, I can now be open about my Christmas planning and stop hiding it from my rather skeptical family and friends! smile

DH and I have been itching to do Elf on the Shelf for the last two Christmases but this year DS will be 2.8 so think he may finally understand it and we can add it to the traditions list for our house.

So far a few of our traditions are:

The wrapping evening. Glasses of champagne/wine/baileys/anything, DH puts it's a wonderful life on, we sit on the floor organising what's from Santa and what's from us. He attempts to wrap a present awfully, is shooed to the sofa where his role is then to top up glasses and hand me labels, sellotape and scissors as we grow increasingly tipsy.

Trip to the garden centre and local Christmas Barn to awe over incredible trees and decorations. I'm allergic to the real ones so we wistfully look at them before I have to shuffle off sneezing and itching.

Decorations are always up on the 1st weekend of December for us. DH plays his awful cover/karoke style version of Christmas music that he bought 5yrs ago thinking it was the genuine thing. Cat attacks and eats half the bauble strings before we can get them on the tree. We have a little tree that we will leave undecorated and do with DS this year as hopefully he will be old enough.

Christmas breakfast is always poached eggs, no idea how that began but I can't cook them and DH can so I happily support this tradition every year.

Christmas Eve tea is an open sandwich/ploughmans buffet style affair. Lots of tiger bread, yummy cheese, pickle, tomatoes and the honey roast ham.

Bubble bath for DS with matey bubbles and we both sit and read 'T'was the night before Christmas' to him.

My Dad still gives me a stocking as I refuse to grow up. Since I decided I didn't like clementines/oranges age 14 he has made it a feature every year. One year he hid it (literally in the foil) in the packaging of a Terry's chocolate orange and another he time once he wrapped up a mini crate of the things... So find the orange is now a tradition too!

iloveholidays Sun 01-Sep-13 15:32:43

think I need to buy a notebook for Christmas ideas smile

BankerMommy2010 Sun 01-Sep-13 15:45:46

I was poorly with the flu last Christmas. It was horrid and I had to drag myself up to do all the santa stuff with our little boy! This year were dosing up on vitamin tabs and nothing is stopping our fun! Can't wait to start on the mulled wine x

SugarHut Sun 01-Sep-13 18:41:08's September....all things Christmassy are now fully acceptable to obsess over ;)

My first part is about the hitler like thoroughly sensible routines I have adopted through trial and error....the second are our traditions....

The first sort of tradition is that 99% of presents are bought by the end of November. All large presents, for all family members, all small presents....then all that is left is the fun stuff, smaller pressies for friends, stockings, so December I actually really enjoy, instead of becoming increasing panicked as the countdown happens to the big day.

Secondly, I have a Christmas folder, full of the best Christmas cake recipes, decorating ideas. This is great for when you have lazy days in December and you can flick through and stumble across something lovely to make. I make spreadsheets ready printed to note down who other presents are from so my son can send out all his thank you cards in January. All present receipts go in there, all guarantees etc.

My traditions start on December 1st, when the tree goes up...we have a stunning (but sadly fake) one as our dog pees all over any real one for some unknown reason. We spend the whole day doing this, tree up, making gold and cream paperchains, dabbing orange clove oil all over the wreaths...this is the most long lasting gorgeous Christmas smell. I buy some of those make your own gingerbread house kits. We do all this to a Christmas playlist on the ipod-me-bob and the grown ups generally get a little merry, usually resulting in some fabulously exaggerated anatomy on the gingerbread people smile Also at this time I deliver a Christmas hamper to all the women in the the festive period in my humble opinion shouldn't be a massive climax to one day, but enjoyed for the whole month. The hamper has a new pair of slippers, a yankee candle, some hot chocolate, a mulled wine kit, a footsoak/pumice kit and usually something silly like a sparkly santa hat.

In the run up this year, we'll be going to Lapland UK, will see the new Disney "Frozen" and to the panto...which by the way, if you are intending on going, 75% of the seats at our theatre are already sold, so if we're anything to go by, book now! We go carol singing, and go to as many garden centres on our general travels.

