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If you don't have/don't see extended family at Christmas, how will you spend it?

(19 Posts)
PippaFawcett Sat 29-Oct-16 23:12:41

DH's lovely family are in Canada visiting his sister this year and I'm not close to mine, so I wondering how to fill our days over Christmas this year.

We have lots of lovely friends but many of them travel for Christmas so we might meet up with a particular group for New Year but that will be it.

Our DC, 8 and 5, are used to boisterous Christmases with their cousins, so I want to think ahead about how to make it special. I'm thinking of panto tickets for one of the days and maybe a long walk on Christmas Day to blow away some cobwebs, I hate being indoors all day, and if I can convince DH then I would love to drive out to the beach (two hours away!!) for hot chocolates and a blustery walk one day.

What do you all do?

WankersHacksandThieves Sun 30-Oct-16 00:08:20

Mine are older teenagers now, but we've almost always spend christmas by ourselves. having said that we both work and always have so it's not like we had a lot of syas to fill. It was mostly running around sorting childcare, doing shopping etc etc apart from Christmas Day/Boxing day.

Our christmas day usually started with boys waking up and coming into our room and piling onto the bed with their stockings. One of us would nip down put on the heating/fire and christmas tree lights and come back with a cup of milk and a banana for the boys and a glass of bucks fizz for us grown ups. We'd then take turns to nip in and shower and dress while the other went through the boys stocking gifts with them.

Once we were all ready, one would nip down to make sure Santa had been to turn on the video camera and then we'd all gather in the room and the boys would open all their gifts in between eating breakfast pastries. While one cleared away the paper and tried to restore order, the other would be armed with the scissors and batteries and get them out something to play. A hot filled roll late morning with fruit juice/smoothie more bucks fizz and basically taking turns of playing/preparing dinner. We generally tried to always have some sort of outdoor toy, so once dinner was in the oven, we would go out for a walk/to try out the toy and all get a bit f fresh air. Come back, finish of dinner prep and playing. eat dinner/do a quick clean up, play a board game, snuggle up on sofa for a movie, drinks and dessert/chocolates and then boys up to bed.....swiftly followed by DH and I depending on how early they got up. If it wasn't too bad, we'd stay up a bit and chill with some brandy etc.

Depending how the days worked out, we used to take them to a christmas show or the cinema one day/evening in the run up to Christmas, followed by a nice meal. Generally went swimming christmas eve if we could fit it in so to tire them out. We were lucky enough t live in travelling distance of Edinburgh which was always lovely for a day trip and to see the reindeer and Santa and the lights etc.

Chottie Sun 30-Oct-16 07:24:52

If you go to the beach, could you take a disposable BBQ with you? Cooking sausages and toasting marshmallows and flasks of hot soup on the beach would be different and fun for the boys.

PippaFawcett Sun 30-Oct-16 10:18:39

Wankers, that sounds lovely.

A disposable BBQ sounds like a good idea, are you allowed to use them on the beach? I literally have no idea!

Chottie Mon 31-Oct-16 07:07:32

A disposable BBQ sounds like a good idea, are you allowed to use them on the beach? I literally have no idea!

I would go to the relevant council website and look up their beach regulations. If you can't use it on the beach, how about on the cliff top / car park?

BoboBunnyH0p Mon 31-Oct-16 07:50:56

Our Christmas will be a little different thus year (we lost Nannie last month and she usually spent Xmas day with us). Christmas eve we will be going to a local market which is artisan food and drink with live music. We will then visit my parents before coming home to do our usual Xmas eve traditions, bath new Pj's, Xmas movie & hot chocolate.
Christmas day we have decided to spend just the four of us so will be present opening, dinner and if weather good a bike ride (kids getting bikes for Xmas) to the local park then back home for movie and board games. This year we will be choosing a movie Nannie would have liked and sharing a box of her favorite chocolates.
Boxing day if the weather is good we will go to the beach and blow the cobwebs away, if not we will go to the cinema.

kath6144 Mon 31-Oct-16 09:49:03

We have generally spent xmas with one set of grandparents, and sometimes, but not always, NY with the other. But we also had time in between to ourselves.

We lost mum earlier this year and last year was fraught, (emergency dash to her on NYE as she was ill, she was put into a home late in the evening. We had only left her a couple of days earlier after spending xmas with her).

So this year we are alone but will see PIL at some point (They not local).

Mine are 19 & 16, so older one will no doubt have some evenings out with friends, but we will do things together - they still love panto, will do at least one long walk, maybe one on Coast - we have a labrador that needs her walks!! We might do cinema, or go to a skating rink.

Can you afford a few nights away somewhere? We have done a hotel break in the past, plus a couple of cottage trips for NY to Cornwall - twas lovely to chill, walk and swim, play board games etc. We were thinking of something similar this year but need DS to find out the extent of his uni exams in Jan (Cant get him to see urgency of needing to book something!)

PippaFawcett Mon 31-Oct-16 12:54:47

All lovely ideas.

We can't stretch to a hotel this year, but we have done that in the past between Christmas and New Year and it works so well!

Chottie, I will look at the council websites. There are a few beaches we could go to as they are all a long way away anyway. We would probably only do marshmallows as it took an age to do sausages on them when we tried in the summer.

