The older I get the more I realise that Christmas really isn’t about the ‘stuff’, it’s all about the memories we create, so I go into this Christmas focused on how to make those Christmas memories. Now, if like me you show your love through giving thoughtful gifts, you might feel a little torn between wanting to give ‘stuff’ as a way of creating memories. I do too. Here’s what I do to combat all the ‘stuff’ that we don’t really need and focus on the important memory making things.
Every year I do an advent calendar for my children, I made them each a separate calendar, and each year I now put different things in for each of them, depending on what they love and will use and enjoy. So each one is unique and well thought out. I choose foil wrapped chocolates and sweets and look for plastic free things to go in.
Every year I get them a new Christmas decoration to add to their own collection, so that one day when they have their own home, they have lots of lovely decorations, hopefully filled with happy memories from every Christmas we’ve celebrated. When they were small we bought them personalised Christmas stockings and we still use these now, patching them up and fixing them when they start to fray.
I buy them each separate cards and we write personalised messages in there for them, and I make sure I add the date too, so that they’ll have our words for the years to come to look back on.
Losing my own Mum two years ago, the messages and the memories are the things that I treasure the most. As well as the photos.
I take loads of photos, and whilst the teenagers used to moan, now they accept that they’ll want to look back at the family Christmases we shared and they’ll be hugely important. This year for the first year, I’m also adding photos to the sacks and stockings so that they’ll also have these as tags, but can keep them, especially as we’ve lost a lot of family over the last two years, it’ll be a way of keeping our loved ones with us as we unwrap our gifts.
I don’t buy ‘they might like’ gifts anymore, if I’m not sure I don’t buy it.
We do Christmas Eve pyjamas every year, and as they are adults it might seem strange but we all wear them all year round so I know they aren’t wasted and we have a laugh at us all in them together, again it’s a photo memory opportunity too! We also do a festive photo with all the pets too, don’t ask me why, but it’s become a thing!
Less is more, whilst we still buy gifts, the amount we buy are less, we focus on the things we know our loved ones will love, often we buy activity gifts, things that can be enjoyed long after the wrapping is off and something to look forward for the year ahead.
My memories of Christmas
When I was little, and spent Christmas with my Mum, brother and sister, the things I remember the most are the things we did together;
- making Christmas gift tags from old Christmas cards
- Baking mince pies and Christmas cake
- Baking biscuits and lemon meringue pie
- Spending time with family – lots of Christmases were spent with our extended family, aunts, uncles and cousins
- Lazy mornings together
- Decorating the tree together
- Decorating the house – we used to have loads of those awful shiny decorations that we’d put up along with the tinsel
- Playing games and quizzes
- Going to bed on Christmas Eve
- Waking up on Christmas morning
- My Mum using her Christmas cards as a decorative display that were strung up all around the house.
The one thing I don’t remember is the physical gift, just the magical feeling. So in amongst all the busy, the hustle and the bustle, just remember that if you didn’t get everything or prepare everything you had planned, that it probably doesn’t matter. It won’t stop the memories from happening.
The way we all do Christmas is different in every family, so doing what suits you is the best way to celebrate. Making time to do Christmassy things together is one of my favourite things, especially as the children were growing up and it’s what inspired me to write our Advent activity cards. For me though focusing less on the ‘stuff’ and more on the things that will give us the best memories for years to come, well, that’s priceless.