Anyone who knows me will understand just how much I love Christmas. That time of year when both my husband and I finish up work for at least two weeks and collecting the kids from school and nursery on that last day is just pure excitement! Nothing but family time for two blissful weeks. Closing the door on frosty nights, fridge full of party foods and treats and the house adorned with sparkle. Oh, I’m getting excited just thinking about it!
That magical feeling you had as a child when you unequivocally believe in Father Christmas returns in abundance when you have your own children at Christmas time. I am usually awake before them at 6.30am willing them to wake up on Christmas morning. Their little faces and excitement is priceless.
We like to start our preparations and celebrations at the to mid-end of November. If Halloween and Bonfire night are finished, and the famous John Lewis advert is popping up on social media, we’re more than ready for the excitement to start building. We have a few traditions in our house, which I’m hoping will last a lifetime in my children’s memories. If you’re looking for some inspiration (from someone who was surely an actual elf in a previous life) then this is the blog post for you!
Elf on the shelf
We started this tradition three years ago. The idea is that your child is sent an Elf from the North Pole to watch over them and report back to Santa. Your child mustn’t ever touch their Elf, or they may lose their magic!
Also, you don’t want your kids to discover that you’ve used Sellotape on the Elf for the odd occasion!
Each day the Elf will be in a different place in your home for child to hunt for, upon waking up each December morning. Now, we like our Elf to get up to mischief! We have had so many side splitting moments after the kids have gone to bed, setting the Elf up in the most imaginative and inventive ideas possible! There are so many ideas online if you’re left scratching your head. Last year, one of our photos went viral after I posted it on my Instagram feed. It appeared in a newspaper and on various websites. What a laugh that was! If you want to see our favourite Elf on Shelf creations so far, click here (LINK) . Here’s is the ‘famous’ photo that made our Elf a star in his own right!
Visit your local Christmas market
This is one of the first things we do in the build up to Christmas. The hustle and bustle of the market on a frosty evening, festooned with twinkling lights, surrounded by happy families, the sweet smell of fresh pancakes and the smokiness from the bratwurst hot dogs! Oh, it’s simply glorious. Often the markets have a funfair attached too, making it the most fun, festive day/evening out for the whole family. What better way to kick start your anticipation of the big day. We love to get wrapped up in new woolly hats and gloves and finish the evening off with a hot chocolate.
One special day out/Santa visit
I like to keep the magic alive by taking the children to visit Father Christmas just once each year. I like to spend money on one great quality experience. If you’re in Scotland, I can highly recommend Goulding’s Garden Centre. (If not, check out your local garden centre) Your day starts off with a reindeer parade, a ride on Santa’s sleigh, a walk through his magical workshop to watch the wooden elves at work making the toys, a funfair and of course, a visit to meet Santa himself. There is so much on offer out there, spend your money wisely. Check out reviews online and choose something really special.
Christmas eve boxes
Is it just me who thinks that Christmas Eve is the most magical day of them all? The anticipation of Santa visiting your very own house on that night, the cosy pyjamas, party food and festive movies. It’s all so special. We love to give our children a box each filled with goodies to start the excitement. This year we have some beautiful silver ones to match our décor. Some ideas to fill your child’s box are
*New Christmas pyjamas
*Reindeer dust (Glitter and porridge oats in a clear bag, tied with ribbon)
*Key for Santa
*Sweets, chocolate coins, cookies
*Letter from Santa
*Festive bath bomb
*Personalised Christmas bauble.
The ideas are endless. You could have a couple of special items and bulk the rest out with homemade goodies. There’s abundance of little treats in the pound shop so you don’t have to spend very much at all. What a perfect way to start that wonderful day.
Last year, we used this fantastic app ‘Catch Santa’ After we had arranged the children’s presents we used this to place a photo of Santa in our living room for the children to see in the morning. This really made me laugh as it looked so real. I love the expression on Santa’s face. He really looks caught in the act! I sent this photo to my mother in law and she thought it looked so real she replied, ‘Is that Shaun in a suit?’
Portable North Pole
We have used this app since Sofia was a tiny baby. It’s fantastic. You fill out an online form with your child’s name, age, achievements, toys they want and things they have been trying hard with throughout the year. The result is a personalised five-minute video for your child from Santa. You can also choose whether they are on the naughty or nice list! I have a friend who used this to say her son was on the naughty list to whip him into shape after he hurled his iPad across the room! It worked a treat. The beauty of it is that you can save it forever to look back upon.
Video call Santa
In a world of technology and social media, our children will Facetime friends and family as though it’s as normal as writing a letter back in our day! This clever little app sends a short video of Santa and presents just like Facetime. It caused a flurry of excitement and wonder in our home last year when my phone lit up with the message ‘SANTA CALLING’. You can of course personalise it with your child’s name, age and interests to make it completely realistic.
The children just love this! Evidence that Santa has visited all the way from the snowy North Pole! Simple get the largest pair of boots in your home and sprinkle flour or magic snow over your feet several times to create footprints leading to the presents under the tree. We also make tiny little elf footprints by printing off a little stencil. You can also buy them on eBay for a couple of pounds. The tiny little footprints alongside Santa’s give a great effect!
Wrap up the entrance!
Lastly, we always completely cover the entrance to the living room (which houses the presents) in wrapping paper. It creates even more suspense and the children love to burst through it to find all the treasures Santa has left behind!
A little something extra….
This year we are going to add something else to our family tradition. The older my daughter becomes, the more interested and concerned she has become of those who are in need. When we go into town at the weekend, she is always looking for people who are homeless to give some money to or some hot food. She also likes to donate her toys which she has outgrown and this year we have decided to donate an item to our local food bank for every day of December. She will be choosing items in the supermarket each week to donate and fill her box to take along on Christmas Eve. The joy of giving is truly a wonderful thing and I think it’s so important to teach our children from a young age to always help others who are less fortunate. Christmas is such a magical time if you’re happy and have a loving family. But it can be such a lonely time too if you’re not in that fortunate position. Imagine the difference we could make if we could all contribute something small in the month of December to a local charity or food bank?
I would love to hear about your family traditions and hope that you’ve had some nice ideas! I can’t believe it’s already December. This year has really flown by….