44+ Christmas Eve Traditions For Magical Moments

Christmas Eve traditions help make your Christmas memorable. Christmas is one of the most celebrated events on earth. It is loved by many and even non-Christians observe this day. 

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There are so many Christmas Eve traditions that can add color and fun to your Christmas celebration and make this wonderful time of the year a memorable event for all members of the family. 

The excitement about Christmas is at its peak on Christmas Eve, the activities listed in the post will help make this day fun and filled with amazing activities. 

In this post, we will show you wonderful ways to make this day fun and memorable with your family. 

Christmas Eve Traditions For Families

Photo of gifts; one of the Christmas Eve Traditions

1. Open a gift 

Opening a gift on Christmas eve is a popular tradition for families in the United States. By the time Christmas eve draws near, a lot of families have been sitting on Christmas gifts for weeks. 

On Christmas eve, most families are anxious for their loved ones to open just 1 gift. Other countries open all their gifts on Christmas eve. 

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You can start this tradition in your family. A way to start is by giving pajamas or a book for opening on Christmas eve. Though small and simple, it will be a fun and memorable way to end the night. 

Parenting tip: Don’t make this a big toy that your kids will want to play with all through the night. 

2. Look at Christmas light

A perfect time for families to drive or walk around and look at Christmas lights displayed in the community is Christmas eve. Many families in the US love this tradition. 

If you would love to adopt this tradition, here is a way to make it fun and amazing. 

Make some warm apple cider vinegar or hot cocoa for every member of the family and also bake or buy some fresh cookies. 

Hop in the car, you can listen to some Christmas music while driving around and enjoy the amazing Christmas displays you find in your city. 

3. Watch a special Christmas movie 

Almost every family has one particular Christmas movie they love so much. It can be; Home alone, It’s elf, Die hard, Miracle on 34th street, the Christ child, Santa’s reindeer, etc. 

Whatever your best Christmas movie is, make some popcorn or snacks, get cozy, and enjoy the night with your family watching your favorite Christmas movie. 

You can check here for a list of Christmas movies.

4. Read Christmas story in the Bible 

This is the most popular Christmas eve tradition in Christian families. For thousands of years, many Christian families feel that the best way to end the night before Christmas is to read the story of Christ’s birth. 

Christmas day has lots of activities that you would barely have time to read the Bible or even remember what you are celebrating. On Christmas Day, you might be visiting friends and family or receiving visitors, making a big lunch or dinner, or even receiving presents. 

So this makes this tradition a good idea to take some time and read the bible (Luke 2) before the action-filled day. This will help your whole family remember and soak in what the holiday is all about. 

If you have smaller kids, you can tell the story of Christ’s birth from a children’s story bible to make this tradition more kid-friendly and so that they can understand at their own level. 

5. Have a special Christmas eve dinner 

One of the bases of many family traditions, including that of Christmas eve, is food. You can choose to serve a special recipe as Christmas eve dinner. 

You may order Chinese foods, make some homemade pizza, or any recipe that comes to your mind that you know your family would love. 

6. Play a family game 

A perfect way to set the tone for family togetherness on Christmas day is to play some games together. Most families in the US have their favorite family games, you can pick yours and do this every year until it becomes a tradition. 

Christmas eve is a wonderful time for families to get together and play. Some examples of Christmas eve games you can play with your family (kids inclusive) are Santa claus game and Christmas-themed monopoly games. 

7. Give a Christmas eve box 

You might be wondering: “What is a Christmas eve box?” It is a designated box that you can reuse every year and this is what makes it special. You fill it with some little things that you can probably give to your children on Christmas eve. 

You can make your own Christmas eve box or buy one on Amazon that can last you for years. 

Some things you can put in your Christmas eve box are a Christmas book, Christmas pajamas, a little treat like popcorn or candy, or a hot cocoa mix with a special mug, etc. 

The idea is just to put in a few little things in this box that you know your kids will love to have or eat during your Christmas eve family night. 

8. A story and cider 

Are you thinking of what else could be awesome as a Christmas eve tradition? It’s cozying up together as a family by the fire with some warm cider and a good Christmas storybook. 

If you have challenges getting favorite Christmas stories, here are some of the best we recommend: 

Check here for a list of other great Christmas books.

