Over the last 6 years I’ve gradually refined our list of Christmas traditions, trying to find the balance between blissful magic and chaotic overwhelm, to a place where I think I’m pretty happy with them.
I don’t always do them all, and this year with everything just being a bit 2020, some of them won’t be happening, but you know what, I’m also slowly learning that’s ok too.
Anyway, as the festive season fast approaches this year, I thought I would share them with you; to get me excited and in the mood for all things C word (no, not that one)!
Tradition one – The Organised Mum:
This isn’t a tradition for the kids, but it is one that’s helped me be the best version of myself for them!
For the second year this year, I’ve been doing The Organised Mum’s Organised Christmas, which aims to get all of the main things organised by the end of November.
So, since the start of September, I’ve been doing a couple of jobs, varying in scale each week to help me plan and get ready, in a relatively calm way!
I don’t like thinking about Christmas too early, and this is not out of choice to be honest; but it is another thing I’ve had to accept I have to do since becoming a Mum, if I want to give my children the Christmas I love, whilst also keeping my mental health balanced and intact.
There’s just so much to plan and do as a Mum; things sell out crazy early, and sales happen.
Also, if I want any hope of getting the kids what they want, without giving myself an actual meltdown, then I need their lists relatively early.
But, with only a few things to tick off my Organised Mum list, I think this Christmas we’re actually more prepared than ever; which will help us enjoy all of the other traditions so much more!
Tradition two – letters to Santa:
A simple and obvious tradition, and the only active Christmas activity that happens pre December! As a kid I used to LOVE flicking through the Argos catalogue, picking all the things I’d dream that Santa would bring (still waiting for that Mr Frosty, FYI, big guy!) and so as a Mum, I like to make a thing out of this too.
Around the middle of November, we all sit together, flick through the Smyths catalogue (sorry Argos!) and put together our letters for Santa.
Doing this (at least whilst they’re still young!) also helps me guide (manipulate!) what they’re asking for, in terms of our budget and things I might already have bought in various sales!
My son has hit an age this year, where he’s started to ask for crazy expensive things, like games consoles etc. I’ve dreaded this to be honest, where he’ll one day wonder why his friends got the really expensive thing that they asked Santa for, but he didn’t.
So when we sat and did our lists this year, we also had a really nice chat about what Santa can and can’t bring, we said that he doesn’t really like to bring electronics, because he couldn’t possibly do that for every little boy and girl in the world.
So he now knows that if he wants something like his own Nintendo Switch, it’s something he can ask for, but Santa alone won’t bring it. If his friends get one, it’s because their Mummy and Daddy were able to help Santa; which we won’t always be able to do.
He seemed to accept this pretty happily, and I’m not sure how it will go in practice, but I felt happier that we’ve tackled it, whilst still being able to keep the magic of Santa alive.
This year we’ve sent our letters via the Royal Mail service, where you get a reply, if you post before the 11th December.
It’s been the first time I’ve ever been organised to get it sent off in time to get a reply from somewhere, but to be honest, the kids don’t seem fussed on getting a response anyway, so this year will be a bonus!
Tradition three – Christmas starts in December:
Well, with the exception of all the things we need to do earlier than that! But any earlier on full blown festivities, is a hard no from me, even in 2020!
I love Christmas, but I also don’t want it to go on forever, and I honestly think my pure love for it would die a bit if we really stretched it out any more.
Also, my husbands birthday is at the end of November, and I feel like we should give him at least one day that’s all about him!
We generally kick it off with all of the Christmas music, and by decorating the house on the weekend closest to the 1st December (that also falls after the husband’s birthday!), and that is when Christmas properly begins for us!
We choose to decorate without the kids, because honestly, they’re not bothered by it, and we love seeing their faces when they come down the next morning and find it looking all magical.
I have to be honest, in the past I’ve found social media quite stressful for things like decorations, and comparison is definitely the thief of joy.
Whether it be huge trees or amazing outdoor lights, in the past I’ve often felt ours are a little inferior.
But I have slowly been inheriting and building our stock of decorations, and this year I’ve treated us to a couple of new bits, and made a list of things I want to hit the sales for already, for next year!
Tradition four – Elf on the shelf:
On the 1st December every year, our rather unoriginally named Elf, Buddy (named by the boy when he was three!), returns to spread some Christmas cheer!
I succumbed to this a few years ago, when I found a Liverpool Football Club branded elf, and couldn’t say no – and because I just love anything that makes Christmas feel that little bit more magical.
The kids faces when he returns each year makes my heart melt, and I hope one day they look back on it like I do all the little things (that took way more mental load and thought than I ever truly appreciated!) that my Mum and Dad did for me any my sisters.
We don’t have a naughty elf, mostly because I cannot be arsed with that level of effort; but we do follow the wonderful Five Minute Mum’s Advent – because it’s minimal effort and the kids love hunting for him each morning.
