The Ultimate Christmas Planning List to Create Magical Memories
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I’m officially sounding the Christmas Klaxon! #SorryNotSorry
The moment it starts feeling a little chilly, I start looking forward to planning Christmas. I don’t think I’m alone in starting my Christmas planning, if the memes going around Facebook are anything to go by! Once the kids are back at school, I like to book festive treats for the family, as in the past I’ve left it too late and been disappointed.
So here is my ultimate Christmas planning list. The events are localised to the Bucks area, but hopefully it will give you ideas of some things to book in your own area. And you can do all the Christmas home activities wherever you are. Get ready to make some magical Christmas memories with my 22 ideas to create a wonderful Christmas season! Scroll down and download my printable list to planning your Christmas activities.
Christmas Planning: Activities to Book Now
I’ll start off my ultimate Christmas planning list with family-friendly activities you’ll need to book in advance.
1. Book A Visit to Father Christmas
Arguably the most important Christmas planning event, booking to see Santa is a hot topic on the mum forums!
In Milton Keynes, probably the most well known Santa is at Frosts Grotto in Woburn Sands. Tickets for their Father Christmas experience are already out and the weekend ones tend to sell out quite quickly. Although we’ve never been to Frost’s for Christmas, I’ve been to their other seasonal events and they are always good.
You can book Frosts Santa’s Grotto here, they also have garden centres in Wellington, Brampton and Millets Farm.
A few years ago we went to the Dobbies Grotto, which was really wonderful, and the girls loved chatting to Father Christmas in his cabin.
You can book Dobbie’s Santa’s Grotto here, and they have multiple garden centres around the country. Dobbies also have Breakfast or Tea with Santa experiences, which include a toy and a meal.
I haven’t been to the Wyevale Santa’s Grotto but a few years ago we had Breakfast with Santa at Wyevale Garden Centre in Woburn Sands. It was really cute but lacked some of the magic of Dobbies or Frosts. But my husband and I really enjoyed the fact that we got breakfast, too!
You can book Wyevale Santa’s Grotto here. They also have garden centres across the country. Wyevale still do their Breakfast or Tea with Santa too, if you’re interested in that option.
If you live near Aylesbury, check out Winter Wonderland at World’s End
A few years ago, we went down to World’s End Garden Centre, near Aylesbury to go to their grotto. You walk around animatronic scenes, full of cute details and characters. It’s pretty low-tech, and I wonder if they have bought up the displays from shopping centres in the 80s and 90s – it has a real nostalgia about it. Our girls loved it and it was not expensive, and you can read all about Winter Wonderland on my blog post here. There is a Santa there too, but we didn’t visit him. You can’t book ahead, so just go along and hope it’s not too busy! You can find out more on their website here.
2. Book A Christmas Pantomime
Do you have a good panto near you? We took the girls to one of our local pantomimes last year and the year before, and they loved it. We didn’t go to the main one, but chose an amateur production and it was really good fun, and a lot cheaper. We’ve booked the same one for this year and are looking forward to seeing the girls’ reaction again.
3. Book Ice Skating
How about a bit of ice skating to get you into the festive mood? We went on Christmas eve for the first time and it was hilarious. My husband Ryan, and Ava and Thea are all really good at skating. I am terrible. There is a video of me ‘skating’ and it actually looks like it’s in slow motion. It’s not. You can book ice skating here.
4. Book Magical Waddesdon Manor at Christmas
One of the highlights of the Christmas season for us is a visit to Waddesdon Manor, near Aylesbury. They decorate the manor house and ground in the most beautiful way, and have some kind of outside light event too.
There is also a lovely Christmas market running earlier in the season, so it’s a great day out. This is one to book ASAP as the house time slots get booked up well in advance. I recommend booking a slot for around 4pm if you can, so that it’s dark when you come out, and you can go and enjoy the lights display in the grounds straight away.
Christmas Planning: Share the Love
I like to encourage the children to give to others at Christmas so here are some ways to share the Christmas love.
5. Make Up An Operation Christmas Child Shoe Box
Every year, we make up a shoe box of little gifts, which is sent to a developing country to a child who would otherwise receive nothing. Apart from being fun for the girls, it’s a great way to help them appreciate how lucky they are, and to help others. You can read about what we’ve put in our Christmas box in this post.
6. Wear a Christmas Jumper
I believe most schools (and workplaces) have Christmas Jumper Day, and we always take part, in exchange for a donation to Save The Children. Plan ahead if you don’t already have a Christmas jumper, so you can get a good one.
Christmas Planning: Home Activites
I’ll move on to more home-based Christmas activities, that you can start planning now.
7. Fill a Homemade Advent Calendar
I love my advent calendar – it’s a set of little cardboard houses, which make up a village. You pop a little treat in each one, for Advent. It looks fab, but if you go down this route, be prepared to spend a lot of time putting the boxes together! You can find a similar mini cardboard house advent calendar here.
An easier alternative is something I did a few years back, before I transitioned to natural beauty. I bought a Marks and Spencer beauty advent calendar, emptied it out and gifted the products or used them myself, and reused the box. You can read all about my beauty advent calendar hack here.
I normally dismantle a Lego Advent calendar and pop the mini kits in each box. You could add sweets or little toys. This year, I’m getting the Lego Harry Potter Advent Calendar, which you can find here.
