The Best Christmas Eve Traditions for Families

Are you looking for some new traditions for Christmas eve ? Here are 10 wonderful traditions that your family will look forward to every year. 


Christmas Eve Family Traditions

Christmas Eve was almost more fun for me growing up than Christmas day. Of course, there’s great memories associated with both, but when I think about Christmas traditions – Christmas Eve always has many that are dear to me.

Forrest feels the same way, and as our little family has grown, we’ve enjoyed our Christmas Eve traditions as well. Last year I shared over 30 Christmas Traditions that are fun throughout the whole season, but today, I want to share some fun Christmas traditions for Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve Traditions

Read the Night Before Christmas

Forrest’s family always reads the Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve. Last year, we were fortunate enough to be able to spend Christmas with his family, and it was fun to participate in this. They always read it from this old copy of the book, and it’s really a sweet tradition. I know it’s one Forrest always enjoyed, and I look forward to being able to do it with our family as well.

Here are some other wonderful Christmas book for children that you could read.

Caroling and Neighbor Gifts

I love Christmas caroling. Although it’s not something we always did, when we would, it was always special. I think Christmas Eve is a great time to go caroling to a few homes and dropping off a plate of goodies or some other kind of neighbor gift

Forrest and I thought it would be to make a hot chocolate themed neighbor and friend gift.

neighbor-christmas-gift (3 of 4)

We picked up the mug with cozy sweater wrap at Hallmark, along with some chocolate stirrers, one of the holiday-themed itty bitties (have you seen these. I’m obsessed. Sooo darling!), and a package of hot cocoa. It’s such a simple idea, but it would be so fun to hand out after you go caroling!

Here are some other ideas for Christmas cookies you could hand out.

Record a Christmas Book

We were actually at Hallmark and spotted a recordable version of The Night Before Christmas, and it sparked a new idea in my book – creating a recordable Christmas book each year. Hallmark has a wide variety of these books available, and I think it would be such a sweet tradition to have.

Each year, each member of the family can take turns recording a page, and over the years, you’ll have a collection of books. I think it would be so fun to be able to hear your children’s voices over the years.

I know that I’ll miss Jack’s sweet little voice as it is right now. We picked up The Night Before Christmas, but they had a lot of fun ones. Let your children pick the one they like the most, start a fire, and record it as a family right before bed.

neighbor-christmas-gift (4 of 4)

Alternatively, you could purchase one of these personalized books from Hallmark for each of your children and let them open it on Christmas. I think it’s such a sweet, personal gift that all children would love. This Night Before Christmas one is the one we got. I remember that when I was younger, my Grandma Barker gave me a book that was customized to have my name in it, and it’s always been a book that I’ve loved.

Act out the Nativity (or Read it)

I obviously love all the fun parts of the Christmas season, but I think it’s important to have the prime focus on Christ. Reading the Nativity as a family from the Bible (or from a picture book – there are lots of great ones) is important to me. Growing up, we always acted out the Nativity as a family. My dad has lots of videos of us doing this over the years, and I look forward to being able to watch all of those one year. Anyone who spends Christmas Eve at my parent’s house gets to participate!

Make Donuts

Forrest’s family also always made donuts on Christmas Eve – and ever since our first Christmas Eve together, he’s continued it. He loves preparing the dough, frying them up, and sharing them with everyone. It’s really so much fun. I bought a donut pan a few years ago to make some baked ones, so they were a little more healthy. Here are a bunch of yummy donut recipes to choose from.

Open a Present

When all my siblings were still at home, we each drew the name of one sibling to buy a gift for that year. We would all take turns opening that sibling gift right before we set out cookies and milk for Santa and went to bed. While we still do this, since not all of us are there on Christmas Eve, we open it another time. However, it’s still fun to choose a gift to open on Christmas Eve.

One of our readers, Leigh Smith, said this is what their family does:

We buy each other ornaments and open them on Christmas Eve. Our daughter gets to open the present that has her ornaments, new pajamas, and a holiday movie. Then we hang the new ornaments and walk down memory lane of the others we’ve bought, watch the movie and cuddle on the couch.

Look at Christmas Lights

One of my favorite parts of Christmas is how beautiful everything looks everywhere – especially because of Christmas lights. I love seeing the streets lit up with different displays – everything from a simple string of lights to an extravagant set up of Christmas decor. It’s just so fun.

On Christmas Eve, we always go on a drive to take a closer look at all the lights. I love it. Some years we’d drive far away to a house that had their entire front and back yard set up with Christmas displays that you could walk around. However, most years we just drive around local neighborhoods. There are beautiful lights everywhere (and I especially love when we there is a house synced up to a Christmas station!)

Get Pajamas delivered from the Elves

This will always be one of my favorite traditions. My parents made a deal with Santa’s elves long ago that when we went out to look at Christmas lights, they would come deliver all of us new Christmas pajamas! When I was younger, I remember I would get sooo nervous when we went out to look at lights in anticipation for the elves coming. I still love getting a nice pair of comfy pajamas each year! My parents often have guests at our home on Christmas Eve, and when they join us for Christmas lights, the Elves always seem to leave something for them, too.

From Our Readers

I asked our readers for some of their favorite Christmas Eve traditions. Here are their responses. Be sure to comment with yours!

We buy each other ornaments and open them on Christmas Eve. Our daughter gets to open the present that has her ornaments, new pajamas, and a holiday movie. Then we hang the new ornaments and walk down memory lane of the others we’ve bought, watch the movie and cuddle on the couch. – Leigh
 New pajamas for everyone. My husbands family does a gift exchange each year, we open that present on Christmas Eve. – Maylene

We make Santa’s cookies. A single small batch of ginger men and then we ice them with all colors. – Sarah

Christmas Eve / Christmas Eve Traditions / #ChristmasEve #Christmas Christmas / Santa Claus


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  • Our family makes gingerbread houses in early December. When the kids were young, we paired up but as they got older, they started making their own houses. That night, the gingerbread elves move in to the houses. Sometimes, if you're really quiet, you can hear them tapping as they work or you may find tiny footprints near a house. Then on Christmas Eve we put all the houses on the table and children get to use hammers to smash them open (the elves move out on Christmas Eve because they have to go help Santa). If the kids were good, then they elves will have left a gift inside (usually candy and coins).
    • What a fun idea, Wendy. I love it - especially the gingerbread elves :) I haven't made very many gingerbread houses before, but maybe we'll have to make one this year. My son loves looking at them!

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