I can distinctly remember being a teenager and my mum telling me she was sad because my sister and I weren’t so excited about Christmas anymore. Christmas with children around is definitely just that little bit more magical. I’m lucky that as a Music Teacher I am surrounded by Christmas festivities and children at work as well as at home. This Christmas at work I’ve done 3 nativity performances, several carol singing outings with choir, a big joint carol concert with lots of other local schools and a christmas concert at school. I have to start planning and rehearsing for Christmas in September but I do not get at all fed up.
This actually Zara’s third Christmas but it’s the first year I feel like she really knows anything different is going on. She’s only just turned 2 so she’s still only little but she knows who Father Christmas is and knows he brings presents! I decided a few weeks ago to try to do as many festive activities as we could so that she would really understand that something special is happening and start to recognise the characters and stories related to Christmas. She won’t remember seeing pictures of Father Christmas or elves or reindeer from last year so it all feels new.
Getting into the festive spirit at home
Zara received a bag of lovely Christmas books last year so we got that down from the loft at the beginning of December and we started reading them. She soon started to recognise Father Christmas, reindeer, snowmen and christmas trees and points them out when we are out and about. Her favourite is probably Jesus’s Christmas Party and The Nativity (she has a touch and feel version where there are fluffy/shiny bits to touch).
We also started doing some Christmas crafts such as painting a Christmas tree, Christmas themed baking and making tree decorations.
My mum made Zara the most beautiful advent calendar and bought her a small gift to open each day. She included things like Christmas stickers, hair clips, plastic food (for her new kitchen she got for her birthday), tree decorations, a small toy car and a few chocolate coins. I had been looking at homemade advent calendars on Pinterest but due to the aforementioned christmas festivities at school I hadn’t got round to sorting anything out so I was so pleased when my mum appeared with one! We have finally convinced Zara that you just get to open one present per day! This morning she actually had 2 coins in the little pocket and she kept trying to give one back saying ‘just one’.
Zara absolutely loved helping to decorate the house. She helped us to choose the tree and was so so proud of herself for helping to decorate it. We have quite a lot of decorations that are not breakable and she hung them all on the tree at the bottom herself. The bottom of our tree is quite crowded and not very well spread out. When it was finished she kept saying ‘Zara make that’ pointing at the tree.
She’s never really been one for sitting down and watching anything for any length of time. She’s never watched a whole film. We did snuggle up a few times over the last couple of days and watch little bits of Arthur Christmas which she really liked. I cannot wait for her to see The Snowman. Has anyone got any other good recommendations for Christmas films/programmes for toddlers to see?
Festive fun out and about
It’s just under a week until Christmas Day but I feel like we’ve done most of the fun festive things we can do already. Maybe after reading this people might have some ideas of festive things we can do in the next few days. Please do let me know in the comments below.
Zara’s first real taste of Christmas this year was at a local garden centre at the beginning of November. We didn’t go with the intention of looking at Christmas displays, it hadn’t even occurred to me but Christmas was in full swing. She was really excited by all the lights, decorations and displays and she loved trying on Christmas hats. We left feeling really Christmassy and then I realised it was nearly 2 months away!
We went to visit Father Christmas at Upton Country Park near Poole. To be honest, this was a slightly disappointing experience this year. We went to Upton last year and loved our Santa experience. They had real reindeer, pigs and turkeys to look at as you waited to see Santa and adults and children got goodie bags. I assumed it would be the same this year but there were no animals or goodie bags and it was the same price. Hmph! Zara was really excited about meeting Father Christmas on the way there but wasn’t entirely sure about him in the flesh. She didn’t cry but she wouldn’t go near him and kept saying she was ‘a bit shy’.
The absolute highlights of the festive season so far have actually been church or nativity related. Lets not forget the reason for the season! Zara goes to a childminder and they performed a little nativity. Zara was an angel. It was honestly the cutest thing I have ever seen in my life. The children were all dressed up in adorable costumes and the adults narrated the story. Zara did it twice as she goes to the childminder for two days. The first day it was AMAZING. All the children sat and listened beautifully to the story and joined in and sang 4 songs. I was immensely proud of my little angel. The second day was hilarious. None of them seemed to be quite in the mood for it and by the end most of them had wandered off the stage. That’s toddlers for you!
For me, you cannot have Christmas without a carol service. Maybe that’s because of my job or because I’ve grown up going to church but I absolutely love carols. Most churches seem to pull out all the stops and put on lots of events suitable for all different people.
Our church does an Alternative Carol Service, a Traditional Carol Service and a Family Carol Service. The Alternative Carols were in the evening (at 5 or 7pm) and are basically modernised carols/songs, readings and a short talk. We decided to take Zara and we had such a good time. She was mesmerised by the music and the lights and loved dancing. We also went to the Family Carol Service which was in the morning. All children were encouraged to dress up as a character from the Nativity to take part in a live Nativity performance. The whole service was the Nativity story and all the different characters had things to do at different points. There was a dancing donkey, a shark, a penguin and an opportunity for all children to go on stage. It was brilliant. They also had Christingles at the service which Zara loved. A random nearby church have popped a flyer through our letter box and I think we are actually going to go to a service on Christmas Eve there. They have a family service with glow in the dark puppets and make your own Christingle.
I love that Zara is excited about Father Christmas and presents but also if you mention Christmas she will often say ‘Jesus is born’. If you are really lucky she will treat you to a song I think she must have made up that goes ‘Jesus is born today, Jesus is a king, Jesus a crown, Jesus quack quack baa baa black sheep’.
I hope that you all have a wonderful Christmas. Please do let me know in the comments below if you have any fun Christmas activity or outing ideas that we can do this week.