I absolutely love the countdown to Christmas, but that doesn’t mean the magic stops after they’ve opened their presents on Christmas morning. This Christmas guide is all about extra things you might like to weave into your day to make your Christmas day that extra bit special for you as a family.
Children really thrive off family traditions, and just being together with you for the day will make the day special. Don’t worry if you’re separated, children easily adapt to two different Christmas routines and traditions.
The scientists tell us that our memories are more strongly etched with positive family traditions, which hit us through our senses. Think of filling Christmas Day with wonderful festive smells, soft lights, music, laughter, and quirky family togetherness. Things you do on Christmas day will form wonderful magical childhood memories!
One thing I do know is, though they’ll totally deny it…children LOVE anticipation and suspense! If you can add some of that into your day, Christmas Day will reach new levels of insane excitement. Now THAT’s the look on my kids’ faces that I crave.
So, if you’ve enjoyed our handcrafted, personalised letters bringing the latest news from THE workshop in the North Pole through December, you might also like our Letter for Christmas Eve and our Christmas Day in the North Pole Letter … so children can hear the news in the North Pole from Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (*don’t buy these if you have Elfie’s Christmas Letters, as they’re already included!).
Another absolute must is to track Father Christmas on the NORAD Santa Tracker on Christmas Eve, created your personalised on-line video from Portable North Pole, given them a surprise candle-lit bath on Christmas Eve, drunk Father Christmas’ drink and nibbled at his snack (ALWAYS leave crumbs), left snowy footprints and removed the food left out for the reindeer (important!), there’s still one more thing you could do…
There’s a website called Capture The Magic, which quite simply proves that Father Christmas was in your home on Christmas Eve. You upload a picture of your fireplace, Christmas tree or somewhere else in your house where you think Santa may have been. Then you choose and superimpose one of their images of Father Christmas on to your image, and then download it and show it to them as a ‘webcam capture’.
The very first thing however is to make sure you’ve organised yourself such that all you need to do on Christmas Day is RELAX and enjoy it! (Tips over on 10 Tips For A Stress Free Christmas).
So, for a fun filled magical Christmas Day, you just need a bit of planning, a desire to laugh and your camera to capture all those wonderful happy moments….
Here are some provenly fabulous ideas, in no particular order…
Family Christmas Memory Box Tradition
Preserve up to 20 years of your family’s Christmas Day memories!
Start the day with warmth, wonderful smells and music
Light the fire if your have one, turn on your choice of music for the day, and brew up some hot coffee for you and hot chocolate for the kids…maybe warm some bread in the oven for breakfast, or cook pancakes!
Whether you have your own traditional Christmas breakfast, let the kids choose what they fancy on the day, miss breakfast altogether and just have chocolate, or give them a surprise party breakfast (‘North Pole Breakfast’), try to make it different to other days, for you too. Add something they don’t usually have, whether it’s something visual, like special napkins, or a food or drink item. Children really love and cherish family traditions, so anything that happens ONLY on Christmas Day, will be etched fondly into their minds forever…
In our house, the kids always choose Fruity American Style Pancakes, or what they’ve renamed as ‘Purple Pancakes‘, soaked in delicious Canadian maple syrup and smothered with frosty berries. Ours have to be gluten, egg and dairy free, but you could just add berries into your normal mix to add a gorgeous rich purple colour.
Many families do what’s called a North Pole Breakfast, often linked up to their ‘Elf On the Shelf’ tradition. It can range from being very healthy, to being an outrageously magical ‘eyes on stalks’ party breakfast: a fully decorated breakfast table full of sweet treats, with things laid out to look like Christmas trees, elves, reindeer…chocolate milkshakes to be drunk with candy cane straws, strawberries dressed as Santa hats, the edges of drinking glasses dipped in melted chocolate and sprinkles…anything goes as long as it’s Christmassy! Have a look on our ever growing Pinterest board for North Pole Breakfast ideas. If the idea intrigues you but you’re not sure you’re up for it, you can just do one or two of the more healthy things. You may not want to be up all night on Christmas Eve preparing it, or just don’t want the kids to eat their own weight in sugar first thing in the morning. The key for the WOW! factor, is that the kids don’t catch wind of it beforehand, it just *appears*. Again, it can either be from you, or left by Father Christmas after his visit the night before.
Christmas Rope Trails
This is genius. It can be done either inside the house, in the garden, by Father Christmas, or it can be set up later in the day as a bit of family fun. It would also be fantastic on Christmas Eve or Boxing Day too…
*age appropriate obviously, and accompany them if needs be to ensure they don’t get tangled!
From the start of a length of rope, which is tied to something (a tree, a chair, a door handle…), the children then follow it to it’s end to find a gift, candy, riddle, item of clothing to put on, a task, or problem to solve. There can be as many lengths of rope as you like, and unless you live on a large estate, I’d consider having them all starting from one room and then ending somewhere else in the house or garden! The rope can be as long as you can make it. It can go up the stairs, into a room and out again and back downstairs BUT they can only follow one rope at a time I promise you, they will sound like a shrieking stampede of happy reindeer! This is the outdoor version…
Candy Cane Orchard
Another thing you can do on Christmas Eve, is to get the kids to plant candy cane sweets or mentos, and when they wake on Christmas morning, they’ve magically grown into candy canes overnight!
A Candy Cane or Chocolate Coin Hunt
Children really love hunting for eggs at Easter time, so why not extend the same idea to Christmas day? You can hide Candy Canes around your house or garden. They don’t have to be from Father Christmas, they can be from you. Later on in the day will spread the excitement, and you could even leave a trail of clues to find a Candy Cane bundle or pot of treasure (chocolate gold coins) at the end.
