Violet’s First Christmas

They say that when you have children, Christmas becomes all about them, and I can safely confirm after our first Christmas together as a family that this is true, but it is also totally magical experience too. It’s like that childhood magic returns and you see it in their faces, I’m sure Violet is too small to understand fully, but she was so taken by the lights, the presents (of course) and even tried some Christmas foods too. I sat watching Christmas movies with Violet by the tree and had to pinch myself, I couldn’t believe I have my own little girl to celebrate with this year and as she grows older it will only get even more exciting too!

We have never really been much of a festive family, we’ve been away on holiday over Christmas a couple of years and for the last 3 years we haven’t had a tree, but with now Violet here we wanted to go all out with the Christmas traditions and I think we did pretty well!

So, our celebrations started on Christmas eve, which luckily fell over the weekend meaning V had a little bit more time off then she usually would. It was also Violet’s 10 month birthday, so we had to get this cute snap in her elf outfit with the Christmas Tree, of course! At 10 months old she’s SO close to walking, I think she’ll have mastered her first steps within a couple of weeks for sure. She stands unaided all the time, she just needs to take the plunge and put one foot forward, it’ll happen!

We had a lovely family day together and a bit of last minute Christmas shopping (as part of the One4All Giftcard challenge, where I was challenged to kit our house for Christmas – read about this here!). We picked up some fresh vegetables for our roast dinner and fresh ingredients like delicious puddings in Marks and Spencer. I managed to bag some last minute Christmas decorations for the tree which were 50% off already, great time to get everything. I used our One4All Giftcard for all of my Christmas shopping this year which has been SO handy they are totally flexible to use in different shops, meaning you can do all your shopping with one card. An ideal gift as well for someone if you don’t know which shop they would normally buy from.

In the evening, we attended the Family Crib Service at our local church. It was a refreshingly light-hearted service, where there were children and adults all dressed as parts from the nativity scene, it was like something from the Vicar of Dibley. I also enjoyed singing some carols and getting into the spirit of Christmas! Next year, we will be totally dressing up for the service, watch this space!

We got home just in time for Violet to open her Christmas Eve Box and lay down a carrot and mince pie for Father Christmas.

A few last minute decorations added to the tree in M&S thanks to my One4All Giftcard!

Christmas morning came after a rather disturbed nights sleep from Violet- maybe she was just too excited to see what Santa had brought her, or maybe she just didn’t want to give me the only thing on my Christmas list (a good nights sleep!) So, we felt rather jaded in the morning and after a very slow start, we eventually opened presents at midday (the perks of having a little one who doesn’t want to open everything first thing!). We started off with Robbie as let’s face it, he’s the only one of us that can sniff out which presents are for him – from a mile off! He had a stocking full of treats which included doggy friendly wrapping paper, which meant he could take his presents and rip them to his hearts content! That kept him busy whilst Violet got to work on the rest of the pile!

Of course, Violet was thoroughly spoiled – we just bought her a few little wooden toys and books as we didn’t want to go mad, but having a whole hoard of lovely aunties and uncles surrounding her, she was one lucky little girl with all the exciting things she got!  I’m not actually sure she knew what to do with all the presents as it was all a bit overwhelming so we did it in stages so she could actually enjoy and appreciate each gift and spend some time playing with it. She loved ripping open the wrapping paper and seeing what was inside, her face was a picture! By the end of the unwrapping session, you couldn’t see the floor for paper, ribbons, building blocks, toys and games.

It was clearly all a bit too much Violet then got extremely tired so we put her down for a nap, whilst the Christmas lunch cooked away in the oven. As we are vegetarian, we had a Quorn Roast and all the normal roast veg and trimmings, mince pies and Christmas pudding! The only thing we missed out this year was Brandy Butter, a favourite of mine. Doh! Also, following our tradition – Robbie had a full roast dinner for his lunch too. 

It was then time for the Queen’s Speech, so we all sat together on the sofa by the open fire (including Robbie) to tune in. We waded through snacks galore (isn’t that what Christmas Day is about!?)  – a good old fashioned tin of Quality Streets (Strawberry and Orange Creams for the win!), M&S honey cashew nuts and Fairfield Farm Heat & Eat Crisps (warm crisps with dips!) were some of the definite favourite snacks this year! We also had a gorgeous M&S Salted Caramel Pudding, which although it didn’t look exactly like it did on the box, it was so delicious, with a centre of swirls of sparkling salted caramel sauce inside a molten chocolate cake. SO GOOD! 

