The 12 rules of Christmas

We had dinner last night with my auntie and cousin. They are going to be hosting Christmas for the first time this year and last night’s roast chicken was a bit of a trial run; we tested out the elbow room on the dining table, ate some pigs in blankets and talked about the schedule for the day.

It got me thinking about the Christmas traditions that we have created for ourselves as a family over the years and made me wonder how many of them are shared by other people.

Here are 12 of my Christmas rules, but what are yours?

12 rules of Christmas

1. At some point in the week before Christmas we have a festive trip to Marks & Spencer, where I let the children put (pretty much) whatever they want in the trolley. (No spirits for Belle.) We spend at least £100, and come away with absolutely nothing that can be turned into a meal. It’s all about the cheese savouries and mini ovenable treats.


2. I always wrap up presents in advance of the big day – each child in a different wrapping paper – and then they can poke at their pile of presents under the tree and  try to figure out how many of them are books. (Clue: a lot.)

3. On Christmas Eve at 11am we meet up with friends for present opening, brunch, and normally the odd champagne cocktail. These are friends I’ve known since Belle was a baby and it’s one of my favourite bits about Christmas.

4. Later on Christmas Eve I will watch Love Actually. THIS MUST NOT BE WATCHED AT ANY OTHER TIME OF THE YEAR. This used to also be the time when I would help Father Christmas out by wrapping some stocking presents but as the children now stay up often later than me I have to leave that job to Santa.

5. A mince pie, carrot and small glass of sherry must be left out for Father Christmas and Rudolph.

6. Stocking are then hung. These go in or just outside bedrooms, NOT on any sort of fireplace.

7. Children may bring their stockings into my bedroom at 8am to open their first presents of the day. This feels quite late, but it’s a compromise between Belle wanting to do it at about 5am and Bee wishing we’d all let her stay in bed until midday. Every year we have at least 15 minutes of Belle fidgeting about impatiently and Bee complaining about being made to get up. During this time, if I have one, I will send a boyfriend to make me a cup of tea.

8. The next part of the day has evolved somewhat over the years. When I was younger it used to be that we’d all have to have showers and breakfast and get dressed before we were allowed to move on to the next batch of presents, but this has relaxed a little and often now we end up in our pyjamas, quaffing Bucks Fizz at 9.30am, getting stuck in to gifts.

9. Which leads me nicely into the next rule; gift opening is NOT a free for all. One of the children will distribute the presents so that we all have a pile and then we will take it in turns to open them. This way we can all watch each other and share the joy/look for signs as to whether the person loves or hates their gift.

10. Dinner must contain all of the following (amongst other things): roast potatoes, sprouts, redcurrant jelly, bread sauce, pigs in blankets.

11. At least one board game must be played on Christmas Day afternoon, even if you are full of Elizabeth Shaw mints and Baileys and would really rather just have a little nap and watch TV.

12. The tree and decorations must stay up until Twelfth Night, despite the fact that by Boxing Day I am desperate to pack everything away and get back to normal. (This isn’t because I’m a Christmas Scrooge, it’s just that I start getting excited in September and so by the time Christmas actually happens I’m pretty much done.)

So those are the 12 rules of Christmas.

What does Christmas look like in your house?



  1. 15 December, 2014 / 11:47 am

    We don’t really have many rules. We just go with the flow and this year is going to even more spontanious because every christmas eve, my husband has had to work late so i have always been the one to get the girls excited and do their stockings and put our the reindeer feed etc so this year, my husband has two weeks off so we are going to have the best time and just make it up as we go along :) x

  2. 15 December, 2014 / 12:01 pm

    Lovely set of traditions that you’ve accumulated over the years. Christmas is pretty similar here to be honest apart from the fact that our daughters are all grown up and we have no idea what time they’ll appear on Christmas morning. Happy holidays lovely x

  3. 15 December, 2014 / 12:25 pm

    Things are a bit different for us this year now we have a teenager & a toddler, but I’m thinking the teenager will still want to get up early to see what he’s got!

