Christmas is a time for family and good cheer, where we reminisce on the old times and toast to new ones ahead. One of the best parts of the holiday, undoubtedly, is marking our celebrations with our favourite family traditions. Here are some of the best.
1. Hanging stockings
The age-old tradition of hanging stockings over the mantelpiece is a lovely way to get the entire household involved in the preparations for Santa's arrival. Originating from the legend of Saint Nicholas, who was said to have left presents in the stockings and shoes of little children, this tradition adds a touch of magic from Christmas days gone by.
2. Putting out food for Santa and Rudolph
No matter how many gifts are lying under that tree, nothing brings the magic of Christmas to life quite like preparing for the arrival of the man in the big red suit. The sense of anticipation and excitement that comes from setting out a plate of mince pies and a glass of milk for Santa, and of course a carrot for Rudolph, cannot be topped for a young child.
3. Going in to see the lights being turned on
Half of the excitement for the festive season is in the build-up, and the turning on of the sparkly lights in the city or village is always a sure sign that Christmas is on its way. Gathering the entire family together to see the place lit up and full of festive cheer is a special way to mark the beginning of the festivities.
4. Kriskindle/ Secret Santa
Whether you choose to do it among your immediate family or your friends and relatives, Kriskindle or Secret Santa is a great way to capture the true spirit of Christmas. Rather than getting lost in a never-ending list of toys and presents, selecting the perfect gift for one loved-one serves as a reminder that Christmas is a time to be together and appreciate those around us.
5. Decorating the tree together
In an age where it has become increasingly more difficult to get the family all together in one room, the decoration of the Christmas tree remains one of the few sacred traditions that brings everyone together. From reminiscing over Christmases gone by to sharing funny anecdotes about your age-old decorations, putting up the tree always results in a good bonding session.
6. The nativity play
It may be a school production, but the kids' nativity is a family affair. Whether the little one is taking centre stage in the main role or playing a tree in the background, their big stage performance calls for brothers, sisters, grandparents (and occasionally the next door neighbour) to gather around and listen to the story of Christmas.
7. Opening the advent calendar together
Who can resist the excitement of cracking open a window in the advent calendar to see what's waiting behind? This is a time-old tradition that gets everyone - young and old - excited and literally counting down the days until December 25th.
8. The Christmas carol service/ mass
With so much of our time taken up with finding the perfect gift for our loved ones, that annual carol service or church ceremony on the 24th or 25th of December truly brings the meaning of Christmas right back, in the most special way possible. From the choir singing carols to the sight of the nativity scene, this is always a special part of Christmas that brings all the family together.
9. Christmas crafts
What would Christmas be without the aroma of home-baked cookies in the house, or some fun and creative crafts? The festive season serves up the perfect opportunity for all the family to get together and get creative. Whether it's lending a hand with the Christmas cake or helping a little one with some homemade decorations, getting stuck into some home crafts will make the season that bit more special.
10. Visiting Christmas markets
Take a break from the madness of the city centre and its overflowing toy stores, and get all the family together for a trip to the markets. Nothing will get you into the Christmas spirit more than poring over some homemade baking and crafts while sipping on some mulled wine to the sounds of your favourite carols.
11. Watching Christmas movies
Get a stack of everyone's favourite Christmas movies, clear some time, sit down and enjoy. Whether you're sharing a laugh over Elf, shedding tears over It's A Wonderful Life, or quoting Home Alone, this is one Christmas tradition that everyone in the family will look forward to and enjoy.
12. Wearing Christmas jumpers
This is probably the only time of the year when every member of the family gets excited about wearing the most ridiculous piece of clothing in their wardrobe. From Christmas parties to dinner in the grandparents' house, expect plenty to laughs as each member of family tries to out-do the other with their wacky woollies!