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Christmas Eve traditions

Christmas Eve Traditions

In this article I am going to share some of the best Christmas Eve traditions! These Christmas Eve traditions are perfect for families, for those with young kids, those with older kids, and for couples.

The Christmas Eve activities included in this article are perfect for enjoying this special evening! If you know that there are fun Christmas Eve traditions and activities that you want your family to participate in this year, then use the items listed in this article to create the perfect Christmas Eve for your family!


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Memorable Christmas Eve Traditions and Christmas Eve Activities You Will Love!

In so many ways, Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

And the wonderful Christmas Eve traditions for families and others are part of what makes the holiday season so magical! From making Christmas cookies and other Christmas treats, singing and listening to Christmas carols, watching favorite Christmas movies, reading the Christmas story in the Bible, and more, there are Christmas Eve traditions that every member of the family can participate in and enjoy.


Family Christmas Eve Traditions (Fun Christmas Eve Activities for the Family!)

These fun and festive Christmas Eve activities can bring you closer together as a family and give you a chance to build special memories that you and your children can look on and remember for decades.

The Christmas season is so much more than giving and receiving gifts. Even though kids wait for Christmas morning with incredible anticipation, you can teach them that the gifts of Christmas morning are just one (small) part of the amazing Christmas season.

And one of my favorite things about the Christmas Eve traditions I share below? Most of them you can do for free or very inexpensively. You do not have to spend a lot of money to have a wonderful Christmas season.


Also be sure to check out these related articles for awesome ideas on how to have a fun and frugal Christmas and ways to make more money for Christmas!

***Pro Saving Tip! Use the free Christmas planning printables just below to help you plan a frugal but awesome Christmas!***


Be sure to also check out these related articles! 


Interested in budget-friendly Christmas gift ideas? Check out these gift guide posts:




The Best Kind of Christmas Eve Traditions and Christmas Eve Activities for Families

I truly feel that most of the time, simpler is better. And especially when you have younger kids like we do, it’s good to keep things fairly simple and not have too high of expectations the first time you do things.

Even though I know this is a long list of potential Christmas Eve traditions and activities, don’t try to cram in too much during the evening. Just pick the things that you feel would be the most important or most enjoyable for your family, write them down on your list, and then be flexible about things when some of your plans inevitably change. (I like to use pencil to write my plans. 😊)

Many of these Christmas Eve activities are cheap or even free, and I think those are some of the best activities of all. Remember—it’s not how much you spend. It’s the type of bonds you are forming as you spend crucial family time together as you talk and laugh and play and work that matters much more than anything else.


***Pro tip: Grab the free Christmas budget printable above ☝️ (and other awesome free Christmas planning printables!) to help you stay on budget and plan an awesome, joyful, and stress-free Christmas this year!***


Why have Christmas Eve traditions?

Many people have fabulous traditions for Christmas Day but what about Christmas Eve? Having Christmas Eve traditions is a great way to enjoy the holidays with family and friends. Kids will remember the time spent doing fun things together as a family and they will look forward to it every year. Christmas Eve is the perfect day to do things that you don’t have time for on Christmas Day.


How many Christmas Eve traditions should you have?

This is really up to you and your family. It also depends on how involved your Christmas Eve traditions are. A few traditions that take a lot of energy and time will be plenty while if you choose several small, easy traditions, you will be able to keep up the traditions every year and not be overwhelmed.

Don’t be afraid to change your traditions if you want. If your kids have outgrown a certain tradition, don’t worry about changing it to a different tradition that will better fit the age they are at now.


How much should you spend on Christmas Eve traditions?

This also depends on you, your family, and your financial situation. You could budget a certain amount for Christmas Eve traditions. If you don’t have room in your budget for this right now, that’s OK! A lot of the ideas on this list are free or they cost very little. Fun does NOT have to be expensive! We do have a few options in this list if you have a few extra dollars to spend this holiday season. 🙂



55+ Best Christmas Eve Traditions and Christmas Eve Activities

Start the holiday festivities on Thanksgiving weekend (or even sooner, if you want! I start listening to Christmas music right after Halloween is over! 😊)

Give yourself plenty of time. Don’t feel rushed. Start decorating early, and get done early, so you can have the whole season to enjoy the shining Christmas tree lights at night, the tinsel, the holly, the garland, the mistletoe, the cinnamon-scented pinecones—all of it!



Christmas Eve Traditions Involving Service

One of the best ways to celebrate Christmas Eve and to remember the reason for the season can be to serve someone else.


Deliver Christmas Cookies to Neighbors.

I had friends in high school who spent the few days before Christmas Eve baking and making yummy holiday treats. On Christmas Eve they would deliver the treats to neighbors and friends. It was a great way for them to visit with people they cared about and wish them a Merry Christmas.


Volunteer in Your Community.

