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Friday 20 December 2013

Creating Family Christmas Traditions

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This post is brought to you by New Idea Magazine

Christmas Traditions are so important to my family.

I totally blame my mother, or I give her credit for it, whichever way you would like to look at it, as she was the one that created the OCD traditionalist in me.

The way I see it, traditions are memories in the making. They act as a reminder of the importance we as a family place upon an occasion. I have such font memories of the traditions my parents created for my brother and I when we were kids and I know my boys look forward to our own traditions that we have created over the years.

From the moment I found out I was pregnant with Kai, I couldn't help but think about Christmas and the excitement of all the awesome things we would do as a family and the magic we would create for him.

From there and every year and every child after, we added to our traditions, we adapted them to suit us and we created new ones from ideas we heard or saw in magazines, TV or on the internet.

Today our list is huge, so much so that we literally HAVE to begin on the 1st day of December to fit them all in. It's a crazy time and the amount of planning that goes on behind the scenes to make each one of our traditional activities appear seamless to the kids, is a little crazy sometimes... but when we see the smiles on those boy's faces, OH MY it is soooooo worth it.

The New Idea Magazine is packed to the brim with fabulous ideas and recipes to make Christmas come alive in your home. To get everyone in the spirit of sharing the New Idea Family have come up with The New Idea Project which is all about new ideas for celebrating Christmas and sharing them with the wider community and they want you to be a part of it.

There are 3 main ways you can get involved.

1. Take the Facebook Challenge and each week answer the question they post on their Facebook page. This week they are asking for your number #1 tip for a good night's sleep during what can be very stressful holidays.
2. Take the Twitter Challenge and lighten the mood with your best Christmas cracker joke.
3. Take the Instagram Challenge and show how you relax in the stressful leadup to Christmas.

Each week the New Idea team will be sharing retweeting and regrammning their favourites and rewarding the best entries with double movie passes.

Make sure you hashtag your entries with #newideaproject and check out all the other awesome entries for some fabulous new ideas to make your Christmas even more fun.

I thought I would share some of our Christmas traditions we follow have in our family. They may be things that you do yourself or they could give you ideas for traditions you can introduce into your own family, and I would love LOVE you to share any traditions you have in your family with me in the comments.

Okay, here goes.

This one starts on the 1st day of December. No matter what we have going on in the day, come the evening of the 1st we put the old Christmas tunes on rotation and we decorate the house. We dance, we eat and we act totally stupid and every year the kids take it in turns in putting the star on top of the tree.

Alfie our elf is a more recent tradition and this is the second year he has been with us. He arrives in time for the tree trimming party and he heralds the start of the Christmas festivities. Every morning the kids run around the house like loonies looking for Alfie to see what he has been up to whilst they were sleeping.

Also starting the 1st of the December is the advent calendar and each year I do something different. The boys have the most stunning felt calendars my mother made for each of them which are also hung up, but making one myself gives me a very good excuse to get all artsy fartsy. The calendar I make is a family one and includes both treats and family activities.

Every year each of the boys get to pick a decoration to add to our growing collection and we replace some of the old ones that carry no specific meaning to us. They actually decided themselves to stick with a theme each year and they choose matching or coordinating decorations and can I tell you - my little OCD heart so appreciates that they get me AND they choose colours that will match our red white and silver collection. Man I love those kids!

This tradition does get me a little bit freaked out because as you know, baking and I aren't the best of pals. But the boys so look forward to getting down and dirty in the kitchen and baking up a load of treats to hand out to the neighbours. It's pretty much always the same things - brownies, rocky road, pistachio praline and butter cookies, but they are made with so much love and a sometimes overwhelming amount of enthusiasm.

The official Santa letter is serious business and many a practise one is drafted before the final copies get grouped together and sealed into an envelope and personally handed in at the post office. The sitting down to write them, the colouring in and the trip to the post office are all very much a big part of the process and I melt at the way the older ones help the youngest dude write his letter.

About two weeks before the big day we head out for an evening picnic at the beach. Once it is dark enough, we make a quick pit stop for ice cream and then with the trusty Christmas music playing in the car and the kids piled high with pillows, we drive around and look at the awesome displays of Christmas lights around our area. I have to admit, this is one of my favourite traditions.

This is the one and only time of the year I get over myself and my bizarre glitter fear and the boys and I get down to some serious Christmas Crafting. The Christmas music will be playing and we literally just sit for a couple of hours and work on Christmas projects together. Decorations, ornaments, cards, pictures for Santa - we do it all.

About a week out from Christmas Eve we lie in the backyard or cuddle up on my bed if the weather is not ideal and we read a load of Christmas books. The kids only half listen to the stories as they are more intent on listening out for Santa doing his practice run fly by. If we listen really carefully most of the time we hear Santa's sleigh bells and a ho ho ho as someone... I mean Santa passes by the front of our house.

This is yet another one of my absolute fave things to do because even at age 40 I still love me a good Christmas movie and I add to our collection every year. Popcorn, packets of reindeer noses and elf shakes are on the menu and we all snuggle up on the couch and work our way through as many movies as the kids can stay awake for.

Christmas Eve is all about the kids and my brother and I take it in turn in hosting a special Christmas Eve dinner at each other's house. Both of our families, our parents, and anyone else who doesn't have anyone to spend Christmas with is welcome and we get together for a feast and the officially hyping up of the kids. Often Santa will phone for a last minute check if everyone is being good and we finish early in the evening and head home with full bellies to attend to our Christmas Eve duties of preparing Santa and the reindeer's snacks, watching the Carols by Candlelight in Melbourne and some last minute Santa Spotting. We all meet up again on Christmas Day for lunch at my parent's house.

So there you go - an exhaustive list of our Christmas traditions and to be totally honest, there is still more. I told you I was a big time sucker for Christmas and a total traditionalist at heart.

So your turn now to start sharing your ideas and checking out everyone elses over at The New Idea Project and don't forget to hashtag your entries with #newideaproject

But first - tell me, What are some of the Christmas traditions you have in your family?