ChunkyMcBitch Mon 31-Oct-16 21:05:30

Our Christmases now are so different to how they used to be when the children were young. Initially we would travel back to see family and stay there for a few days. Then it became too much with three young kids so we would have the day at home then family came to visit us a couple of days later for a party, then we all travelled back for a New Years Party. That stopped and it was just us and three children at home for the whole of the holiday season. Now eldest DD has moved out and she stays with partner and her DD while its just me, H and 2 teenagers at home. (too far for us to travel plus they don't have the room). From being someone who adored Christmas I now dread it.

Sorry I can't be positive for you

HerestoyouMrsRobinson Mon 31-Oct-16 21:09:02

We precook sausages at home then reheat wrapped in foil on the BBQ at the beach so it doesn't take long, take the foil off for the last few mins.

PippaFawcett Mon 31-Oct-16 22:10:24

Chunky, why do you dread it? Is it because you haven't found a way to make the current arrangements work/feel special?

WankersHacksandThieves Mon 31-Oct-16 22:21:17

Hmm, well it's just DH, I and two teenagers now (pretty much same as it's been since they were small).

It is what you make it. It definitely not as exciting as it was when they were small and believed in santa, but we still love seeing the teens open their gifts and we enjoy spending time together. Chunky is there anyway to make it a bit more special? It's definitely not going to be the same as it was when your children were all small and family were around, but it shouldn't be something you should dread, maybe this is the year that you could try to get some pleasure from it. Can we help?

bootygirl Tue 01-Nov-16 10:52:26

Things we did when the kids were small.
Film night at home, curtains pulled all cosy with treats.
Afternoon in nearby town(novelty of somewhere else. To see Santa).
Would make a fuss of putting up tree with Xmas music blasting and pizza.
Xmas eve always choose a book in local book shop to read later in Xmas.
Xmas eve hot chocolates & pancakes in nice cafe.

PippaFawcett Tue 01-Nov-16 20:48:45

That sounds cosy, Booty.

bootygirl Tue 01-Nov-16 22:52:20

Some of the deals shops do Xmas shaped marshmallows for hot chocolates!

ChunkyMcBitch Wed 02-Nov-16 09:56:40

Pippa it is that but also partly because we see everyone else having these wonderful extended family parties and get togethers throughout the season and we have none. H is disabled and I'm his carer so no work do's, very few friends around to visit/be visited by so the season comes and goes without anything special really. However last night I spoke to the DC (17 and 15) about how we can make it special and they talked about making new traditions. We've decided that we buy Christmas pyjamas for us all that we open and wear Christmas Eve early evening, then we are going to sit and watch some old Christmas movie favourites while eating hot pork sandwiches. Christmas Day itself we are planning on taking the dogs for a long walk on the beach after lunch.
I know it won't be the same and it's a shame we won't get to have a visit from DGD over the season but we will go up and visit her, even if we can't stay too long.
Thanks everybody

BiddyPop Wed 02-Nov-16 10:14:41

Do you have a favourite family board game? Or is it worth buying a new game to go with existing games? Make an afternoon/night of games, with popcorn and snacks. Have a pack of cards to play some other games too. (That might work well for you too Chunky - get some board games that are more suited to the older ages and break out the old family favourites?). I know there have been a few threads with loads of recommendations for different board games of all sorts.

Are any friends around who might like to come over for a potluck type supper one late afternoon/early evening? Do a spaghetti and garlic bread and pizza type meal (something easy that the DCs will all eat) - maybe something a little more sophisticated for adults (proper nibbles or a curry or cheeseboard?). Let the DCs all catch up and play with their toys together, while the grown ups just catch up. Fire lit, music in the background. Put a dvd on in a playroom/spare bedroom if need be for the DCs to relax to.

I always find that having music on in the background helps. It can be proper seasonal music - or just something that you like. So when you are doing the normal jobs, have something nice on, and put on something more relaxing when sitting reading a book or whatever. I always try to have at least 1 book on standby in case I get a chance to sit and relax quietly. Even if you are not usually into reading, local libraries often have great selections in the kids sections of seasonal books as well as interesting new authors and classics, so a trip to the library one day (or a good bookshop), and making some quiet time for family reading (aloud or individually) another day could be good.

And have a look at the TV times or similar in advance, and see if there is anything you particularly want to see. Either to watch live, or record for later. Let everyone have a chance to pick something.

Taytocrisps Wed 02-Nov-16 10:20:57

Pippa my friend always spent Christmas with her DPs. One year she decided to stay home as her DB (and his family) was staying with her DPs and the house would have been too crowded. She booked lots of day trips and shows etc. as she thought her kids would find it very quiet and boring without lots of family around. She said afterwards that she was sorry she'd planned so many things as it was all a bit hectic and she felt her DC would have loved a few days at home just to play with their toys. So don't try to fill up every day.

ShesAStar Wed 02-Nov-16 10:21:22

I'd go out everyday, except Christmas Day. Can you book tickets to Charlie and the Chicolate Factory or something similar for NYE or NYD? I'd go to Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park one day and another day look at the lights on Regent/Oxford street and visit Hamleys. A cinema trip if there's a Christmas film on. And like you say a trip to the beach for a windy walk, forest walks, Christmas market.

I'd make it busy because I find if we all stay in we end up getting ratty with each other and bored!

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