Christmas Eve is THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW!!!!
I feel like it tiptoed up behind me and yelled “BOO!!!!” This month has rushed by in a blurry whirlwind of fun and not-so-fun mashed in all together like life so often does.
My crazy busy work rush is tapering off now, both hubby and the kids are out on Christmas vacation, and we’re eagerly looking forward to the next few days of celebrating!
As I mentioned recently, growing up Christmas Eve was my very favorite part of Christmas each year. Because it was, I’ve tried hard to create new, amazing traditions we can do each year to make it just as special and magical for my kids.
Because we’ve moved so very often each year how and where we celebrate Christmas has changed dramatically each year. I quickly learned that if I wanted to celebrate Christmas Eve it needed to be in ways that I could do easily and anywhere.
Here is the list of our new cherished traditions that we look forward to every year. I hope that your family is able to use them as a springboard into creating a day that is magical and creates cherished memories for a lifetime!
Baking & Decorating Christmas Sugar Cookies
While we had our cherished holiday recipes of Seven Layer Cookie Bars and Fantasy Fudge growing up it wasn’t until I started dating hubby that I discovered these amazing Christmas Cookies. Every year since then I’ve been able to enjoy them! In 2011 (when this picture was taken) I decided it would be super fun to start a new yearly tradition of making them each year on Christmas Eve. It’s a super fun activity and since the icing has to set up overnight it is perfect because then you serve them as the best dessert ever for Christmas Day! These sugar cookies are light and soft (be sure you don’t roll them out too thin so they do bake up that way) and I absolutely adore them!
Making & Decorating Gingerbread Houses
Two Christmases ago the #1 thing on Amber’s Wish List was a Gingerbread Village, of course, that was followed by Tyler wanting a Gingerbread Train. They had so much fun with these that a new Christmas tradition was born. Since they’re inexpensive ( I spent around $7 each for these complete kits) I’ve decided to throw them into our yearly Christmas Eve traditions on years we’re not traveling (or you could do it even if you are traveling if the kids want to eat them up quickly and/or don’t mind leaving them).
Don’t want to run to the store to fight the holiday masses? I don’t blame you! Try making this healthier version of Santa’s Village using items you most likely already have in your pantry!
I’m not exactly sure when the tradition of watching Dr. Suess’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas each Christmas Eve started. I do know, however, that’s it’s been one I’ve been doing since before Amber was born, and also from her very first Christmas as evidenced by this photo! Since the majority of this short classic flick takes place on Christmas Eve (“tomorrow is Christmas, it’s practically here!!” is a line we now shout along with the Grinch) it makes perfect sense why this has become our first and favorite easy tradition!
I went to see The Nativity Story in theaters the year it came out and fell instantly in love with their portrayal of the Christmas Story. Now I love watching it every year with the kids, and there’s no better time to enjoy it than to watch it on Christmas Eve to help get our minds back on the true meaning of Christmas!
Eating Delicious Treats
Of course, it would be sheer torture to bake up those cookies and make the gingerbread goodies and then NOT have any special treats to actually eat ON Christmas Eve, especially during the movies! I’ll make a confession that one reason I pick up special goodies for the kiddos to nosh on is so that I can keep my oh-so-special mommy Christmas treats all.to.myself!!!! Oh yes mommies, fly that Mom Guilt right out the door! You’ve bent over backward to make this season magical and now it’s time for you to put your feet up, snuggle in with them in a cozy blanket, and eat scrumptious treats to your heart’s content!! My veeerrryyy favorite way to indulge at Christmas time is with decadent truffles and this mix from Shari’s Berries is my jam!! If you still feel guilty gifting it to yourself for Christmas Eve (which you *shouldn’t*!!) You can always add it on to your Christmas wish list or drop a link hint via email to your sweetie for Valentine’s Day 😉 Truffles not your thing (which, you must be crazy, but no judging!) They actually have a huge assortment of delicious Christmas Chocolates to choose from or an even bigger assortment of deliciousness for Valentine’s Day.
Reading The Christmas Story from The Bible
By now you’ve had a full day of fun and magical activities and it’s time to wind things down and prepare for the evening! A wonderful way to wind the day down is by reading The Christmas Story out of the Bible. Now, you might think that since you watched The Nativity Story you don’t need to, but there really is just something magical about reading it out of the Bible aloud as a family! Here are the passages that my family has always read aloud, and I even have it in the post there so you could even print it out or read right from your tablet if you don’t feel like flipping!
