As a kid, Christmas is a magical and exciting time. Family, food, presents – what’s not to love?
But the older you get, the more Christmas becomes a bit of a chore and loses that wonder it once held. Buying presents is a ball ache, as is travelling the length of the country to see family as you attempt to keep everyone happy but ultimately fail miserably.
This year is different though. We now have a baby in the house. Not quite the ‘baby cheeses’ (get it!), although Wensleydale with cranberry cheese will be prominent, but more our little Baby L. The new addition means that we want to do everything we can to make this time of year as magical and exciting as it once was for us.
Baby L will be just over four months come mid-December, so it’s not like she’s going to know what’s happening. Chances are she’ll probably not even know next year either. This pretty much gives us the luxury of knowing we can royally balls up the next two Christmases before things are permanently etched onto her little brain.
Despite having this leeway, we want to make each and every Christmas special. We hope to do this by starting a number of family traditions over the festive period which we’ll do for many years to come with Baby L (and Baby X, Y and Z if they are ever created). These traditions include:
Run Up To Christmas Day
- Put The Xmas Decorations Up On 1st December – Since living in our house, we’ve put the tree up whenever we’ve had the chance. There hasn’t been any specific date, it’s more been around when we’ve had a spare few hours on a weekend. With a kid around though, it feels like there needs to be a date set so everyone knows when we can get together as a family and put the decorations up. I know people have different views of when the tree should go up, but we’ve decided that if you have an advent calendar from the 1st, then you may as well put the decorations up then too.
- See The Xmas Lights Being Switched On – Ok, so we may have missed this one, but it wasn’t for trying. The idea being that each year, we’d walk down into Berkhamsted town and watch the lights being switched on by some Z-list celebrity. However, the missus was away with the baby on Sunday when the lights were being turned on. We were planning on going to Aylesbury to watch the lights, but it turned out the website I got the information from was wrong and the lights were already switched on! Still, we managed to walk down into Berkhamsted after the event and check out the lights and tree.
- Visit A Christmas Market – We’ve been to a few Christmas markets in different cities (Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh) and you can’t help but feel festive when surrounded with the wooden huts and Xmas lights. Even better, they have some awesome food and drink on offer such as Bratwurst, Frankfurters, pulled pork baps, crepes, waffles and mulled wine. We want to make sure that each year we go to a Christmas Market, which is made even easier with the fact that St Albans started a Xmas market last year which is pretty much just down the road from us. In true keano fashion, we’ve already been there this year during the day and are contemplating going again at night, if we are brave enough to tackle the crowds!
- Meet Santa – It’s funny how meeting Santa is such a big thing. It’s not uncommon to queue for a few hours just to meet a fat bloke playing dress up. At any other time of the year, we would not entertain the notion of giving our kid to a fella wearing a fake beard and red suit who hangs out in a garden centre without it being part of a Police led paedophile sting. Still, we are excited about joining this ritual and getting a photo of Baby L with Santa for the first time. Due to Santa’s ‘magic’ he is appearing at loads of places simultaneously near us, including The Marlowes, Friars Square, Ashridge and Whipsnade, as well as visiting nearby roads on his sleigh, which means we should be able to see him pretty soon.
- A Christmas Themed Day Out – Every year there seems to be more and more places which transform into festive hideaways come December. Almost like you’re visiting Santa’s magical hometown, only in the wet, windy and cold environment of England. Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park is one of the most famous, however it seems to get busier every year which is a massive turn off. We’ve previously been to Stockeld Park near Harrogate which is awesome (but without the little one), and also recently discovered Lapland UK, but think that this might be best for when Baby L is a little older. This year though, we have our eyes set on Christmas Kingdom at Mead Open Farm in Bedfordshire. Not quite Lapland, but we’ll hopefully get there in the future #PRRequest.
