I love Christmas, it is such a fun time and one I always look forward to. In the old days it meant time off Uni or work and plenty of dressing up, going out and having a tipple of two. For the last decade it has been about staying home and enjoying the time with my family. Building memories and traditions, some that have stayed with us and others we have had to adapt or even scrap completely.
One of the earliest traditions we adopted was wrapping all the kids presents on Christmas eve whilst watching a Christmassy film and having a Chinese take-away. My husband and I loved this and it was so easy when we only had one child and he went to bed at 6 or 7pm. Then even when we had three children all of a younger age it was still doable but over the last few years we haven't been able to start wrapping until about 10pm at night and with three kids and lots of gifts it started to get very tiring. The final straw was when we moved to East Sussex two years ago and our nearest Chinese take-away did not deliver and is a 10 mile round-trip.
Sadly that tradition had to stop but really it is no major issue as the conference centre where we live closes at midday on Christmas Eve and all the community and many of our returning friends come together to celebrate Christmas together. This year we expect there will be about 110 of us. Can you imagine how exciting my kids find this?
Whenever I tell people about the Christmas celebrations that we are now part of they are always just a little envious. Let me share with you what is going on this year -
23rd December -
- Breakfast with Santa at our local garden centre. We will start the day, just our family with a full English and the kids will receive their first present of many
- My parents and brother will arrive to share the festivities with us. They are staying in the self-catering cottage on the estate (we live in 220 acres) and this is perfect as it allows everyone some space but we can all still get together.
- All the kids who live within our community will go down to our Head Chef and Events Managers house for some games, snacks and fun with Father Christmas, they will travel by trailer attached to one of the tractors.
24th December -
- Chilled morning at home, playing games with the kids and just enjoying time together
- The organised fun starts at 12noon with pre-lunch drinks and then lunch and a talent show.
- After that are games (board games, mafia, activity games - all sorts) and Christingle service at the on site Church (another tradition we have been partaking in for the last 12 years)
- Supper and then we have a candle walk, more games and late night hot chocolate together
25th December -
- Breakfast with just our immediate family and for us it is always pancakes, scrambles eggs and crispy bacon with maple syrup, cooked by my husband. (again another long-standing tradition)
- We will then have the family presents and a fairly chilled morning at home before heading up to the main house for 12noon for mulled wine followed by a full turkey and the works Christmas lunch
- In the afternoon we have a visit from Santa who gives everyone in community a gift and we all get to sit on his knee and then it is time for fun in whatever capacity we fancy. We have a 15ft indoor trampoline, air hockey, darts, pool, movie room, kids paradise, numerous sofas in front of real fires, board and card games, an X box. You name it, everything is available and there is always someone who wants to play out of 110 people!
- Supper is a more low-key affair normally with a big cold buffet and the evening features an outdoor glow-stick hunt for the kids
26th December -
- Again breakfast in our own homes and then we are free to stay and enjoy all the facilities in the main house - the trampoline, games, movie room etc or about 80 of us will travel in to Brighton for ice-skating, a photo rally and a spot of shopping
- Once back we will enjoy a hearty supper and an evening party and open-mic night.
I think you can tell that Christmas is a pretty awesome time to live here. We all muck in and prepare, serve and clear-up the meals and this way we all only have to do a tiny fraction of the jobs. Of course it can be a bit full-on at times and that is why it is so special to have our own home within the community to be able to escape to. Sometimes we really need that front door to close out the world.
I really don't take for granted how blessed we are to live here and to be part of this community. Having most of our food provided makes such a difference in what we have to spend over Christmas, of course it is built into my husbands wage but it really helps with the budgeting and not over-spending in December.
Christmas can be a really expensive time of the year and it is important to think about how you will pay for it. Why not check out the great Countdown to Christmas guide that the TSB have put together? For us, I tend to spread some of the cost across the year and keep my eyes open for gifts all year round and then I do the bulk of my shopping in November, so that by the time I am buying the food and last minute bits in December the credit card bill has already been settled and I can go into the festive week feeling calm and ready to party!
How about you, are you ready for the festive season yet?
I hope you have a wonderful one. Mich xx
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