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19 Things To Do on Christmas Eve to Make it More Magical

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What can I do to make Christmas Eve more magical?

Are you looking for ways to add a little extra magic to your holiday this year? Christmas Eve is the perfect day to do just that.

Whether it’s spending the whole day with your family or doing something extra special in the evening, there are plenty of things to do on Christmas Eve to make it more magical.

It’s the little things we do as parents year after year that our kids will remember later in life and look back on fondly. Not the toys or presents.

So pick a couple of things to do from this Christmas Eve list and enjoy making those memories!

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How do people celebrate Christmas Eve at home?

There are many things to do on Christmas Eve from the comfort of your own home. I usually spend the late hours of Christmas Eve wrapping presents, but if you’re looking for more fun ways to spend the evening, keep reading.

I suggest getting all that wrapping out of the way early, so you can just enjoy some time with your family. (Trust me on this one.)

Things to do on Christmas Eve when you’re home

family of three decorating a Christmas tree
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1. Decorate the tree

I know this one sounds crazy, even as I type it. I’ve been seeing decorated homes and trees in my feed since November 1. (Which is also crazy. Has everyone forgotten there is an entire holiday dedicated to food?!)

Hear me out though. One of things to do on Christmas Eve that would make it magical would be to wait and decorate your tree.

I’m sure this would be a unique-to-your-family tradition, as tree decorating seems to be starting earlier and earlier each year.

If you’re looking for a more old-fashioned Christmas, don’t use those fancy store-bought decorations. String popcorn or cranberries. Use Christmas cookies for decorations.

Or have your kiddos make paper chains and paper ornaments throughout December to prepare.

And if you don’t want to wait until Christmas Eve to decorate the whole tree, just save one special ornament for Christmas Eve night.

red stockings hanging on a white brick fireplace
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2. Hang stockings

So while it may seem just as crazy as waiting until night before to decorate your tree, absolutely save the stockings for Christmas Eve.

Santa doesn’t fill them until Christmas Eve anyway, so why not add a little bit of excitement with one final decoration.

And if you’re an Elf on the Shelf family, maybe your Elf just happens to show up there on Christmas Eve morning. They do show up in the strangest places.

Related: The Best Stocking Stuffers for Toddlers

women in red Christmas seater and Santa hat drinking hot chocolate with marshmallows
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3. Drink some hot chocolate

There’s nothing better to get you in that Christmas mood than some warm chocolatey goodness (with some tiny marshmallows, of course).

Hot chocolate goes great with some cozy pajamas and a Christmas movie.

Christmas table setting with cookies
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4. Prepare Christmas Eve dinner

This one actually comes from my own childhood. My mother started preparing Christmas Eve dinner for her and my dad each year after they were married.

She always used her fancy china, and it was just the two of them (before they spent Christmas day running to both sets of in-laws). I was probably around 8 or 9 when I got to eat off that china.

Of course, your dinner doesn’t have to be anything elaborate.

You can don your new Christmas pajamas, order some pizza or have popcorn and candy, and spread a blanket on the floor to watch a Christmas movie. The most important part is the memory you create.

What to do when you are bored on Christmas Eve?

So the best things to do on Christmas Eve when you’re bored include things that take a fair amount of time and will hold your interest.

A wonderful thing to do when you’re bored on Christmas Eve is to do something nice for others. You get those warm and fuzzy feelings when you put forth that giving spirit.

Things to do on Christmas Eve to keep boredom at bay

iced Christmas cutout cookies in a bowl
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5. Deliver cookies or presents

If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent the bulk of December elbow-deep in cookie batter. Christmas Eve is the perfect time to deliver all those delicious treats you’ve been working on.

You could drop some off with family, friends, neighbors, or visit a nearby nursing home.

Haven’t made any cookies this year?

Spend your morning whipping up a quick batch or two to pass the time.

outside of building with Christmas lights and tree with Christmas ornaments
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6. Take a drive to see the neighborhood lights

Before you put out your milk and cookies and get all tucked in for the night, take a drive through your neighborhood to check out everyone’s holiday light display.

If you go early enough, you may even make it through a couple of neighboring towns.

If you’re truly bored on Christmas Eve, make it game.

Create bingo cards (or a scavenger hunt) before heading out with different scenarios: icicle lights, inflatable displays, red and green lights, twinkling lights, projected scenes, lights with sound, etc.

Or assign point values to each set of lights and see who gets the most points.

people outside looking at Christmas lights
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7. Go caroling

Get your family together and head through your neighborhood or make arrangements at a nursing home to bring some joy to the elderly.

Nothing gets people in the Christmas mood like hearing those Christmas classics.

What is traditional on Christmas Eve?

There are many things to do on Christmas Eve that are considered more traditional. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t make your own traditions as well.

If you do something each year on Christmas Eve, that will become your traditional activity.

Things to do on Christmas Eve if you’re a traditionalist

people standing in a church
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8. Attend a worship service

One of the things to do on Christmas Eve is attend a worship service.

Many churches hold a mass or candlelight ceremony, and this is a great time of year if you’re looking to get back to church.

baby Jesus in manger
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9. Place baby Jesus in the nativity

As one of my son’s first Christmas gifts, I got him a Little People Nativity Set. It’s the perfect size for little hands, and I don’t have to worry about him choking on the pieces.

It’s nice because all the people and animals are separate from the stable. So you are actually able to recreate the Christmas story and show how everyone came to the manger.

Now if you’ve ever noticed a church that has the nativity set up for Christmas, baby Jesus is missing until Christmas Eve or Christmas morning because he wasn’t born until that time.