On the 23rd, I do the big shop (less all pick up bits like the bird, other meat) at about midnight...the supermarkets are empty, and it's not so late you are zombified. If I could give you one tip, do this. You'll be home by 2am....leave all unpacking other than fridge stuff until you wake up in the morning.

So, Christmas Eve, wake up to a breakfast of smoked salmon and eggs, quick, easy, and I can get the rest of the shopping away whilst everyone really gets a full tum and into a super mood. We then get straight to a nearby farm for our meat, just some ideas if you are sick of turkey like me...last year they made a wonderful 3 bird galantine. This year, goose. Get them to make all your stuffings, chipolatas, pigs in blankets, barely more than the supermarket, and saves you sooooo much time. We then dump the meats back home, and go to some local craft barns and choose an extra decoration each to put up, and we cut a lot of fresh holly to decorate the house with. I then set the dining table up with a load of old fashioned Christmas games, each year, his stocking has wind up tin toys and mechanical gubbins, which all get set up, along with the penguin helter skelter race thing (we all had one of these, you know what I mean.) This take us through to just after lunch which is some kind of pate and cheese (and here commenceth the steady flow of fizz) and as it starts to get a little darker, we go out for a stroll and look at the incredible amount of lights some of the houses in the area have put up ;) We come back to hampers, which are new pjs (check out the new hatley ranges on amazon) a new dvd to watch (this year, Tim Burtons Nightmare Before Christmas) some hideous monster gungey bubble bath that changes colour, and a MUST HAVE which gets read before bed time, a reading of the Night Before Christmas, in pop up, by Robert Sabuda....if you haven't seen this, it is possibly the most beautiful architectural pop up book ever. Don't think pop up means for age 3 and under, it truly is a work of art.

We watch the dvd, have his bath, read the book, set out a carrot for Rudolph and a mince pie for the jolly old chap, then it's bed time for bonzo...his stocking is hung at the end of his bed. I take it later, fill it, and then place it on his legs as my mother did to me. I still remember the feeling as a child of waking up feeling that gentle weight on my legs and knowing Father Christmas had been. He always gets some soft mixed berries and nuts, and a torch, so he can nibble and leave me in peace for as long as possible when he wakes up.

Christmas day, up and in the kitchen basically from daft o clock. All presents from non family will have been accumulating under the tree all month, but they are now joined by all of Father Christmas'. Family arrive early, around 10am and I ask each couple to bring either fizz, or mince pies, or sausage rolls which I can heat and we munch on until dinner is served. Everyone kisses under the mistletoe on the way in. A couple of larger pressies are opened and the men sit with the children assembling new toys etc. To start dinner, we always have silly crackers, racing reindeer are quite fun, or try the ones with whistles where you blow a tune together. And after the cheeseboard we smoke the house out with indoor fireworks, which never get old. We stand for Queenie, and play charades as we're all pretty merry by now. The rest of the pressies are opened, and we all sit about feeling rather rotund while the children play. As it gets darker, we all go for a walk so the dog regains some sanity. Home again for a tidy of the kitchen and a quick spread of cold meats/small buffet, the children peel off one by one, and the adults stay up playing whichever board game Dad has received this year.

The end smile x x x

Rubybrazilianwax Sun 01-Sep-13 19:25:10

Harriet I love the idea of a Christmas book. I have my own recipes written down in the back pages of my Nigella cookbook, but a special book to keep it all in is a lovely idea.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Sun 01-Sep-13 23:16:13

Christmas Films Traditions:

I love a spooky film before Christmas-
The Turning of the Screw
Whistle and I'll Come to You
Crooked House

I tried to watch The Woman in Black- chickened out after 20 minutes blush

Some I watch over and over-
Love Actually
Father Ted Christmas Special
Lost Christmas
Home Alone

<<starts making lists>>

70isaLimitNotaTarget Sun 01-Sep-13 23:18:00

SugarHut we watch Tim Burtons A Nighmare Before Christmas on Hallowe'en.
Then my DC sing the "What's This, What's This " song at me.

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