I may have said before that Christmas is, hands down, my favourite time of the year. As part of the run up we love to immerse ourselves in all things festive. Here are some of our family traditions pre the big day, the big day itself and after.
Christmas Tree – always a real one and always up by the 1st December. I know that some traditions are for the tree to go up 12 days before Christmas but with my love for all things festive this just isn’t long enough. The decorations are generally brought down from the loft the day before to sort through and then Mr TWB goes out to purchase and brings it home for us to decorate. As soon as it is up we get all the family gifts around the tree. Then we just wait until Christmas Eve for Santa to bring his gifts (if the little ones have been good boys and girls).
Elf on the Shelf – love it or loath it (and the closer to Christmas even me with my festive cheer is veering towards the latter) it is present in the TWB home. It started as a gift from my auntie who lives in the US to my daughter when she was small and the tradition has continued (as I am sure it will for many years).
For those who do not know what Elf on the Shelf is (there are some people that still exist by all accounts) it is tiny little stuffed toy sent by Santa to check that the boys and girls are being good. The elf gets up to all kinds of mischief and Ella takes great joy in jumping out of bed to see what Jingle Jim and Tinsle Tim have been up to.
Last year the little darlings started their 2017 adventures with a letter from Santa inviting Ella to Lapland. I doubt very much they will trump that this year but I am sure they will give it a good go.
Advent Calendars – now I know this is not a TWB tradition and everyone does it. But it has to be included. Nanna on my side bought Ella a gorgeous reusable one a few years back which is aways full of treats. Then she gets the obligatory chocolate one from us.
Christmas Markets – we are so lucky to have the Manchester Christmas Markets on our doorstep. A quick tram ride in to the city and we head straight for a hot chocolate/mulled wine, followed by bratwurst, pancakes and shopping. We love ambling in and out of the stalls picking up a few treats for our nearest and dearest and just soaking up the festive atmosphere. One day we may get to a European Market but for now we are happy with the one we have on our doorsep.
Meeting Santa – over the years we have tried to mix this up a bit with different experiences. We have seen the big man at garden centres, on steam trains, in magical woodlands and then last year we were lucky enough to see him in Lapland. This year we have booked Santa’s Grotto at Oddfellows on the Park a beautiful hotel in Bruntwood Park in Cheadle, near Stockport where the little ones get to meet Santa in the grotto and then enjoy a gorgeous afternoon tea afterwards.
Portale North Pole – since Ella was a teeny, tiny baby we have logged onto Portable North Pole. You basically, upload a photograph of your munchkin, add in a few personal details and it produces a short video from Santa which they email to you and you can share with your little ones. Every year Mr TWB and I watch Ella’s face light up as she finds out she is on the nice list and it is magical.
Movies, movies, movies – late November and pretty much all through December we are all about the Christmas movies. From Elf to Miracle on 34th Street and everything in between we love nothing more than snuggling under a blanket with some popcorn and losing ourselves for a couple of hours.
Ice Skating – this is a fairly new tradition as we have only managed to do it whilst she has been able to be upright but Ella is already asking where/when we will go. We are lucky that there are a few locations that pop up in and around Christmas. This year we have a choice of the new to Manchester Ice Village, Manchester Ice Rink on First Street, and Winter Funland at Event City. We are yet to decide which one we are going to be we will definitely be throwing ourselves around the ice (somewhat cautiously).
Panto – since she could sit through a performance at around 3 years old we have had our yearly dose of “he’s behind you” and “oh yes you did” and loved every second. Since starting school it has become a bigger event with a group of friends and the mums and we make it a great night. If you want to check out options around Greater Manchester check here.
Christmas Eve box – this comes out every Christmas Eve morning and contains the same old staples every year.
- Christmas Pyjamas
- Christmas Movie
- Hot Chocolate
- Magic Key
- Reindeer dust
- Santa is coming to Manchester book (other cities available)
Every year at some point in the afternoon we settle down in our PJs with the popcorn and hot chocs and watch the movie. Then the rest of the evening entertainments commence.
Tracking Santa – all through the day we track Santa’s whereabouts. There are a number of sites but we tend to stick to Norad.
Christmas Eve with friends – even before Ella made her appearance we have spent Christmas Eve with our good friends who have two boys who Ella is super close to. We alternate who hosts and basically have a good feed, a couple of drinks and play a few games before exhanging gifts and heading home. I am pretty sure this tradition will continue for a long time to come and it will be the games that will change as our children get older.
Santa and Rudolph’s gifts – we have a personalised plate and every year Santa gets a mince pie and a glass of milk and rudolph a carrot. We also sprinkle the reindeer dust from the Christmas Eve box into the garden so they know where to land. Santa is always super grateful too as every year the children all get a letter thanking them and telling them why they are on the nice list.
Opening presents – as my stepson spends Christmas Eve with his mum and family each year he isn’t around at first light so we always allow Ella to see what is in her stocking whilst Mr TWB goes to collect her brother. As soon as he arrives then the bedlam starts.
Every year I sit nearest the tree and dish out the presents one at a time so we all get to enjoy seeing each other open all the presents. That is the same whether it is just us four or if we have other members of the family around. It certainly makes it last longer and keeps up the excitement.
Christmas Breakfast – I could offer a number of different options but every year the kiddies choose fluffy pancakes, crispy streaky bacon and maple syrup butter. It may not sound traditional, it may not sound typically British but it is ours and washed down with a flute of orange juice (with bubbles in for the adults)
Supper – now you may wonder why I have skipped Christmas Lunch, well we dont have tradition around this as yet. Both our parents live over in Yorkshire so over the years we have eithe been at ours, driven over to theirs after breakfast or we have even booked dinner out a couple of times.
However, no matter where we are or what we have eaten for lunch the cheeseboard and port will make an appearance at some point early evening. Even Ella will start asking for it at some point and will absolutely not go to bed until she has indulged.
Walking – like many a family over the UK we have to get out on Boxing Day to walk off the indulgences of the previous day. It started with a saunter around the local park when Ella was small but every year as she is getting bigger we can push the walk further and further. It gets rid of the cabin fever and then everyone is clear headed and ready to head home to play with the new toys.
Night away – not sure if this is a tradition but it is just something that has happened naturally over the last 5 years. We have been to the Lakes, a few years at Alton Towers and then last year we had a couple of fabulous days in Edinburgh.
We have nothing planned this year as we have been living in a building site since August with a hope that a big part of the renovations will be complete by Christmas and just want to enjoy our time in the “new place”. However, we do love our little post Christmas trips so may book a quick night away somewhere close. If anyone has any recommendations then please feel free to comment.
I would love to hear all about your Festive Traditions.