I’m hosting a series of guest posts from bloggers sharing their festive traditions, this year. Today’s guest post is written by Jo Le from Fresh bread and faith. Let’s dive right in and find out all about Jo’s Christmas Traditions….
Our Christmas traditions
We love the build up to Christmas! Both of our children have birthdays either side of Christmas. This means the present buying and party planning has to start by September, to book halls and spread out the cost of gifts. By the end of November, it feels like everyone else has ‘caught up’ and now rather than it feeling like ‘just me’ is thinking about Christmas; everyone is.
We have done different things over the years in place of typical chocolate advent calenders or alongside them. One year we used a little wooden cabinet that had 24 tiny drawers and a wooden winter scene on top, we could put our own choice of treat in each drawer for the children. We also had a felt wall hanging advent calendar where there were 24 little fabric sacks attached to the hanging, in which we could put treats. One year, we put an object into each bag which linked to a daily bible story that led up to the nativity story. Another year we wrapped 24 books under the tree to read each evening.
As a daily fun alternative to the usual chocolate advent calendar, last year and our plan for this year is a special handmade wooden Elf door. The door opens and inside is a card holder. We personalise little cards to put into the card holder daily, so every morning there is a fun task or Christmas activity or outing to do. There also is a Christmas Elf that we bought with the door. Every morning we hunt for the Elf, to see where he is hiding today and what has he been up to!
Some days he is playing hide and seek, other days he is reading to the other toys. One time, he was head first in a packet of pom bears and only his feet were visible! This daily activity is lots of fun but requires organisation and is a test to your mum memory! Many times I have been in bed then remembered I haven’t moved the Christmas Elf or updated the door card! One morning my daughter opened the door confused as she was sure the activity planned was the same as the day before……. Mum innocently whistles in the background….
We live in the Channel Islands between England and France, so we don’t have any big stores or the same Christmas activities and entertainment as in the UK. We have a garden centre that sets up a small ice rink each year so we visit that in the run up to Christmas.
Another garden centre puts out a beautiful light display that you can drive through. You then get out of the car and look around the lit up Santas, bells, moving trains and nativity scene. This is a lovely early evening activity before bed time, all bundled up in our scarves, gloves and ear muffs. We then pop a donation into a large milk urn so they can carry on putting this display on for the public.
We also wear our Christmas jumpers and visit one grotto. I’m not a fan of the queues, so one is enough. We look at local Christmas displays around the grotto which often have singing reindeer too.
Taking part in the annual shoebox appeal is so important to us. This is when we cover with Christmas paper and fill a shoebox with toys and hygiene items for less fortunate children across the globe. This is such a good exercise for my children to think about others during a season that is full of toy adverts and wish lists for santa.
There are some years we send Christmas cards, other years we don’t. These cards are homemade or made at school or with a family artwork pic on the front.
We have a Christmas eve box. I dress up as an Elf and ring the door bell to deliver the box which my daughter enjoys. The box is filled with a dvd, pyjamas, Christmas game, festive story, hot chocolate and cookies and carrot to leave out by the fireplace. We have SO much fun with the santa and reindeer story but have never taught it as fact.
Our favourite Christmas book is called Just Nicholas which tells us about a man called Nicholas who lived many years ago and helped those less fortunate by leaving gifts in secret and how the world has been inspired by this kindness. We learn about the nativity story too, and made our own nativity set with a box, toilet rolls, fabric and a glue gun!
Festive stories come out of the loft and are added to our easy access sling book case in December.
We have a tree that we keep in the attic and reuse each year. This goes up at the beginning of December. The children enjoy adding cuddly toys to sit in the branches. The children decorate the house with home made paper chains.
School nativity plays and festive Fares are another tradition and much enjoyed. Carol services are another wonderful time to sing Christmas hymns about the baby Jesus and enjoy the twinkly lights, candles and after service mince pies.
Considering we live in a tiny island, there are lots of things to see and do in the lead up to Xmas day. Being on an island, we can wrap up warm and visit one of our many gorgeous beaches. Hunting for sea glass is a great year long activity, and something a little different in the run up to Christmas.
On Christmas day, we attend church in the morning, then head to my parents house with my in laws also. My mum has always had someone at the table who doesn’t have anywhere else to go for Christmas. This has become an important tradition, and a very normal part of family life for us and our children. It is a great example for us to carry on in future years too.
We all cook something and bring it so that my mum isn’t burdened to provide the whole meal. Once added together, this makes a sumptuous feast that everyone has contributed to. We usually take stuffing, roast parsnips, potatoes and yorkshire puddings.
After lunch we open gifts then return home with tired, happy and excited children. Every guest leaves with a plateful of leftovers. We particularly enjoy turkey and stuffing sandwiches. Served on homemade bread with pigs in blankets on the side for lunch the next day. (I am getting hungry writing this).
Boxing day is a relaxing day at home, where we give the majority of our gifts as Christmas day we are out of the house most of the day.
We thoroughly enjoy the run up to yule and hope you do too.
Let me take this opportunity to wish you a wonderful Christmas and New Year x
Find more of Jo’s content on her Instagram Profile.
A Word From MotherGeek…
I love that you guys have someone round for Christmas Dinner who doesn’t have anywhere else to go. What a beautiful tradition! We love our Elf – this will be our 5th year with Chippy visiting. I wing it too though – I’ve woken up many times to move the pesky Elf at 2am!
Thank you for sharing your Traditions, Jo!
If you’ve enjoyed this post, why not check out more of my Christmas content!
(This is not a paid post -I’m just hoping to spread a little festive cheer).