My Favourite Holiday Tradition: Magical Family Days Out

My most vivid holiday memories are of family days out in London visiting Santa’s Grotto in Selfridges department store, their Christmas window displays and viewing the lights on Regent Street and Oxford Street. My parents started taking my sisters and I from a young age and even when we moved out of London we’d be back every year to take in the delightful displays. Each year featured a different theme and I remember being so excited to see what it would be. These magical days out signaled the start of the holiday season for us as a family.


{Visiting Selfridges Christmas displays and Santa’s Grotto over the years- photos from the family album} 

After attending the Christmas Grotto, we’d walk around outside the store looking at the themed window displays. When we were done we’d continue walking down Oxford Street taking in the lights as we went. Surrounded by the scent of chestnuts being roasted by street vendors, my younger sisters and I would look up in wonderment at the dazzling lights draped across the busy London Streets. It was such a special time, with memories I’ll forever hold dear.

{ 1. Oxford Street, London 2. 2011 Christmas Lights }

Now I have children of my own (aged 1 and 3) I’m relishing the chance to continue holiday traditions concentrating on family activities and days out. When they are older we’ll take them to Selfridges and the Regent Street lights, continuing on the tradition. For now, even our homemade advent calendar focuses on a different activity for us to do each day, together as a family. The tasks are simple but fun, like making paper snowflakes, baking and decorating cookies and going for winter walks.

Another activity in our advent calender is to attend Winter Wonderland, an event held in Hyde Park every winter. We attended for the first time last year. Joseph and Lily got to visit with Santa and take in the sights and sounds of the magical season. We’ve planned to go again this year and I can see it becoming another family favorite. With craft stalls, rides and ice skating, Winter Wonderland is the perfect family outing to lead us into the holidays.


  1. Adriana says:

    I definitely remember the outings better than I remember the specific gifts I got during Christmases growing up. We had a tradition each Christmas eve of taking a long drive through the neighborhoods that were known for their particularly over-the-top lights displays. It’s something I still love to do today, even though I’m all grown up!

  2. Modupe says:

    How cute were you Isa?! And you’re still looking gorgeous!

    Instead of Selfridges, we used to go to visit the Hamleys display (no Santa) and I remember my dad taking me on my own when I was almost four, because my baby sister had been born on the 20th so of course mum couldn’t make it. He took me to McDonald’s to end the trip and I was so excited!

    This year we also had a homemade advent calendar, but it’s just just pictures from the nativity scene for my 3 y.o. to colour in plus a bible verse and of course a chocolate treat! I am planning to take her to Winter Wonderland too this Friday but thought it would be too much/too cold to take my 1 y.o. along too – do you reckon he’d be ok?

    Ooops, that was a long reply!


  3. Helen Conrad says:

    You, your sister and your children are all adorable! It does bring back memories of going to see the lights and Santa, for me it was Hartford, CT. Love your ideas for the Advent Calendar. Thanks for sharing.

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