Do I dare change our Christmas traditions?



See our Christmas wreath? It’s the same one I’ve pulled out of the cupboard since before my man and I had our kids. And the Christmas lilies? Every year they stand happily in the same vase in the hallway. I remember one year, after I was a little tardy in my Christmas lily buying, my boy saying ‘ah, now it smells like Christmas!’ when they finally made their appearance. Traditions are important, right? They bind us to our family. They bind us to our culture. But I have a question. Well, two. What do you do when traditions start feeling routine? Are you allowed to tweak them?

Here’s our situation. We have a small family. There’s me, my man and our now-grown-up boy and girl. My man and I each have one un-partnered sibling, and then there’s my parents and my man’s mum and her husband. My mother-in-law’s family is all in the UK. With such a little bunch of us, and with no-one having to juggle competing family demands, it makes sense for us to all do Christmas together. And since our family of four sits in the centre of both extended families, and our house has the most suitable space – and a pool – we host the day. When the kids were younger this was great – no need to ferry between different houses and they didn’t need to be parted from their pressies.  The day has a routine. Everyone arrives, drinks are poured, the usual seats are plonked down into, presents are distributed and opened. ‘Thank yous’ and nods are shared around the room and the nibblies I’ve prepared are eaten before we sit down at our thoughtfully arranged places *wink*, crack open the Christmas bonbons and try to get the streamers from the poppers to drape from the light fitting that hangs above the table. There’s seafood for entree, ham and turkey with roast potatoes, various salads then plum pudding studded with the old thr’pences and shillings that belonged to my nanna. By 4pm everyone is ‘full to pussy’s bow’ and the male members of the family seem to have flaked out around various rooms in the house (not quite sure why this is when it is my mum and me doing the food prep!). But after eighteen years of doing the hosting bit, with the same crowd, I’m starting to feel like some of the excitement has gone from the day. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and I feel blessed that I have been able to spend every Christmas Day with my parents and my brother for so many years. And my man has been able to spend it with his brother and mum, and each set of grandparents has been able to spend it with their only grandchildren. How fortunate are we? But now that we don’t have the Christmas energy of little people infusing our day, I feel like we need to do something different to give the day a bit of a rev up. But how far can you break with tradition without ruining the day?

Could I throw some snags and chicken on the barbie, and as long as there are pressies and bonbons would that be enough to make it feel like Christmas? Could I change it from lunch to dinner? Could we all go to a restaurant for lunch?

Last year, I decided to scrap the entree and just go for more substantial pre-lunch nibbles. I thought this might leave a little more room in our tums so that we could actually enjoy eating some pudding! My mum seemed a little hesitant when I suggested this but I think it worked okay! This year I’m adding an ice-cream plum pudding to the dessert menu after my boy said that he finds the traditional one a little filling at the end of the meal. My mum suggested we could ditch the pudding for something like a lemon tart (we’re not a pav family) but I think for my brother and my English mother-in-law, it wouldn’t be Christmas without a pud! We only ever have turkey at Christmas so it wouldn’t feel quite the same without that on the table.

And that would be the worst thing. To have a Christmas Day that doesn’t feel like Christmas – even if the day isn’t as thrilling or exciting as I remember it as a child, or when own boy and girl were little. Maybe it’s not the traditions I need to tweak, but the way I think about it. This is what Christmas is for us and this is what holds us together as a family. One day, I assume, I’ll have to share my kids – and grandkids! – with other families on Christmas Day so perhaps it’s best that I not tamper with our traditions too much in the meantime. Maybe some extra baubles hanging around the house, an updated Christmas playlist and that ice cream plum pudding are all we need.

Have you ever changed your traditions? Did it work? Or did it make you yearn for the way it was?

I hope you have a happy Christmas Day however you celebrate.



12 thoughts on “Do I dare change our Christmas traditions?

  1. I seem to change our Christmas tradition from year to year. We’ve had a few huge changes to our traditions with moves from England to Hong Kong and then on to Australia. We have summer now, instead of winter, and roast turkey and all the trimmings seems faintly ridiculous to me. Plum pudding is absolutely out of the question. So it’s glazed ham and a variety of salads finished off with individual pavs and fresh summer berries and cream. Friends at loose ends have become our extended family, and we always seem to do the hosting. It’s a much more relaxed affair than those of my childhood, and I’m fine with that. Happy Christmas to you and yours, and go ahead and tweak your traditions if you want!