8. Light Candles
For the past few years, I’ve taken great delight in burning this lovely advent candle every evening. Some evenings I had to do a couple of sections, if I missed a night! I managed to track an advent candle down here at independent homeware shop Map Stores. You can find lots of different versions of my Bookishly art work here – I expect they will have Christmas ones soon!
This is my favourite Christmas scented candle, I buy one every year. This Joik Spiced Cranberry candle burns beautifully and because it’s soy wax, it doesn’t burn any chemicals.
9. Create a Christmas Eve Box
Every Christmas Eve, I get out our Christmas Eve box, and with a little planning, you can add to it each year! Our box contains the girls’ Christmas stockings, Christmas books and DVDs, and a pair of new Christmas PJs each. Check out these cute personalised kids’ Christmas PJs. I also add a jar of hot chocolate mix and some marshmallows, and a carrot and mice pie for Santa.
The girls put on their PJs, and hang their stockings – you can find our stocking hangers here.
My sister and I made their Christmas stockings, but you can find a gorgeous selection of personalised Christmas stockings on Etsy here. They drink their hot chocolate whilst we watch a Christmas film and read festive stories.
Don’t forget to send your letters to Santa!
Want to know how we transformed our dated fireplace? Read my fireplace makeover tutorial here.
Christmas Planning: Festive Makes and Bakes
I love a home made Christmas, and here are some of the ways you can plan some festive creativity – buy the materials in good time in case they sell out!
10. Decorate a Gingerbread House
You could make a Christmas Gingerbread House from scratch… or you could buy a gingerbread kit. I suggest doing the latter, and also buy the special construction icing and decorating kit. Normal icing doesn’t dry quickly enough, leading to collapse, but the special icing sets fast, so you can get on with the fun of decorating.
This gingerbread tastes really yummy, as well as looking fab.
11. Make Christmas Star Biscuits
Making and decorating Christmas biscuits is a lovely Christmas tradition, and we do it most years. But I haven’t ever used them as decorations too! Caro from The Twinkle Diaries has though, and let me borrow her lovely photo – don’t they look gorgeous! She says they are so yummy they don’t stay around for long… find Caro’s recipe for edible Christmas decorations here.
12. Make Peppermint Bark
Peppermint bark makes a quick and easy Christmas gift – you can find my peppermint bark recipe here. It’s also a good way to use up any leftover candy canes!
13. Make Chocolate Orange Fudge, Orangecello and Dried Orange Decorations
Why not make home made edible gifts this Christmas? You can easily make orangecello with vodka, oranges and sugar – plan this Christmas treat ahead, as you’ll need to leave it for a few weeks to infuse. Chocolate orange fudge (or regular fudge) make great gifts too. A quick Google will find lots of easy recipes!
Sam from Dove Cottage has a great way to use oranges for frugal, eco-friendly Christmas decorations – check out her instructions here. I’ve done them a few times and they smell so amazing, it’s well worth it.
14. Create Home Made Gift Tags and Wrapping
15. Fold an Origami Star Christmas Tree Topper
Add a personal touch to your Christmas tree with an origami star – you can buy a kit from Origami-Est. It comes with easy-to-follow instructions and papers to make three stars.
16. Make a Christmas Cake
I actually hate Christmas Cake as I don’t like dried fruit. So I never make one, but here is one my mum made a few years back, complete with a festive village with a giant snowman. Again you’ll need to plan this in advance so your cake has time to mature. My mum uses this Christmas Cake recipe by Delia Smith.
17. Make a Christmas Wreath
I am a little wreath crazy. Previously, I made this pink toned wreath at a workshop, and you can read about it here. I was so proud of it, and it lasted really well through the Christmas season. There are plenty of places you can make a wreath, and I really enjoyed it so will be doing another.
If you want to make a simple home made Christmas wreath, I did a tutorial here, which is so quick and easy, yet looks great on your door.
I also make Winter Wreaths, which go on an inside wall. They are also super quick and easy to make, and smell fantastic thanks to the eucalyptus. They look great for months as they dry out so well. Read my simple winter wreaths tutorial here.
18. Read a Christmas Book (or Five)
Every year I like to add a Christmas book to our stash. We love a Christmas story in this house! Read about our favourite Christmas books for little ones here.
19. Decorate Your Windows with a Christmas Scene
Last year, I decorated our bay window with a festive scene, using chalk pens – I recommend Posca chalk pens which you can buy here. It’s really fun to do, and looks so sweet. You can read all about how to decorate your window with chalk pens here.
20. Pick Your Own Christmas Tree
Picking your own Christmas tree, fresh from the field is such fun, I would recommend it to everyone! You can see how we got on choosing our Christmas tree here.
21. Treat Yourself to a New Bauble or Two
I like to buy a new bauble every year. As we inevitably smash a couple when decorating the Christmas tree, it helps even it out. I couldn’t resist these leopard print baubles, which you can buy here.
22. Count Down To Christmas
Why not use a light box or letter board to count down how many more sleeps there are until Christmas?
I hope you’ve found my ultimate Christmas planning list helpful, do you have any good ideas I should add to it? Please leave me a comment, and Pin this guide for later.
Why not download my Ultimate Christmas Planning List and create your own magical memories? Just click the download button.
Looking for Christmas gift ideas? Get your Christmas shopping planned nice and early with these ethical gift guides. Click on the image to go through to the blog post.