Creating Christmas memories is so important to me. I’m not religious, and I’m not big into the commercial side of the holidays, but I do believe in celebrating and being thankful together for the things we have, taking the time to come together on a special day to create memories and spend time together, to eat good food, and enjoy exchanging gifts that are bought, or created with love and care. I want to talk about how to make sure the memories that you make together last for a very long time.
Get everyone involved in Christmas Dinner
I have a lot of really fond memories of Christmas with my mum and my grandparents. Every year I would open Christmas presents at home and then immediately head to my grandparents house. I’d then help my grandmother with the turkey and Christmas dinner – although how much I actually helped, thinking back, I don’t know, but she let me think I was helping!
I hate it when people say they dread Christmas Dinner because they’re slaving in the kitchen by themselves all day. My first piece of advice would be to make the Christmas meal something the whole family is involved in. Get the kids baking and mixing – or just watching. Set egg timers and get the kids to have one each and assign them in charge of letting you know when the vegetables are done, like my gran did for me. Get the adults setting the table, laying out crackers and assign someone in charge of drinks. Get everyone chatting and laughing, play Christmas music (or music of your choice, because you might be sick of Christmas music by then!) and have a few drinks.
Have some special treats and make it the same every year
Traditions can be absolutely anything. All you have to do is repeat it every year and it will become a family tradition. Things we do the same are what stay in our memories the most. Then when we do those things as adults, we get a flood of memories and nostalgia. My idea is to have some special treats that you can eat after dinner or later in the evening when the kids are ready for a bit of sugar. One of my favourite retro sweet brands in Swizzels, who I’m sure you’ve heard of. Swizzels make favourite sweets like Squashies (my sons favourite sweet!), Rainbow Drops, Parma Violets, Refreshers, Love Hearts, Double Dips and more. My gran wasn’t that big a fan of chocolate, but boy she loved her sweets, so classic sweets always remind me of her, and us walking to the shops together or her producing a lolly for me before I went home. The Swizzels Sweet Shop Favourites Tub will be perfect for our family this Christmas.
William’s favourite is Love Hearts, which you can also buy personalized. I think that would make a really fun touch for Christmas.
Take a million photos
Take lots of photos. We live in a digital world and you can take an unlimited amount of photos these days. It doesn’t matter how good they are. In fact, making silly shots can be far more fun than a posted family shot. Throw wrapping paper at each other, wear silly hats, give big hugs, and just take photos of each other having fun throughout the day. Give the kids access to cameras for the day. Okay, my five year old may take one hundred pictures of his own tongue, but there’ll be one or two shots in there that are worth keeping. One day you will look back on them and the memories will come flooding back. It can be interesting to see the day from the perspective of your kids as well. I usually shy away from the camera, but try to let them take photos freely on Christmas, with the promise that nothing I’m in will be posted online without checking!
Christmas music might get annoying when we’ve been listening to it at work, in the car or whilst shopping for weeks (or possibly months as things seem to start early these days!). But music is something that solidifies memories and can trigger nostalgia and bring old memories to the surface. It’s also a good tradition that can be continued in multiple households once the kids have grown and flown the nest. It doesn’t have to be a Christmas themed song – it can be your families Christmas song, which can be absolutely anything, as long as you make a tradition of listening to it together (and hopefully dancing and having a good time) every year. Or perhaps it can be a cooking soundtrack that you use in the kitchen which everyone remembers means Christmas dinner is coming.
Stick to the same smell
My last suggestion might seem like a weird one, but smells can be strongly associated with specific memories, and having the same smell at Christmas every year can provide comfort, nostalgia and make everyone remember years past. I recommend choosing a scent for the home that you don’t use any other time of the year, and not something generic like “pine cone” that will be in every shop. For me growing up it was the smell of peppermint as that’s something that was only in my house around Christmas. I also have strong memories associated with my mother’s perfume, as she always wore the same perfume on special occasions. Whenever she wears it now I’m still taken back to my childhood, and the knowledge that something special was happening.
I hope you can use some of these tips to make your Christmas – and every Christmas thereafter – memorable for you and your family.