There are lots of essential Christmas traditions that we all enjoy, from the roast turkey dinner to putting up the tree.
But we all also have our own family traditions that are as much a part of the festive season for us as the presents, cheesy Christmas films and mince pies.
Here are some of the long-standing festive traditions from the team here at Virgin Balloon Flights.
Every year my family hires a large house for the weekend closest to Christmas, where we have a big Christmas do with the whole family.
There are Christmas dinners, crackers, dodgy festive jumpers, games like charades and just general chaotic family fun just before or after Christmas Day itself.
We actually celebrate Christmas over two days, on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day itself.
Most of Europe has their main Christmas celebration on the 24th
and with me being from Sweden, we always celebrate the night before in our family.
On Christmas Day itself, we don’t have roast turkey but always have a big lasagne with roast potatoes. My wife cooks the lasagne but I always do the roast potatoes.
Every year my dad cooks a proper ham joint and we have ham toasties for breakfast on Christmas Day morning. He uses a simple traditional recipe and it always tastes amazing.
We used to always play Monopoly on Christmas Day but it got to the point where it caused too many arguments – we never did managed to finish even a single game before we all fell out. So we don’t play Monopoly any more.
[caption id="attachment_7101" align="alignleft" width="207"]
One magical Santa key ready for Christmas Eve.[/caption]
We don’t have a chimney in our house so our four-year-old has a special ‘magic key’ for Father Christmas that only he can use to get in through the front door.
We also have a Christmas Eve Box, which we keep under the tree to open before bedtime that contains new pyjamas, a new Christmas story book, a small treat such as popcorn or biscuits and the special plate and cup we use to leave the mince pie and drink for Father Christmas, plus a carrot for his reindeer of course.
Then there is my famous (or should that be infamous!) homemade mulled cider – guaranteed to warm you to the tips of your toes no matter how frosty the weather might be.
[caption id="attachment_7104" align="alignright" width="205"]
No matter how much you eat, there's always room for Christmas cake after the big Christmas dinner![/caption]
Snowballs! As in the drink made with Advocaat rather than the weather-related kind, given I can’t even remember the last time we had any real snow on Christmas.
We have them every year on Christmas Day, with a squeeze of lime, a dash of brandy and the essential maraschino cocktail cherry.
Also, to spread the cost of the big Christmas food shop, we’ll each pick a course and buy the ingredients and drinks to go with it. This year I’ve got the cheese and biscuits thankfully, which is nice and easy.
One tradition in our family is to allow our children to open one special present the night before on Christmas Eve.
My wife also has a ‘tradition’ (that she has now passed on to my dad) where she will graze and snack every 20 minutes from early in the morning so she can stretch her stomach for the main event of Christmas dinner!
[caption id="attachment_7102" align="alignleft" width="193"]
Don't forget to leave Father Christmas and his reindeer a tasty snack on Christmas Eve.[/caption]
Growing up, my sister and I had a tradition and it’s something I now do with my daughter, that when you put down the plate for Santa and Rudolph’s treat on Christmas Eve, you have to shout up the chimney to tell him who is in the house and that you’ve left him a snack.
Another family tradition is that when we do our Christmas baking, it has to be done wearing Christmas jumpers.
I also have a Virgin Balloon Flights tradition, which is making my infamous, fiery hot chilli chutney for the team every year!
Every Christmas we have a family competition to see who can wear the paper hat from their cracker for the longest time.
We’re not just talking a few hours or even a day, because we’re all really competitive and the current record holder is my sister, who last year wore hers for five whole days!
She even travelled back home to London wearing it and only took it off because she was going back to work!
So this year is going to be a pretty tough challenge, with six days needed to win. I think kirby grips might have to come in to play – it’s time to take it to the next level!
We’d love to hear what Christmas traditions your family has so please share them with us in the comments below.
And a very Merry Christmas from all of us here at Virgin Balloon Flights!