- Christmas Eve Box – Although we never had it as kids, we really like the idea of doing something special on Christmas Eve for Baby L and have decided to do a Christmas Eve box. The contents are still to be decided, but we’ve already bought some Christmassy pyjamas from Tesco, a festive book from Amazon and a reindeer comforter from Tesco which she can open the night before to help get her into the festive mood and excited for the following day. We don’t want to take away from the fact that Christmas Day should be the day that presents are opened, but this feels a nice way to build the anticipation. She can then go to bed in her festive pyjamas after having a festive book read to her.
- Hot Chocolate With Marshmellows – Something Hay has been really keen to do is find some festive mugs (which she did today from Sainsburys) so that we can all have a proper hot chocolate on Christmas Eve before we go to bed. Not a crappy powdered hot chocolate, but a really awesome one made from real chocolate. Obviously Baby L is a little young for hot chocolate at the moment, however I’m confident of inventing a way to add chocolate flavouring to the missus’ boobs so that the little one can join in.
- Make A Gingerbread House – Hay recently bought this gingerbread house mould from Ikea so that we can bake and decorate a gingerbread house as a family on Christmas eve. I don’t really get why this is a Christmassy activity, but the missus assures me that it is. Plus, if it results in me having something sweet to eat, then I’m not going to complain. Again, this will be more fun as Baby L becomes Toddler L and can get involved, but we want to start some of these traditions as soon as we can.
- Santa And Reindeer Food And Drink – I remember putting food and drink out as a kid for Santa and Rudolph, then being totally amazed when I got up in the morning to find that it had been half eaten. I remember that Rudolph’s carrot would have teeth marks in it, whilst Santa’s mince pie would be gone as would the little glass of tipple. I think that this is such a magical thing for a child to find in the morning when they realise that it shows that Santa has actually visited the house. I’ve also recently seen another idea of making Santa’s footprints out of glitter and flour – although this sounds a great idea, I’m not sure whether we could trust the dog not to have eaten it by the time we come down in the morning!
- Opening Presents – Most families have different ways of opening the presents on Christmas morning. As a kid, I remember it always being fun and enjoyable. Opening the presents was always a shared experience where we unravelled the gifts one by one, rather than creating a me, me, me mentality where we just ripped everything open. This is exactly how I want for our little family every year. My mum and dad always tried to come up with cool ideas, with two that stand out being a treasure hunt with clues leading to our presents around the house, and the other being hide and seek with the presents in particular rooms. It was therefore a task to find the presents, and when completed, we could sit down and open them. We’ll have to figure out how we do this going forwards with the little one, but one thing we do want to make use of is this awesome personalised Christmas sack from Handpicked Collection we got for Baby L. Not only is it a cool decoration leading up to the day, but it will be great for the Christmas Eve box or for her presents on Xmas day,
- Christmassy Family Walk – Since we got the dog last year, we’ve walked a lot more than we used to do and have found it’s a great way to just be together and chat without any distractions (well, apart from the dog attempting to eat deer crap). We therefore really like the idea of a nice, family walk on Christmas day after we’ve got fat courtesy of the turkey. We’re lucky enough to live near to Ashridge Estate, which is always a great place to have a wander. We went to Ashridge last Xmas day and like the idea of popping the little one into her baby carrier and taking a Christmassy stroll this year too. If there is snow, then that’d be even better!
- Christmas Attire – What would Christmas day be without crappy Xmas clothes? The past few years, Hay and I have made an effort (if you’d call it that) to find an awful Christmas jumper to wear on Xmas day. This continued last year when we became those people that I (used to) hate by buying a Christmas jumper for Dax. Now that we have a baby, it gives us the chance to involve another helpless things in our Christmas jumper tradition. Baby L has a red Xmas jumper with a snowman which we got from Sainsburys, as well as a Mrs Santa outfit from Asda.
So those are our Christmas traditions which we’ll be doing this year. What Christmas traditions do you have with your family? What is the favourite thing you do as a family at Xmas?
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