12 Festive Ways To Celebrate Baby’s First Christmas
I’ve been a big fan of Christmas for as long as I can remember; ever since I was little I’ve started listening to Christmas music in September and I used to play ‘Christmas tv’ with my sister (we so would have owned Youtube had it been around in our day). So when Reuben was born it re-ignited the child in me like never before – and I thought I lived Christmas. Turns out having a little one who doesn’t have a clue what this Christmas thing is makes it all the more thrilling and it’s everything I’ve missed out on since I last sat on Santa’s knee.
Knowing it’s Reuben’s first Christmas I’ve been making a concerted effort to do as many Christmassy things I can think of that will make it one big memorable experience. I’d love him to feel the same warm and fuzzy, excitingly sick feeling I used to get in the grand run up to the big day. Because, even though the presents are the bonus of Christmas Day, it’s the festivities and traditions that make you feel what you do at Christmas, and what you remember is what makes Christmas.
So I drew up a list of things to do and experience for baby’s first Christmas. Some we’ve already ticked off the list, some we’re enjoying every day and others we’ve got planned and getting excited for. If it’s your little one’s first Christmas too, maybe some of these ideas could be your new family traditions?
Baby’s First Christmas Experiences
1. Learn the Nativity Story
Being a Christian family, we’d like Reuben to learn about the nativity story behind Christmas. First we got Reuben’s wooden nativity scene which is a lovely piece that he can both look at and play with, and because it’s personalised with his name on the stable, it’ll be something he can treasure too. On the first day of December his nativity book arrived – The First Christmas by Rod Campbell is an easy to read (and chew!) board book that tells the story in a simple format with lovely pictures to look at.
2. Watch The Snowman
Christmas isn’t done properly without an obligatory viewing of the original ‘The Snowman’. It’s a much loved family favourite for a reason; an innocent child’s fantasy brought to life in beautiful depiction with music and pictures perfect for the smallest viewer. I’ve always loved The Snowman and Reuben would truly be missing out if he didn’t get the chance to warm to our favourite chilly friend too.
3. Decorate the Tree
This has to be up there as the biggest family tradition that I couldn’t wait for Reuben to experience: getting the fairy lights out and decorating the Christmas tree. Okay, so it was mum’s job to put the baubles in place, but Reuben was mesmerised by the glow of the lights and loved helping dad pull everything that’s glittery and jingly out of the big decoration boxes.
4. Christmas Sensory
Babies learn through play so what better way to experience Christmas than through some festive sensory. Jingly bells that are secure and big enough not to be swallowed are fun to play with, and fairy lights in a jar is a great idea to allow babies to get up close with the lights without climbing the Christmas tree. A plastic jar or tub with a lid that won’t loosen is good – I used a worn out Tommee Tippee feeding bottle with a screw lid and popped a short string of battery powered LEDS in. It literally is Christmas in a jar.
5. Treasure a Keepsake
Whether you create one yourself or buy one specially personalised, a baby’s first christmas decoration is a beautiful keepsake to bring out every year to put on the family christmas tree. Reuben has two decorations: a ‘first christmas’ star given by his grandma and a personalised laser cut penguin commissioned by mum and dad.
6. Write a Letter to Santa
You can’t expect Santa to know about your child and their Christmas wishes (regardless that they don’t understand nor able to write yet) if you don’t post a letter off to Santa. When I was a youngster I was brought up to send a letter up the chimney, taken to Lapland by the fire smoke. This is the first time in a million years that we don’t have a real fire (gutted) so it will have to be the conventional route for Reuben’s letter, which, of course, mum will write on behalf of him. I actually didn’t realise Royal Mail provide the service of sending letters to Santa, so we might just give this one a go.
7. Deck out in a Festive Outfit
The best thing about babies at Christmastime has to be their oblivious, innocent nature, and what better way to
exploit allow them to join in the festive fun than with an adorably cute/silly outfit or two over the Christmas period. And when you’re done sharing your little elf over social media, you can dress them in something dapper. Reuben has a few Christmas woolly jumpers, some Christmassy long sleeve tops (when it’s too warm for a jumper) and a pair of joggers with rudolph on the bottom, just for a bit of festive variety each day throughout December. Oh, and I also bought him a star costume that was clearly intended for a nativity play but I just had to for the laughs. (I’m cruel.)
8. Have a Christmas Boogie
Christmas is such a sensory delight of smells and sound, that it would feel very odd without music. My ipod is full of Christmas music filed into genre playlists; classical Christmas, contemporary Christmas, Christian Christmas, you name it, I’ll have it (unless it’s Cliff Richard, in which case, no, I don’t). How many times do you hear a song that reminds you of something? Christmas music has that effect on me. As well as playing all my usual favourites to Reuben, we’ve been playing some new music too, so it’ll become Reuben’s Christmas music memories. SIA’s Christmas album is so addictive that Reuben’s been showing off his first ever dance moves to, and when relaxing music is called for, we can’t get enough of Nursery Rhymes 123 Christmas Deluxe album.
9. Open an Advent Calendar
When I was little, before we had the chocolate variety we first had paper advent calendars, and although my mum has a good story where all four of us kids once fought over who was opening a door that she ripped it from the wall, the choccie calendars have always been the favourite. Advent calendars are a fun way of teaching kids to count down days – and patience! As opposed to investing in one of those lovely keepsake advent calendars I caved and bought a Raymond Briggs Father Christmas chocolate one for Reuben. We opened it together this morning, which he watched with more interest than I thought he would, and he took the chocolate and devoured it in one.
10. Make Tiny Crafts
Nothing’s more heart meltingly adorable than tiny baby toes and they’re never small for long, so make time stand still in the sweetest way. Pinterest comes up with all sorts of fun ideas such as salt dough mistletoes and thumb print fairy lights so dip those little fingers and toes to create lifelong keepsakes. I really want to do one of these, especially as we took fun painted footprints of Reuben when he was just a month old. It would be lovely to compare how he’s grown plus have some adorable pictures to keep in his baby memory box.
11. Visit Santa
Up until this week Reuben had no idea who the man in the red suit was but a visit to Santa’s Grotto fixed that! I was silly excited for this epic moment because it’s been so many years since I last set foot in Santa’s grotto, and it was an emotional moment. Nine month old Reuben found the experience more overwhelming that I thought he would, since he never gets upset over meeting anyone new, but it was still lovely to see him have his first ever meeting with Santa.
12. Festive Photoshoot
I take dozens of photos of Reuben, on my phone, every day. But I try to remember to use my ‘big camera’ too because I know from experience that photos from my phone don’t always print up so well. That’s the beauty of making an effort to take some nice photos every once in a while; you want decent prints that you can treasure in a proper old fashioned album and frame on the wall. Booking your baby in for a festive photoshoot with a good baby photographer will capture your baby in the most creative light, catch their expressions and get the quality you want for framing. Or stage your own set, spend a bit of time to think about your props, baby’s outfit and get to know your camera’s settings so you can capture something more frame worthy than a run of the mill camera phone snap.