Making Christmas magical with family Christmas Eve traditions.

When you become a parent, you go on a steep learning curve with so many things. Nappies, getting babies to sleep, figuring out finger foods: the list is endless. There isn’t a one size fits all parenting manual, and I think many of us will confess to winging it most of the time. 

But as your first born starts to grow up and get a little savvier you will realise that there is a great responsibility bestowed on you as a parent: CHRISTMAS. And I’m not just talking about going out and buying and wrapping up presents. You have a responsibility to keep the magic of Christmas alive for as long as you can!

When they’re a baby, children are none the wiser, and as a young toddler, they are satisfied with playing with the wrapping paper and boxes. But as they start to learn about the environment around them, you realise that you need to talk to them about Christmas, to teach them about Father Christmas and also about any family traditions that you may have. 

Why have Christmas Eve traditions? 

In the Western world, many of us celebrate Christmas on the 25th December with the unwrapping of presents and a big family meal bringing everyone together. If you have little children, you’ll know that the excitement of Christmas starts WAY before that though! Advent calendars help the excitement to build throughout December, and the 24th of December is perhaps one of the most exciting nights for children. But we still need to get them to go to bed!

I’ve noticed that lots of my friends have started to establish Christmas Eve traditions for their family. These are simple things that you can do every year that help set the scene and help you prepare everyone for Christmas Day.  They lay the foundation for beautiful Christmas memories when your children have grown up. Doing the same things each year also helps with whatever version of the Father Christmas story you may tell in your house. 

What Christmas eve traditions are there?

You may have inherited Christmas Eve traditions from your parents, or you may have a different lifestyle now. Things that worked when you were little may not have the same appeal now. 

I asked some of my lovely customers what traditions they have in their house and thought you might like to see the variety of things they do: 

  • We always have our Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve - kids lay and decorate the table, light candles, play games after dinner and then we have leftovers for Christmas day lunch, that way no one is in the kitchen on Christmas Day! Debbie Gobbett 
  • Christmas Eve Box. New PJs. Supper at the pub (most important!) Amanda Ayres
  • Crib service at church and then over to mums for dinner - Catherine Smith
  • Christingle service on Christmas eve where we sing carols by candlelight, a quick one in the pub, party at mine including kids when they demolish the gingerbread house we make every year loaded with sweets and then reindeer dust and the predictable carrot, mince pie and wee dram.- Jo Cowlin
  • Xmas Box - New Pj's, hot chocolate, Xmas book, and of course the Santa plate loaded with treats, we also say goodbye to our elf (she leaves the Xmas box) - Sarah Sangster
  • We all have new PJs and watch polar express .. mine are 17 and 14 I have to admit I’m the only one that watches the film these days  - Jane Curtis
  • So this is something that just happened year after year...that now I can’t not do!! We always pop into town (Maidenhead) on Christmas Eve...boring you may say...never do anything overly exciting, just have some breakfast or grab a coffee, but I ADORE that Christmas Eve atmosphere!! Everyone is cheerful, children are ecstatic and almost sick with excitement! Essentially I just like to be around people on Christmas Eve...because I actually prefer it to Christmas Day...there’s something very magical about it in my mind!! - Rebecca Mettler
  • We go to watch Star Wars with friends and the food out, home pjs hot choc, milk tray, prosecco and relaxing - Jenny Jolley
  • We always have fish and chips on Christmas Eve or some kind of fish (Italian tradition) we go to the kids Christmas Eve mass which is so magical! We say goodbye to elves buddy and belle and watch a Christmas movie! Then kids to bed and we have a wrapping frenzy teamed with bubbles and Christmas songs! - Cassandra Calebrese
  • We go to Mooloolaba beach on Christmas eve for a pic-nic dinner. Santa comes into the beach on a jet ski and has a lolly scramble followed by fireworks. Yay for Australia ha ha - Bianca Silcock
  • Ours is a trip on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway Santa specials, we try to get the last train closest to the big day, we have done this for 30 years and now take our grandkids, a really cold frost makes it magical trip to see Santa as the steam from the engines freezes on the trees and turns the countryside to a magical winter wonderland - David Waterworth
  • We all get new PJ's, then watch a new DVD with some treats. Mince pie and a glass of port left out for Santa, carrot for Rudolph. Read new Christmas books in bed. - Alison Miles
  • Either myself or hubby dress up like Santa when the kids are in bed and walk past the house - and either him or I tell them it's Santa outside time for bed else he's not going to come. - Sherri Dawn 

When is the right time to start Christmas Eve traditions?

If you’re reading all of these lovely ideas and panicking that you don’t have any Christmas Eve traditions yet, then it’s never too late to start! It doesn’t matter how old the kids are; they are a fun way to bring everyone together. 

if you’re worried about not having traditions, you’re not alone:

"Reading these comments makes me feel like a bit of a failure! My kids are 6 and 3 and we haven’t really got any Christmas Eve traditions. We often away at one set of grandparents or the other! Am I a bah humbug mum??!"  - Jodie Humphries

My advice would be to start with simple things that you can do every year. They don’t need to be expensive; they can be simple ideas that help keep the magic of Christmas alive for children. 

If you want to invest in something a bit special that is customised for your family, one of my most popular products is my Christmas Eve Santa Platter. It’s made of solid oak and can become a Christmas family heirloom as you can re-use it every year or take it with you if you are on holiday or visiting family. There is a place for a carrot, a mince pie and a little glass of something for Santa too. The best bit is that you can get your own message or children’s handwriting engraved on it too. It looks absolutely gorgeous placed under the tree or on the fireplace waiting for Father Christmas to come down the chimney. 

I hope I’ve given you some inspiration on Christmas Eve traditions that you can do with your family. It’s such a magical time for children and anything that we can do as parents to prolong that fun is a great thing in my eyes. 

Don't forget, if you want to order a Christmas Eve Platter or anything else from Hugo's Workshop, the cut off date is Friday 7th December!

Posted by Rebecca De Jager on November 23rd 2018

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