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Creating lasting Christmas rituals

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When your children get older and you look back on past Christmases you’ll find that they barely ever remember what they have been given.  What they do remember is the feeling of being together and the rituals you have created. This is why I will always say - buy less and spend as much time creating family moments as you can.

I’ve made a list of 10 lovely family rituals, I hope that you might get some inspiration for some of them and take them on as your own.

  1. From an early age, it is really good to instil the idea of giving. No matter how small the gift is, family members so appreciate the effort a child has made. Have your child make a card with their handprint and scribble, get them to wrap up pine cone or help to bake some cookies.
  2. It is good to get in the habit to talk a lot about the joy of giving. Talk to them about the pleasure you have had in the past from giving a present to someone who really appreciated it. Go into detail, how you enjoyed thinking about that person, you liked wrapping it up and writing the card and then how much you loved their reaction when they opened it.
  3. Make sure they personally give the gift or use face time when the recipient opens it. Children then realise how much pleasure it is to give.
  4. Try to plan a meal before Christmas that is exclusively your family (even if your family is only two people).  Get your children to participate in planning the menu and making decorations for the table.  When ours were smaller we kept it really simple and they loved it – A bag of Hula hoops and carrot sticks for a starter, pasta pesto for the main and a choc ice for pudding. They would draw up the menu and we had crackers and candles on the table.  We still do this with our teenagers with a slightly more sophisticated menu! They definitely feel it is an important part of Christmas.
  5. On Christmas Eve start a ritual of watching a festive film together. Our favourite is Love Actually but you can pick a film for younger kids.
  6. We loved to read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ before bedtime on Christmas Eve. Get yourself a copy if you can. Such a sweet book
  7. When they go to bed on Christmas Eve, put out a glass of milk and cookies for Father Christmas (and remember to leave some crumbs and drink the milk), you can leave carrots for the reindeer if you have a garden (remember to get rid of them too)
  8. Get them to hang their stockings in your living room. Top tip – if you leave stockings in children’s bedrooms they are very likely to wake you up anytime from 4 am to say “He’s been”.  If the stockings are in the living room you can tell them that they have to wait till it is properly morning to give him time to come. Then in the morning make a big deal of the suspense before you go into the living room. "I wonder if he has been.... Shall we look or shall we wait a bit longer....?" Open the door a crack and close it again "Oh gosh, I'm not sure, shall we check again?".  To encourage delayed gratification get them to open one present at a time rather than rip them all open in a frenzy.
  9. Make Christmas day breakfast special – lay the table with pretty napkins and have treats you might not usually have like chocolate croissants.
  10. On Christmas day, try to make time for a game with them. Anything where everyone gets involved is part of creating those special memories.

I hope these are useful for you.  Inevitably Children can get over excited and have meltdowns around Christmas.  They may be disappointed with some of their presents, something might break, they can get high on sugar and become rather crazed. This is normal. Try to get some sleep yourselves and not kill yourself making everything perfect. Also try not to break the bank buying things you can’t afford. What kids need most of all is your love and time with you. Any disappointment they have will wear off but the good memories will continue.