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Family Christmas Traditions

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by Rachael Sneddon (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer working in Manchester.
Published October 27th 2019
Christmas Spent With Family (Just Like the Movies)

I love Christmas movies with a heart, the kind that makes you feel all fuzzy, but Christmas just doesn't feel like that for me anymore. It has been high jacked by supermarkets and department stores and this year I'm determined to get that fuzzy feeling back.

I'm writing this in October. Halloween and Bonfire Night are just around the corner but the big stores are already parading their Christmas departments, hoping to entice you into spending some of that hard-earned cash. The toy shops are offering promotions, hoping to lure parents into getting their Christmas shopping in early and the Santa experiences are already booking up quickly.

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This year, we're taking back Christmas


Each year, a new Christmas tradition is introduced...and surprise surprise; each one costs parents more, allowing big businesses to cash in. In recent years, LEGO, Playmobil and even GIN advent calendars have become a thing, and children can now look forward to Christmas Eve boxes full of goodies. Yes, that's right, they don't even need to wait until Christmas anymore.

Seriously, this year I'm thinking of regressing back to the good old days. I wonder how my kids would react if they opened their advent calendar to discover.....a picture of a Christmas tree. Or uncovered a Satsuma and some socks in their stocking? Just imagine their faces.

My kids don't need more stuff; they don't need Christmas Eve boxes, or toys in advent calendars or anything else the shops are insisting will result in the perfect Christmas (although they might think they do). This year, I want to turn things around and make Christmas about family time, about thinking about those less fortunate, and about being thankful for what they do have.

So this year, I'm introducing a few new traditions of my own to stop myself falling into the capitalist trap that Christmas has become. Hopefully, it will result in more grateful children too. If you're looking for Christmas inspiration, here are ten new Christmas traditions to try this year.



Get Making

Why not ditch some of the expensive trimmings like shop-bought Christmas cakes and Christmas crackers and make them instead. Christmas has become something that should be perfect, and we can feel the pressure to buy the most luxurious options instead of attempting to make them ourselves. Don't be scared. The kids will love being part of the big day, and it'll keep them busy on a rainy afternoon too. If it does all go wrong (with my culinary skills I'm sure something will), it'll make for a great Christmas anecdote for years to come.


Introduce an Advent Calendar With a Difference


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A refillable advent calendar that we can pull out each Christmas


This year, instead of buying our usual 3 chocolate advent calendars, I've picked up a refillable wooden one from the Works that's we're going to use year after year. We're going to have the fun of decorating it too. I'll pop in a little treat as well as an act of kindness that they need to complete each day in the lead up to Christmas, to really get them in the festive spirit (any ideas for acts of kindness are very welcome, just comment below).

Another great option is to carry out the reverse advent calendar, where you put something into a box each day such as an item of food or clothing. On Christmas Eve you can donate it all to your local homeless shelter, church or a charity of your choice.



Encourage the Kids to Say Merry Christmas

In the old films, families are smiling and everyone is feeling festive, wishing strangers a Happy Christmas. The reality is shoppers fighting over the last spouts in the supermarket, and parents stressed with nativities, huge wish-lists and crowds absolutely everywhere. This year I've made a promise to myself to smile more, try not to get stressed, and wish everyone a Merry Christmas, and encourage my children to do the same.


Help Elderly or Lonely Neighbours

We all find the shops a stressful time at Christmas, but imagine how much worse it is for the elderly. I absolutely love the bit in Little Women, where the children give up their festive breakfast for their more needy neighbours. I honestly think it's the epitome of Christmas.

This year, I'm going to make a conscious effort to drop in with elderly neighbours and see if they need any shopping or anything doing around the house. Even if they don't need anything, they might just appreciate a nice chat at what can be a lonely time for some people.


Shop Local

This year, I'm hoping to get most of my gifts for friends and family from local, independent shops. Yes they might cost a little more, and it might be more time consuming than heading to the local mall (or jumping on Amazon), but I know that my money will be supporting local businesses, meaning more money for the local community.


Make Your Own Gifts

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Making Christmas gifts is much more thoughtful....and the kids can get involved too!


Last birthday, I received a handmade necklace from a friend, and it meant so much more to me, as I knew she had spent time thinking about what I would like and making it. This year, I've picked up some essential oils and have been stockpiling little glass jars with the plan to make bath bombs, body scrubs and other beauty products. Plus, the kids just love making chocolates for the grandparents. I'm hoping that gifts made with love will be appreciated much more than some smellies or chocolates from the supermarket.


Sharing Christmas Tales

Over the last few years, we've collected quite a few festive books, and so this year we're going to make an effort each evening to sit down and share a Christmas tale together. I think it's so important to share stories with your children, but with my eldest being nearly 12, he usually just reads to himself. But this year, I plan on making sure the whole family shares a story together before bedtime, which will hopefully get everyone feeling festive as well as giving us a chance for some much-needed family time.


Offering Gifts of Time

This year, with each gift, I am also going to make them a promise. Whether it is to spend more time with them, cook them a meal or babysit for them, I'm hoping that it will help make 2020 an even better year by bringing us all closer together and lightening a burden for our nearest and dearest.


Christmas Crafts


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We'll be encouraging the kids to get creating this Christmas


The kids LOVE crafts! I do not love the mess. But I really do appreciate the trees decorations that they make at school, which take pride of place each Christmas. So this year, I'm going to Google some crafty Christmas ideas of my own, and let the kids get as messy as they like.

When the kids were very young, I used to get a large roll of paper and let all three of them draw whatever they liked to suit the season; I did this for Halloween, Bonfire Night, Christmas, Easter, Spring, Autumn and Winter. Then it was proudly displayed during that season. The kids really enjoyed doing it, as it really got them thinking about the passing seasons and gave them a chance to celebrate whatever special occasion was coming up. Somehow we have stopped doing it, so this Christmas, I'm hoping to restart that tradition.

Give to the Local Toy Collection

My kids are very lucky and get a lot of gifts at Christmas. Some kids aren't as lucky, so this year I plan on getting the kids to donate one of their toys to our local Toy Appeal. Not only will they hopefully brighten someone's Christmas, but it will give them a chance to reflect on just how fortunate they are.


So that's what I'm planning for this Christmas, I'm thinking it might be a very busy, but happy one. Hopefully I have inspired you to add a new tradition this Christmas and if you have any of your own special family traditions, I'd love to hear about them. Simply comment below, but be warned, I might just steal them for myself.
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Your Comment
I agree wholeheartedly Rachael. I am going to adopt some of your ideas.
by May Cross (score: 3|5450) 22 days ago
We like to say Happy Birthday to Jesus. It hopefully makes us all remember the true meaning of Christmas.
by Tina Nunnington (score: 2|293) 11 days ago
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