  4. 15 December, 2014 / 2:30 pm

    a big yes to Number 1 – we LOVE that Christmas trip to the supermarket where we fill the trolley with all the stuff we want [and don’t need]

  5. 15 December, 2014 / 2:37 pm

    4,9,10,12. Although I doubt I’ll ever really get to do 4 anymore, other half isn’t keen. I bloody love that film!

  6. 15 December, 2014 / 3:25 pm

    Our first Christmas tradition watching White Christmas with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye while the tree goes up, after this the Christmas songs are out back in to the mix on iTunes. Lots of your traditions are fairly similar to ours. Love Actually is a favourite on our house, and gets watched repeated all year round (we may or may not be on our third copy due to excessive use…).

  7. 15 December, 2014 / 7:08 pm

    This sounds very much like Christmas in our house, apart from ours happens at different times. I am totally nicking the watching of Love Actually this Christmas Eve though, not seen that film in yonks!

  8. 15 December, 2014 / 7:37 pm

    OOh I love going to Marks and Spencer too, and love Christmas Eve In fact I think I’m always a little more excited about Christmas eve then christmas day and i must have some bubbly on christmas day too! OOh I’m excited. x

  9. 15 December, 2014 / 10:16 pm

    Board games for sure, I always make sure we have a new one in the house specially *cough loser cough*
    We always have larder cake on Christmas morning, I thought that was just a normal Christmas tradition, but I’ve recently discovered that my mum and dad just made it up. We also have sushi every Christmas Eve, this is a relatively new tradition instigated only because my husband makes really good sushi but is so effing lazy he never does it. So I made it a tradition.

  10. Lucy
    15 December, 2014 / 10:19 pm

    Definitely number 3, although I think that is really Number 1…. the girls say that is their favourite part of Christmas and we were discussing this the other day; we think it’s because you have no PRESSURE to have a great Christmas Eve, so you can just really enjoy the day, and all the chores have been done and it’s just finally time to sit and wait for the big day and have fun… XXX

  11. 16 December, 2014 / 12:45 am

    Many similar traditions but seem rushed because we’re expected so early at MIL’s. My tradition for that experience is lots of wine. We watch Christmas Vacation and laugh more at hubby and son laughing in anticipation of each scene. “Shitters full…” they’ll laugh like they never heard the line before.

  12. 16 December, 2014 / 12:48 pm

    I’m currently twitching because GG is off school with a virus, which means I can’t get on with my present wrapping!
    Totally with you on Love Actually. Although I alternate with The Holiday :)

  13. 16 December, 2014 / 3:18 pm

    I thoroughly concur with all of these rules!! Hope you have a fab day this year x

  14. 16 December, 2014 / 9:07 pm

    I love the sound of number one!! When I was growing up my parents used to always have a glass of champagne after breakfast with chocolate truffles, I love the sound of it now I’m an adult but Matt doesn’t really drink and it would be boring to have one on my own! We always used to have smoked salmon too but Matt hates it so basically he ruins all my Xmas traditions!! ;) We have been a bit rubbish at starting them until now but this year we are doing the Xmas Eve box and sprinkling reindeer food on the grass outside x

  15. 17 December, 2014 / 12:17 am

    I loved reading this. We had friends we used to have breakfast with every Christmas morning AND spend Christmas Eve with (they lived next door in our block of flats). Time with them year after year was genuinely the best part of our Christmas. Shame they had to just go and move to Australia!

  16. 19 December, 2014 / 12:11 pm


    Traditions here: New PJ’s on Christmas Eve, reindeer dust, real tree. No one is allowed downstairs until one of us has been to see if Santa has been and no-one can go down before 6am!!

  17. 21 December, 2014 / 8:36 pm

    I agree gift opening is defo not a free for all! that would totally stress me out! x

  18. Ffion
    9 December, 2017 / 10:42 pm

    Christmas has changed so much over the last few years since me and the ex split. This year will be new for me again as I don’t have the kids on Christmas eve or for most of Christmas day. So eve will be me and my new man making new traditions and day will be for me and him until he goes to work and I will sit with the chocolates and find a film to watch. That and the twitter hash tag that kept me going last year.. The Sarah Millican one.

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