start making some Christmas traditions this year……….

We’re in November, the Christmas decorations are out in the shops…oh no wait they’ve been out for ages, dates are in the diary for the Christmas concert and rehearsals, discussions are being made about who is hosting lunch and the catalogues are coming into my letterbox each day full of present ideas, decorations and stuff.

And I get busy at this time of year and in December. But we have some lovely traditions that didn’t start out as traditions but just happen each year and before you know it you need to do them each Christmas. And I thought I’d share them because I’m sure I’m not the only one who wants our children to grow up with an appreciation for Christmas and the importance in our calender.

1. Hold off on those decorations

…..until the 1st December or the first sunday of Advent. Retro daddy gets all the decorations out, the kids lay out the tree branches (we are a plastic tree family here) and we put up the tree and the kids go to town putting the decos up. I like to have a bit of music going in the background and it’s a lot of fun………….one sided tree fun but lots of fun.

2. Go to church each Sunday in Advent

One of the reasons I love being catholic is all of the symbolism and tradition. Man we love our symbols, candles, incense and rituals. Christmas is a wonderful time with a candle lit in the Advent wreath on each Sunday of Advent. The sermons have wonderful stories that the children can start to listen to (I’m always in hope that my little ones might be listening) and if children’s liturgy is going on at church then it’s a great way to prepare for Christmas in a way that isn’t about your list for Santa. And the nativity scene might be out waiting for baby Jesus. If you haven’t been going to church or have been thinking about coming back then now is the time. It’s just a special time of year and a perfect opportunity to come back.

standing room only at church

3. Get involved in the Christmas nativity

This is one of my favourite things about Christmas. I was absolutely hanging out for Keira to get involved in the nativity at Christmas Eve mass and she and tillie just love it. Finn….not so much. I did put his name down as a shepherd but he gets stage fright…………..unlike his sister.

It’s a great way for the little ones to be involved on Christmas Eve or day and learn about the Christmas story and just have fun. We’ve been doing it for a few years now, Elodie was baby Jesus for her first Christmas and I can see plenty of Christmas nativities ahead of us. It’s also a great reason to get to church early and nab the best seats for mass.

4. Do something for others

This is a big one that we love in our house. Every year at church we have the opportunity to make up a hamper for a family in need. Our first Christmas before keira was born we were down at Manly parish and made up our first hamper. And as our family has grown over the years we have decided to pick the largest family on the tree or board and make up a washing basket full of goodies. I do a special shop for it and retro daddy always reminds me of what would be great in there. The little ones learn that people are doing it tough and that we can do something simple that means so much. I always tell them imagine how someone is going to feel when they receive this basket this year at Christmas. So keep an eye out for hamper collections. we do ours through Vinnies and there are wishing trees and charity call outs so keep an eye out for them. And if no one is doing it at your school then maybe it’s time to organise it this year. Another fabulous Christmas charity is Operation Christmas Child run by Samaritan’s Purse and you can find out more info on their website and there are collection points all over Australia.

5. Start reading Christmas stories

Our library has a few tubs out in the children’s section with Christmas dvd’s and stories and we got a few books out and will read them together. It’s a great way for the big kids to read to the little ones and just get excited about Christmas.

6. Start practising those Christmas carols

I’ve found my sheet music for the Christmas carols and intend to belt out a few (with some mistakes) and teach the kids some carols. Look out for the local carols at school or in the neighbourhood and make a night of it. Our school had their first carols last night and it was just gorgeous……….sure I was juggling all 5 on my own but we had so much fun with our chips, blanket and fake candles. You just need to look in the paper for the nearest ones.

7. Make some gingerbread houses

We love gingerbread house making in our house! It’s so much fun and the kids just love it. I will admit it that it can get a bit stressful, I’ve made my own gingerbread from scratch one year but then started buying kits. Often schools and churches have a decorating night and it is so much fun so try to get along to one. So much fun!!!!!!!!!!!

I think the Gingerbread house kits from Gingerbread Folk are still the best (and now they do gluten free, woohoo) but if you’re on a budget pick up one, buy extra lollies, make your own icing and get cracking. Try to do it on a cool day, make one yourself and let the kids go crazy.

8. The Santa Photo

I totally embrace the santa photo…..I know it’s not for everyone, it gets more expensive every year and last year when I tried to beat the queue at DJs and Westfield it totally backfired with the worst santa photo we’ve had as they just didn’t have enough room for us. This year I’ve been invited to have our photo taken at the QVB and I’ve jumped at the chance.

What are your Christmas traditions or what would you like to start this year?


  1. I love Christmas traditions and we share a lot of these. Christmas tree is first weekend in December and the kids get to decorate (and then I quickly even it up so it doesn’t topple over from being too lop sided).