    1. Ah, I love the the friends drop in! We had a couple of years when the kids were little when we had some friends who lacked family dropping in and it was ace – especially since our kids had no one else their age to share the day with. Happy Christmas to you too! I’m sure your table will look photo perfect!


  2. Change things up. Christmas isn’t a museum to bygone days. This year we are doubling down – casual bbq lunch at my younger sister’s house on Christmas Day, just my sisters, brother-in-law, me and our parents and a few kids, everyone chipping in with a salad, nibbles or dessert. Then Boxing Day dinner with everybody in the family, as we are all free that day to be together. That will be my sisters, bro-in-law, parents, two brothers and their ladies and all the kids, at my youngest bro’s house. Mum is even letting making the pav go this year, a lifelong tradition, as it’s now too much for her. It’s definitely okay to evolve. And here’s a tip for you – pray your kids marry Polish partners as they celebrate Christmas together on Christmas Eve!

    However it looks, enjoy the day.

    Sent from my iPhone



    1. Sounds like you are going to have a fab two days, Annette! I love the idea of Christmas Eve dinner in a European winter. There is the possibility my girl may be studying overseas next year so we’ll see what we can engineer! Good on you all for letting your mum off on the pav front! Have a lovely Christmas, Annette xx


  3. I don’t really stick to any traditions as such , change is good it gets a bit boring as you get older . Now we have kids it’s different & I see the older members of my family enjoying it a bit more as it’s all a wonder for the kids


  4. Your Christmas Day traditions sound just lovely. I can understand the questioning about whether to tweak or not tweak. Our Christmas usually involves traveling in busy traffic, someone else hosting and trying to remember to pack everything. So our traditions have been more about preparation and making the sweet things we can take which contribute to the day like gingerbread, panforte and shortbread. These things have changed as our girls have grown. I used to make them, then we started baking together and made easy things like truffles and mars bar slice. Now the girls make gingerbread together, I make whatever takes my fancy and this year my man even made something! I do think we need some traditions to flow through the years, and these do bind us together, but I also think that we grow, grow up, grow older and tweaking can be a good thing. Whatever you decide, I hope you and your family have a special day together.


    1. Go Steve! I’ve made an effort to do a bit more Chrissie baking this year – shortbread, gingerbread, fudge. My mum always did heaps but there’s only so much one can nibble on before piling on the kilos! I think for our family tweaks are the safest option! Have a lovely day too, Em xx

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  5. A very interesting post Carolyn 🙂 Seeing as you’re the one hosting – do what you like! Although maybe small tweaks to start, tweak something every year and before you know it the whole day will look different! When we were little we would drive to Mt Gambier for Christmas every year, stay at Grandma’s, all Mum’s siblings and their kids (our cousins) would come and it was heaps of fun. Then Grandma got too old to host, so we started going to my parents’ place when me and my bros were in our 20s. Then, with the addition of my bro’s gf and her family, we started meeting them in the Bot Gardens and all bringing a plate. Which is nice, and no one does all the prep alone. This year I am not sure what is happening.So, I think a bit of tradition is good. We always have this quite strange thing called ‘pilaf’ which is toasted pinenuts, currants etc to go with our meat, and a baked tomato with breadcrumbs dish. I think it’s something Grandma probably got from a Women’s Weekly cookbook and Mum has continued the tradition…quite weird! But i do like weird family quirks! xoxox happy Christmas Carolyn, Rob, Hugh and PIp xoxoxo


    1. Ah, the tomato and breadcrumbs! I remember that making an appearance on our Christmas table when Mum used to do the full hot dinner . I think it probably is a Women’s Weekly recipe! I have been reflecting upon traditions as i’ve been watching The Crown and I think that tweaks are good but certain traditions do need to remain, otherwise occasions can lose their meaning and significance. Have a lovely day, Robinson clan. Have requested a copy of First Person for my stocking!


  6. We keep some things the same and as the kids get older change others. We still make an advent calendar which morphs each year the boys get older, food might change from year to year, but as long as gravy and cranberry sauce is involved we seem to do ok. Go for some changes and keep other traditions!


    1. Last year I neglected to get the advent calendar for the then 17 and 20 year olds and I received a bit of a ticking off for that! They’ve made a reappearance this year!enjoy your gravy and cranberry sauce, Clare xx


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