There are many opportunities this time of year for service. Make plans to volunteer or perform a service this Christmas season. This could be one of the most important plans you make this year! It’s good for you and it’s good for your community. What better way to celebrate the birth of Christ than to serve like he did?


Invite Someone Over to Celebrate with You.

If you know someone who doesn’t have family nearby for Christmas, consider inviting them over to spend Christmas Eve with you and partake in the festivities. It could really bless their life to be involved and loved when they would otherwise have been alone.


Put Together a Care Package.

What a great way to serve this Christmas season! Putting a few things in a care package for a friend, family member, or military member is a thoughtful way to serve this holiday.


Traditions Involving Crafts

There are lots of fun Christmas crafts that will make a fun Christmas Eve activity! Here are some of my favorites.


Make Christmas Crafts.

Making Christmas crafts is a fun activity to do on Christmas Eve. You could switch it up each year and make different things according to the skill level of your children. There are endless ideas on the internet for Christmas crafts!

Make Christmas Cards.

Do you have scrapbooking supplies hanging around? How about some construction paper and crayons? Or printer paper and markers? You can make personalized Christmas cards from any variety of crafting supplies and they are so special. If you have young kids, you could trace their hands or dip them in finger paint if you are extra brave. It would be a wonderful gift for grandparents!


Have a Christmas-Cookie Baking or Decorating Competition.

Baking Christmas treats is one of the best parts of the whole season, right? Do Christmas calories even count? Put a little spin in the Christmas baking and decorating and make it a friendly holiday competition!


Make and Decorate a Gingerbread House.

This is so fun with kids! If you are a baker you could bake your own gingerbread house. Or they have kits at the store but those can get pretty expensive. A cheap and easy idea is to use graham crackers and frosting with different kinds of candy and some powdered sugar. You could even have a contest for the tallest house, the prettiest house, the yummiest-looking house, and so on. So fun!


Just Plain Fun Christmas Eve Traditions


Hang Some Mistletoe.

Or something that looks like mistletoe if you can’t find the real thing. Just for fun try to see how many times you can catch your spouse under the mistletoe!


Open Presents at Midnight.

Some cultures stay up and open all their presents at midnight after the holiday feast. Sounds like a great time but I don’t know when I would wrap the presents since I wrap them all on Christmas Eve after the kids go to sleep. 😛  I would have to plan ahead!


Everyone Wear Ugly, Gaudy Christmas Sweaters.

You could even turn it into a contest to see who has the worst sweater. I think these sweaters are such good fun!


Redecorate the House with Special Lights for the Kids.

If you love to decorate, perhaps you would like to redecorate the house on Christmas Eve. Or you could just add more decorations for the special day. Make it extra special and surprise your kids with lights in their room.


Play in the Snow

If you live in an area of the world that has snow this time of year, get out there and play! You don’t even need special clothing if you just go out for a quick few minutes. What a great free way to have some fun this Christmas Eve.


Have a Christmas Treasure Hunt.

This could be really fun for Christmas Eve. At the end of the treasure hunt you could have a little treat or a present that can be opened that day.


Hang Up Your Christmas Stockings.

Consider making this a special tradition this Christmas Eve. You could tell where this tradition first originated before your family hangs up their stockings.


Make a Human Christmas Tree.

This just sounds like so much fun! Do you have extra garland and (preferably plastic) ornaments laying around? Make it a team effort to transform a family member or friend into a human Christmas tree. There is no end to the possibilities if you have a creative side.


Set Up a Hot Chocolate Bar.

Having a party or a movie night? Set up a little hot chocolate bar with some hot cocoa fixin’s. Hot chocolate mix, marshmallows, candy canes, whipped topping, etc. Mmmm. Sounds delicious.


Read a Christmas Classic.

Choose a short Christmas book to read every Christmas Eve. Check your local library for fun options. Re-read the same book every year or choose a different one each year!


Have a Sibling Slumber Party …

This one sounds so fun! I have a LOT of siblings so having a big slumber party sounds like a blast to me! Throw some sleeping bags on the floor by the Christmas tree and enjoy some sibling time this Christmas Eve. Or it could be really fun for all the little cousins to have a sleepover party together!


… In a Christmas Campout!

To make the previous tradition even more fun, throw up some blankets or sheets in a makeshift tent in the family room and make it a Christmas Campout! I can’t believe how fun that sounds!


Choose a Movie Series (Doesn’t Have to Be Christmas-y) and Watch It Every Year.

Have a favorite movie series but don’t have time during the year to watch it? Watch it on Christmas Eve every year and problem solved! It doesn’t even have to be a Christmas-themed movie. I love Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea but it’s so hard to find the time to watch it between my job, my blog, and my kids. A good plan is to watch it every year on Christmas Eve! Parts of it are even Christmas-y!


Eat Christmas-Themed Meals All Day Long.

