Christmas, Food, Home, London

Christmas Rules


Christmas is by far my favourite time of year. I just love fairy lights, the smell of ginger bread, mulled wine and the colourful decorations that brighten up grey winter days. So when John Lewis asked me to contribute my set of rules for a ‘Perfect Family Christmas’, I was more than happy to join in.

  • As long as little L is too little to talk back, I shall be allowed to dress her up and use her for corny photo shoots.
  • The most important meal is dinner on Christmas Eve – being continental-Scandinavian-Europeans, this is the main event. For Christmas Eve we are having Julbord, which is the uber-Smörgåsbord. We limit ourselves to only a few of the over 50 (!) dishes you can find on a Julbord. Ham and gravlax are among our favourites, and sprouts are definitely out! They used to make me gag as a child, and I am not keen on trying them again. Especially not on Christmas Eve.
  • There is going to be lots of Champagne during the festive days. At least I hope so.
  • Unwrapping gifts is usually post dinner, but this year we will make an exception for little L. She can hardly keep her eyes open beyond 7PM.
  • The four Sundays before Christmas are spent with a big, festively decorated Advent wreath made of fir tree branches. Each Sunday one candle on the wreath is lit, so that at the last Sunday before Christmas all four candles are burning. For us, the Christmas season starts with the first Advent Sunday; this year it is November 29th.


  • Homemade Christmas Cookies are a must – each weekend during Advent a batch or two is made and carefully put away in tin boxes. If we are lucky, there are still some left at Christmas Eve.
  • This year we are going to celebrate the Swedish Lucia with the in-laws and adjoining family at our house, whilst at Christmas, we will be just the three of us. I love having my parents-in-law around, and the rule is to spend as much time together as possible. Plus Champagne.
  • By November 29th, the Christmas playlist will have found its way back onto my iPod. From then on it’s Christmas songs until Big M’s ears bleed. My favourite numbers are by Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson. Very cheerful.
  • There’ll be lots of singing (my part) and lots of eye-rolling (Big M’s part).
  • I would love to establish the rule to go to the ‘Christmas Carols Singalong’ at the Royal Albert Hall, once little L is a little bigger. We went last year on the afternoon of the 24th, and it was absolutely fantastic.


  • Decoration time starts with the first Advent Sunday. There are boxes and boxes and boxes up on the loft, waiting for me to release their precious contents. There’ll be decorations on the mantle pieces above the fireplaces, in big vases all around the house and on the kitchen windowsill, all nestled in fir tree branches. Mistletoe goes above the entrance door and
  • The tree has to be real, preferably Nordmann Fir. Traditionally, it’s not coming in until the morning of the 24th. Baubles, silk bows and ornaments have to go on the tree as well as real candles.
  • And if I was to make the rules entirely, there had to be snow to have a family sleigh ride through a winter wonderland.

winter wonderland


  1. Sounds lovely!!!! What a beautiful Christmas you must have according to those rules, even without the sleigh ride!!

  2. Sounds fabulous and very organised. We still haven’t sorted our Christmases out properly nbieng english and living in finland, we sort of combine the two traditions and have meals and presents on both days

  3. This sounds perfectly wonderful, i like the angel biscuits and your tree is so gorgeous (the box on top is v cute). I’m off now to read about what Lucia entails x xx

  4. @Michelloui: Can you believe that this picture is real; it was Christmas two years ago back in Switzerland. I miss it….

    @Heather: Presents and meals on both days? Why haven’t I thought of this before???

    @Wife of bold: I was only a little confused where my decoration could have gone so completely wrong that it looked like a box 😀 But why not, I might try a box instead of a bow this year, haha.

  5. How lovely! I especially want to try your christmas cookies but I guess I might just get that chance at your much anticipated christmas party!!! Yay cant wait! xxx LZ

  6. @LZ: Lucia is so soon, and I am far from prepared. It might be a bit more chaotic than last year. Well, as long as there are no more broken arms, we should all be happy, I reckon…

  7. That sounds beautiful. I love the sound of the fir wreath for Advent; much nicer than a tacky chocolate Advent calendar from the supermarket….

  8. Such lovely traditions! I love Christmas, too. My children are 2 and 4, so it makes for such a special time.

  9. just reading this post made me feel the glow of Christmas. I love being English but do also secretly wish to be able to take part in Lucia! and the leaving out of the clog in Holland and EVERYTHING. I’m fairly obsessed though.

    I like that you put your tree up on the 24th. For all that I love Christmas it’s magic can be diluted by starting too soon.

    I go to my parents and although the tree is sometimes there before the 24th time depending it is always decorated that morning.

    We have presents and ‘Christmas’ on Christmas Day but there is no doubt that Christmas eve and especially the time after midnight is utterly magical- a sort of blanket of hush descends and you can believe in magical spiritual things for a few hours a year even if you don’t the rest of the year.

  10. @nappyvalleygirl: Erm. I think we’ll have both, the tacky chocolate version and the classic one…

    @Jen: I am very much looking forward for my daughter to grow up a little and hoe she’ll enjoy doing all these things together with me.

    @Sandy: Next year 😉

    @Zooarchaeologist: Ok, snow it is then!

  11. @Rose: I like Christmas because of all the anticipation that comes with it. Sure, Christmas Eve is magical and special and usually a very happy day, but I truly enjoy the days and weeks before.

  12. Awww, I feel all fuzzy now, can we spend Christmas in your house this year? Sounds so cosy/lovely/warm/perfect. 🙂

  13. I think this post has made me feel more festive than anything else so far this year! I love your traditions. My husband’s family are Czec and so we celebrate on Christmas Eve too (unfortunately with carp though. Balk). I miss the Christmas Carols at the RAH. I used to do the concerts with my choir. Great post!

  14. What a lovely festive post!

    I’m very impressed that you manage to save cookies for Christmas Eve… in my house they all tend to go on the day I bake them!

  15. @Julia: Believe me, it’s FAR from being perfect!

    @Lady Mama: Carp? They know that it is the ‘garbage fish’, right? Carp is a German tradition, too, but fortunately my German roots are not strong enough to let a carp destroy the festive atmosphere…

    @Mrs Fab: Hee hee. They say the more the merrier.

    @Lucy: Hi there and thanks for stopping by. I have just been on your website – and as soon as little L dropped her morning nap, I will check out the toddler sessions. We love singing and wriggling and shouting!

  16. @Peggy: You are always welcome! We could have Bûche de Noël, drink vin chaud and sing French gems. What do you think?

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