Christmas Day in Pictures


Looks like Santa came (and left a polar bear!)

Mr Grumpy came too ...

... But he soon cheered up when he opened his presents.


There were some weird and wonderful presents ...

... some mystery guests ...

... Biscuits ... Or are they cakes? ...

... and lots of nice surprises!

And we made a bit of a mess.

I got some lovely presents.

Lunchtime drinks in the pub.

Think this is the only photo of me from yesterday!

Dinner was delicious.

In fact, everyone thought dinner was delicious!

Best Xmas cracker toys ever - Racing Santas!

And we ended the day by burning Steve's magnificent Xmas pud :)

Before you go, here are a couple of videos. the first is Socks the cat taking an interest in one of Steve’s high quality presents from Katie:

And here’s another of Steve’s amazing presents … His very own Hilary Devey action figure!

Happy Christmas everyone – I hope your day was as good as ours!


Happy Christmas!


So today has been all about peeling spuds, chopping carrots, crossing sprouts (why do we cross sprouts? Does anyone know?) and making trifle. My mum is the trifle making expert of the world but as she's not here this year she has passed her legendary trifle recipe on to me and I've done my best to recreate it. Time will tell whether there's enough sherry in it …

After tomorrow's dinner was prepped, the final presents were wrapped and the hall was hoovered we gathered as a family (Katie having enticed Dan out of his pit for the first time in months) to play a game or three of Buzz while demolishing the best part of a bottle of Harvey's Bristol Cream and watching some telly. This evening has involved a couple of pints down The Folly, jacket potatoes with chilli, wine and falling asleep in front of the box. We're now watching Come Dine With Me before bedtime and a visit from the Man in Red.

Happy Christmas, everyone!

Tell me about your Christmas – and raise funds for homeless charity


Everyone has a a book in them, or so the saying goes. I reckon I've got at least three in me. The first is a novel I started writing one NaNoWriMo and quickly abandoned – but I may come back to it another time. The second is an autobiographical book about parenting a child with ADHD that I'm partway through writing now. And the third is about Christmas.

When I was a kid I thought Christmas was the same for everyone. Every family did things the same way as we did because – well, because that's what Christmas was. And as I grew up and spent Christmas with other families I found it odd that actually their Christmas was different to my Christmas – sometimes very different.

There was the family that always ate out on Christmas Day, rather than settling down to a home cooked turkey. The family who celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve. The family who hid all the presents round the house in a mad treasure hunt, and the family who opened them so slowly there were still presents under the tree at New Year. Families who covered the house in lights and others who had a single unadorned plastic tree.

Christmas is different for everyone, and when we have our own families we take the traditions we liked most and give them our own twist, creating yet another unique Christmas experience. In our family my dad put the lights on the tree and we children decorated it. In our house now it's always my job to put the lights on the tree, and the kids' to add the baubles. But whereas the presents of my childhood remained hidden away until Christmas morning, now they slowly build up under the tree, with Katie squeezing and prodding the ones at the front to work out what might be in them!

Tell me about your Christmas!

So I'll get to the point of this post. I want to write a book about Christmas, to be published in December 2013, with at least 50% of the proceeds going to someone like Shelter or Crisis at Christmas. It's going to be about Christmas – my Christmas and your Christmas, the quirks and rituals and traditions that make every family's Christmas unique. But I need your help – I need you to tell me about your Christmas, either now or in the past. You might want to tell me about:

  • Preparations – who does what
  • Christmas Eve – what happens?
  • Religion – church, mass, carols?
  • Santa – what did you leave for him?
  • Stockings/socks/pillowcase – or something else?
  • Your Christmas tree and decorations
  • Christmas Day – what happens?
  • Food
  • Traditions and rituals
  • Presents – when/where? Best ones, worst ones, strangest ones
  • Family – who visits? Where do they sleep?
  • Anything else that made your Christmas special?

You could tell me about your Christmas this year, or about Christmas in your childhood – whether that was in the 40s, 60s or 80s. You can tell me as little or as much as you'd like. I'd also love to hear about Christmas in other countries because I'm sure there are some lovely customs and traditions that we never hear about. I'd love to get as many different Christmas experiences as possible – so please do get in touch. I'm planning on using first names only in the book with contributors thanked at the end, though you can remain anonymous if you'd prefer. And remember, I'll be donating at least 50% of the profits to a homeless charity, so you would be helping a great cause.

To tell me about your Christmas you can contact me here. You can either write it down or we can talk on the phone (or face to face if you're local to me in Oxfordshire) . Alternatively leave your Christmas experiences in the comments below, or leave a note asking me to contact you. I reserve the right to edit your story but will send you a preview copy so you can have final approval. And please do share this post far and wide – I would especially love to get stories of Christmas in countries other than the UK!


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas


So we bought a tree today, and then went on search of a few new decorations. We decided we had enough baubles in the end, so we bought some tinsel to go round the banisters and some garland thingies for the ceiling. The tree is up but the ceiling will have to wait till another day!

The fairy is one that Steve and I (but mainly Steve!) made in the practically round of a recent pub quiz!


Show us your baubles!


My advent calendar told me today there are only 14 days to go. All around the town there are trees and lights and decorations – it's definitely beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Our house is still bare … And will be till Katie is home from university as she is our Christmas Tree Elf and will be decorating the tree – and the entire house, if I know Katie – on Thursday.

Our Xmas decorations are a mixed old bag. Some of them belonged to my grandma; some were acquired through Freecycle a few years ago; others have been bought in dribs and drabs as and when the budget allowed. We even have some home made decorations from our first Christmas as a single parent family, when money was tight but we spent a splendid Sunday afternoon collecting pine cones and holly, baking salt dough stars and spraying them all gold.

I'm planning on buying a few new decorations for our tree this year but I need your help. Inspire me … Show me your tree, tinsel or favourite baubles! I'd love to see your photos, so leave a link in the comments below, or email me your picture and I'll feature them all on another blog post – along with some photos of our tree!