Christmas traditions are without doubt one of my favourite things about the holiday season. These smatterings of Christmas cheer often begin before we’ve even reached December and last until the big day itself, or sometimes even after! Everyone who celebrates Christmas will have their own set of individual or family traditions, often passed down the line through generations. The Active Hands staff are no different and we recently put together a list of our own traditions, from the mundane to the insane; with clickable links to any of our products that can be used in correlation! So take a look and see which ones sound familiar, and which ones have you raising an eyebrow (along with a large glass of sherry in some cases):
1. Writing Christmas Cards
Without doubt the most universal of Christmas traditions, sending cards for people to adorn their mantelpieces with is a nice way of letting friends, neighbours and loved ones know that you’re thinking of them. For those of us who struggle to grip a pen or pencil, Active Hands stocks a number of small item gripping aids, holding straps, ball grips and finger grips that can solve this problem with ease.
2. Wrapping Presents
Another very standard, very popular tradition; nothing symbolises the build up to Christmas quite like sitting in front of the fire with some festive TV or music playing whilst wrapping a literal mountain of gifts. And nothing quite beats the look on a person’s face as they tear that wrapping off to discover what’s inside. As a quadriplegic, my wrapping has never been the most aesthetically pleasing; however I do find that a pair of table top scissors and/or the Nimble make it infinitely easier to slice through the paper, and by combining this with a sticky tape dispenser, I’ve become something of a rapid wrapper!
3. Decorating the Tree and Turning on the Christmas Lights
I don’t know about anybody else, but the Christmas spirit officially enters my body the moment my tree goes up and the lights go on. There’s something magical about having a warm and cosy room lit up by baubles, tinsel and lights. Many people have a specific day they set aside for this tradition: for some it’s the end of November, for others it’s the first weekend in December. For me however, as a November baby, it will always be December 1st, which feels like the perfect date to switch from birthday to Christmas. And if you struggle to reach areas when decorating the tree, or have trouble getting plugs in and out, then the Reacher/Grabber and Plug Tugs could be just what you need!
4. The Christmas Lights Contest
Some people go above and beyond when getting into the Christmas spirit, decking the entire outside of their houses in all manner of festive attire. Rob’s family have turned this into a local competition, and in the evenings leading up to Christmas they wander a different part of their village and check out the lights on the houses, with each picking a personal favourite. Then on Christmas Eve, they do one last walk to look at the ‘finalists’, before deciding on a winner and popping a card through the letterbox to let them know they have their favourite lights in the village!
5. Visiting Christmas Fayres and Markets
Set up in villages, towns and cities all over Europe and beyond, Christmas fayres are the perfect places to find unique, hand-crafted gifts for friends and family. There’s always plenty of festive food and drink to be had too, so you can pop down your bags and relax with a hot cup of mulled wine, some bratwurst and a bag of warm chestnuts as Christmas songs fill the air! I try to visit a handful of these each year and the atmosphere always feels so much more festive compared to shopping centres and massive franchise stores.
6. Baking Festive Treats
In order to remain as healthy and independent as possible, I try to stick to a relatively balanced diet throughout most of the year. This of course goes completely out of the window in the lead up to Christmas, as I indulge in as many culinary extravagances as humanly possible! As a child, my mum and I took part in the fairly common tradition of baking mince pies and leaving a couple out for Santa before bed on Christmas Eve. A few decades later and I still enjoy getting up to some festive baking using the myriad of kitchen aids at my disposal, although unfortunately for him, Santa doesn’t get much of a look in nowadays!
7. Christmas TV and Films
From Gavin and Stacey to The Great British Bake Off, Home Alone to It’s A Wonderful Life; sitting down to watch a heart warming Christmas TV special or movie is a really simple yet effective way of bringing families together and getting everyone in the Christmas spirit. We all have our favourites that we watch religiously each year; for me Christmas Day isn’t complete without a viewing of Raymond Briggs’ classic The Snowman and more recently its follow-up The Snowman and The Snowdog. For Rob and his family, it’s got to be Elf! And if limited hand function means that you struggle to push the pesky buttons on the remote, slip on a Sixth Digit 2 and you’ll be channel hopping in no time!
8. Family Game Time
Another classic way of embracing family time during the holidays is by getting together for some good, old fashioned, competitive games! Feel like proving you’re the bright spark of the family? Out comes Trivial Pursuit. Fancy yourself as a shrewd businessman? Grab the Monopoly. Want to show-off your flexibility? It’s Twister time. (Not recommended for wheelchair users!) Whether it be board games, card games, cerebral games or video games, they all come out at Christmas. As a child, my mum would often hide little treats or gifts around the house along with a bunch of clues, sending me on mini scavenger hunts; the figuring out of the clues always being my favourite part!
9. Guess the Gift
As previously mentioned, watching someone excitedly unwrap the gift you got them is one of the best things about Christmas. One member of staff’s family would take this a step further and, as children on Christmas Eve, they were allowed to feel one of their gifts through the wrapping paper to try and guess what it was, adding a whole new and unique level to the anticipation!
10. Shouting Up the Chimney
In what was certainly the most niche of Christmas traditions in my house growing up, on Christmas Eve, right before I went to bed, my parents would take me into the living room and have me shout up the chimney to Santa, telling him what gifts I was hoping to find under the tree in the morning. One of my most memorable childhood traditions, in hindsight, was also a sneaky way of my parents working out how successful they’d been in the Christmas shopping that year!
11. Christmas Stories
Regaling little ones with colourful Christmas tales is another classic tradition practised by families around the world. Whether reading from a book or creating your own magical adventures, there’s something special about seeing the excitement build up in children’s faces as you take them on festive adventures, often involving Santa and his elves. My mum would always read The Night Before Christmas to me as I was tucked up in bed on Christmas Eve, and even to this day the mention of “sugar plums” conjures up mouth-watering images in my head!
12. A Goodnight Gift
The logical final entry in the list is a Smith family tradition that takes place last thing on Christmas Day. The children, ready for bed after a long day of family festivities, go into their rooms to find one final present wrapped and left on their pillows. According to Rob’s wife Jo, this is usually something simple like a new book designed to “keep the magic flowing right to the end of the day!”
So there we have it, 12 Christmas traditions from the Active Hands staff. How many are on your Christmas checklist? Are there any you’ve never heard or thought of before, but are now going to adopt into your own? And most importantly, am I the only person who was talking to Santa through the chimney??