Just one more sleep: 10 Christmas Eve traditions to make the night before magical
Christmas Eve is a night of pure childhood joy. Of anticipation, excitement and joy.
I love the idea of special traditions – and maybe especially so at this time of year. Traditions are what make us who we are, make us feel connected and help us feel like this is our way of doing things, our family's history written.
Now, as a mum, I have carried on so many little traditions with my own children that my parents did with me and my sister. As well as added some new ones - making our Christmas so perfectly ours.
These Christmas Eve traditions are a mix of both, some I have grown up doing, looking forward to year after year. Others I started doing with my own little family, hoping as we do them every December, that one day they will become what my children will fondly think of as they themselves grow up and start families, that they will be cherished and carried on, for years and generations to come.
1. Get into your brand new pyjamas
Some families allow the opening of one little present on Christmas Eve – and if you are clever, you make sure these are presents with new pj's. Why? Because Christmas Eve is not Christmas Eve without some new jim-jams to go to bed in.
2. Read a Christmas story
What you read is entirely up to you and your family. Some prefer the actual Christmas story from the Bible, others something else. In our house, we always, always read 'The Night Before Christmas' before tucking everyone into bed in Christmas Eve.
3. Watch a movie or play a game
What you do doesn't really matter, just make sure you do it together, the whole family.
4. Make a hot chocolate bar
This may sound all sorts of fancy, but really, it's easy peasy. And – goes perfect with the above activity of watching a movie or playing a game together.
Just heat up some delicious hot chocolate (we think Christmas Eve deserves the real, actual melted chocolate deal..) and offer some festive add-ons, like marshmallows, cinnamon, candy canes (for stirring), gingerbread cookies, sprinkles, shredded coconut etc. Kids love being able to mix and match their own concoctions, and will no doubt adore this new Christmas Eve tradition.
5. Go on a twinkle walk
Christmas Eve is a night so full of excitement (and often also, sugar!) that I have found that one of the best things to do before settling down for the night, is bundling up and going for a little walk around the neighbourhood.
Not only will this use up some energy when the kids are full of beans, it is also a great chance to look at all those gorgeous Christmas lights and decorations. Turn it into a game - who can spot the nicest wreath, how many Christmas trees can you count through the windows; it doesn't really matter, just walk around for a bit and soak up this magical night.
6. Scatter reindeer food in the garden
All you need is some oats mixed with edible glitter, and the reindeer will spot you left out food for them from the sky, and come swooping down.
7. Spot for the sleigh in the sky
Every Christmas Eve night, right before it is time for bed, we go outside to look up into the sky to see can we spot the lights from Santa's sleigh as he makes his way around the globe.
8. Leave out a treat for Santa
It is a hard night's work for poor Santa, so make sure he has a snack to keep him full of energy on this busy evening. Mince pies are always a winner, if not; cookies that the children have baked themselves are bound to go down a treat too.
9. Track Santa's journey as he nears your home
Thanks to modern technology, you can now, with the help of Norad, track Santa's journey as he delivers presents around the globe. This is the most exciting, magical thing, and in our house, we always make sure to go bed as his sleigh starts coming in over Europe.
My little girl is still talking about one year when I told her mummy was so busy with last minute cleaning and preparations that he was actually over Belfast, heading straight for Dublin, before I finally got into bed. Phew!
10. Sibling slumber party
It can be almost impossible to get to sleep on Christmas Eve with all that excitement in the air. And I firmly believe that all those butterflies and all that magic is even better when shared. In our house, my children always sleep in the same room this night. Why? Because it’s fun to have someone to whisper to while listening for reindeer hooves on the roof.
And if we spend Christmas with cousins and extended family, even more children are crammed into the one room, on mattresses, in sleeping bags, it doesn't really matter how, just as long as they are all together.
What traditions do YOU do every Christmas Eve? Please share with us in the comments, we would love to hear.