    Each year my kids chose a tag from the wishing tree at our local shopping centre and they then get to chose something that matches the child/description. This is very special for them and allows us to talk about how fortunate we are to live where we do and have what we have.

    Santa photo is always on the list, although this will be the first Santa photo following a very HONEST conversation with my 10 year old son earlier this year, prompted by him – I was very happy to keep going for a while yet :-(…

    Our local church run preschool holds a Gingerbread House night which is so much fun. Some mums take kids, but that is waaaayy too stressful for me!

    What I have purchased the last few years though, is a gingerbread house kit from Aldi. They are a much simpler design than a traditional house (think tent like, triangular shape) which makes it really easy for the kids to do. They come with a few decorations, but I always buy a few extra. They then go to town, decorating it and eating half of the decorations along the way.

    This year we will also go to church for the first time. Neither my husband or I grew up in religious families, so have never been to church (except for friends weddings) but I think it will be really special for all of us to broaden our horizons.

  2. Hi Corrie, I’ve just finished making a garland of knitted pine trees decorated with vintage buttons. It looks great. Each tree took 20-25 minutes so could be done in a few minutes snatched from something else.

    My decorations go up after the last Sunday in Advent because that’s the start of the Christmas season. Advent, along with All Saints Sunday , is my favourite season in the church year. Such wonderful music and hymns.

    I attend an Anglocatholic inner city church and love the different seasons. Very close in traditions and practice to St Johns at Dee Why. We have a wreath and processions and vast clouds of incense. Nativity scene with baby Jesus towards end of Advent.

    Your children will carry on those traditions as my grandchildren now do some of mine.

  3. Another person putting up my hand for Christmas traditions. We have a big European-style celebration on Christmas Eve, which always means trying to squeeze in a visit to church before the guests arrive!

    Here is my list of dates for a stress-free Christmas:

  4. We have a few traditions, Xmas tree goes up on the first Saturday in December – although with a much smaller house and an aquarium where the tree went the first year we were in this house I bought a much smaller tree to put on the entertainment unit! I wonder what the dogs thoughts will be on the tree?! Hmm, it might have to go on top of the aquarium instead!

    Because we break up so much earlier than other schools we usually take advantage of limited queues and hop into the city and have our Santa pic taken early. We look at the DJ’s window displays, have the photo taken, have lunch in the city then get the bus home.

    I usually soak the fruit for the Xmas cake the day after Amelia’s birthday (in September) and make the cake labour weekend (the one I usually make takes 8 hours to bake!) but as I have gone GF it’s only really hubby who eats it now and last year the cakes I make went mouldy. I will experiment with a different recipe this year.

    My SIL usually go out for a day together ending up at The Lord Nelson in the Rocks where the boys and kids come and meet us. We talk about what the menu will be for the year while we wander the shops, who will host and what other plans they have on Xmas morning.

    Before Amelia, Stef and I would go to midnight mass Xmas Eve but the past 6 out of 8 Xmas’s he’s been working or sleeping and I haven’t been game to go alone. Maybe next year.

    We loved doing Xmas Child with guides but seem to have missed out on that this year.

  5. we do not put the tree up until dec 1st, always been the way even when I was a child.
    We are doing the elf on the shelf this year for the first time, so my boys are excited about the elf coming to stay.
    New PJ on Christmas eve and a special drink for them, cookies for santa and a carrot for the reindeer.
    Get up early and open presents and watch the childrens joy.

  6. liveseygirl says:

    Lovely traditions. We have done our Operation Christmas Child box. My eldest is nearly 4 and loved doing this. We choose a decoration every year for the tree. We go to church through the year but go to a special Christingle service on Christmas Eve. It’s lovely because the kids make their own Christingles and learn about the symbolism and then the Christmas story is read and there are some child friendly carols. We want to start a Christmas eve box this year. I am going to put new pajamas, snacks, and a story/dvd in.

  7. I saw on pinterest today a pin I pinned awhile back that I’ve wrote down to do this year instead of a gingerbread house – its a gingerbread nativity

    How does Emerson and Elodie go at church ?- I’ve tried taking my two (same ages) a couple of times through the year and they cant stay still for the length of time and get a bit disruptive and I kind of feel like we shouldn’t be there.

