Family Christmas traditions (some crafty, some not)!

I LOVE Christmas.  I mean seriously LOVE IT.  I think it’s because my parents (Mum especially) always made a huge deal out of it when we were growing up and had lots of traditions that were (and still are!) repeated year on year.  Mister Podge had his own family Christmas traditions and now that we have our own family, we have combined the two and added our own!

Family Christmas traditions

(image credit: The Graphics Fairy)

A few of our Hodge Podge family Christmas traditions:

  • Home-made stockings: I made Pickle a felt appliqué stocking last year from a kit and am desperately trying to finish Chops’ stocking in time for Christmas Eve this year!  I’ve also made my parents’ stockings (yes, Santa visits them too, as long as they’ve been good)..!

Homemade felt stocking

  • Christmas Eve pyjamas:  This is the one present that the boys are allowed to open on Christmas Eve (the one that fell off the sleigh when Santa was on his way to start his round) – it means they look extra cute in the Christmas morning photos and because they receive them every year, I hope it will become part of the ritual of the night before Christmas bedtime excitement (as opposed to “oh great [sarcastic face], pyjamas again!”)
  • Christmas Day buck’s fizz and beigels for breakfast:  The beigels HAVE to be from Brick Lane.  Mister Podge has his with cream cheese and smoked salmon.  It’s nice and easy, the kids will eat it and if you can’t have some booze at 8am on Christmas morning, when can you?!
  • Opening stocking gifts in the ‘big bed’: I love having the little ones in with us (whatever silly time in the morning they wake up), watching them struggle to unwrap their Christmas stocking presents and show us what Santa has left for them…

Family Christmas Traditions PIN

  • Month of December Sunday lunch family choice: during the run-up to Christmas, instead of having their traditional Sunday roast dinner, Mister Podge and my (now) in-laws would take it in turns to choose what to eat for their Sunday lunch (steak, Chinese take-away, full English ‘breakfast’, even KFC!) – basically anything other than a roast dinner, making the Christmas day turkey (and roast potatoes) extra-special because they hadn’t had anything similar in over a month!
  • A trip to the panto (He’s behind you! Oh no he isn’t! Oh yes he is!): Pantomime is almost impossible to describe.  You have to experience it to understand it and I think it is a very ‘English’ thing.  If you’ve never seen one, I urge you to go, especially if you have young children (or a childish sense of humour)…   My gran (our beloved GG), watches the children’s faces, rather than the actual show – she just loves to see their reactions!  The first year we took Pickle (at 13 months old), he absolutely hated it, but I’m confident that he and Chops will love it this year (he is 3 after all and a ‘big boy’) – I will let you know!

Opening stockings

All families have their own special Christmas traditions and rituals and I love hearing about them.  Here are just a few more that I love and am thinking of starting with my boys this/next year…

  • The Elf on the Shelf: What a magical idea this is!  An Elf from the North Pole comes to stay with your family from Thanksgiving (US) or December 1st (UK) and keeps an eye on behaviour (while being a little mischievous himsELF!) and returns to Santa on Christmas Eve.  Find a free printable letter and lots of fantastic ideas at Making Life Whimsical (plus loads more Elf on the Shelf ideas with photos here too).

Elf on the shelf

  • An Elf parcel/hamper: Your Elf on the Shelf might arrive with a hamper, or you might just have a parcel ‘appear’ on the doorstep, with a note from Santa’s elves on the 1st of December – ask your neighbours to help with this conspiracy(?)… it really ekes out the Christmas period (which I am all for, obviously)!  In the Elf parcel you might include a Christmas activity/sticker book, DVD, special writing paper and pen to write to Santa, advent calendar, stocking or favourite TV show/band annual or calendar)
  • An advent of books: 2 Little Hooligans shares this brilliant idea (and even more brilliant wrapping)!  This doesn’t have to cost a lot of money either – check out your local charity/thrift store for Christmas books to include…

book advent calendar

  • Christmas Eve dinner by candlelight: I don’t know why this appeals to me so much.  Perhaps it’s the Dickensian, old-fashioned feel of it – in this age of everyone being permanently ‘plugged in’, the thought of a simple family dinner with no tablets, phones, or anything electric (including lights!) is kind of magical.


