How to make this Christmas Day the best one ever

Christmas stocking

On Christmas Day, there are well-known traditions: sitting down together for a turkey lunch, stockings for the kids, hitting the booze early. But we’ve compiled some brilliant tips from our readers for making the day extra special this year…

Now that we have two children of our own, my husband and I have decided to spend Christmas Day at home. That way, we can set up our own traditions for our family. Some will be borrowed from his childhood, some from mine – and others we’ve decided on together.

So far, we’ve agreed on: stockings for the kids hung on the wood-burner in the sitting room, to be opened first thing in the morning. Brunch and ‘dunch’ – a late breakfast of smoked salmon, scrambled eggs and sourdough with Buck’s Fizz. Then late lunch/early dinner for the main turkey Christmas meal.

We’ll have a walk before lunch. Watch a film at some point. Play games (Articulate for the adults, snap with the three-year-old). Drink plenty of Prosecco. And enjoy watching the kids play with their new toys – or the boxes that they come in.

Growing up, my siblings and I were given an egg timer as a present each year in the shape of a Christmas pudding, or pear, or something else (never an egg). This would then be used to time an hour between opening presents. We hated it at first – greedy kids – but soon loved it as present-opening lasted so much longer.

We also had a tradition of snuggling in bed on Christmas Eve – me, my brother and sister – and my mum reading us The Night Before Christmas. We bought our own copy last year to read to the kids. It’s such a nice way to wind down before the ‘Big Day’, while retaining some of the excitement.

But beyond that, I’m open to suggestions for new traditions to add in. I loved reading about photographer and mum-of-two Penny Wincer’s Christmas traditions, which include a new pair of pyjamas every year, given on Christmas Eve. So I’ll be borrowing this one.

And here are some other lovely ideas, shared by our readers…

Christmas Day traditions to make it extra special

From Instagram

mrsemilyjean: I always like to wear something a bit glam, but comfy (got to fit in all the food!). So usually some heels and a bit of red lippy. It also makes Boxing Day that much better as it’s pjs all day, change for a walk, then straight back into pjs again. The tradition of getting ‘dressed up’ for Christmas Dinner started with my very elegant grandma. I can still see her now, after cooking all the food, coming down her stairs wearing a long black velvet dress, pearls around her neck and a G&T in hand. She knew how to host.

elliekategranata: My mum always does a table present for everyone, either something personal or a little game, always inexpensive. Makes the dinner feel so special!

hvraymondstudio: Eggs royale and Buck’s Fizz for breakfast. And also agree -put on something a bit fancier than usual for the rest of the day! BLOODY LOVE CHRISTMAS.

nicole_pj: We do nothing we don’t want to. We have just our household on the actual day, all wear onesies, all eat what we want when we want, open gifts and watch films and give zero fucks about things you’re ‘supposed’ to do. So completely freeing, as a chilled day in between extended family obligations either side of it.

javabere: We watch The Snowman on Christmas morning every year.

Tip from Twitter

@mamaouu: Take time to enjoy the little moments and don’t worry about sticking to a timescale – when everyone has a glass or two of bubbles they won’t mind if they’re waiting bit longer for dinner!

@weegiechristmas: Keep it relaxed and informal ie wearing whatever you’re comfy in, not getting bogged down with exact mealtimes, letting the kids eat what they want/when they want, letting people do their own thing for periods of the day.

@mancuniankids: Doing food prep and freezing what’s possible so you can just put it into the oven on the day. Food is essential but don’t want to spend all day by the kitchen.

@LisaSWilliams: Letting kids open one pressie on Christmas Eve like they do in Scandinavia – such a treat. We did it once when we were little and we’ve never forgotten how special it was!

@michaela_mum: Just go with the flow and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to make everything perfect.

From Facebook

Matilda Battersby: Space out the presents. Stocking in the morning, tree presents after lunch. A special gift opening on Christmas Eve etc.

Lizzie Ridout: Some friends of our do their Christmas lunch thing on Christmas eve, then have salads and nice nibbles on Christmas day, so that they can both concentrate on the kids – opening presents with them and playing games all day. It’s lovely, and takes the stress of that humongous roast on “the day” away!

Isabel Christie: We do a chocolate roulade as well as/instead of Christmas pudding – can decorate with robins, holly etc.

Louise de France: We have pannetone for breakfast on Christmas Day or cheese, ham, lettuce and egg croissants. We also have Swiss cheese fondue on Christmas eve.

Rachel Buchanan: Coffee very first thing, then Panettone and champagne for breakfast with the stockings, then smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for a proper breakfast later. Midnight service for those that go to church so more time for leisurely breakfast!

Jayne Dowle: A pass the parcel for all the family/guests regardless of age (my mother’s idea), ‘table presents’ which started off as thoughtful little gifts but now are lottery scratch cards, one each (!). A sing-song with words printed off to old/Irish songs (this is when drink has taken hold!), and my own favourite, more Boxing Day as not time on Christmas Day… a large glass of something and one hour of peace reading my little collection of Christmas books and poems.

Denis Leaker: The Polish have a shot of vodka in between each course. My friend’s family have 10 courses. Vodka has to be very very cold and good quality…. normally have a fish chaser.

Josie Ney: Go to church and see the vicar who married us!

Ali Carter: Everyone sitting on/ in our bed to open stockings first thing in the morning. Tree presents – an extra little present to open in the evening – always made the excitement last a bit longer when we were children! Carols from Kings on Christmas Eve, with a glass of fizz, busy in the kitchen!

Luc Bony: Leave a carrot outside the front door on Xmas eve, get the kids to check it on Christmas Day – on Rudolf has taken a bite! Their faces are priceless.

Michelle Fischer: We started lighting a candle for loved ones no longer with us when we sit down for lunch.

Rowan Dawkins: All go out to a posh expensive hotel for drinks and nibbles – London walk and then late lunch!

Kim Palmer: Playing a game as a family – we play Trivial Pursuit.
Go to church for an hour in the morning to sing carols.

Deborah O’Connor: We have a Santa boot stencil (complete with snowflake and Santa Claus branding) and we leave snowy boot prints (hairspray plus fake snow) all around the presents and two by the loo (as though he has used the facilities). Also, every Christmas Eve (in a tradition started by my Mam when I was a kid) we have an early Christmas bath and then when you go back to your room, gasp (!) there is a present on your bed, a pair of brand new Xmas pyjamas to wear that Santa dropped off quickly as an early treat. Everyone gets new Christmas pjs in our house…

How do you make your Christmas Day extra special? What family traditions do you have?