Christmas is such an incredible time of year - the joy, the excitement, the magic! I just LOVE it! It is most definitely my favourite time of year! But, one thing that I love just as much as Christmas itself is Advent - the run up to Christmas, the preparation and build up to the big day!

"The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moments just before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment." - Frederick Buechener

I love making family traditions around this time of year, especially as Emilia is growing up and starting to understand more and more about what Christmas is all about. She's officially renamed it 'Santa Delivery Day' and has asked us, with a little convincing from her Uncle Paul, to get Jesus a birthday cake for the special day - something our mum did for us from when my brother was around 6 years old (and still now too)! The most important part of Christmas is family - that's what it is all about! Mary & Joseph welcoming their baby into the world and becoming a family!

So, this advent, I've made it my mission to do as many things as a family to make this special 'preparation' time a truly magical one, and one to remember! Some of it is a little more silly but others are just about spending time with each other and being with each other wholly.

  1. First Day of Advent Morning! For December 1st, we put together a little selection of gifts for her to open to prepare herself for the Christmas Run Up! She has 4 advent calendars (2 toy ones, 2 chocolate ones), a onesie and a cupcake. She loved opening the door that morning to see her elves (Buddy & Jingle, how original!) waiting for her!
  2. Christmas Themed Play! I swapped out the toys Emilia has in the lounge to all be Christmas related! Books, Happyland Toys, Nativity Play Set... Phil even bought a Hornby Train for around the tree! (Emilia loves it!)
  3. Choosing our Christmas Tree! We have a real tree, and it was so fun to go and choose it all together. Little Miss Sassy Pants (A.K.A Emilia) chose the tree, of course! But I loved going as a family to choose it together!
  4. Decorating our Christmas Tree! It sounds simple, but so much fun can be had in decorating your tree! I love our tree to look beautiful, but I love Emilia getting involved more! Especially given we have some extra special decorations that we each get to hang ourselves!
  5. Decorating the house in festive decor! I even made my own garlands to hang around the house - this year, I have decorated a lot more than any other year given its our first Christmas in our own home!
  6. Helping others decorate their trees! We were so excited when my Auntie Sue asked if Emilia would like to help decorate her tree - Emilia loved it! It was even more special because her tree is in her front garden, Emilia was amazed! We also went to my mum's to help decorate her house too! More family time!
  7. Visiting Father Christmas! Emilia has been to visit several Santa's! She has been a little nervous and shy about it, but hasn't stopped talking about it when she's left!
That's what we have been up to so far! And here is what we have planned for the coming week or so before the Big Day!
  1. Breakfast with Santa! Emilia's nursery are having a morning with Santa - party games, breakfast, Santa, crafts & toys. She cannot wait! (And it'll give me a chance to wrap some gifts whilst she's not here!!)
  2. Christmas Carol Service - we have our Church Carol Service on Sunday. It's always such a lovely service and I try to invite as many of our family and close friends too!
  3. Daddy Daughter Shopping Day - Phil has started a tradition of taking Emilia Christmas Shopping as they don't get as much time together on their own. He loves taking her for her lunch and then treating her to a little something whilst they shop!
  4. Baking! I LOVE Christmas Baking!! We plan to make cupcakes, biscuits and fridge cake ready for Christmas - though they are always all gone by the time the big day comes! We may have to have more than two baking afternoons coming up!
  5. Our Wedding Anniversary is on 20th December - so we always have a lovely family day then too!
  6. Christmas with my In-Laws! We tend to see Phil's family on Christmas Eve (or around that time) so that it isn't a rush on Christmas Day, especially as our families have grown now too. Last year, we met at my Mother-In-Law's and had a Mini Christmas there. Emilia and Elliot (my nephew) had such a lovely time - looking forward to it more and more as they grow up too! It's so lovely to spend time together as a family of 7!
  7. Christmas Eve Christingle! This is a tradition we've had from when my Daddy was alive - we'd go to Christingle on Christmas Eve and then have a takeaway tea together. It saved on the washing up before Christmas Dinner! And if you can't eat rubbish around Christmas then when can you?!
And, apart from Christmas Day itself, one of my most favourite things about the Christmas period is Boxing Day! For as long as I can remember, we have spent Boxing Day at my Auntie & Uncle's house. Our families, as they've grown over the years, have had our 2nd Christmas Day there - opening gifts, having dinner and playing daft games! People have come and gone from the tradition, the family has grown - Phil, Emilia & Christine (my cousins wife-to-be, eek!) have joined the tradition over the years too! I serious love it! In some ways, I love it more than Christmas Day!

I hope you have a wonderful Advent, and the most magical Christmas Time! But remember, it's about BEING present not giving them, spending TIME not money. It's about the family time, the fun, the laughter. It's not about how big or expensive a present to can buy or give.

God Bless x