Wednesday 18 November 2009

Rules for a Perfect Family Christmas

Yes, yes, I know it's a little soon. And I also know that there is rarely such a thing - in a modern family - as a 'perfect family Christmas'. But we can all hope, and it never hurts to set your stall out early on these things, so when I was asked to participate in John Lewis's 'Rules for a Perfect Christmas' campaign I decided that now was as good a time as any to outline some of ours.

1) Children...

...should be seen and heard no more loudly than, say, a light aircraft. Jet engine levels of noise are strongly discouraged. And rocket ship levels will not be tolerated apart from on Christmas morning itself during present opening. (Grandparents are strongly advised to turn off their hearing aids during this time. Everyone else - there's cotton wool in the bathroom cabinet).

And on a more practical note, posting a letter up the chimney is all very well but what if you live in a house with no chimney, as we do? Simple; the rule in our house is that the children write Santa a note with a short summary of their Christmas list. Leave it with the carrot, mince pie and glass of sherry / whiskey / red wine / whatever you've convinced them is his favourite tipple (funny that it's the same as yours, isn't it?). Then, once the tots are in bed, cut a potato in half, carve the bottom of one of them into a semblance of a reindeer hoof, wipe some mud on it from the garden, and leave Rudolf's hoofprint on their note for them to find on the end of their beds with the stocking in the morning. Watch their faces when they see it. Magic.

2) The Christmas meal

Ignore the brussels' sprouts that your mum prepares every year as part of Christmas lunch. Whilst this will not make them disappear in a puff of smoke (because of course they do that anyway when they eventually get eaten, boom boom), it will mean there are enough of them left over on Boxing Day to be turned into soup with the left over ham stock from Christmas Eve. Quite how the most noxious vegetable known to man can be turned into one of the world's most delicious soups I don't know, but there you go, it works - you heard it here first.

3) The in-laws

Be kind. One day - with luck - you'll be in their shoes.

4) Entertainment

Pull out the box of Pictionary and / or Trivial Pursuit. Divide into 2 teams; men vs women. Light blue touch paper and retire 10 paces to watch in wonder as the family ignites...

For a more congenial experience, our family rule is that there must be a trip to see The Polar Express in 3D at the London Imax. Watch the animated snow fall inches from your children's noses as they reach out to try and touch it, and round the afternoon off with tea in one of the Southbank restaurants. Beats braving the Christmas crush on the local high street any day of the week.

5) Decorations

The tree and the decorations are never - NEVER - to be put up until a maximum of 3 days pre-Christmas. This means that the magic is all the fresher once the big day arrives. Tree decorations should preferably include:

  • home-made tat that you made at school 35 years ago which your mum still can't bring herself to throw out and so has passed it on to you for 'recycling'
  • garish balding tinsel that you insisted on buying when you were seven and bling was the new black, and which your mum has been delighted to finally pass on to you with the insistence that since she had to use it for 35 years, so should you...
  • tasteful designer glass baubles you bought on a pre-child trip to Prague and which you put as high up as possible to stop small hands interfering with them
  • home-made gingerbread cookies lovingly baked and decorated by yourself and the children and which you proudly hang on the tree, only to discover that the mouse problem you thought you'd dealt with last May needs attention once more...

Note; the 3 day rule is allowed to be broken if Christmas is not being spent at home, obviously; there's nothing worse than arriving back from the grandparents on Boxing Day evening to a decoration-free home.

What about you? Are there any rules in your household?

This is a sponsored post.


  1. I have blogged about our chiristmas Traditions. I used to insist the decorations didnt go up till after 20th, but now with Children I pop them up on the begining of December

  2. We usually put up the tree about a week before Christmas, which is later than most people. But here in the US, I have been told people put up Christmas decorations the day after Thanksgiving (ie at the end of next week). I think we will try to hold out and be British about it....

    Our other tradition is to drink copious amounts of Champagne while decorating the tree, listening to Christmas Carols. Last year this was modified by the introduction of songs like 'Rudolph the red nosed reindeer' as the boys smashed baubles...

  3. Love them but head all over the place to say anything remotley witty - thank you for your comments over at my place took down post, apologised and put it back up edited. Still very very nervous about it...

  4. Saw you are listed in the Times as one of the top 10 Mummy blogs. Congrats!

  5. It's November. Pur-lease. Is nothing sacred? x

  6. MadHouse, I'm hardly in a position to argue with that, having written this post so early, but we'll be leaving it a bit later here...

    NVG, I see another post coming on (although, perhaps, not yet), about what music to decorate the tree to...

    Tattie, be brave. You said what you meant and that is fine!

    Thanks Peacock!

    Morethan, point taken. No more Christmas mumbo jumbo for another couple of weeks (apart from in this comment box, perhaps...)

  7. Our Christmas is more hide-bound by tradition than the state opening of parliament.... My mother wouldn't have it any other way. I would, but I'm not brave enough...

    Anyway, I'm afraid (actually, no, I'm proud) to say that I've awarded you the much desired Honest Scrap award. Sorry if you've had it before.

    Oh and I saw the Times thing too! Well done!

  8. Thanks PlanB - for the award and the congratulations - and my mum too loves her traditions. One day, I guess we'll be like that too!

  9. You know, if yo uroast brussels sprouts then sprinkle freshly shaved Parmesan on them, they are delicious. No? Oh well, I like 'em. Congrats on being on the list again - award over at mine. Not that you have the time.

  10. La la laaa, fingers in ears, not listening to any Christmas talk...

  11. EPM, roasted? Really? Hmmm. I'm not convinced. And thankyou for the award!

    Pig, no, don't worry, no more Christmas stuff here for ages. It's packing peanuts and Russian red tape here from now on in...

  12. Oooh, I just LOVE the muddy hoofprint idea. Might even try a Santa-style snowy boot print too with flour and J's work boots....

  13. Agree with Expat Mum - the sprouts are delicious if you roast them : )

  14. I can't believe you make soup out of soup! I'm sorry but that is definitely an euwwww moment

  15. Ah, I like your rules a lot too! Charlie is too young for some of them (like letters up the chimney) and we may never see a brussel sprout in the house ever, however I might have to copy the gingerbread decoration rule, although hopefully without the mice...

  16. PMPM - now THAT's creative...

    Aloftin - sorry. STILL not trying them...

    DD, well I don't, obviously. I leave that to my mother.

    Sparx, if you do find little bite marks on the cookies please don't do what I first did and accuse your blameless child...

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