Our first family Christmas was relatively low-key, relaxed and a quiet day but it was just perfect for us. Violet was so excited by all the new toys, the lights, the movies on the TV and most importantly, spending time together as a family. I enjoyed just having a day to relax on the sofa, eating WAY to much and I even managed to squeeze in an hour of gaming time as I got the new Pokemon Ultra Sun game for the Nintendo DS – I haven’t played a computer game since way before Violet arrived so this was a lovely break and I realised how much I missed escaping into the world of games, just for a short while! I hope to make a little bit more time for it in 2018 as a way to relax, but we shall see if that pans out! 

Boxing Day was a restful day, time to play with Violet’s new toys! We had lunch with some friends in the village which was lovely. They just got a new black kitten, which was so cute.

And just like that Christmas was over. Life went back to normal on 27th, although I clung onto as much festive spirit as possible, keeping the tree up and eating our way through the endless Christmas food (we still have some now!) until a couple of days later when Christmas ended with a large crash and a bang…..

At 6:30am when I was at home on my own, Violet decided to ‘drive’ her car into the side of the tree, causing the entire thing to fall over. That certainly woke me up! She then stood back and casually waved the bauble she snagged on the way at me as I tried to heave it off the floor, the decorations falling off, the lights tangled in the dangling tinsel – basically a giant mess. I tried to put it all back into place but it just didn’t look the same and feeling paranoid Violet would pull it down again, the tree had to go. We packed it up and took the rest of the decorations down. Until next year, tree!

Our NYE was a very relaxed affair, we only just made it to midnight and watched the fireworks on the iPad in bed, before promptly falling asleep as soon as they were over – rock and roll!

So, that’s Violet’s first Christmas in a nutshell, it was a quiet, sweet and magical first Christmas as a family together, just right. I’m looking forward to next year as I’m sure she’ll have more of an idea of what is going on and it’ll be just chaos I’m sure! 🙂 Hope you had a good one too!

 

 

Preparing for Christmas with my One4All Gift Card

If you are reading this post on the day it goes out, there are only SIX DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS. Yes, you heard me right, SIX DAYS TO GO! Have you done all your Christmas shopping? Bought all of your food? Written all your cards? I thought I was all organised with it all, but this week still seems like a mad scramble to get it all done, maybe that is just how the final week before Christmas is meant to be as no matter what I do, this week is always ends up as a huge rush.

A couple of weeks ago I contacted by the lovely team at One4All Gift Cards to ask me to take part in a very exciting festive challenge. I had to get my home ready for Christmas, using my One4All Giftcard. This included buying all our decorations, food, drinks and entertainment – all ready for our first Christmas together as a family.

So, just to give you a few details around the card, The One4All Giftcard is a leading multi-store gift card in the which can be spent in over 50,000 retailers nationwide. It’s the perfect gift as the recipient isn’t tied to one outlet to spend, they can use it in so many different retailers, restaurants, hotels and services, they’ll be spoiled for choice! It even comes with a handy app to check your balance and which retailers are involved with the scheme.

 

Onto the challenge….

STAGE ONE:  Buy ALL the food!

This weekend we have been out and about in Brighton – getting everything we need for our first family Christmas together. Our first stop had to be the Marks & Spencers Food Hall. It’s become quite a tradition in our household to eat M&S food for Christmas, so we do a couple of big food shops in the run up to Christmas, the first – store cupboard essentials – Christmas Pudding, Mince Pies, Cranberry Sauce, Festive Teas, Mulled Wine and chocolates. M&S do the BEST Christmas food in my opinion, so it’s such a treat to have all our favourites, neatly packed away in the cupboard – I can’t WAIT to get it all out. We will be doing another Marks & Spencers run closer to Christmas Day too, which will be all the fresh produce, vegetables for the roast, cream, puddings, cheeses.

We also stocked up on wine for the festive period online using Laithwaites, which is really handy as it’s all delivered, rather than trying to load up the pushchair with wine (not sure how appropriate that is either! 😂)

STAGE TWO: Decorate the House

Whilst I was out in town, I bought a few more decorations to add to our tree. I bought a few in M&S and Next. Our tree is now up, lights are on and house is feeling so festive! I also popped into Carphone Warehouse where I was able to pick up an Amazon Echo Dot. We have an Echo in our living room and I LOVE it, but it doesn’t quite reach downstairs to our bedroom, so I needed to make sure Christmas music was being pumped throughout the house – right?!

So, that is my first installment of the challenge – as you can see the One4All Gift Card is mega flexible and versatile as I bought so many things in different stores and online, all with one little card! In my next post, I’ll be sharing how our preparations at home are coming along with these new purchases, just in time for the big day!

 

How are you getting on with your Christmas shopping?

 

To order a One4All GiftCard, you can find them online or buy them in your local Post Office too! 

 

 

The Christmas Tag

You might have guessed, I’m slightly obsessed with all this Christmas this year. It’s Violet’s first Christmas, so it was going to happen! So, I was tagged by the lovely Laura to answer some festive questions and I couldn’t wait to share my answers with you.