9. Christmas eve church service 

Most families, even in Africa make it a tradition to attend Christmas Eve church service/mass. A lot of churches have special services on Christmas eve where they light candles and lots of Christmas hymns are sung. 

This is truly a beautiful and wonderful way to spend your Christmas eve. This can be a yearly tradition for your family. 

10. Bake cookies for Santa 

Kids will love this Christmas eve tradition. Give your kids the opportunity to pile on heaps of sprinkles to decorate cookies for Santa Claus. 

You can start by making classic sugar cookies with icing for Santa Claus. 

11. All-day pajamas day with crafts, treats, and games 

You can go all-in on Christmas eve yearly for a fun-filled day of baking cakes and cookies, playing games, making all kinds of Christmas crafts, and building puzzles, etc. 

The whole family is to do all these wearing their matching Christmas pajamas. Interesting right? 

12. Ornament exchange 

This is a lovely and meaningful Christmas eve tradition. In this family tradition, members of the family exchange new ornaments every year to represent their favorite memory of that year with each other. 

Apart from being lovely, it brings family members closer to each other. It imbibes a giving and sharing attitude among family members thereby strengthening their bonds. 

13. Bake a cake 

On Christmas eve, the whole family bakes a birthday cake for Jesus. This is a popular Christmas Eve family tradition in the US and it has been done for years. 

After baking this cake on Christmas eve, then on Christmas day, the family lights candles and sings a happy birthday song to Jesus before cutting the cake and sharing it. 

This is a strong and fun way to reinforce to children why we are celebrating this day and it reminds them of what really makes Christmas day special. 

You can follow this recipe to make a wonderful birthday cake for Jesus. It is loaded with lots of symbolism. 

14. Track Santa with Norad 

If you don’t want your children to stay up too late on Christmas eve, then you can track Santa using the official NORAD Santa tracker. This will help kids keep the Christmas eve tradition of tracking Santa but also help them go to bed before the big guy comes. 

15. Pay a visit to a living nativity

The perfect time to find a living nativity scene near you is on Christmas eve. You and your family can go and see a live depiction of the birth of Jesus that features a full-sized manger and even real farm animals. 

16. Have a karaoke night (Christmas song)

You and your family can even invite friends and neighbors to join in on a fun and amazing Christmas song sing-along. 

This Christmas eve tradition will be around for generations to come and even help to create wonderful memories that will last a lifetime. 

17. Host a fashion show/ugly sweater 

This is a fun game you can play every Christmas eve with your family to see who has the ugliest sweater. If you don’t want competitiveness on Christmas eve, you can make yours a fashion show. 

December 1, you make sure everyone knows about the fashion show or contest so that they can prepare well. You can decide if everyone should DIY their sweaters, or buy (stick with a price range), you can even decide if they buy from a thrift store only, or any other parameters you choose. 

Then on Christmas eve, everyone shows off their sweaters and then the one with the ugliest sweater of all wins the contest. 

You can check here for inspiration

Christmas Eve Traditions For Kids

Photo of a child surrounded by gifts; giving gifts is one of the Christmas Eve Traditions

Are you looking for fun-filled activities for children on Christmas eve? Here are some wonderful Christmas eve traditions for kids. 

1. Write and burn a letter to Santa 

Some families allow their kids to always write a letter to Santa Claus on Christmas eve, it might look weird but kids who believe in Santa Claus and love him will love this tradition and always look forward to it. 

In writing a letter to Santa, kids do a quick highlight of the year and ask Santa for a few things. Then they put it in a pie tin, burn it, and sprinkle the ashes on the ground. 

The belief is that Santa is magical and can put back the letter together when he visits the house and he will sprinkle it back on the ground or the snow. 

2. Make reindeer food 

We know kids love magic, so you can add a little magic for your children with this Christmas eve tradition. 

Santa loves finding milk and cookies but his reindeer needs some food too. Combine oatmeal and Christmas sprinkle together to make some magical reindeer food. 

Leave it in a bowl for them. Remember that reindeer love carrots too, you can also leave some carrots in a bowl for them. 

3. Make cookies and milk for Santa 

A wonderful and memorable Christmas eve activity kids will love is decorating sugar cookies for Santa. Santa will enjoy this and it will also help the kids pass the time until bedtime. 

