I adore Christmas, as soon as the shops start stocking Christmas gifts and carols are playing on the radio I get positively giddy. My parents joke that they’ve created monsters because my sister (27) and I (24) still expect our Christmas traditions to be followed to the letter when we come home for Christmas week – including stockings hanging at the end of our bed.
Of course we can’t uphold the same traditions forever and some have had to slip to the wayside. For a start I am clearly getting too old to leave a mince pie and brandy out for Father Christmas and a carrot out for Rudolph. I kind of expected that by the time I got too old, my sister would have had a child and so the magic would continue. Unfortunately it hasn’t quite worked out that way… and so we’ve had to create some new Christmas traditions. Some we do as a family once we are all under the same roof between Christmas and New Year, other’s Jon and I do as a couple in the run up to Christmas and some we now have with our friends.
The biggest change in tradition came last year. For as long as I can remember we’ve visited my Mum’s best friend and her family on Christmas Eve. We drink plenty, eat plenty and have a good old knees up. But last year, for a variety of reasons our plans had to change! Instead, Jon and I drove up after work and arrived at my parents house in time for a Christmas film, some festive booze and a takeaway. This year we’ve decided to do something similar starting a new tradition.
If you too want to find some new and exciting traditions to start this Christmas then look no further – here are some of my ideas for starting new Christmas traditions.
Traditions for advent, the run up to Christmas
Home made Advent Calendars
The classic tradition is opening an advent calendar. Supermarkets are stocked high with cardboard calendars filled with cheap chocolate but who really wants their kids to start their day with chocolate?
You can easily make your own advent calendar by decorating then filling a wooden or papermache calendar, hanging paper or fabric pouches or stockings from a Christmas ribbon washing line, or by placing small, numbered gifts under the tree starting on December 1st.
Buy a real tree
Nothing says Christmas like a Christmas tree taking up half of your lounge. I know that Christmas has truly arrived when we drive out into the Hertfordshire countryside to buy a fresh Christmas tree. Picking the tree is a real occasion with debates about colour, height, width, smell… Coming home with a Christmas tree that everyone has helped to choose makes Christmas more magical then getting a tatty plastic one out of a box.
My own secret tradition is to see if I can get a bigger and bigger tree each year. Last year’s tree was 7ft…wish me luck!
Christmas film marathon
Every year I get a Christmas film in my stocking (fab tradition), but because we’ve now collected so many the only way to make sure we watch them all is to watch two a week, every week in the run up to Christmas. Sunday and Wednesday evenings are put aside purely for watching Christmas films – think Jack Frost, Jingle Bells, Four Christmases and more! Save your favourite film for Christmas Eve (see below).
Make edible gifts and other foodie hampers
Most edible gifts can be made at least a week before Christmas. I’ve shared instructions on making Limoncello, Cranberry Gin, Vanilla Fudge and Cranberry and Pistachio Nougat on the blog in the past. This year I’ll be making Chestnut Brownies, Dark Chocolate and Orange Biscotti and more for gifting this Christmas. Why not include them as part of a larger gift hamper with a nice bottle of wine and some cheese and crackers.
Grown up Advent Calendars
Why should the kids have all the fun? We’ve kept the tradition of opening an advent calendar alive but we now count down to Christmas with adults only miniatures of our favourite tipples. You can buy pre-made advent calendars for gin, whisky, rum or even tequila lovers amongst others. Hotel Chocolat also do a grown-up chocolate filled calendar. Or, why not make your own advent calendar (see above) and fill with something a little more grown up!
The Food and Drink Guides Blog has a great round-up of grown up advent calendars.
Make your own Christmas tree decorations
Grow your Christmas tree decoration collection by having each of your children making a new decoration each year. You can then collect the decorations and see how they have grown as their decorations change year on year
Traditions for Christmas Eve
Decorate the Christmas Cake
I love leaving this job until Christmas Eve and its a coincidence that Jon always helped him Mum decorate the Christmas cake on Christmas Eve too! You can find my recipe for Christmas Cake here along with some of my previous decoration designs.
Smithfield’s Meat Auction
Ok…so a meat auction doesn’t sound that festive does it? But I discovered the awesome tradition that is the Christmas Meat Auction at Smithfield’s in London a couple of years ago. Turn up to the market for midday Christmas Eve and you could be in for the chance of winning a whole suckling pig, pork belly, huge turkeys and more! Find out more here.