Of course I just had to include a few Christmas craft ideas and activities for kids (which could easily become future family traditions!):

  • Make your own wrapping paper The Perfect Pear uses this gorgeous potato print wrapping – easy for little hands to help with!

potato print Christmas wrapping paper

  • Help the kids to make their own Christmas tree decorations: Set their imaginations free with this Christmas ornament making station idea from A Mom with a Lesson Plan.
  • Upcycle last year’s Christmas cards by making gift tags (example from Milo Made) or Hodge Podge’s tiny lidded gift boxes out of them.
  • Make a mini bauble ornament wreath following the outlaw mom’s simple how-to photos.  This is great threading (fine motor) practice for young children, as well as being fun and festive!

mini bauble ornament wreath how-to

Toyland wooden Christmas soldier ornaments

AND FINALLY, some family Christmas tips from experienced parents*:

  • Take a long family walk on Christmas Eve afternoon (to wear out the kids and help them get to sleep quickly, despite the excitement)
  • Use lots of Sellotape and multiple layers of wrapping paper on the stocking presents (especially good for older children – toddlers might get rather frustrated!) – this will give you valuable extra minutes in bed on Christmas morning…
  • Make the Christmas Eve bedtime routine extra special (so that the little ones look forward to it rather than wanting to stay up).  Suggestions range from a special bath bomb or bathroom lit with fairy lights, to The Night Before Christmas bedtime story.

What are your special family Christmas traditions?
Have you been inspired to start any new ones this year..?


*SOURCES: Our childminder (wonder woman and mum of 5!), Mumsnet (combined parenting wisdom), Granny Podge (my mum, the original Christmas fairy)

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15 thoughts on “Family Christmas traditions (some crafty, some not)!

  • November 22, 2013 at 6:53 am

    Some very lovely ideas:) I particularly love the idea of advent calendar of books

    • November 22, 2013 at 5:40 pm

      Isn’t it a fantastic idea? Would be great for a child who was really into a series (Thomas the Tank Engine for example) – you could buy a box set collection from The Book People & wrap them individually. Maybe Roald Dahl for older kids..?

  • November 22, 2013 at 8:18 am

    Reading this had made me so excited – lots of lovely ideas 🙂
    p.s we do Christmas even pj’s too and always go to the panto on Christmas eve with all my family

    • November 22, 2013 at 5:50 pm

      Yay!! So glad it’s not just me who is as excited as the kids (if not more so)!

      What did F make of the panto last year? Did he enjoy it..? x

  • November 22, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    We have a few:

    Tree goes up on a Saturday night around 10 days before Christmas, we do the boring baubles, beads and lights. The next morning the children see it all pretty, then they help put the more special decorations on. That morning we go out to see FC at a local department store then they each choose a new decoration for the tree. 

    We have an afternoon watching Muppet’s Christmas Carol with popcorn.

    Stockings are done in our bed on Christmas morning. 

    We don’t do advent books but I do add to our collection of Christmas story books every year, which come out on 1st Dec and go away with the tree. 

    • November 22, 2013 at 5:53 pm

      I knew you would have loads Claire! 😀

      I am addicted to Muppet Christmas Carol too – must try to persuade Pickle that it really IS better than anything starring Lightening McQueen… x

  • November 22, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    We had a few in the Judd household… My lil sister’s birthday is on the 2nd Dec so that is the day the tree goes up.
    The ladies of the house would always wrap presents together (though obviously not each others) and make our tags out of last years cards.
    We bake mince pies and sausage rolls on Christmas Eve. Oh and since we grew out of the “wake up the parents… ITS CWISTMAS!” phase, my Mum has repayed the favour by waking us up very early in the morning with christmas songs played very loudly 🙂

    • November 22, 2013 at 6:11 pm

      Oh I love the idea of communal wrapping (I do it all here)…
      Mmmm, sausage rolls on Christmas Eve may have to be our candlelit meal & I will definitely be waking the boys up as teenagers – good for your mum! 😉

  • November 22, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    Thanks for the inclusion of my painted soldiers in your post. So many great ideas here! Thanks for sharing.

    • November 22, 2013 at 6:17 pm

      My pleasure Laura – I love the colours you used and the expressions on their little faces 😀
      Have a Merry Christmas!

  • November 24, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    Good to see that ‘Mr Podge’ has continued the tradition of Bucks Fizz and beigels with smoked salmon on Christmas morning. That goes back to the 70’s when a Brick Lane beigel was tuppence! When the boys were in their teens and preferred to lie in bed on Christmas morning (usually because they’d had a late one with their mates on Christmas Eve) I would take the Bucks Fizz and beigels up to Jen in bed and I’d be wearing a Santa hat, or a pair of antlers and nothing else! (Perhaps a little too much information there!)
    We always used to decorate the tree and put up the other decorations on the night of the 17th December, so that when Sam got up on his birthday the house would have a festive look about it. That for us was the beginning of Christmas and with our joint birthdays the following day, it felt really special.
    I love Christmas –everything about it; and now to watch the excitement on the faces of our grandchildren, is just sheer delight. x

  • December 7, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    This was so fun to read! Love reading about different traditions!

    • December 10, 2014 at 4:44 pm

      Aaw, I am so glad you enjoyed it Mihaela – I loved writing this one – made me feel all festive!

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