Since having the littles Christmas has definately stepped up a notch. Before it was mainly about Christmas Day itself, now it’s ALL about the anticipation, the build up of excitement for the arrival of Alfie our Elf, turning our home into a mini grotto, school Nativity plays and Christmas parties, events in our local area and the big finale, the most important aspect – spending precious time with family on both sides, some we only see at this special time of year.
Here’s a run down of our Christmas traditions we’ve implemented in the 6 years of being Mum and Dad to Abbie 6 and Ava 3.
Bolton Light Switch On
We started going to the big Light Switch on in Bolton town centre in 2013 when our Abbie was just a year old. It’s a great way to celebrate the beginning of the build up to Christmas. People in our local area start compiling infront of the town hall where a big stage is set up, often hosted by the local radio station Tower FM Bury and Bolton around 4/5 in order to get a good spot to observe the big firework display. Normally the event is the last thursday in November, starting at 5pm with performances of local bands, sing a-longs for the kids, a parade that walks through the huge crowd that accumilates in Victoria Square. You’ll see people dressed in extravigant Christmassy costumes from giant Christmas bells, snowmen to angels walking on stilts, all lit up in the night sky. The event finishes with a big firework display above the town hall and a local celeb turning on the Christmas lights across Bolton town centre. That’s not it however, the Crompton Place (a smaller shopping centre within the town) is open with pop-up Christmas shops, fair like games and kiddies rides. It’s definately very child orientated and is a great way to get into the Christmas spirit!
Alfie our Elf on the Shelf
We began the popular tradition of ‘Elf on the Shelf’ in 2016 and it’s still going strong. Once you dedicate yourself to being master puppeteer to this naughty little critter, there is no going back! The girls usually start asking about Alfie late November and the countdown begins to the 1st of December when his elf door will magically appear on the living room skirting board and each morning the littles scramble to find where he’s hiding next and what mischief he’s been upto throughout the night! It’s really fun coming up with different things to keep the magic alive, although we aren’t perfect, sometimes Alfie goes back to the North Pole on secret missions and misses days here and there!
Visiting Santa’s grotto in town
In December Victoria Square is taken up by various activities as part of their ‘Winter Wonderland.’ One of these things is Santa’s grotto which appears in a cute little log cabin house with RAMPED access (thumbs up to Bolton Council!) You’re led by Santa’s elves into his cosy cabin to chat, take pictures and the littles are given small gifts. Better still it only costs £1 per child unlike the grotto in the Arndale Manchester. This is our go to place to get the girls annual photo with Santa Claus, although the past 2 years Abbie has been too scared to approach him and I’ve yet to get a photo of Ava on his lap without a dummy in her mouth…
Participating in the Winter Festival activities run by Bolton Council
We LOVE participating in Bolton’s Winter Wonderland activities! Every year there is a GIANT iced slide than you go down sat in huge rubber tubes (one of the most popular activities according to the length of the queue for it each year), Santa’s grotto, a large indoor and outdoor ice skating rink is built that is also semi wheelchair-friendly. In recent years I’ve either watched from the outside railings or from the room where everyone gets their ice skates on. My good friends Emma and Ross (also disabled bloggers) have wrote about ice skating in a wheelchair but I have yet to attempt it for fear of skidding into the large crowds on the ice. Maybe one year! They also have pop-up teepee’s containing warm fires and winter grub to purchase and last but not least is the endless festive huts with all sorts of worldly foods to suit most cultural tastes!
Riding the Santa Special at East Lancashire Railway
Every year starting in December East Lancashire Railway operates a Santa Special experience day for children. A fun filled festive platform at their award willing steam railway, complete with a Santa express style train filled with Christmas cheer, funny elves to entertain and spirit lifting sing songs. A brass band also plays up and down the carriages round trip. Followed by the big man himself – Father Christmas visiting the children to wish them a Merry Christmas, topped with a gift they get to open along the journey. It is really worth the £25 each in my opinion as it’s the sort of childhood memory that’ll stick in their minds well into adulthood!
Christmas Eve Boxes
Around 2 years ago I made a Christmas Eve box for both girls to share out of a wooden DIY keepsake box from The Works in town. Hand painted and decorated it. The girls absolutely love it. Each Christmas Eve our Elf fills it with goodies like hot chocolate sashets, marshmellows and Christmassy PJs as a goodbye gift as he heads back to the North Pole until for the following year.
Recommended Accessible Winter Activities –
Do you have any Christmas traditions that you do each year?