Christmas is a time filled with family traditions and special memories. I have celebrated Christmas in both South Africa and New Zealand, so for me, it’s always a summery time with family.

This December we’ve been doing Elf on the Shelf which the girls have enjoyed. On Christmas Eve we usually watch a family movie while enjoying popcorn and treats. Then on Christmas morning, there’s the excitement of opening presents! We like to keep it simple and relaxed, the rest of the day is filled with swimming, cold meats and salads. My Mum or I always make a trifle, it’s a special tradition passed down from her.

For me the most important thing is just enjoying time together, relaxing and having fun.

Earlier this month I asked our Facebook fans what some of their favourite Christmas traditions were. I have loved hearing all your family traditions, I have gone from laughter to tears and back to laughter again while reading them all. So many of you have shared your traditions – here are just some of them…

The Tree

The Tree

“Every year since I was very small, we go as a family and choose a Christmas tree. It’s a momentous occasion, we traipse around the Christmas tree farm, debating the qualities and merits of each tree we like, usually, lots of good-natured arguing whether its too small, or lop-sided, until we all agree on the tree which is just right for us. Now it’s a multi-generation event, with my parents and my children, continuing our traditional tree choosing day every year.” (Laura)

“Each year we drive to the Christmas tree farm, with carols blaring on the car stereo, and choose our favourite tree. The kids love traipsing through rows of trees and choosing the best one.” (Tarn-lee Carly)

“Every year for the last 18 years we travel to Puriri Xmas tree farm and buy our tree. We also buy one decoration from the shop there too. That’s our family thing to do!” (Shelley)

“I buy tree ornaments and put the kid’s name/date on them every year. When they have families I will give them to them.” (Justine)

“Every year my boys and foster children love to decorate the tree, that’s the only time they all get along. Doesn’t matter how old they get, it’s like every year is a new beginning.” (Michelle)

“We’ll be spending Christmas with our children and grandchildren and continuing our tradition of each child getting a new decoration each year to add to their collection for when they eventually leave home – that way they already have a bunch of beautiful memories for the season.” (Annette)

“Every year the kids take turns at putting the star on top of the tree, this year was our youngest’s turn! Kids decorate the tree and adults aren’t allowed to touch it!” (Trinity)

“We always get a new Christmas tree decoration for our daughter, that reflects on her past year. It’s a gingerbread man this year, as she and her Daddy get sneaky gingerbread men when they are out and about together!” (Sarah)

Christmas Eve

“Every year I have a German Christmas Eve celebration with extended family.” (Pamela)

“On Christmas Eve we play a board game as a family and our daughter opens a Christmas bag which has a movie, popcorn and a new nightie. After the board game, we settle in for a movie.” (Sally)

“Our family love to bake on Christmas Eve, shortbread and mince tarts are the usual attempts, sometimes the wine has been flowing a little early and the creations become a little wonky, all in all, heaps of memorable moments.” (Eddy)

“Our most important tradition is reading the kids ‘The Night Before Christmas’ on Christmas Eve just like my mum used to do for us.” (Anna)

A tradition that we do, that I have done since I was a kid is watching ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’ on Christmas Eve.” (Cushla)

“Midnight mass with family then open presents when home.” (Anthea)

“A tradition passed down by my parents, and their parents before. I fill a stocking for my sons on Christmas Eve, once they’ve gone to bed of course, and hang it by the fireplace, old-school style. They really look forward to opening it, and enjoying the novelty treats for breakfast.” (Deborah)

“We go to the Waipu Santa Parade on Christmas Eve, it’s so cool!” (Cindy)

Family and Food

Family and Food

“We always have a fancy Christmas morning breakfast. The kids have sparkling (non-alcoholic) bubbly in real glasses, with a lovely decorated table and we use our gorgeous silver cutlery. We have something light (salmon) and it’s a special family time.” (Adrienne)

“We have a roast lamb for dinner every year with my grandparents.” (Janelle)

“We make a huge family Christmas cake every year in late October everyone helps make it.” (Liz)

“I do what my Nana and mum always did. For the last 49 years, I have always made our traditional Christmas pudding and I put threepences and sixpences in the pudding. My children and grandchildren say it’s not Christmas unless we have a homemade pudding with money.” (Dawn)

Special Memories

Special Memories

“Every Christmas Eve for the last 13 years is fish ‘n chips at the grave with my son and putting tinsel on him.” (Anna)

“It used to be visit my late Nan at her rest home every year and I’d have lunch with her and the other residents but she passed away 3 years ago and I became a grinch. This year I have changed as we have a new bubba and my little family have planned to spend the day together. It’ll be nice to not spend it alone and have my kids together.” (Tasha)

“Always go to the Carol service Xmas Eve and say a prayer for my mum and dad who I lost in 1995.” (Avril)

Fun and Unusual Traditions

Fun and Unusual Traditions

“We do an activity advent calendar every December leading up to Christmas. The kids love waking up each morning and checking to see what we’re doing that day.” (Tamara)

“We have a singing motion-sensor Christmas bauble and it hangs in the same spot every year singing away when people come into our lounge. He sings ‘Rocking around the Christmas tree’. It’s not really Christmas until he sings. This year will be extra special because we have a new teenager to share it with.” (Amber)

“We plant magic jelly beans on Christmas Eve so that they can grow overnight into full candy canes full of jelly beans.” (Jude)

“We open 1 present from under the tree and have our traditional ‘Christmas Eve Box’ with popcorn, new PJs and a Christmas Eve movie to watch. Before we settle in for the movie, we plant our mint tic tacs that grow into candy canes overnight and lay out our reindeer food so Santa knows where to land…” (Megan)

“We have our son (who is 10 and still believes) leave out milk, carrots and a biscuit. In the morning there are footprints in the hallway.” (Gretchen)

“I started my own tradition in 2010, which is every year since our first child was born we’ve had a family photo.” (Amy)

“The day after school ends, me and my daughter always go on a Christmas date and have a photo somewhere Christmassy.” (Paula)

“Backyard cricket after lunch & sometimes before.” (Anthea)

“Backyard cricket. Definitely.” (Rochelle)

So Many Water Fights

“We always have a water fight with the kids. Santa always seems to bring water balloons in stockings and nowhere is safe, not even inside!” (PJ)

“We love the annual Newton family water fight. After feasting and presents, when the sun gets hot, we arm ourselves with water bombs and water guns and we have the most epic and refreshing water fight. Dad adjudicates and keeps the buckets of water full for reloading. It’s chaotic and competitive and so so fun.” (Tabitha)

Wishing You a Merry Christmas

No two families are the same and clearly everyone has their own traditions.

I hope that you enjoy love, laughter and gratitude this Christmas, in whatever way you celebrate, and I thank you for being a part of our Little Olive Tree community.

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