Fun Christmas Eve Traditions

Christmas is a magical time for families. And Christmas Eve especially is one of the most magical nights of the holiday season.  What makes it so special is that it is a night when family members show each other how loved they are.  It is a night filled with fun for both kids and adults.  There’s lots of food, presents and eggnog to enjoy.  Many families have fun activities they do every year.  Some, like singing Christmas carols are staples in homes everywhere.  Others are lesser known, but lots of fun for the whole family.


Children are extremely excited on Christmas Eve. They finally made it to the day before Santa comes. Because children are so excited on Christmas Eve and they do not have school, it is up to the parents to find fun and creative things for their children to do on Christmas Eve. Not only do they want to keep their children occupied, but they also want to build memories and create traditions that will hopefully live on once the children have grown up and have families of their own.

In this article are some ideas for fun stuff to do on Christmas Eve. Try one or more this year and keep the best activities as a tradition to repeat every Christmas Eve.

What to Do on Christmas Eve

Christmas Dress Night

One fun tradition many families practice is designating a Christmas dress code.  Everyone must come dressed in whatever that year’s theme is.  One year it can be that everyone has to wear a red shirt, the next they could all have to sport their ugliest Christmas sweater.  There can be many variations on this idea: socks, reindeer antlers or even can all be required apparel.

Some families get really creative and have everyone decorate another family member’s item that they must wear.  For instance, a Santa hat can be drawn on with glitter or other assorted crafts, which adds to the fun. The crazier the idea the more fun it can be.

White Elephant Gifts

White Elephant (also known as a Yankee Swap or Dirty Santa) is another great family activity that can provide hours of fun.  The game consists of every family member bringing an inexpensive gag gift (a price is determine beforehand).  The gifts are wrapped and placed on a table.  Everyone is then given a number and picks a gift one at a time in that order.

Once the first person picks, the second person can either pick a gift from the bag or “steal” what the first person got.  This is one game where going first is not good. If someone’s gift is stolen they get to go up and re-pick from the table, or steal from anyone else who has picked already.  This game can provide hours of fun and laughs.  The sillier the gifts, the better. Another game which is fun is the right left gift exchange game which incorporates a story as you pass gifts around.

Scavenger Hunt

A Christmas activity that is lots of fun, especially for kids and teens is a scavenger hunt.  An adult writes out clues on a set of index cards before everyone arrives and hides 2 sets of Christmas related objects, like a pack of 6 tree ornaments and a pack of 6 window decorations.  The kids (and adults too if they want) are put into two teams and given clues for their treasure.

The team that collects all six of their set first wins.  If a team finds the one of the other teams objects, they put it back without showing their team and get a reward of being shown were one of their objects is.  You can hide more sets of objects if a lot of people are playing.

A Time Capsule

A time capsule is a fun, special way to commemorate your family’s Christmas Eve celebration.  Throughout the course of the night everyone takes candid shots of each other, the food and all the gifts with a Polaroid camera (they o still exist).  You can also use a digital camera and print the pics out.  At the end of the night they are placed in a box and “buried”, or tucked away.  Then the family can take them out after three years and reminisce about past Christmas Eves.  It is fun to see how people’s hairstyles have changed or see a favorite present or person.

Hang Ornaments Together

Hanging family ornaments is a beautiful way to celebrate Christmas Eve and have fun.  Leave some family ornaments off the tree to be hung after inner.  Have everyone go up one by one to hang one of the ornaments and tell a special or funny story related to or about the ornament.  It’s a great way to share family history, particularly with the young children and brings families closer together.

Make Holiday Cookies

One thing that parents can do is spend the afternoon with the children making holiday cookies. These can be the cookies that the children will eat before bed, and they will be the cookies that they will leave out for Santa. Have each child make their own cookie for Santa where they can sign their name in frosting. This will allow Santa to know which child each cookie is from.

Before going to bed let the children help set up the cookies for Santa. Get out a nice platter or just a large dish and place the cookies near the fireplace or near the Christmas tree. Don’t forget to leave a glass of milk!

Make a Special Key for Santa

The next thing that parents can do is make a special key for Santa. Many people do not have a chimney. This can worry children when they are not sure how Santa will get in the house with all of the gifts and goodies.To put your child’s worries to ease you can create a special key for Santa to use to get inside.

Parents can find an old key that they are no longer using. They can give the children art supplies such as ribbon, glitter, glue, and construction paper. To make the key, the children can get glue on the key and pour glitter over it. This will make the key look magical. Using different colored glitter such as red and green will make the the key more decorative.

Because the key needs to hang on the door for Santa, the children can use a holiday themed ribbon to tie around the key and hang from the doorknob. Once the key is made, it can be hung on the door every year for Santa. Have each child write a note on green or red construction paper welcoming him into the home. These notes can be hung from the ribbon. This is a tradition which can be past down from generation to generation.

Have a Pajama Party

Having a Christmas Eve pajama party is a fun idea for the whole family. Parents can purchase a new pair of pajamas for every member of the family to wear for the first time on Christmas Eve. Allow the children to put their pajamas on in the early evening so that they can be warm and cozy while they watch the hours tick away, awaiting for Santa’s arrival. Parents can also get in on this as well.

When the whole family is in their pajamas, having a picnic under the Christmas tree is an excellent idea. Parents can lay a blanket under the tree and prepare a dinner which is picnic-friendly. Sandwiches such as chicken salad or tuna salad is a good idea because they are not too messy. Pizza on paper plates is also a good idea. Having the entire family together, under the tree, in their pajamas, eating dinner is fun for everyone. This is a tradition that families can do every year, even when the children are too old to get excited about Santa.

Watch a Christmas Movie or Read a Christmas Story

Renting the latest Christmas movie and watching it as a family is a great way to pass the time on Christmas Eve. Having the whole family in their pajamas, snuggling up on the couch with a blanket and a bowl of buttery popcorn will keep the whole family in the Christmas spirit.

Parents should not worry that there will be no new releases around Christmas time. Every year the holiday movies which were in the theaters the year before will be released on DVD and Blu-ray around Christmas for the whole family to enjoy. Or just watch a classic older Christmas movie.

Another tradition that many families have and continue to pass down is the reading of Twas the Night Before Christmas before sending the children to bed. In many families, one of the parents will read this story aloud to the entire family. It is a wonderful Christmas story which children love. Parents can then pass the book down to their children when they have children of their own.

Make it Your Own

Christmas Eve is one of the most magical nights of the year and it is never too late to start a new family tradition. Finding fun stuff to do as a family can make Christmas Eve a wonderful time for many, many generations. Children and parents may even find themselves looking forward to this special night almost as much as Christmas morning.

Christmas is a time of love and happiness, family and traditions.  These activities can be incorporated into any family’s Christmas routine.  Their celebrations will be even more fun with any or all of these activities.  These games are ones the whole family can enjoy, and that is what Christmas is all about – family.