festive traditions :: pyjamas and a book

pyjamas-7One of the nicest things about spending Christmas as a family is that over the years you develop your own particular traditions. You can assimilate the loveliest elements from your respective childhood Christmases and meld them together, with some of your secret festive dreams thrown in for good measure.

In our house, on Christmas Eve, the boys are each given a single present to open in front of a roaring fire. Inside, they find a new pair of pyjamas, to cuddle up in on the most exciting night of the year, ready to tiptoe downstairs in on Christmas morning. They also each find a book, one with a festive theme. Our growing collection of these, mostly gathered from charity shops throughout the year, is stored away in a box in the loft, brought down at the start of advent. This year, I wrapped twenty-four of our existing festive picture books as a bookish advent calendar. A book advent has proved to be such a lovely idea that it will, in turn, become another tradition to add to our own particular Christmas.

The youngest is two years old this Christmas, and he is deeply immersed in the magic of the season, chattering gaily about trees and lights, Santa and reindeer. For him, I’ve chosen the softest woven pyjamas in a cute stag print, and a copy of Madeline’s Christmas. Since our trip to Paris in October, he’s been obsessed with the Eiffel Tower (“Look Mummy!” he’ll cry, pointing at an electricity pylon, “Eiffel Tower!”) We have a copy of Madeline, of which he is very fond, so he’s sure to love this festive version.
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For the five year old, I have chosen star print all in one. He’s currently a little crazy for ‘onesie’s, so he’ll be utterly delighted with it. His book is the fun and quirky modern updating of the classic Night Before Christmas,  Another Night Before Christmas, by the ever-brilliant Carol Ann Duffy. This version is illustrated by Marc Boutavant, but the most recent edition has dreamy illustrations by Rob Ryan (a version for next year, perhaps). We read the traditional Night Before Christmas each Christmas Eve, but this is a welcome addition that is sure to raise some giggles.pyjamas6-1

For the seven year old, I’ve chosen cosy long johns with a wintery polar bear print. His book is one that I’m very tempted to keep for myself, the latest book by brilliant Matt Haig, a much-lauded children’s novel entitled A Boy Called Christmas. Luckily for me, the boy is a super-fast reader, so I can hope to be reading this one myself before the new year.

pyjamas-5As an extra special treat, this year the boys will also each be unwrapping a gorgeously snuggly dressing gown, in either stars or Dennis the Menace style stripes. Our drafty old house is pretty chilly in the winter, so they’ll be very thankful for them come breakfast time.
pyjamas-1If, like me, you are are always curious to know the contents of other people’s bookshelves, here are some other festive books that have become favourites from past years, in no particular order :

In these weeks leading up to Christmas, I am reading out loud to the eldest two boys, a wonderfully atmospheric childhood favourite of mine, The Children of Green Knowe, a sweetly magical ghost story with a gorgeously festive feel, it’s a book that I adore more each time I read it.

What are your favourite festive children’s books? I’d love to know; I’m already wondering which books to choose for the boys for next year…pyjamas-2{All pyjamas and dressing gowns were gifted c/o Boden Clothing. All words, photographs and traditions are my own.}

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  • I’ve been doing the same with the Christmas books for a few years now and my newest favourites are by Richard Curtis, The Empty Stocking and Snow Day. They’d suit your eldest I imagine! The 12 Days of Pirate Christmas is fabulous too!!

  • Lovely idea about the books advent calendar. My favourite Christmas books are The Grinch by Dr Seuss and the Box of Delights by John Masefield. Have a great festive season!

  • We also give our boys pyjamas on Christmas Eve. When I was growing up my Mum and Dad laid out an elaborate treasure hunt for my brother and I to find one present each before we went to bed. I remember hilarious picture clues of the toilet u-bend and finding clues hanging outside from guttering which we loved, so we’ve carried on that tradition – it’s lovely to see them hunting for their special Christmas Eve present with my Mum and Dad in tow now! One of our favourite Christmas books is Diggy Takes His Pick, a wonderful illustrated story from the 70s. I wrote a little post about our favourite festive reads last week so you might find some suggestions for good ones to add to your stack there (although it does sound like you have some great ones already!) x

  • For years we gave our children a book for Christmas which they opened on Christmas Eve and it became the story they all gathered round to hear before they went off to bed. As a result we have a big pile of Christmas stories to read and the big ones still pick them up and read them although they are usually at the pub on Christmas Eve these days. ‘Harvey Slumfenburger’ was a big favourite of ours as was (and is) ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’. In fact I am reading it again right now. This year we bought a beautiful illustrated book of the Carol Ann Duffy poem ‘Christmas in the Trenches’. I was going to read it to a class but that story makes me so emotional that I’m not sure I can do it without crying! Merry Christmas & happy reading x

  • My children also receive books and pyjamas from the Advent Elves. Over the years they’ve had The Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit by Emma Thompson, JRR Tolkien’s Letters From Father Christmas, Christmas Carol (a child friendly version) and The Empty Stocking by Richard Curtis. This year we have Enid Blyton’s Christmas Stories and Lily and the Christmas Wish by Keris Stainton. I love searching out for Christmas books!

  • I love the pyjama and book idea. I’ve been doing this for my children for the past few years – they are 21 and 15 and they still love it, especially my 21 year old daughter who is away at uni but home for Christmas. I think it just stirs feelings of family and love and celebrating together at this time of year.