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Dublin: 5 °C Thursday 22 March, 2018

9 weird family Christmas traditions my kids have (almost) grown to love

Glittery porridge for the reindeers, Santa’s annual report – and The Christmas Jumper Rule.

Image: Shutterstock/Tomsickova Tatyana

THE FIRST CHRISTMAS that my husband and I spent together was a rude awakening for me. His favourite way to start the big day off was with a big sandwich of white bread filled with sour cream ‘n’ onion crisps.

I’m not going to lie – it nearly ended us. Ten years on, I still faithfully buy him his offensive-smelling crisps for Christmas morning though, because… tradition.

As our boys are getting older, we’re noticing that we have a number of weird Christmas foibles that we insist on repeating each year. Not all of them go down smoothly with the kids, but by this stage they’ve just about come around.

Here are a few of our strange family traditions…

1. Santa’s annual Good List report

I don’t know if he does this in every home, but Santa leaves us a letter every year. Just beside the chimney, after stamping his feet in soot, he leaves a letter for the boys, telling them exactly how high up on the Good List they were each year, and all the things he is proud of. My kids now look for the letter before they look for their toys – they absolutely love it.

santa Source: Instagram/harrietetaylor

2. Stinky oranges in the Christmas stocking

When I was a kid, Christmas stockings always stank of mandarin oranges. No matter what else was in there, nothing could wipe out the citrus waft coming from the orange at the end of my stocking. My kids give out stink each year now when Santa leaves them one in theirs, but it’s a family requirement.

3. Putting the kids on whipped cream duty

I cooked with my mother from when I was four years old, and my boys are the same with me. At Christmas, they will make the cranberry sauce, cookies and – their favourite job – whipped cream for dessert. They believe they have the ratio of vanilla extract to icing sugar just right.

4. Secret Christmas dinner challenges

On Christmas Day, we’ll write secret ‘challenges’ on paper underneath every person’s dinner placemat. The rules? Complete your challenge without anyone else knowing you are doing it. So, if I’m tasked with doing a pirouette every time I get up, it’s my job to ensure no-one notices.

shutterstock_121673071 Source: Shutterstock/Milleflore Images

5. Throwing letters up the chimney

Each year, on the evening that we put our Christmas tree up, we gather around the stove, which will have been lighting since early afternoon. I quickly open the door and we throw in the boy’s Santa letters before running outside to see if we can see them magically making their way up to the North Pole. Every year the boys are convinced they see them. It’s brilliant.

6. Toilet roll tube ornaments

When you have small kids it’s very hard to be classy when it comes to the Christmas tree. My sons are extremely connected to their homemade decorations, so every year our tree is laden down with an incredible array of toilet roll tubes with cotton wool stuck on, and the inevitable egg cartons covered with tin foil. It looks a mess, but the kids adore it.

7. The Christmas Jumper Rule

We make sure the boys subscribe to the Christmas Jumper Rule on December 25th. I don’t wear one of those, but the whole family wears special festive pyjamas on Christmas Eve and for plenty of Christmas Day. Santa hats are optional.

shutterstock_343150913 Source: Shutterstock/K and M

8. ‘Friendly’ board game competitions

Both my husband and I come from very competitive families, and we had to put away the board games a few years ago because of the endless rows. This year though, I feel optimistic about Mark’s ability to get through a game of Monopoly without cheating, and so we have been schooling the boys in our favourites since October so that they can join in on Christmas Day.

9. Reindeer landing zones

Every year, I make up tubes of oats, different coloured glitter and some shiny confetti for each member of the family. On Christmas Eve, as it gets dark, we run out into the garden and sprinkle it in an X shape so that the reindeers know where to land – and so that there’s a little snack for them when they do. They love glittery porridge, don’t you know.

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