Buddy brings them their advent calendars, and a book a day to read at bedtime (this year I have a book advent that he’ll bring on the first day, that I got for £4 in the sales!) – and whilst it can be a lot of effort, it starts each day in the lead up to Christmas with a little dose of festiveness, and is something I love as much as they do!
Tradition five – Shoebox Full of Love appeal:
In a lot of ways, this is probably my most favourite tradition. It’s so important to me that my children have nothing but magical experiences of Christmas, but it’s even more important to me that they understand how lucky they are that they can.
I try really hard to always teach them to be grateful, and to understand that there are too many people in this world who have nothing, and that we should always offer kindness to those less fortunate than us, and find ways to help them in whatever ways we can.
So every year we pack a couple of gift bags, filled with Christmas presents for someone vulnerable or in need. Previously we’ve always done it for small children, as I’d get the boy and the girl to pick things they’d like, to gift someone their age, who is less lucky than them.
Last year, I chose to pack gifts for a teenager, because we wanted to show kids, who were at an age where they can really start to grow bitter and resentful towards a cruel world, that kindness exists, and that there are always good people who want to help them. Then as a family we go and deliver them to the drop off points together.
I am so sad that we won’t be able to do this in the usual way this year, but the wonderful people at Shoebox Full of Love have pulled it out the bag and set up Amazon wish lists, to make sure those who need it, can still get help; so we can still get involved, just in a slightly different way.
Tradition six – a visit to Santa:
I’m not sure much more needs to be said about this, but a grotto trip is one of our must do’s at Christmas time.
I’ve managed to book us a slot at our local garden centre this year, where we went last year, and am really hoping it doesn’t have to be cancelled.
There’s nothing quite like a child visiting Santa to remind you magic and hope always exists!
Tradition seven – a big day out:
On top of the grotto trip, I like to try and do one big festive day out, and by ‘big’, read overpriced because it’s Christmas! In the past we’ve done the Reindeer Lodge, pantomimes, the Santa Train and the lights at Dunham Massey; and this year we have Chester Zoo lanterns booked (again, praying we’ll be able to do it).
Again, in the nature of being honest, this is probably, at least at the ages they are, more for me than them. I love a Christmas Day out!
Although this is another one that I get massive FOMO about, and I find social media can make feel really overwhelming. I want to do everything, from the amazing live orchestra performances of Christmas classics, to the drive in movies, to the enchanted forest walks, but I regularly have to remind myself that I don’t need to remortgage the house to do all of the things, and the kids would be just fine if I didn’t do any of them, let alone “only” one of them.
I’ve started to make a list of the things I see each year, so I can plan early for what I want to do and book the following year, and if we’re able to do more than one, then we can!
Tradition eight – a Christmas Eve box:
Another completely unnecessary tradition that has become a firm favourite! When writing this blog, I learned that this is a tradition that is believed to derive from the German tradition of opening presents on Christmas Eve, and in the UK it has become a way to start the festive spirit early with a box of treats. Realistically though, it’s another over commercialised way to make money out of us at Christmas!
Whatever, I love it. Buddy the Elf disappears on Christmas Eve, to go back to the North Pole, to help Santa. And he leaves behind a box of treats for the kids to enjoy, to make Christmas Eve that little bit more special.
This year ours is filled with new pyjamas, chocolate coins, a bath bomb, a hot chocolate bomb, cookie mix and snacks to watch a film with. We also include a token (given to us at the Reindeer Lodge!) to let the children know they’re on the good list, a polar express bell to make sure they still believe, reindeer food, and a special key to get in our house.
We then spend Christmas Eve chilling and getting ready for all of the excitement the next day; and just before they go to bed, leave out the cookies we’ve made, sprinkle the reindeer food and place the key for Santa to find.
Tradition nine – baking cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve:
The first year we did this, we made cookies from scratch – but my god I did not need the flour explosion in my kitchen the day before Christmas… and on the years that we go down South, I assure you my Mum needs that mess even less!
But I love making something for Santa with them, and seeing their faces the next morning when they see the crumbs he’s left behind!
So now we use a packet mix, that comes as part of the Christmas Eve box from Buddy (because he knows Santa’s favourite biscuits, of course)!
Tradition ten – a letter from Santa Christmas Day:
This started as a way to explain to my husbands eldest why he had presents delivered by Santa, to two houses; but even as he’s grown up, and almost certainly, although not vocally, stopped believing; we’ve carried it on, because it’s so lovely!
The kids each get a letter from Santa in their sacks on Christmas morning, thanking them for being so good, and noting a few of the things they’ve done that year, that has made Santa so proud – and a slight nod to the fact that they could maybe listen more and whinge less, to make sure they make the good list next year too!
So those are our main traditions, I think they’re quite simple and effective, and mostly fairly low cost if needed. Just writing this has got me all excited and eager to break tradition number two, already!
What Christmas traditions do you have in your house?
I’d love to hear – come connect with me on Instagram and let me know 🎅🏼🎄