There’s something about being a blogger that means you plan seasonally way in advance. Or, at least, you probably should do. I feel like I’ve been working up to Christmas since August but rather than feel festive fatigue, I’m ridiculously excited for it this year. I’m talking Buddy the Elf levels of excitement. Bash-me-over-the-head-with-a-candy-cane and can-we-put-the-Christmas-tree-up-in-October excited (which I’ve refrained from, by the way… if only because I’m too short to get up into our loft and fetch the decorations down). This is totally unprecedented for me. Historically, I wait until my birthday has been and gone – which is next week – and then I start thinking about Christmas. So what’s changed this year?

The difference between a baby and a toddler

Pickle holding a Christmas Present to the camera

The obvious difference is that Pickle is that bit older. Not old enough to really grasp the concept of Christmas (I think we may still be a couple years shy of that), but old enough to be interested in lights, glitter and reindeer. Last year we didn’t go to town with presents for him because there wasn’t much point, and whilst I don’t plan on going overboard this year either, it’ll be lovely to see if he shows any delight in what we will have carefully chosen for him (hint: there’ll probably be a lot of Paw Patrol! That’s guaranteed a reaction, right?).

Presents aside, what I’m most looking forward to is the experience of Christmas for him. We’ve got a few chidren’s Christmas theatre events booked that I’m really excited about, and there’s a free lantern procession in Bromsgrove I’d like to go to. I want to go to a grotto, or two… and I’m going to make us a family Christmas Eve box this year. Even after the day itself is done, there’s always our annual walk up the Clent hills on Boxing Day which is my favourite too! These are the things I’m looking forward to sharing with him. Laying the foundations for traditions which I hope in the future he’ll start to look forward to, too.

No Center Parcs

Family portrait at Center Parcs

The other major difference is that we haven’t been to Center Parcs this year. More often than not in the last five years, we’ve spent my birthday in Center Parcs, and so having spent October and November on the countdown to our Center Parcs adventures, it’s only once that holiday comes around that I’ve been able to get my head into Christmas. The reindeer, the fireworks, and the ever increasing amounts of fake snow littered around the holiday village has always been my kickstart into the festive season. But without that buffer this year, I’ve just ploughed straight into it for 2017! And I’m not complaining.

Continuing Traditions

Snow Globes from John Lewis

Left: Winter Snow Village Snow Globe, £30 (Available from John Lewis)

Right: Winter Palace Magical Village Snow Globe, £20 (Available from John Lewis)

As last year was our first family Christmas, there were a few things we did that I’m excited about turning into a new tradition. One of those was to buy a Snow Globe! Last Christmas, we bought a lovely musical Snow Globe from Marks & Spencers, and I’ve already been eyeing up a few beautiful ones in John Lewis this year. I like the idea of growing our collection by one every year – although, by the time Pickle is 18 years old, I’m not sure where we’d put them all! Hopefully by then we’ll have a nice big house…

Glitter Baubles from John Lewis

Tiger Themed Baubles from John Lewis

Tales of the Maharaja Leopard Head Bauble, £8 (Available from John Lewis)

I saw these lovely decorations in John Lewis when I took went to an in-store blogger evening at the Grand Central store in Birmingham – after the store closed, a small group of Birmingham bloggers were invited to peruse the Christmas shop. And it was such a treat! Not only was it lovely to have the time to properly browse the shop without half-expecting a toddler tantrum to erupt at any moment, but it definitely helped get me into the Christmas spirit. John Lewis is famed for their top quality products so it’s definitely the kind of place I’d head to to pick up something I want to bring out year, after year, after year. A perfect place to pick up our Snow Globe for this year, and I’d definitely be tempted to sneak a few of their Tales of the Maharaja decor collection into our basket – after spending so much time trying to teach Pickle his animal noises over the last few weeks, it makes PERFECT sense to bring some animal magic to the Christmas tree! He’s getting quite good at roaring now.

Christmas Theatre

Me Little Angel Theatre Christmas Show

I’ve set my expectations really high for the children’s theatre we’ve got booked in for the next few weeks. This Saturday, we’re off to see Me… at mac birmingham, a Little Angel Theatre production followed by Snow Mouse at Warwick Arts Centre a couple of weeks later, and then The Snowman just after that. I’ve done a full round up of the area’s most exciting children’s theatre programming and I’m keeping all my fingers crossed my levels of excitement are met with some spectacular shows! We didn’t do anything like this last year, so I hope Pickle enjoys it all and behaves himself so that we can continue to take in the culture year after year.

Being organised

After learning the hard way last December, I’m determined to be more organised with Christmas this year. For the first time ever, it looks like I’ll have all my presents sorted before the end of November, and I’m hoping I can get them all wrapped too. I’ve even already bought my wrapping paper – four whole rolls. THIS IS MAJOR. I can’t quite emphasis what a difference this is!

Prestat Christmas Chocolate from John Lewis

Prestat Christmas Chocolate Bar Library (3 x bars totaling 225g), £9.50 (Available from John Lewis) 

I’m hoping all this hard work will pay off and mean I can properly enjoy the Christmas countdown in December, without any pressure or a long list of jobs to complete. You’ll find me stuffing my face with chocolate (even better if it’s Christmas-inspired chocolate like the Prestat Christmas Chocolate collection at John Lewis) and warming my hands with a big mug of mulled wine, smiling smugly to myself that I’m all wrapped up – literally and figuratively. I’d love to use the extra time to do some festive crafts. I’ve been eyeing up lots of different sew-your-own advent calendars and I quite like the idea of making some Christmas bunting… what better way to spend an evening, eh?

Christmas Family Portrait in front of Christmas Tree 2016

So, come on Christmas 2017. Let’s see if we can make an even more memorable one than 2016.