What’s your favourite Christmas movie?

It doesn’t really feel like Christmas until I’ve watched Elf! I think I know every line, but it’s become a kind of tradition to watch it for me. As a family, we also love watching The Grinch.

Have you ever had a white Christmas?

I don’t think so – not that I can remember. To be fair, living on the south coast means it doesn’t snow very often and when it does, it’s usually very light, so I won’t hold my breathe for a white Christmas this year!

Where do you usually spend your holiday?

We don’t really have a ‘usual’ Christmas – last year V was working so I went to a friends house! But I think now that Violet has come along, our family tradition will be to spend it at home. Thats what we are doing this year.

What’s your favourite Christmas song?

Ooh, so many choices, I love Christmas music and listen to Christmas music all through December! There are so many classics I love but this year I’ve been loving Sia’s new Christmas Album, especially the song ‘Candy Cane Lane‘. It’s not often I enjoy newer Christmas music but this is a fab, catchy album that’s been on repeat in our house.

Do you open any presents on Christmas eve?

I’ve never opened any presents on Christmas eve, but this year Violet has a Christmas eve box. This is a totally new tradition which I’ve not experienced myself, so we shall see how that goes.

I made a video of whats inside, if you fancy a peek!

Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?

Rudolph, Donner, Blitzen, Dancer, Dasher, Comet, Cupid, Prancer, Vixen (ok I totally cheated as this was already filled out by the last person) I think I probably would have got them eventually though!

What holiday traditions are you looking forward to this year?

As it’s our first as a family, we don’t really have any traditions YET, but we will be putting a mince pie and a carrot down for Santa, then putting Violet’s presents at the end of her bed once she’s asleep. We are also planning to take Violet to church on Christmas morning.

Is your Christmas tree real or fake?

We have an artificial pre-lit Christmas tree, and it looks AMAZINGLY real, plus it was so easy to put up! We’ve had so many compliments on it this year. Violet loves the twinkly lights and of course, trying to pull the baubles off it – I’ve had to move the bottom two rows up out of grabbing distance, so it’s got a bit of a bare bottom (haha ☺️) but it still looks good! We also have a gorgeous Noel Reed Diffuser from the Crabtree and Evelyn Christmas range, which honestly is like Christmas tree scent bottled. As you walk in the room it smells of beautiful festive pine, you’d think it was a real tree the scent is so real! I’m actually really pleased we went with this tree as it doesn’t drop needles, so it means there aren’t any on the floor for Violet to put in her mouth. We had a real tree once and Robbies waggly tail literally beat all the needles off, so by Christmas day it was a twig!

What’s your favourite holiday food/treat/sweet?

Where do I start? I LOVE Christmas food (who doesn’t!). Some of my favourite treats are: Mince Pies, Christmas pudding, brandy butter, Yule Log and Quality Streets! We usually do a big food shop from M&S just before Christmas to stock up on our favourites. On Christmas Day we will have roast dinner but with a Quorn roast as we are all vegetarians.

Be honest. Do you prefer giving or receiving gifts?

I love both – watching peoples reactions to presents is always lovely, but opening something special and being spoilt is obviously a treat too.

What’s the best Christmas present you’ve ever received?

From my childhood it’s the little things I remember the most, I used to LOVE opening my stocking, feeling it on the end of my bed with my toes. It would just have little things like sweets, pens and small toys (with a clementine and a nut at the bottom, of course!) but it’s the little memories that stick with you.

What’s your dream place to visit for the holiday season?

I’d love to visit New York one year, it would be magical. You can bring Christmas joy to any destination though, the year before last we were on a cruise ship along the Nile, so I’m used to slightly unconventional Christmases!

Are you a pro present wrapper or do you fail miserably?

Hopefully a pro! Last year I went on a present wrapping course with M&S and wrapped presents for children at Great Ormond Street Hospital, from that I picked up loads of good tips and techniques which I’ll use every year.

What’s your most memorable Christmas memory?

We always had slightly unconventional Christmases so they were all different really. I remember going for a curry quite a few times on Christmas day! Not sure I’d do that now, think we are aiming more along the traditional route for bringing Violet up.

What made you realise the truth about Christmas?

Haha, my Mum still feels bad about this now. I wrote a letter to Santa and left it by the fireplace, I then caught my Mum and Dad (and their friends over at the time) looking at it, they couldn’t believe I still believed in Father Christmas. I thought they were laughing at me at the time, but looking back as an adult, they were probably just thinking it was sweet, but the cover was blown.

What makes the holidays special for you?

Spending quality time together as a family. I can’t wait to sit by the tree and watch Violet open her presents on Christmas Day morning. Her face will be a picture, although I know this year she’ll be more interested in the wrapping paper! I just love having some time to totally switch off, snuggle up by the fire and EAT LOADS!!!

