Give them a Christmas Eve box
Make up a special box of goodies just for Christmas Eve. Pop in Christmas pajamas, a Christmas movie if you still do DVDs, festive cookies, a special bauble for the tree, and a Christmas book for the family to read together on Christmas Eve.
Attend a Christmas Eve service
Christmas Eve candlelight services are a wonderful way to remind your children of the true reason for this special day if your family is Christian. Our favorite service is at midnight on Christmas Eve – absolutely magical!
Christmas pajamas for everyone
Whether you bring them out on Christmas Eve or from December 1st, festive pajamas are a special treat of the season. Little ones will love putting on their holiday-themed pajamas, especially if the whole family matches. Do this over the years, and you’ll end up with a collection of gorgeous, sometimes hilarious, family pics to look back on.
Introduce them to the Elf on the Shelf
Truth be told, like many parents, we almost regret the day that we introduced our Elf, Harry, to our kids! The month of December is a scramble to place him somewhere new every night, as inevitably one of us will remember just as we’re drifting off to sleep. Yet the kids adore him,and that’s why we do it. So if you think you have the tenacity to be an “elf parent” until Christmas Eve, then definitely go ahead and indulge in the tradition!
Have a Christmas cookie- or craft-ernoon
Invite your child’s closest friends around for a day of Christmas crafting or decorating cookies. For craft parties, set out platters of cookies and hot chocolate, and get them to make Christmas cards or decorations for the tree. We’ve put together a fantastic Pinterest board, Kids’ Christmas Crafts, that’s packed with ideas and activities for all ages and abilities if you need some inspiration.
If you decide on a cookie decorating party, set out premade dough, cookie cutters, sprinkles (don’t forget the candy eyeballs!), and food coloring. You can make the dough the day before and refrigerate – we love Martha Stewart’s basic sugar-cookie dough and cinnamon sugar dough.
Make up a Christmas playlist
Select your favorite holiday songs and carols, get the whole family’s input on theirs, and create a playlist that’s your December soundtrack.
Decorate gingerbread houses
Whether you choose to bake them yourself or buy kits, decorating gingerbread houses is popular no matter your child’s age. Gather friends and cousins together for a decorating party, set out an array of candy, and encourage them to be creative and colorful, enjoying a Christmas tradition that’s an oldie, but a goodie.
Surprise them with a Christmas lights tour
On any December night, and with no warning, invite your children on a drive around your neighborhood to see homes decorated with Christmas lights. Even better if you do it just as they’ve changed into their pajamas and are getting ready for bed. Bundle them up in the backseat with their blankets, teddies and some hot chocolate for a magical night they’ll love.
Choose your tree together
If you’ve left your decorating till later in the month, get the family together to visit your local Christmas tree farm and choose the perfect tree.
Have a Christmas movie night
One of our family’s most treasured Christmas traditions is settling in to watch Polar Express. We light the fire and candles, turn down the lights, and watch this classic movie together. So why not choose an age-appropriate Christmas movie, set up a hot chocolate bar (you can even use your slow cooker for this), give everyone some popcorn, and have an evening on the sofa?
Hide a few Christmas gifts
Rather than setting all the gifts out at once, choose a few last gifts to hide around the house for the kids to find on Christmas day.
Help them remember the reason for the season
Christmas can easily become a nightmare of consumerism, with all the focus on gifts and getting. Make sure your family sets time aside to give to those less fortunate through charitable work and/or donations.
One lovely idea we came across is the reverse Advent calendar, where families are encouraged to give something every day – food, toy, book or clothing donations – rather than open a calendar and get something.
Make Christmas Eve dinner a fun one
The next day is going to be jam-packed with cooking and eating, so why not lower your Christmas Eve dinner stress by setting up a fondue? Whether you go for cheese, broth, oil or just a dessert fondue, it’s a fun way to let everyone pretty much take care of their own meal! Check out our fondue how-to here.
Visit our popular Christmas-themed Pinterest boards for more inspiration for the season!