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How to celebrate Christmas with family

father reading to his daughter at Chrismas

For most of us, celebrating Christmas with family can be a joyous and magical time. There’s something so special about seeing Christmas through your children’s eyes.

However, Christmas can also feel a little daunting when trying to make sure you have everything covered. To help ease some of that we’ve put together a few classic ideas and helpful hints to get you through the build-up, the day itself and beyond. So, grab a mince pie and take a look at some of the ways to make the most of the festive season.

In the days and weeks before Christmas there are plenty of things you can do as a family in December to capture festive cheer and start to make magical memories.

Decorating is one of the first things to come to mind. Whether you want to go all-out, or keep it more subtle, you can get the whole family involved. Maybe take an afternoon with the kids to make some Christmas decorations? This could be paper chains for the tree, snowflakes for the window or toilet roll Santa’s for the mantel. If you’re not feeling crafty, start by putting up a Christmas tree and let your children help decorate.

With Christmas spirit in full flow, consider visiting a local Christmas market. If you don’t have one close by, wander around your local area looking for Christmas light displays. You could ask everyone to vote for their favourite display and then leave a note letting them know what you liked the most.

Traditional Christmas dinner, especially when cooking for a large number of people, may not be something you’re looking forward to. To make it more fun, involve everyone in the family. Depending on the age of your children, they could help peel vegetables, set the table or alternatively, if you have family coming to you on Christmas day, assign visitors a dish to bring with them to help with the stress. To help you feel prepared we’d recommend making a list of elements you want for your Christmas lunch (think turkey, stuffing, roast potatoes, peas, carrots, stuffing etc. as well as dessert and drinks), then create a list of the ingredients needed. For longer shelf life items – or if you have space in your freezer - start to buy a week or two in advance.

Something the kids will love to do is to write a letter to Santa or meet the main man. Even though queues at the grotto can feel never-ending, the excitement and awe they’ll experience is infectious. If you’d prefer not to visit a grotto, help your child write a letter to Santa. You could even get a personalised reply from him, thanks to the NSPCC’s letter from Santa.

What to do on Christmas Eve with family

Christmas Eve is possibly the most magical day during the festive season. The anticipation and excitement for the following day is palatable, so there’s no better time to spend with family. Here are some of our favourite things to do:

  1. Watch a Christmas movie: Enjoy a festive movie night with your family. Choose a classic Christmas film or watch a recently released one with some popcorn and hot chocolate for a cosy evening. Don’t forget matching pyjamas and fluffy slippers - these are perfect for a Christmas Eve box!

  2. Bake Christmas treats: Spend the morning baking together. Make cookies, gingerbread houses, or mince pies. This can be a fun activity that everyone can participate in, and you get to enjoy delicious homemade treats afterward!

  3. Read Christmas stories: In matching pjs and with a hot chocolate grab your favourite story and curl up on the sofa or in bed. We think this is the perfect way to end the day.

  4. Cookies and carrots: Just before going to bed, let your little one help you make up a little plate for Santa and his reindeer. The elves tell us that cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer tend to go down well!

  5. Light the Christmas Eve candle: Another UK tradition you may wish to adopt involves lighting a special candle called the "Christmas Eve candle." Gather the family around, dim the lights, and light the candle together. This can create a warm and cozy atmosphere.

What to do on Christmas Day with family

It’s here! The long awaited day has arrived. With all the planning and festive activities you’ve already undertaken, it may feel like there is nothing else to do, but never fear – we’ve got a few ideas.

Many families start the day by exchanging gifts and sharing a heartfelt breakfast together. If you have presents to open gather around the tree to exchange them with one another. Each person can take turns opening a present, this way the experience can be elongated and also allows everyone an opportunity to show appreciation for each gift.

Following a scrumptious Christmas lunch, which often features a roast turkey with all the trimmings, pull on your wellies and take a leisurely post-lunch walk together, getting some fresh air, can help avoid the post lunch snooze as well as letting your children expel any pent up energy they may still have.

Most of us have probably played a parlour game or two on Christmas day, so why not continue that tradition with your family? Charades, quizzes and Who am I? are popular choices. You can always opt for a board game or two if preferred.

Later in the day, cosying up for a family movie or watching a classic Christmas film is a great idea. Snuggle on the sofa with blankets and indulge in some quality time together. If you’re not too full, treat yourselves to a cheeky Christmas treat or something mulled.

What to do on Boxing day with family

After the festivities of Christmas Day, it can feel like the fun stops and things start to return to normal. Making plans for Boxing day (and even beyond) helps keep the magic alive that little bit longer. If you’re struggling for things to do, we have a couple of suggestions below:

  • Get crafty with the kids, helping them making thank you cards.

  • Take the time to try out new presents - whether that’s a game you can all play together or a little fashion show by your children showcasing any new outfits they received.

  • Have a little sort out to make room for all their new toys. Donate gently-used items they’ve not played with for a while to charity to spread cheer to others.

  • Bundle up and head outdoors for a walk to explore nature. Many scenic areas offer beautiful winter landscapes that are perfect for a family hike or leisurely walk. It's a great way to spend quality time together while getting some exercise and fresh air.

  • If you didn’t get round to playing games on Christmas Day, gather your family for a fun and engaging game afternoon. Play board games, card games, or even video games if that's what your family enjoys. It's an opportunity to bond, laugh, and create lasting memories together.

  • Visit family and friends who you’ve not seen in the run up to Christmas. If you don’t want people popping over, suggest a group walk or meeting for an eggnog.

  • Visit winter attractions: Take advantage of the winter season by exploring local winter attractions like ice skating rinks, winter festivals, or holiday markets. Enjoy some seasonal treats and embrace the festive atmosphere.