10 Festive Christmas Eve Traditions Your Family Will Love

There are few nights more magical for children than the night before Christmas. The anticipation of Santa Claus’ arrival, the promise of goodies under the tree- it’s no wonder so many little ones are reluctant to fall asleep on Christmas Eve. If you’re like me, it’s fun to add small touches to special days, to make them that much more memorable. Check out my ideas for 10 festive Christmas Eve traditions you’ll want to start with your family this year!

Looking for ideas to make Christmas Eve extra memorable and magical this year? Check out ten great ideas your family will love! #ad #ChristmasEve #Christmas #ChristmasTraditions #MerryChristmas #December24
This post is sponsored by Carter’s; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

1. Have A Movie Night

Nothing beats cuddling under blankets with your kiddos and watching a Christmas themed movie. It can be extra fun to share a childhood favorite of yours with them! Another fun option is to pick up a holiday movie no one has seen before and surprise your family with it on Christmas eve.

Christmas Eve Traditions- Watch A Christmas Movie

2. Make Cookies For Santa

If you’re looking for a tasty way to pass some time on Christmas Eve, baking cookies for Santa is a fun choice for the whole family! Spending time together mixing and decorating can really amplify those sweet, warm holiday feelings. Even if you’re not interested in baking together, don’t forget to leave a few store-bought cookies out for Santa Claus before bed!

Christmas Eve Traditions- Cookies For Santa

3. Make Hot Cocoa

Put together some sweet cocoa to keep the house feeling cozy on Christmas Eve! If you’re feeling really ambitious, fill a thermos and head out to go…

Christmas Eve Traditions- Make Hot Cocoa

4. Christmas Caroling

This is a tradition I’ve not participated in often, but it seems so fun and festive. After all, Buddy in ‘Elf’ said it best… “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!”

Christmas Eve Traditions- New Christmas Pajamas from Carters

5. Take In The Lights

My boys love to get bundled into the car to drive around and look at Christmas lights. Even if we don’t go far from our neighborhood, it’s still magical for them. Check local websites or Facebook groups to find listings of the most impressive light displays near you. Be sure to play some Christmas music to make your drive extra festive! (And bonus, this is a Christmas Eve tradition that might actually help your little ones settle down before bedtime!)

Christmas Eve Traditions- Go See Christmas Lights

6. Make It A Holy Night

Although many celebrate a fairly secular holiday, attending Christmas Eve services at your place of worship can be an incredibly meaningful Christmas Eve tradition for your family.

Christmas Eve Traditions- New Christmas Pajamas from Carters

7. Unwrap Some fun

For kids who have been waiting all month long for presents, the promise of opening a gift on Christmas Eve is magical. Consider a Christmas Eve tradition where everyone is allowed to open just one gift. Or consider unwrapping a ‘family’ gift on Christmas Eve- maybe a new board game to turn the night into family game night?

Christmas Eve Traditions- Open One Gift

8. Get Cozy In New Jammies & 9. Read Together

Ever since #thebigone was very tiny, I have always loved getting him new pajamas especially for Christmas Eve. Some years, his Elf On The Shelf Pizza has delivered them to our home, and other years he knows they are from me. When #thelittleone arrived, I started getting him into the spirit on Christmas Eve with festive pajamas as well. It’s such an adorable Christmas Eve tradition, truly one of my favorites.

Christmas Eve Traditions- New Christmas Pajamas from Carters

This year, the boys and I went to Carter’s together to pick up their new Christmas pajamas. Carter’s is typically our go-to for holiday pajamas since they have such cute options that are super cozy and comfortable for my kiddos. (And confession, obviously, we pick our sets out from the selection of boy pajamas each year. But honestly, there’s a little part of me jealous of the mamas choosing from the sweet girl pajamas in the store! Boy mom problems, I guess!)

Christmas Eve Traditions- Pajama Project Christmas Eve Traditions- Pajama Project
Christmas Eve Traditions- Pajama Project

When we stopped in to choose pajamas, we discovered that Carter’s is working with the Pajama Program again this year. We love this partnership because it allows us to easily make a donation that directly impacts our local community. The program aims to provide pajamas and books to children in need within local communities. It’s incredibly simple to make a donation in your local Carter’s store– they will accept either new pajamas or monetary donations at check out. In addition, if you’re grabbing your Christmas jammies online, it’s simple to donate money there as well. With Giving Tuesday upon us, it’s such a simple way to directly impact the lives of children around you. They’re collecting donations through the end of 2017, so be sure to bring your kids in to teach them a bit about giving back!

Christmas Eve Traditions- New Christmas Pajamas from Carters Christmas Eve Traditions- Read a Christmas Book

My favorite thing about the Pajama Program is their commitment to early literacy. (Big surprise, since I blog about children’s books often, right?!) The pajamas that are distributed are paired with a book, to encourage reading at home. It makes sense- children’s who’s parents struggle to provide them with basic necessities like warm pajamas in winter likely do not have the additional funds to also stock a home library. These children may ultimately end up reading below grade level, and Pajama Program steps in to try to remedy that.

Christmas Eve Traditions- Read a Christmas Book Christmas Eve Traditions- Read a Christmas Book Christmas Eve Traditions- Read a Christmas Book

It only makes sense to mention another favorite Christmas Eve tradition here- reading together before bedtime. The old standard is, of course, The Night Before Christmas, but there’s no reason you can’t mix things up. There are SO many fun and new holiday books released each year- you’re bound to find the perfect choice for your family.

