Christmas time in our family gets a little more exciting every year as our girls grow a little older. Elin (who will be 6 in January) completely ‘gets’ the idea of Christmas. She understands who Santa is and what his job involves, where he lives and in order to get presents at Christmas time, she needs to be a good girl and write him a letter (now that she can read and write). Honor who is 3, is starting to understand a little more about Christmas and Santa. She enjoys seeing pictures or videos of old St Nick, but she’s not comfortable with the idea of getting close to an actual ‘Santa’, she gets very shy around him.
We have a few Christmas traditions in our family, some are from my own childhood and some are from my husbands’, and some are completely our own. These little traditions, we feel as parents’, are important to our family as it helps to strengthen the family bond, builds the excitement and anticipation and creates some special memories for our two girls. So I thought we’d share with you what these are…..
From Lauren’s family:
1. Marshmallow balls
My Mum would make these every year at Christmas time for me and my brothers’ (and Dad too), and I loved helping her to make them. I introduced my then future husband to these treats and it quickly became our tradition too. Now our eldest helps me make these for our family, but I feel my Mum's ones’ can’t be beaten! Here is the recipe:
Half tin of condensed milk
1 pkt Girl Guide biscuits crushed (GG biscuits are preferable but Griffins Super Wine biscuits are also a good alternative)
Half cup brown sugar
Half teaspoon cocoa
100 grams butter
1 pkt marshmallows (I cut these in half or use the mini baking mallows)
Desiccated Coconut (for rolling the balls in)
Melt the condensed milk, brown sugar, cocoa, butter and vanilla, but do not boil. Add crushed (blitz them in a food processor or crush in a bag with a rolling pin) biscuits to the mixture. Roll mixture around a marshmallow. Roll in coconut and refrigerate for 20-30 mins. Wet hands during the rolling process.
From Matthew’s Family
2. Pineapple Pudding (no cooking required)
This sweet, creamy dessert is a Redit/Davis family tradition at Christmas time. Passed down from my husband’s Nana, my Mother In-law would make this for her kids every year. When I had my first Christmas with my future husband and in-laws many moons ago, I too was introduced to this summery sweet pudding. Now that I’ve been part of the family for close to 2 decades, I was bestowed the honour of the coveted recipe a few years ago (my M.I.L knows it off by heart and has never written it down!). My husband and I had a go at making it for the family for Christmas one year, but we put our own little twist on it by using fresh pineapple, rather than tinned. Here is the recipe:
4 oz of butter (or 113 grams)
1 cup of icing (powdered) sugar
1 packet of plain biscuits (the kind you use for a cheesecake base)
1 410gm (or thereabouts) of crushed Pineapple in juice (drained) or approx 1 ¾ to 2 cups fresh crushed pineapple.
500ml fresh cream (whipped)
Chocolate chips/drops or crushed up Flake’s for garnish
Cream the butter and gradually add the icing sugar to combine (a bit like how you do for making buttercream icing). Add eggs one at a time and mix well in between. Crush biscuits (blitz them in a food processor or crush in a bag with a rolling pin) and spread evenly on the bottom of an ovenproof baking dish. Layer the dessert by spreading the creamed mixture over the biscuit base evenly, then spread over drained crushed Pineapple, whip the cream and spread over the Pineapple, top the cream with chocolate chips/drops or crumbled Cadbury Flakes. Chill the dessert overnight, great on a hot Summer’s day Christmas lunch or dinner.
Our own family traditions:
3. Elf on a Shelf
Now I can hear some of you moaning and groaning already, you’re either in one of two camps here….those for or against the Elf on a Shelf craze. We started this tradition last year for a bit of fun for our kids. They were excited to see the Elf arrive one day, he came with a storybook and instructions on what his ‘job’ is. Our girls promptly gave him a name, ‘Allan the Elf’ and from Dec 1st, he turns up somewhere in the house every day. The girls enjoy looking for him and seeing what he’s been up to. Sometimes he’s hanging from the fairy lights, or brushing his teeth in the bathroom, having a tea party with Shimmer and Shine, or raiding the pantry. The girls know not to touch or move him as the Elf ‘magic’ will be lost and little Allan will head home to the North Pole, but Allan has been a useful parenting tool too. Now I’m not going to pretend that my children are perfect little angels 24/7, they can be quite the opposite at times. So on these occasions when the girls have been acting up, I remind them that Allan is watching and listening to what is going on and he ‘reports’ back to Santa - this quickly brings them back to the ‘Realm of Acceptable Behaviour’ and issues are quickly resolved. So, for as long as this works and Allan brings enjoyment and imagination to our family, he’ll stay on as our Scout Elf on a Shelf.
4. Croissants for Breakfast on Christmas morning
I started this tradition a few years ago when we had a bread maker. I loved making/baking our weekly bread for sandwiches and when I found the Croissant recipe, it became so much easier and quicker to do. Sadly, our machine broke down about 2 years ago, and we have yet to replace it. So I will either get some par-baked ones to finish in the oven or lucky for us, my Mum has the same bread maker and I borrow hers whenever we are home for Christmas. So my Christmas morning breakfast usually looks like a couple of warm buttery croissants with jam and a cup of coffee or we grill some up with ham, cheese and tomato but this year I’m going to try a smashed avocado and tomato on my croissant. This tradition is not completely lost on our kids, they usually love their croissants with a bit butter, jam or honey on them, but will still opt for their cereals.
5. The Kids Santa Sack and Stocking
When I was a kid my younger brother’s and I had ‘Santa Sacks’. When Santa came to our house, he would place our presents in our ‘Santa Sacks’, topped with chocolates, candy and a Tangerine (or other in-season Citrus fruit). I loved the excitement of walking into our lounge and seeing our Santa Sacks stuffed with presents, then promptly waking the parents so we could start opening gifts.
When our eldest, Elin, was 2 years old we got her a Santa Sack and my Mum (her Nana) personalised it for with her name and a few embellishments. Last year we got Honor her Santa Sack and Nana worked her sewing magic on it too. Matthew’s Mum got our girls hand knitted Santa Stockings (we were given 3 - so there’s a not so subtle hint!) and we use these smaller stockings to put little candies, treats and chocolates in them.
Well, there you have it. Five Christmas family traditions that we call our own, that make our Summer Christmases just that little bit more exciting and special. We hope that wherever you are, that your Christmas is filled with fun, laughter, family and friends. The best present one can hope for this year is to spend time together