After the hustle and bustle of the run up to Christmas, make sure everyone gets a good nights sleep on Christmas Eve by winding things down early, getting in to a new pair of Christmas pajamas and watching your favourite Christmas film all snuggled up on the sofa with hot chocolate, popcorn and other tasty treats. Dim the lights and the kids will be asleep in no time.
Freshly bake the mince pies
If you already leave mince pies and a glass of brandy out for Santa then upgrade his snack by baking the mince pies on Christmas Eve – they don’t get fresher than that! You can find my traditional mince pie recipe here, or why not try my marzipan mince pies?
Traditions for Christmas Day
What better way to start Christmas day than with Champagne! Treat yourself to the good stuff on Christmas day – we like a bottle of Bollinger.
Rather than hanging your stockings downstairs by the fire, have the children hang their stockings at the end of their beds, that way when they wake up on Christmas day their stocking is the first lot of presents they see. As soon as they wake up they’ll be dashing to your room with their stockings. Let them jump up on the bed and open your stockings together. The bigger presents downstairs can wait until later… sometimes the best treasures are the smaller things!
Dress up for Christmas Dinner
If you don’t already make Christmas Day an occasion for wearing your Sunday best, make Christmas Dinner a real occasion by moving it from lunchtime to the evening. It’s then a great excuse for everyone to get dressed up in cocktail dresses and evening wear in time for Christmas Dinner. Make it a really special occasion by greeting the suited and booted members of your family with yet more Champagne when they come back downstairs for dinner.
Traditions for Boxing Day
A breakfast of bubble and squeak
There is just one day of the year where it is normal to mash up leftover vegetables, add in some roast meat and perhaps some turkey then fry it within an inch of its life before delicately topping with a poached egg and some cranberry sauce.
Breakfast on Boxing Day has to be bubble and squeak. You can find my traditional recipe here.
A walk in the park
A wonderful way to work off all of the Christmas calories is to make sure Boxing Day is a day for walks with the family. After a manic day the day before, it’s nice to take the pets, children and old people out for a bit of fresh air. New bikes, remote controlled cars and skipping ropes will also get a lot of action as you enjoy getting out and about.
We also combine our Boxing Day walk with a pub lunch – after the stressful task of Christmas dinner the chef of the family will be grateful that someone else is cooking. Just make sure your local pub is open on Boxing Day.
The Christmas Present Game
As if there weren’t enough presents under the tree already…on Boxing Day we play the Christmas Present Game. The rules are as follows…
- Everyone contributes 5 presents to Santa’s sack – no presents should cost over £5 and they should most definitely be silly. The sillier the better (think plasters, a calendar of roundabouts in Milton Keynes or a half eaten bar of chocolate).
- The dealer gets two packs of cards. The first pack is dealt out evenly between everyone playing.
- The dealer then turns over a card from the second deck of cards. The person who has that card in his hand gets to take a present from Santa’s sack, BUT they don’t open it just yet….
- The dealer then keeps turning over cards and the players keep taking presents, once all of the presents have been taken from Santa’s sack the players then start taking presents off of each other! Feel free to shake, sniff and squeeze to see if the present is worth stealing.
- Once all the cards are dealt and everyone has finished stealing presents from each other you can finally open your gifts – it’s funny when you find out that the bottle of wine you thought you were fighting over is actually bubble bath…
Eat something other than the Christmas turkey…
We often have a big roast dinner on Boxing Day as well as Christmas Day but we make it an opportunity to cook something other than a Christmas turkey which we will be eating as leftovers for weeks…
Why not try one of these delicious roast joints:
- Bourbon Glazed Ham
- Beef Wellington
- Tandoori Leg of Lamb from Kavey Eats
- Slow Cooked Ham with Salted Caramel Glaze from Munchies and Munchkins
Write your thank you cards
This one is an oldy but a goody.
Why not bring back the art of letter writing and sit down with the kids on Boxing Day to write thank you cards to friends and family who have bought them Christmas presents. Do it today and you won’t forget who got you what! It’s also a lovely way of remembering how lucky we all are to receive such nice things at this wonderful time of year!