If you are into crafting and baking and making things cutesy, making Christmas-themed meals all throughout the day would be so fun. Imagine pancakes decorated with strawberries and whipped topping to look like Santa or shape your pancakes like a snowman. You could do a vegetable tray in the shape of a Christmas tree or wreath for a lunch side dish. And for dinner have some spinach pasta with tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. Google for more ideas and have fun!


Exchange One Small Gift.

Growing up we were allowed to open one gift on Christmas Eve. I love doing this! Have everyone in your family draw someone’s name and purchase or make them a small gift. Then open it Christmas Eve.


Host a Family Gathering.

Christmastime is a great time to spend with family! Why not host a family get-together? Have everyone come over and bring a dish for a potluck dinner. Play games, watch a movie, or read about the birth of Christ. Or choose something else from this list and enjoy your time together. So wonderful!


Drive Around to Look at Christmas Light Displays.

I love doing this with my kids! We will often go to the neighborhoods that have the best lights in the valley and invite some of my siblings and their kids to come too. It’s so fun and we all love seeing all the lights.


Make and Open a Christmas Eve Box.

This idea is so fun! Put together a little box to give to your family on Christmas Eve. In the box you can put some popcorn, hot cocoa mix, a movie, a Christmas book, etc. Spend the day enjoying the things in the box together.


Gift and/or Wear Matching Christmas Pajamas.

Just a fun little tradition! Gift and open matching pajamas or wear matching pajamas if you already have them. I love dressing my kids in Christmas jammies even if they don’t match exactly, it’s still really cute!


Watch a Christmas Movie.

Of course! Who doesn’t want to curl up on the couch by the fire with some hot cocoa and popcorn and watch a wonderful Christmas movie?! Check out THIS POST to see a plethora of options for Christmas movies for everyone and anyone in the family. Hallmark, anyone?


Go Caroling around the Neighborhood.

I love Christmas music! Going caroling is one of my favorite things! I have great memories as a teen going caroling in the town where I grew up. This is a great way to spread joy and love this season!


Gift a New Ornament.

A fun tradition could be to add a new ornament to your collection every year and put it on the tree on Christmas Eve. Then each year you can remember each previous year and the good times spent with family.


Stay Up Past Bedtime.

Is it even possible to NOT stay up past bedtime on Christmas Eve?! With all the fun and food to fit into one day before Christmas, there just never seems to be enough time so we inevitably stay up past bedtime! Not to worry, it’s tradition!


Make Grinch Popcorn.

The ingredients for this yummy popcorn are very simple. Google the recipe and whip this tasty treat up this Christmas Eve. You may enjoy it so much you’ll make it a yearly tradition. Remember, Christmas calories don’t count!


Keep reading to find more ideas for Christmas Eve traditions! 👇


Be sure to also check out these related articles! 


Interested in budget-friendly Christmas gift ideas? Check out these gift guide posts:



Games on Christmas Eve


Play Christmas Board Games.

There are some games out there that are special Christmas board games. If you have one of those you could make playing it a yearly tradition. If you love board games but don’t have a Christmas one, see if you can modify one of your current board games and give it a Christmas Eve twist!


Host a White Elephant Game.

This is a classic Christmas party game. My mom’s siblings do this when they get together every year for Christmas. It is a lot of fun. They are not allowed to spend any money on the gift they contribute so it’s very interesting to see what people bring!


Play Christmas Games (other than board games).

There are some really fun Christmas games you could play on Christmas Eve! Do a quick Google search to find one that your family would love! Some ideas include Christmas 20 questions, Christmas Pictionary, or a present-opening game.


Have a Christmas Cup Tower Building Contest.

Oh boy, do my kids love building towers! You could purchase a package of red and green disposable cups and have a contest on who can build the tallest tower or the most unique tower. Save the cups to play again year after year.


Host a Game Night.

Gather friends and family around and have a game night! Play Christmas games or non-Christmas games! Any games will do really. The point is to have fun and bond with loved ones.


Pin the Nose on Rudolph.

Little kids will love this Christmas twist on Pin the Tail on the Donkey. I think adults will also enjoy watching the kids play and have fun at this game. Keep the supplies and play again next year!


Guess What’s in the Stocking.

Oh the fun that could be had with this game! Put ten or so items in a large stocking. Tie it shut and pass it around the circle of your friends and family. Have everyone write down what they think is inside and see what everyone comes up with. Items to consider: pine cone, ornament, plastic animal or toy, roll of tape, small utensil, etc.


Race for Last-Minute Stocking Stuffers.

Are you notorious for waiting until the last minute to find stocking stuffers? Sometimes it’s just so hard to know what to buy so I leave it for the last minute. Why not use this habit and make it fun?! Take your spouse or best friend and give yourselves 15 minutes or less to run into the dollar store or Ross or some other store and buy some presents. Give yourselves a budget also. The person who finds the best, most fun, most unique, etc., gifts wins. And everybody wins because it was so fun!



