With two sleeps to go to Christmas morning I’ll never get my act together for any Pinterest style Christmas posts! As usual I never managed to work through an advent calendar – frankly I’m still patting myself on the back for turning three pillowcases and half a roll of tinfoil into one angel and one shepherd outfit. But – if you’re looking for some last-minute handy (read: easy) ideas to make Christmas your own, here’s a few of our own little traditions that might work in your family.
1. Put up some homemade decorations
We’ve made a stack of homemade decorations over the years. These salt dough ones are easy – if messy. My favourite though are these stamped twinkling canvases – which a good few years later are still doing the rounds. This year we made lovely paper garlands / chains from funky strips of pretty paper from Sostrene Grene. You can easily make them with strips of wrapping paper or newspaper and the look fab. All keeping small hands busy for a few minutes for the win.
2. Start a snuggle box
We don’t give the kids big Christmas pressies – leaving that for the big fella himself. Every year though I fill a cardboard box with a collection of bits and pieces – new pyjamas, the Christmas outfits, new socks, underwear, some sweets, a Christmas book or two, foamy shower gel (for a snowy Christmas Eve shower / bath), a few stocking filler style bits and a board game. I used to put in a DVD but we don’t even have a player anymore. We call it the Snuggle Box and it’s the most hotly awaited treat of Christmas Eve.
Even though it’s mostly packed with ordinary things I’d be picking up anyway, it’s one of the kids absolute favourite Christmas things. And I’m hopeful that when the magic of Christmas changes a little bit (iykwim), the Snuggle Box will stay.
3. Have a drink with the neighbours
One of my loveliest memories from my tiny years through to my teens, was Christmas Eve drinks in our neighbours ‘across the road’. We were probably only over there for two hours but it felt like an eternity! I was a heady 1980’s mix of pretzel sticks and fizzy drinks. We begged to go over there and once we arrived, begged to go home – just in case Santa came and went while we were out.
It’s a lovely thing to do – and as easily organised as sending a text.
4. Pick a Christmas movie
Anyone over 40 surely remembers holding out for the Christmas movie ad on RTÉ and the BBC and then marking up endless ‘must watch’ movies in the Christmas Edition of the RTÉ Guide. This year’s Netflix offering for family and Christmas movies is well worth checking out. So far we’ve loved Miracle on 34th Street (though the remake isn’t a patch on the original IMHO); Arthur Christmas, and some of the Christmas specials from the likes of Timmy Time and Home. We’re saving A Christmas Prince and Jingle All the Way, Deck the Halls for lazy Holiday afternoons. For older kids Scrooged! is a must see and for myself Love Actually deserves another watch – and half a box of Quality Street.
5. Make some gifts
Don’t be mad and brave the shops – throw your hand at some last-minute gift making. There’s not much that doesn’t look fabulous in chunky glass jar with a brown paper tag. Bake some cookies and split the batch between Santa and a few gifts. My favourite completely reliable cookie recipe with cranberries and white chocolate ticks all the festive boxes. You can make the cookies or even gift the dough uncooked – though you’d need to know it will be properly stored. Homemade sweets – fudge, caramel and peppermint bites have made perfect gifts for me in the past and a few batches are knocked out in an hour or two. Surely the most festive gift is Mincemeat and my friend Emily has posted a really lovely sugar and fat free recipe on her blog The Nest, that I intend to make a batch of today.
Salt scrubs are simple to make and need nothing except ordinary ingredients you’d have at home. You just mix half a cup of coarse salt and half a cup of oil (almond or olive) and a teaspoon of lavender or lemon oil and pop it in a jar. Sugar scrubs are great too. My favourite is a Vanilla and Coconut oil one – made with half a cup of coconut oil (softened in the microwave), half cup of brown sugar and half a teaspoon of vanilla (fresh, paste or essence), all mixed together. Again lash these in a jar and they are ready to go.
6. Throw in a walk
Now put down those Quality Street and get up off the couch and head off for a waddle. One of my favourite things is a walk on Christmas or Stephen’s Day morning, seeing little kids out on new bikes and skates. Even better talk a walk for the Goal Mile and raise a few quid for a good cause. Blast out the cobwebs and then you’ll really feel like you deserve a little glass of wine.
7. Tuck into an easy Christmas breakfast
Christmas Day is so stuffed with food that I don’t worry too much about making a fancy breakfast. We boil the Christmas ham the night before so Christmas Day breakfast is slices of ham slapped on slices of homemade ‘Lazy Bread’ and a large mug of coffee. The bread is one that proves overnight and just has to be baked first thing with no fuss or hard work at all. Alternatively soda bread is always reliable – and equally gorgeous with freshly cooked ham. A lovely simple start to a busy day.
8. Pack a box for when the kids leave home!
Every year, I get each of the kids a little decoration, write their name and the year on it (just with a black Sharpie – nothing fancy) and hang it on the tree. The idea is that when they (eventually) leave home they’ll have a little box of decorations to cover their own tree.
Happy Christmas to you and yours. May the come down from the power rush of ‘Santa’s watching’ be kind to you.
As a member of the Netflix Stream Team I have been given, free of charge, an Apple TV and year-long subscription to the Netflix streaming service. At all times the opinions given will be independent and my own.