10. Bring The Magic To Life

This Christmas Eve tradition is one to put into action after the little ones are in bed. Kids grow up SO fast these days, it’s fun to keep the magic of Christmas alive just a bit longer. Make sure to take a bite of the cookie your child left for Santa, or gnaw on that carrot for the reindeer a bit. A quick online search will teach you how to make your own ‘Santa footprints’ throughout the house. There are apps to help you snap a photo of ‘Santa’ leaving gifts under your tree. The possibilities are endless thanks to Pinterest, making this an especially fun Christmas Eve tradition.

Christmas Eve Traditions- Keep Santa Magic Real


Looking for ideas to make Christmas Eve extra memorable and magical this year? Check out ten great ideas your family will love! #ad #ChristmasEve #Christmas #ChristmasTraditions #MerryChristmas #December24


  • Allie

    These ideas are so cute! I even love them as an adult (: We just made hot chocolate and decorated our tree. How fun to have a tradition of making cookies for santa… that will be such a good memory for your kids. I also love going out and looking at the lights. This time of year is so fun!

    • Kate

      There really is so much fun to share with family and friends surrounding the holiday. Enjoy the season!

  • Willow

    When I was little my family and I would drive through neighborhoods with a lot of decorations outside. It was a fun tradition! I love movie night too.

    • Kate

      Definitely so much fun to look at lights together!

  • Adree | The Keele Deal

    I love all of your ideas and the pictures are so cute! Each year everyone opens 2 gifts on Christmas eve a new book and pajamas.

    • Kate

      Those are the perfect gifts for Christmas Eve! Thanks Adree!

  • Vivian

    I love how festive your boys look! Such a lovely collection of Christmassy activities!

    Vivian | LIVE IN LOVE
    IG | @viviyunn_


    • Kate

      Thank you! They are in LOVE with their new Christmas jammies!

  • Lesley

    Such great suggestions. We always go to church, have a family dinner with fried pierogies and open gifts from grandparents. I can’t wait!!!

    • Kate

      That sounds like such a fun Christmas Eve!

  • April@loveourreallife

    I love every one of your ideas listed! It looks like you will have a fun Christmas this year!!!

    • Kate

      I really hope so! Thanks, and Merry Christmas!

  • Sami Summers

    I love these ideas so much! My daughter is only a year and a half so she isn’t quite there yet, but I cannot wait to bake cookies with her! Wonderful post!

    • Kate

      You guys have lots of time to start your holiday traditions! Merry Christmas!

  • Bryant

    I love seeing posts like this. Christmas is such a special time of the year, especially when you are a kid. All of these traditions are great and I did a lot of them while I was growing up. This makes me look forward to getting married one day and having children of my own to do things like this with.

    • Kate

      Thanks so much Bryant! There’s definitely something special about sharing traditions from your childhood with your own children- especially at Christmas!

  • Angela

    I want to try some of these with my kids. I love the ideas!

    • Kate

      Hope you guys have fun together! Merry Christmas!

  • claire

    Omgosh these ideas are perfect! I love the idea of making cookies for Santa haha. I actually made chocolate chip cookies few days ago, prob gonna make some more now!

    • Kate

      Thanks Claire… And you can never have enough cookies!

  • oyibougbo

    Thats sure going to make the Christmas season more fun but we have a different way of celebrating the season in our village except if we are celebrating it in the city.

    • Kate

      I’m sure your traditions are just as fun!

  • Justine @ Little Dove

    I love all of these! We always open up new pajamas and drive around to look at the Christmas lights. And of course reading The Night Before Christmas is a given! 🙂

    • Kate

      We’ve been reading it all week already- I think my two year old is going to have it memorized by the time Christmas Eve rolls around!

  • Samantha Kuzyk-Raising Twincesses

    Love these Christmas traditions! We always grab new Carter’s pj’s every Christmas, and this year I really want to take the kids to see all the beautiful lights that people have on their homes!

    • Kate

      Your kids are going to love it! Enjoy!

  • Joanna Clute

    We do a lot of these. I used to have a lot of these traditions growing up as well.

    • Kate

      Sounds very fun!

  • Jalisa Marie

    Love all these. We normally have Christmas Eve parties so we try and do other traditions. Baking is definitely on the top of our list.

    • Kate

      I’m not much of a baker, so I usually let my mom take the lead there, haha.

  • Lemarc Gentles

    My favorite is number 1. But instead of movie night, we have movie nights lol. Other than that, I love going to church on Christmas Sunday, going shopping on Christmas eve and of course spending time with the family.

    • Kate

      Family time is definitely the most important of all!

  • Sweet Coralice

    I have always loved using Carters when my kids were small. They’re such good quality and the designs are super sweet and cute!! This is a nice list of options to choose from 😌

    • Kate

      I’m going to be sad when my oldest is too big for Carter’s- they’re definitely my go-to!

  • Tatiana of Good Luck Mommy

    Leaving Santa prints throughout the house? Genius! I have to look that one up. All these traditions sound so warm and fuzzy for the holidays. I want to do all of them in one night.

    • Kate

      Isn’t that such a fun one? My mother-in-law does Easter Bunny paw prints at Easter too, haha. So much magic!

  • Indrani

    Though we don’t celebrate Christmas I love every aspect of it. Particularly the gifts by Santa for being good through out the year.. 🙂

    • Kate

      We celebrate a very secular Christmas, more out of family tradition than anything else. It’s definitely a fun time.

I would love to hear your thoughts!

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