Christmas customs and traditions

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 Furby). So we've put together a smorgasbord of your best yuletide traditions for you to feast - and, no doubt, massively overindulge - on.

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Deck the halls with boughs of holly: the build-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
  • 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

  • We have a long walk in the afternoon, no matter what 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. bythepowerofgreyskull
  • After they are all ready for bed, we hand out a new DVD, they write their 'thank you' letter to Father Christmas and leave wine and chocs - and carrots and water for every single reindeer. 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. 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
  • Christmas Day breakfast? Always stocking chocs! SallyStrawberry
  • 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. 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. TheHedgeWitch
  • We live in north Norway and the main day of Christmas is 24 December. After Christmas dinner, we head up to the cemetery. 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

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. 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: about 1 hour ago