Christmas traditions for families

New baby?  Old family traditions?

I have always been fascinated by cultural differences around birthing – and of course those differences continue into raising our children.  But even within similar cultures – we often see a huge variety of “family traditions” – especially at Christmas time.

A couple of years ago at one of our coffee mornings, we asked the new mums whether they might be continuing an old family way of doing things, or if they were intending to introduce new ideas for their own families now they were parents – and here are just a few we heard about.

Looking for the Christmas star – one of our mums is Polish and she explained that Christmas eve is very special for the family and everyone gets dressed up for the evening meal – but no one eats anything until the first star has been spotted – so the kids all go out and look for the first star as night falls!!  What a magical way to start the festivities.

A few families bought a new Christmas bauble every year, and many filled their children’s advent calendars with personal items instead of buying the chocolate ones in the shops.

Christmas Eve boxes were very popular – you can buy these online or from places like hobby craft to decorate yourself, or you can use an old amazon box or shoe box. You fill them with age-appropriate items to entertain and prepare your child for bedtime, these can include:-  new pyjamas, a pair of slippers, A DVD, Reindeer glitter, a new bath toy or a small cuddly toy, and for older kids, you can even put in some hot chocolate with marshmallows. Opened early evening, you can get them ready for bed early, and then settle down to watch a movie with you as a special treat.  It is such a cute idea that can be enjoyed with even the smallest of children right up to through the teenage years.

PNP – Portable north pole – in my opinion the best freebie EVER!! – bringing a little magic to Christmas. Just add in a few details and pictures of your little one and they will receive a personalised video message from Santa.  The quality of this one is beautiful & Santa is totally believable! You can even create some cheeky messages for colleagues and friends telling them they have been naughty!  Visit PNP’s website for hours of fun

Elf on the shelf seems to be a new tradition, and many of the families were starting this with their little ones. I think everyone agreed that it is a difficult tradition to keep up every year, but lots of fun to take part in. My recommendation is to wait until the children are a little older before you begin this one.

Reindeer glitter – take a small cup of oats, mix it up with some glitter and put it in a christmas bag to put in your Christmas eve box (see further down) – for your little ones to sprinkle outside the house – the glitter lights the way for the reindeer and the oats provide something for them to nibble on while they wait for Santa.

NORAD – Now this one is a great way to encourage your little ones to bed on Christmas eve.  NORAD online  tracks Santas journey across the world in real time – so as soon as he is in Western Europe my kids scuttle off to bed. They know that Santa only has time for one fly past, and if they are awake then he simply can’t come into our home and risk being seen by them. “Ho Ho Ho” says mummy when she gets an early evening of peace and quiet. This year NORAD have a whole new website to explore before christmas with a countdown to the day and loads of games and things to read.

Topping the Christmas tree – this has been our festive tradition for many years.  Since I had my beautiful daughter Ellie she has been asked to finish off our tree decorating by placing the angel at the top. Obviously, I had to help her just a little bit in the first two years, but she soon got the hang of it! Every year we get a new picture to add to the album, and its a lovely snapshot of how the kids are growing so quickly – measured by their height against the tree!

Mince pies and whisky/baileys/ hot chocolate left for Santa on Christmas eve.   So there is no doubt that old ones are the best – I especially like this one as I always get to nibble the pie and wash it down with whatever “snifter” we have chosen that year.  It beats me that the kids find it acceptable for Santa to drink and drive, but I guess a police car would find it tricky to catch Rudolph!

And finally…. The Christmas day walk with the dog / pram / bike / scooter / in-laws …….  Because when it is all feeling a little too much a stroll can make everything seem so much better 🙂

Tell us about your family traditions – how long have you been doing them and how did they get started?

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