Quirky Christmas traditions are the best Christmas traditions

We all have a reasonably good idea of what a ‘traditional British Christmas’ involves: a tree, fairy lights, turkey, carol singers, mince pies, mulled wine etc etc – some of these things dating back to Victorian times, some older than that, and a few going back as far as pagan Yuletide.

The truth, though, is nothing like the supermarket adverts. The most common festive activity is actually watching TV, followed closely by eating some kind of roast lunch or dinner, and hardly anyone under the age of 45 voluntarily eats Christmas pudding.

Most people just do their own thing, and it often becomes their particular quirky household tradition. Think about it. Maybe you have your own? Nearly everyone does, even if they have no religious affiliation or recognise it as a festival of any kind. It’s a day off, the shops and most other places are shut, you might as well keep yourself amused.

Times change, people change, and circumstances change. In particular this year, many people have seen their finances altered significantly due to mortgage rises, inflation (especially food prices), and unprecedented rises in fuel costs, so the festive season is likely to be significantly different. Holding on too tightly to ‘national traditions’ could make life a lot harder than it needs to be.

star wooden decorations festive

Right now I’m sitting here with the Xmas fruit bowl out, the one I like to have clementines and satsumas in for healthy snacking, and a couple of dried orange pomandery decorations on the mantelpiece in the front room and that’s honestly it so far. I normally would decorate on the first weekend of December, but I was out doing interesting things all weekend instead and thought it could wait. There’s no ‘correct’ time to decorate anyway, is there? I’ll get around to it eventually.

I did used to know someone whose mum invariably got the tinsel out on the first weekend of November, because all the women on that street were in some kind of weird, bitchy competitive decorating death spiral with one another. Yes kids, this is what the #BeKind dog avatar Facebook mum types used to get up to before Facebook was invented. Brutal. But it was their street’s micro-local tradition, and at least nobody lost an eye or anything. As far as I’m aware, at least.

What do we get up to here? Well, some years we travel, and others we stay in London, but we do have a few little personal traditions in our house that we try to keep up if we can. These include:

  • The Christmas box of groceries
  • Signature cocktail
  • Sneak-away lunch and matinee
  • Trifle odd / odd trifle
  • Anime day

I’m sure there are quite a few others, but these are the main quirky things we’ll be doing this year.

The Christmas box

This is just a box that I chuck groceries in every now and then during autumn months so we don’t have to do a massive shop right before Christmas. It spreads the costs and the hassle, and I’ll probably write a whole load more about it another time, but one thing I will say right now is this: don’t tell other people what’s in it because they’ll want to start eating most of it before Crimble is in full swing. Just don’t do it. Nope.

Christmas aviation cocktail

Signature cocktail

Every year we pick a different cocktail to serve up during December, either relaxing in front of a movie on nights off or entertaining guests. Last year we made Aviation cocktails, in the hope of blue skies ahead through 2022. Oh well. This year it’s the Brandy Alexander, because brandy and cognac are having a bit of a resurgence and it also has some classic rock and roll associations. The brandy is in place but we haven’t cracked it open yet… soon though.

Sneak-away lunch and matinee

Wherever we are, whatever we’re up to, Beau and I try to sneak out for a nice light-ish lunch, and sometimes a matinee show or film on Christmas Eve, just the two of us. Not always possible, especially in recent years, but a real treat if we can get away. Veh romantic. Shhhh, don’t tell anyone.

Trifle odd / odd trifle

I have absolutely no idea where the weird trifle obsession came from, but we make a different trifle every year with crazy flavours. Nobody’s remotely interested in trifle around here for the rest of the year, but for some reason a bit of warped seventies retro goes down a storm in front of the telly on Boxing Day. This year there’s been an even more out there than usual request for prunes in the trifle, but I can categorically state. That. Is. Never. Going. To. Happen. Pear and gingerbread this time, I reckon. What do you think?

cartoon dog and snowman

Anime Day

Between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, there always seems to be one day when the weather’s especially cold and rainy, or extra cold and sleety. We turn this around with our annual Anime Day. Yup, the good cartoons, feature length animation, especially ones that the critics really loved this year or that have been recommended by friends with excellent taste. We’ve saved up a few to stream already, so that’s one lazy Twixtmas day I’m especially looking forward to.

What are your own quirky household traditions? A Boxing Day walk? Compulsory board games? A blanket ban on sprouts? Turkey completely prohibited under house rules? Let us know.


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  1. Prunes?!?! In a trifle?!?!? What the heck were they thinking? Well done for banning that absurd suggestion. Prunes have no place in such a fine dessert.

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