If you are too busy or want to save time, you can make the cookies in advance and just let your kids decorate them on Christmas eve. 

4. Track Santa 

You can help your kids use this free app to know where Santa is on Christmas eve. This will help your kids go to bed early so Santa won’t have to skip over their house. 

5. Christmas eve campout or sleep close to a Christmas tree 

The whole family can sleep under the glowing light of the Christmas tree, it can be outside in the backyard or in their living room. 

This is one of the most favorite family Christmas eve traditions of kids. Everyone wakes up next to the Christmas tree on Christmas eve. The whole family sleeps in the living room next to or under the Christmas tree on December 23rd

They can have a fun night together, to make this more kid-friendly, you can watch some Christmas movies, eat toffee, cookies, and other goodies. 

6. Make and share Christmas light thank you cards 

Have your kids make some homemade thank you cards, then later in the evening, you drive around your neighborhood and give out the thank you cards to houses that made Christmas decorations using lights. 

If little or no house is decorated in your area, you can take the thank you cards to houses or neighbors that you have enjoyed all year long. 

It’s good to show your appreciation for your neighbors’ hard decorating work, and you have to teach your children the act of appreciation. 

Your neighbors will appreciate the recognition and also love the homemade thank you cards. 

7. Surprise friends and neighbors with cookies 

Teach your kid to bless people with a little bit of sweetness during this festive season. 

If they are older, have them make cookies and share them with their friends or neighbors. They can even leave them on their doorstep. If your kids are younger, and you don’t have much time, you can buy some cookies and give them to share with their friends on Christmas eve. 

Put the cookies in a Christmas decorated container or package and have your kids share them with their friends. 

8. Make some Christmas crafts 

Kids love crafts and a way to make them enjoy their Christmas eve yearly is to have them spend some time making crafts with the family. 

They can decorate a fun plate or make a plate from air dry clay and use it to hold Santa’s cookies. The plates can also be used to hold reindeer food. 

Other crafts kids can try are making clothes hanger snowflakes to decorate their rooms or the house for Santa’s coming. 

Or they can make cookies for family, friends, neighbors, and even Santa. 

9. Stockings on mantels 

Just before they go to bed, children all over the world put their stockings on mantels in high anticipation that Santa would pass by. 

They hope that Santa Claus will leave all kinds of goodies for the big day. That’s why you find kids glancing up the chimney and out the window to see if there is any movement in the sky. 

Once the kids are off to bed, parents embark on the big exercises of placing gifts under the tree and even sign them “from Santa”. 

10. Guide the reindeers 

Kids love this Christmas eve tradition. If you don’t have a fireplace, they can hang out a magic key for Santa and even put out cookies for him too. 

Then they make reindeer dust by mixing oatmeal with glitter. They sprinkle the glitter around the house just before going to bed to guide the reindeer to the house. 

Christmas Eve Traditions For Adults

Photo of popcorn and a mug

1. Attend a Christmas carol 

This can be easy if you are an adult without kids. All you have to do is locate a nearby church or center where a Christmas carol service is ongoing and have a wonderful time on Christmas eve. 

2. Christmas decorations 

A lot of adults do not decorate their homes for Christmas until it is Christmas eve. History has it that in the 18th and 19th century, some people would wait until it’s Christmas eve before going into the forest to get a Christmas tree. 

This has been a long-time Christmas eve tradition and many adults would love this. Put some flowers in your home because they play an important role in Christmas decorations. 

The beautiful colors of the flowers and their wonderful scent will spread around your home announcing the coming of the big day. 

3. Christmas shopping 

Nothing exceeds the fun of shopping on the eve of Christmas. Christmas even is one of the biggest shopping days of the year in China. 

A lot of households enjoy amazing offers, discounts, and use the opportunity to buy gifts for their loved ones and friends for the big day. 

4. Special Christmas meal with the family 

A lot of households prepare a special meal for Christmas eve and they invite or share this with their friends and neighbors. 

Families in Poland, enjoy and share sumptuous meals while families in Spain share their impeccable seafood delicacies. In the Philippines, they share or enjoy a huge feast that includes chicken and roast ham. 

Christmas eve dinner is a common tradition around the world. 