  8. We do lots of similar traditions with the tree up the first weekend of December and gingerbread house decorating, my kids each choose a gift for a child of the same age for the Wishing Tree and we always buy a bale of hay and leave carrots and a bucket of water for Santa’s reindeer. We also do a Christmas Eve present of new summer pj’s – started as a nice idea and became a tradition :) but our craziest tradition is checking for reindeer poo on the street on Christmas morning (hint for novices: alpaca poo doesn’t smell and is convincingly reindeer like lol). Luckily we live in a quiet little cul de sac and all the neighbours play along…

  9. Love Christmas. We do the tree after the first of December, I make honey biscuits every year. We are trying a new tradition this year no chocolate advent calendar my mother in law has got us a Christian advent calendar with great messages and I went out and got the Lego friend advent box, plus I read a wonderful tradition on pinterest when you return from church on Christmas Eve there is one present under the tree one person gets to open it and in it is new pjs for everyone to wear on Christmas morning plus one Christmas book to read that night before bed and one Christmas DVD to watch the next day. That’s what we are doing this year.

  10. I take the kids with me every year to DJs and let them choose their own decoration for the tree, we are slowly building up a nice collection and hopefully one day I can pass it onto them when they have their own kids. We also buy a gift for someone in need from the Christmas Tree at Mass, but I always try to buy a gift for a little girl as I only have two boys and I so miss buying all the girlie stuff!

  11. Jane Martyn says:

    Our children always recieved a present on Christmas Eve of a Christmas story and a new pair of pyjamas (so they looked good in the Christmas morning photos of course!) They loved donning their new PJ’s and reading their books. Now they are 21, 19 and 19 I suggested no PJ’s this year and got a look of horror – that is tradition, bless them – I like that they have traditional souls like their parents. We also attended carols by candlelight and have delighted at watching our daughter perform at them for many years. We also have a family decoration time on December 1 – in fact, Retro MUmmy – we do things almost exactly the same as you!

  12. I would love to be a ginger bread house maker, but I am so crap at it, those joins are way too hard for me, last year I called it a day on the ye old ginger bread house.

  13. Sally-Anne says:

    Lots of traditions, from Christmas light viewing on all the streets nearby (there’s a plethora in one particular street, with funds donated to charity), Carols at the oval up the road (LOVE living so close that we can walk), to a shared advent calendar (it’s wooden, and it has all the bells and whistles (literally)), to making our own Christmas cards, to my own recipe for pudding (can’t stand peel, nor glace fruit, and am allergic to nuts), to truffles and rum balls, to everyone having a decorating “job”. Lots of others, too.

    We gave up on Santa photos 14 years ago. It invariably resulted in tears for at least one child, so refused to subject them to it anymore.

  14. We also put our decorations up on the 1st of December. The kids love to be involved in Christmas baking especially batches and batches of rumballs to give as gifts and the making of the plum pud. We are lucky to be part of the Lobethal Pageant and also the Lobethal Living Nativity. One of the best/easiest Christmas traditions we have started spontaneously. Just before Christmas Eve we make “reindeer food” which is just rolled oats, birdseed and glitter. We put it into cello bags with a label about it being a special flight enhancing formula and instructions to sprinkle it on your drive on Christmas eve, and then we visit a few neighbourhood kids with it. My own littlies love to sprinkle the reindeer food!

  15. Perfect reading for me. This year will be our first christmas at home with kids so my mind is spinning on what traditions we should start and include. Hadn’t even thought about the santa photo, will have to include that!

  16. Another thing I do on christmas eve is a christmas movie.

  17. I can’t wait to take Max for his first Christmas photo with Santa.

  18. Since moving to Sweden and having our wee one our tradition has been to Skype Australia both days. My Mums family do a traditional German Xmas on the 24th and my Dad’s family have Xmas day itself. We have a roast chook for a late lunch and we watch Kalle Anka ( which is broadcast every 24th December here in Sweden. Another one I’ve just remembered is to make pepparkakor/gingerbread biscuits one weekend in the lead up to Christmas. This year I plan on letting my almost three year old have a bigger hand in helping to make them and then take some down to our 92 year old neighbours downstairs.

  19. We have so many traditions here that the children never let me forget. We have our advent wreath and calendar, ( though we do activities not chocolates or lollies for the calendar), on St Nicholas day the children get chocolate coins and new Xmas books in the shoes that they have left out for St Nick. We now have a huge collection of Xmas books that come out at the beginning of Advent and go away in January. It guarantees a very quiet first few weeks of December with everybody reading the books that they haven’t seen for 12 months. We do reindeer food, the wishing tree or something similar and we always go to look at the Xmas lights on St Lucia day as she is the patron of Light. We also do the Nativity play and a special breakfast after mass on Xmas morning by ourselves regardless on what we are doing for the rest of the day. Tree, decorations and xmas books all disappear on the 6 Jan. Lots of memories made!

  20. This is a great read! We will be away for Christmas this year but are looking forward to having a special Christmas with our 2 little munchkins next year :)

  21. We have a new fresh set of pjs wrapped under the tree that we all as a family open on Christmas eve night. the kids think its awesome to open a present early and everyone has nice pjs to sleep in while santa checks on them :)

Leave a Comment


Optionally add an image (JPEG only)