Our kids put out their stockings underneath the Christmas tree, by the fire. On Christmas morning, they’re absolutely breathless with excitement as they come downstairs and open the door. There’s always the ‘has he hasn’t he’ question hanging in the air until they turn the corner…more suspense. I love it!
As a child they were always at the ends of our beds, but the ‘downstairs tradition’ started because our eldest would happily get up at 3am for the day when she was 3-4 years old and I’m utterly hopeless on no sleep, as are two of our three kids! However you do it, definitely put in a request to Father Christmas to include something to do, something to eat, something to make and something to share. This will keep them going until you’ve had time to wake up properly!
Delay Opening Christmas Presents
As a child we could open our stocking presents when we woke up, but we had to wait until after church to open our main presents under the Christmas tree (noon ish). The waiting would make us turn ourselves inside out in to total knots, BUT I have to say – the waiting was a good thing! More suspense for us, plus we still had presents to open when all our friends had already opened all theirs by breakfast time. However you do it, do it at the same time of day each year and make it a big family affair. Get the nibbles out, pop on some music, gather together and have fun!
Our presents were always wrapped in old newspaper, or wrapping paper salvaged from the previous years. I remember opening one present from my Mum & Dad that had ‘from Granny & Grandpa’ crossed out. They’d both been dead 6 years! I know it sounds awful and horrifying, but it was actually very funny, and to have that wonderful fond reminder of years gone by. It became a bit of a thing to try and keep the paper going for as many years as possible, guessing who the present was actually from and to!
That Eccentric Awful Present
Start with one adult giving it to another – a totally unsuitable, truly awful, boring, ghastly, ‘oh that’s nice darling’ present. This present then reappears regifted to another adult the next year…and so the tradition has been set. Each year, this same present gets passed around the family and no-one knows who’s going to get it next. If ever it goes out of circulation, you MUST find another one to add in years to come. When everyone it least expects it…
Sedate or Frenzied?
You need a present opening system, even if you decide not to have one! Some families open one thing at a time and everyone watches, while others become Edward Scissorhands, with a growing pile of wrapping paper finally engulfing the entire family approximately 19 seconds from kick-off. Whatever works for you, stick to it. The kids will love it just the way it is.
Make a Meal of the Meal
Even if you’re having the most simple meal on Christmas Day, inject some Christmas where you can. Younger children absolutely love contributing to the decorations on the table: both making them and setting them out. They could make Christmas trees out of napkins, set out some tea lights so you can all eat by candle light, and lay out far too many Christmas crackers… for table inspiration, have a peek at our Pinterest board, Christmas Table. Plan, decide and execute!
If you have the time, how about making a layered Christmas Mocktail for the kids as a surprise, or pop some pre prepared homemade frozen Layered Fruit Juice Cubes into sparkling water for them? Something lovely, just for them.
Something like a Chocolate & Fruit Fondue would make a foody treat the kids would really look forward to. A perfect post meal Christmas pudding substitute, or a fun and delicious mid afternoon treat. Easy Recipe: 10 minutes max. You can prepare the fruit the day before. Then together in a pan, just melt 1 1/2 cups of chocolate chips (or pre-smashed chocolate), with a can of condensed milk, and pop it into a serving bowl for dipping. It might even keep the kids occupied while you collapse for five minutes.
Christmas Concert / Talent Show
A little bit of silliness goes a very long way on Christmas Day. It doesn’t need to be formal at all, but a game or ‘something’ you all do together as a family will mean such a lot to the kids. Whether it’s a talent show, ‘Silly Stories’, the dreaded charades, a particular board game or something else, the kids will treasure this as part of their childhood Christmas memories.
Grab A Bauble
Select a plain bauble each year and get each child to grab it, with the palms of their hands covered in paint. It will decorate the bauble with the most perfect hand print, which you then add the date, name and age of the child to make a really wonderful keepsake.
Hide The Last Gift!
The kids will be over the moon to hear there’s ‘one more pressie’, and even more over the moon if there’s a treasure hunt attached to it! Just a small hidden gift and a riddle to solve…bingo!
Share Some Christmas Spirit
As a child I absolutely loved having extra family members and friends around on Christmas Day. It made it much more chaotic, eccentric and fun. More importantly, it made it feel more special. It needn’t be more work, everyone can pitch in and help.
Please do consider the elderly and those alone on Christmas Day. They may have had years of having their own children around, but roll on the years and suddenly they have no-one. If you do have any neighbours who you know will be on their own, how about taking a homemade gift or treat round to them? It’s not for every family, but they may really appreciate being invited to join you for all or part of the day too.
Christmas Day isn’t Christmas Day without almost everyone fast asleep in front of a film is it? Whether it’s in the afternoon or evening, make it a regular feature and relax! Have a look at our Pinterest board for some Christmas Movie inspiration and please let us know in a comment below if you can recommend others!
Do Something Random
Children love all things which are eccentric and cause laughter, it makes them feel safe. Whether it’s that you serve the lettuce in a jug, you have a carrying the ham up and down the stairs ceremony, or you all cover Uncle Jimmy in sheets of paper when he’s nodded off…involve the kids and repeat each year.
Have bowls of Christmas treats that everyone can help themselves to – just from Christmas Eve or Christmas Day: tangerines and apples, a bowl of nuts in their shells with nutcrackers, twiglets, sugared almonds, mixed flavoured crisps, dates, Quality Street…
Chocolate – close to many of our hearts! Whether it’s a chocolate orange, chocolate coins, a perfectly acceptably
obscenely large bar of chocolate, or chocolate in a large net stocking – children will remember having this fondly!
I’d love to hear of any other Christmas Day traditions that you have, so please leave them in a comment below!
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