Celebrating Christ This Christmas Eve

One of the best ways to celebrate on Christmas is to do activities that celebrate the birth and life of Jesus Christ.


Listen to Religious Christmas Songs.

Hey, I love Last Christmas just as much as the next person, but for a little while, consider listening to religious Christmas music to help remind yourself the true meaning of Christmas and what Christ’s birth has meant for you and the world.


Have a Shepherd’s Christmas Eve Dinner.

Consider having a simple meal like a shepherd would have had in the time of Christ. Ideas include fried salmon, hummus, pita bread, cheese, dried fruit, crackers, grapes, etc. If you really want to get into it, have everyone dress up like a shepherd and drape some sheets to mimic a tent over the table.


Attend Church Services.

Many religions hold church services on Christmas Eve. Gather the whole family together and make it a Christmas Eve tradition.


Read about Christ’s Birth.

I love this tradition! What is Christmas without the story about why we celebrate it in the first place? It’s a great way to make sure we include Christ in our Christmas celebrations.


Go See or Take Part in a Live Nativity Scene.

There are places that have the Nativity Scene but instead of figurines or statues, it’s real people in the scene. I love these!


Build Bethlehem out of Blocks.

My kids would love this! Build the city of Bethlehem out of blocks and help your children realize that it is a real place. Bring over some of your nativity pieces if you have them and play for a little while in “Bethlehem.”


Santa Traditions*

Here are some fun ideas for Christmas Eve traditions that involve Santa. 


Leave Out a Key for Santa.

What if you don’t have a chimney for Santa to come down and deliver presents? Not to worry! Leave a special “key” on your front door knob so Santa can get in a leave presents.


Sprinkle Reindeer Dust Outside.

Help Santa find his way by leaving a path of colored sugar that leads to your door just before you put the kids to bed. This kids will be so thrilled to help Santa!


Leave Treats for Santa and the Reindeer.

Santa and the Reindeer need a little snack so they can keep on delivering all the toys! Leave out some cookies and milk for Santa and don’t forget carrots for the reindeer!


Write a Letter to Santa to Leave with Cookies.

Do you leave out cookies for Santa? Have your kids write a letter to Santa to leave out with the cookies. So fun!


Track Santa.

There’s a website for that! Go to noradsanta.org and track Santa wherever he goes this Christmas Eve! Wouldn’t it be exciting to see where Santa is and imagine when he will get to your neighborhood?


Leave “Evidence” that Santa Visited.

The ideas for this tradition are so clever! Beyond just eating the cookies and carrots and drinking most of the milk. You can leave “snowy” footprints leading to your tree. Santa can have his own wrapping paper that is different from the rest of the presents under the tree. You can even find a website that will send you a letter postmarked from Santa!


Enjoy a Visit from Santa.

Know a guy who looks like Santa? You could have “Santa” make a very special visit as a Christmas Eve tradition!


Write an Elf Letter.

Tired of writing letters to Santa? You and your kids could write a little teeny tiny letter to an elf as a new Christmas Eve tradition!


Have a Reindeer Deliver One Small Gift.

How would your child react if they got a small gift from one of Santa’s reindeer? How fun! I remember one year I was helping my mom wrap presents and got tired of writing “From: Santa” on every present. (There were a lot of presents—I have a lot of siblings!) So I started getting creative and wrote that the presents were from the elves or some of the reindeer. Why not shake it up a little?!



*Disclaimer: Just to be true to myself, I want to share that in our family we do have fun with Santa, but we don’t pretend that he is real. You can learn why in this article under the heading about the jolly big lie.


If You Have Some Extra Dough

If you have a some money to spend, here are some additional fun Christmas Eve traditions you may want to enjoy with your family.


Pay Someone Else’s Tab at a Restaurant.

If you do decide to go out for Christmas Eve, consider paying for another table’s tab along with your own. What a wonderful way to serve and surprise someone else this Christmas season!

Get a Christmas Eve Takeout Dinner.

Some families make it a tradition to get takeout on Christmas Eve. Take it home and enjoy with family and friends by the tree!

Final Thoughts on Christmas Eve Traditions and Christmas Eve Activities

I wish you all the best this Christmas season. If you have any other suggestions for Christmas Eve traditions, leave a comment below. I love to read what others do to celebrate the birth of Christ and spend time with loved ones. I hope you enjoyed this list of Christmas Eve traditions and if you are looking for some to implement with your family, I hope some of these are what you were looking for. Merry Christmas!


What are your favorite family Christmas Eve traditions and Christmas Eve activities? What Christmas Eve traditions would you love to add to your yearly list of fun activities and events? I would love to hear your ideas and thoughts, so please leave a comment below!


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