5. The late, late shows 

You can leave your kids behind and attend midnight mass. This is a beautiful and interesting service where you sing lots of hymns, offer prayers, and listen to some sermons. 

This long-held Christmas eve tradition makes a good memory. 

Christmas Eve Traditions Around The World

Photo of milk and cookies for Santa ; one of the Christmas Eve Traditions

1. The united states leave cookies and milk for Santa 

Families in the US love leaving treats for Santa on Christmas eve. Then most churches in the US hold candlelight service or midnight mass on Christmas eve and this often includes the re-enactments of the nativity. 

2. Canadians open their presents on Christmas eve 

Canadian families open their presents on Christmas eve after mass. Others open just one and save the rest for Christmas or Boxing Day. 

A lot of French Canadians have a huge feast after Christmas eve mass, this feast is called a Reveillon and it lasts into the wee hours of Christmas morning. 

The meal served in this feast is meat; butchered and prepared months ahead, even before winter. 

3. Russians fast on Christmas eve 

Russians fast until the evening service of Christmas eve or when the stars come out. After the fast, they eat a traditional Russian dish called Kutya.

Kutya is made with grains, honey, and poppy seeds. They eat from the same bowl to symbolize unity. Meat isn’t allowed on this day. 

Also, they do house blessing on Christmas eve where a priest sprinkles holy water in each room of the house and prays for everyone in the house to have a safe and blessed year. 

4. In England, Christmas and Boxing day are more important than Christmas eve 

People from England wait out Christmas eve just to celebrate Christmas and Boxing day although they attend a church service or midnight mass. 

On Christmas eve, the carols and the festival of 9 lessons are broadcast on the radio across the country from King’s College Cambridge. 

This broadcast consists of reading 9 bible passages interspersed between ancient and modern hymns. 

5. Families in Spain have a huge feast 

In Spain, families and loved ones have a feast on Christmas eve called Nochebuena. They have a huge meal together consisting of lamb or seafood and turkey. 

Catholics in Spain attend midnight mass after this feast to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ with music. 

6. In France, Families have a Christmas eve meal

Photo of an evening meal ;one of the Christmas Eve Traditions

This meal is called Le Reveillon de Noel. Families eat this meal together on Christmas eve. 

This traditional dinner consists of duck or goose and side dishes like oysters and foie gras. They end the meal by taking Buch de Noel, a rolled sponge cake that is decorated to look like a Yule log. 

7. In Italy, they celebrate the feast of 7 fishes on Christmas eve

On Christmas eve, Italians celebrate a huge seafood and pasta dinner and after that, they celebrate the vigil before the midnight birth of Christ. 

In this Christmas eve tradition, they serve 7 different seafood dishes to comply with the Roman Catholic tradition of abstaining from meat on Christmas eve. 

8. Germans eat potato salad with sausage on Christmas eve 

Germans eat something simple on Christmas eve and it is the Christ Child that brings toys to children instead of Santa. 

9. In China, Christmas eve is the biggest shopping day of the year 

China Daily reveals that the sales volume on Christmas eve is the highest in the year. 

10. In Mexico, children act the story of Joseph and Mary from door-to-door up until Christmas eve 

From December 16th, Children in Mexico go door to door asking if there is a symbolic “room at the inn” and on Christmas eve, they are invited in to celebrate. 

This tradition is called posadas and it ends with a feast with lots of food, drinks, and piñatas. 

11. In Norway, families light a candle every night starting on Christmas Eve and ends on New year day 

The candles often sit in their windows and they also exchange presents on Christmas eve. These gifts are brought by Santa Claus or by small gnomes called Nisse.

12. Families in Iceland have a Christmas eve tradition called Yule book flood 

In this tradition, they give their loved ones books to read on Christmas eve. As a bookworm, nothing is cozier than curling up with a good book on Christmas eve. 

After exchanging books on Christmas eve, they spend the evening reading them. This holiday season starts off with the delivery of Bokatidindi, a catalog of every single book published in Iceland. 

This Christmas eve tradition started in WWII and continues to date. 


We hope this post helps you see wonderful ways to celebrate the eve of the most wonderful time of the year. 

Do you have any other Christmas eve traditions you would love to share with us? Please do so in the comment section. 

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