And that’s it!  Christmas hasn’t always been traditional for us, but now we are a family I can’t wait to create our own traditions. Here are the bloggers I’m tagging to take part, although feel free to join in, if you fancy it!

Maisie – Love, Maisie

Suzanne  – And Ruby Makes Four

Rachael – Tots and Tantrums

Debbie – Hello Deborah

 

Violet’s First Christmas Eve Box

It’s beginning to look a LOT like Christmas in this house, the tree is up and I’ve gone full swing into preparations for Violets first Christmas. I know I’m probably going completely overboard, seeing as she won’t really understand whats going on besides the twinkly lights, tasty food and scrunchy wrapping paper – but if you can’t go a bit over the top for your babies first Christmas, when can you? It’s got to be done.

So, this post is all about Violet’s very first Christmas Eve box – and to do something a bit different, I’ve made it into a little video!  A Christmas eve box is a totally new concept to me, it’s not something that was around when I was little and if I wasn’t a blogger (and read other blogs!) I probably would never have heard of it. But, I loved the sound of starting the anticipation of Christmas early so decided to give it a go. Here is what is inside…..

For full listings of the contents – see the Youtube description!

Have you made a Christmas Eve Box this year? I’d love to see whats inside! 

 

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

I am just bursting with excitement about Christmas this year. Maybe you can tell by the fact this is my third Christmassy post and it’s only mid-November. In fact, being the soppy wreck I seem to have turned into since childbearing I could almost well up at the fact this is our first Christmas as a proper family. I have been dreaming of this moment so long and I cannot wait to see Violets face on Christmas day as we sit by the tree opening our presents – the reflection of twinkly lights in our eyes. In the background Christmas tunes jingle away as the smell of the roast drifts through the air. Could we just skip December and make it tomorrow!?

So, being the ball of irritating festive enthusiasm I am (verging on Buddy the Elf standards here), I’ve been planning ways to start some of our very own Christmas Eve family traditions. Quite honestly before now, we didn’t really have any and our previous Christmases have been most un-festive! Last year we didn’t even have a tree up, V was working long shifts and I was a heavily pregnant beached whale who was too busy stuffing mince pies to put the tree up. I’d only knock the baubles off with my giant belly every time I walked past, so why bother?! The Christmas before that, we were on a Nile Cruise and didn’t even notice Christmas slip by – so traditional, we are not – but this year all of that will change now we are a family.

Christmas Eve to me as a little girl was when the magic started. I know Violet only be 10 months old and won’t totally understand it, but it’s never to early to enjoy the magic of Christmas. Waiting to go to sleep, knowing that in the night, Father Christmas will come down the chimney leaving presents at the end of my bed. I remember waking up and wiggling my toes to hear the crackle of wrapping paper, feeling the weight of my stocking pressing into my quilt before I had even opened my eyes. I think Christmas eve was the only time I ever wanted to go to bed early! This year we’ll be getting ready for bed nice and early – turning our phones off for the next few days, cosying up for the evening in front of the open fire in with Violet, snuggling up in our warm Christmas pyjamas, only the best from Marks & Spencer, of course. I might even crack open the Quality Street tin, we shall see.

Violet loves books and I’ve already started to read her Christmas stories, both about Father Christmas and The Nativity Story. I enjoyed both as a child and I want to pass onto her the meaning behind Christmas and that it’s not all about the twinkly lights and presents. We also have a Nativity Set that we bought on our trip a couple of years ago to Bethlehem, which I can’t wait to set up with Violet –  I think she’ll be really intrigued by the animals in the stable the most this year. We bought it as a family decoration we could use every year – it’s beautiful and means so much to us that we bought it on one of our trips too. One day I’m sure she’ll want to set it up and arrange it all herself, I’m sure!

A newer tradition to me is the Christmas Eve box, I’m not sure this was ‘a thing‘ when I was growing up as I certainly didn’t open any presents until Christmas Day, but embracing both new traditions and old – I am going to make Violet a little Christmas eve box to open. As she’s only little it’ll just have a few little toys in there for her to enjoy as well as some keepsakes like this little Violet’s First Christmas Mug, a first christmas bauble for the tree and a Santa plate for her first Christmas meal too.

My final tradition is once we are all off to bed, I will make sure we all put a mince pie and a carrot down for Father Christmas. I used to always leave him a small glass of sherry too, but seeing as that’s not something we have in our house, maybe he’d like a gin and tonic instead? That we can do. We’ll have to leave it up high though, as I’m sure Robbie will think his luck is in with all those tasty treats being left out overnight!

How do you like to spend Christmas Eve as a family? I’d love to hear your Christmassy tales in the comments below!