If your kiddos are still wee ones a great alternative is to read the story out of a Baby Bible–all of them have a version of The Christmas Story in the “just right” length even for toddlers!
Gifting a Christmas Eve Present
One of the most fun parts of Christmas Eve as a child, of course, were the presents. Since we celebrated over at my Grandparent’s House we always got to open our gift from them, and any from the Aunts and Uncles. It always felt a little like breaking the rules, which was absolutely delicious!
I wanted to continue this somehow for my children, and over the years I added bits and pieces until this simple Christmas Eve Present has become a treasure of Christmas Eve Traditions all it’s own!
Special Yearly Christmas Ornament
It started out when we got married and our first Christmas together I discovered my mom-in-law’s tradition of gifting my hubby one ornament every single year since he was born. Imagine my delight when instead of a sparse Christmas tree with the few meager ornaments were able to afford as newlyweds we were able to decorate our tree with mementos and symbols from each year of his life! There was a McDonald’s ornament from his first job there, an Alaska Totem Pole from his summer missions trip there, and several Coast Guard ornaments to represents his years of service.
I was so in love with this idea that I’ve continued it every year for our children. Each year I try to find something that was the most important, or the most special, about that year and gift them an ornament about it. The year that we took a family vacation to Carlsbad Caverns we got ornaments from there, for last year I got them awesome ornaments from Personalized Ornaments For You for both the kids to represent their first soccer seasons, I loved that I was even able to get their actual jersey numbers and team colors! Then this year I scored big when I found this *adorable* Baby Murloc from the Etsy shop The Tall Grass. I’ve mentioned before that our family loves the game World of Warcraft. This year hubby, Amber, and I actually created a group and leveled all the way up to 110 together! It was so much fun and to commemorate the hours and hours of questing together I thought that this was the perfect ornament for her this year! I can’t wait to see her reaction this Christmas Eve!
I had heard about this tradition through friends online and loved it! Their parents bought and gifted them new Christmas jammies each Christmas Eve so that they could wear them that night and have adorable jammies for all those Christmas pictures next day. I always make sure to buy mine a little big and then let the kids wear them all year long. Where I buy them each year varies depending on where has the cutest sets for the best deals. This year I saw a blogger tweet that Crazy8 was having a great deal on these way too cute sets so I nabbed them up! You can see Amber’s but since I didn’t want to unwrap Tyler’s his say “Bah Hum Bug” which is way too perfect since he’s been going around and saying that (as a joke) all month long!
Christmas Book & Toys
Another Christmas tradition I found out about online that I absolutely loved was the Christmas Book A Day tradition. You gather 24 Christmas books then each year you wrap them up and then the kids get to open one book a day at bedtime for their daily story as a countdown to Christmas. We’ve done it for the past several years. To get to that point, however, I had to first *gather* the 25 Christmas books. To help with that I started a different tradition of gifting them each a Christmas Book (or two or three) with their Christmas Eve package. If you’d like to get a peek at my favorites you can check out the Best Christmas Books For Kids Here
Another fun item to place in the package is Christmas specific toys. Although my kids have long outgrown Fischer Price toys they still squeal with delight when I pull out their Fisher-Price Little People Nativity Set each year. Other favorites are this Rudolph beanie baby I picked up at a garage sale that is one of Amber’s all time favorites, and Snowby, the beyond adorable polar bear who shivers and who the kids still fight over whose turn it is to sleep with. Having toys that you only pull out at Christmas time make them super magical. For new toys I leave them out for the first year that I gift them, then after that, they get put away each year with the decor, it’s worked great for us!
Driving Around To Look At Lights
There is something so perfect about driving around to see Christmas lights, and it doesn’t get better timing than to do it on Christmas Eve! Here in Texas, we have several local places that set up amazing and fantastic light displays! If you’re willing to fight hours worth of wait your patience will be rewarded both at Santa Land and The North Pole of Texas
If you don’t want to battle the crowds, however, you can still go look at lights! Pour some hot cocoa in some mugs, bundle everyone up in those new Christmas jammies, and go to the nicest neighborhood in your town! Usually, the “mansions” have gorgeous Christmas lighting. I remember growing up we’d always drive around the fancy neighborhoods in Rock Springs. There was one house that always went ALL OUT and was simply breathtaking each year as the finale for the evening!
No matter how you celebrate from our family to yours we wish you a beautiful and magical Christmas Eve and Christmas Day! Praising Him for the greatest gift of all time!