If you wish to follow the tradition, hold off on putting baby Jesus in your nativity until late on Christmas Eve (as you may forget on Christmas morning).

Santa's arms holding hot chocolate with a cookie
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10. Set out treats for Santa

Don’t forget to set out cookies and milk for Santa before sending the little ones to bed.

Get this cute plate and cup so Santa knows just who those cookies are for. Or add a cute note for Santa.

Related: Fun Christmas Traditions to Start with Your New Baby

wild reindeer in a snowy field
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11. Don’t forget goodies for the reindeer

And if you want to go that extra mile, include the reindeer in on the festivities.

You could add some carrots to Santa’s plate. Or make your own reindeer food (from oats and edible glitter) and leave it on your lawn. Leave Santa a note for the reindeer, so he knows exactly who it’s for.

things to do on Christmas Eve: snowman with black hat, red scarf and green buttons

How do I pass the time on Christmas Eve?

Christmas Eve is an exciting day. It’s the final build up before the big celebration.

But sometimes it can feel like it goes on forever. Especially if you’re at the office or you have little ones asking “Is it Christmas, yet?” every five minutes.

So try some of these fun things to do on Christmas Eve to make the time fly.

Things to do on Christmas Eve to keep you busy

family of four sitting on couch watching a movie
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12. Watch a Christmas movie

What’s your favorite Christmas movie? The one you have to watch every year or it’s just not Christmas?

If you haven’t watched it yet, Christmas Eve is the perfect time. Hot chocolate, snacks, pajamas, movie: that’s all you need for a relaxing Christmas Eve.

If you still have little ones that can’t sit through a full-length movie, check out A Charlie Brown Christmas. (There’s a reason it’s a classic.)

surprised Santa
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13. Track Santa

Ok, so this is something fun to do each Christmas Eve with the kiddos. (Or even if you’re stuck at the office on Christmas Eve.)

Actually, you can spend the entire month of December tracking Santa with NORAD. They have games and songs each day.

toy car on Monopoly board game
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14. Have a Christmas themed game day

I come from a game family. We bust them out after Thanksgiving dinner and on New Year’s Eve. So now that I have a little one to entertain on Christmas Eve, I’m planning to add this to my list of Christmas traditions.

You can make up your own games, like charades, Pictionary, a scavenger hunt, or even an escape room, relating them to Christmas.

Maybe you have to act out the three wise men. Or draw the song Jingle Bells. Or make a scavenger hunt rhyming Christmas words until you reach your prize: a Christmas Eve box.

You have unlimited options when creating your own Christmas games.

But if you’re just not that creative or don’t have the time. You could always purchase a few Christmas puzzles or board games. (Another fun gift to open on Christmas Eve.)

Some of my favorite Christmas themed board games you just have to try:

  1. The Santa Claus Game (ages 3+) – Race across a winter wonderland, delivering presents as you go. Fun spaces along the way include singing songs and shouting Ho, Ho, Ho.
  2. Pin the Nose on the Reindeer (ages 3+) – The classic blindfold game that’s fun for kids and adults. There’s also a Snowman option.
  3. Don’t Break The Ice (ages 3+) – Not technically a Christmas game but still some winter fun with an old classic.
  4. Santa Claus Go Fish (ages 4+) – Play the classic card game using a holiday themed deck. Cards offer numbers and pictures, so younger kids have an easier time. There are instructions for Old Maid and Slap Jack, as well.
  5. Santa’s Sleigh Ride (ages 5+) – An educational (shh!) Christmas game where you race other Santas to deliver presents all over the world.
  6. Christmas Scavenger Hunt (ages 6+) – A holiday scavenger hunt that’s already done for you and gives you indoor and outdoor options, as well as a team or individual hunt.
  7. Christmas Rush (ages 7+) – A Christmas themed version of the card game Spoons, where you pass cards between players to get a matching set of four cards. Extra holiday cards add to the excitement of this fast-paced game.
  8. Clue: North Pole Holiday Edition (ages 8+) – A holiday take on the classic game where you discover who stole the presents.
  9. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer Board Game (ages 8+) – Combine the elements of Chutes and Ladders with Sorry, and you have a fun-filled game where you need to be the first to find all the misfit toys.
  10. Christmas-opoly (ages 8+) – The classic game with a Christmas twist. Don’t end up on the naughty list, or you won’t get to pass Ho, Ho, Ho.

What can you do with kids on Christmas Eve?

Of course, any of the things to do on Christmas Eve that I’ve already mentioned can be done with your kiddos, but make Christmas Eve extra special for those tiny people in your life by including something just for them.

Things to do on Christmas Eve to keep the kids entertained

paints and painted reindeer ornament
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15. Create a Christmas craft

There are so many fun Christmas crafts for kids. The question is not really what should you do, but which one should you do.

Handprint crafts are quick and easy. Maybe have them write a thank you to Santa and decorate it. Or even a goodbye note to your Elf.

Whatever you choose, make sure it’s no stress and less mess. (Save the glitter for Valentine’s Day.)

little boy eating a cookie holding a gift
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16. Gift a Christmas Eve box

Christmas Eve boxes are a great way to get the kiddos (even more) excited about all the Christmas festivities.

It’s usually Christmas pajamas, a Christmas movie or book, and maybe a snack.

It’s something small that your kiddos can definitely use and will come to be expected each year. (But in a good way, like they’ll actually appreciate them.)

little girl holding up Christmas sweater while father watches in the background
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17. Open one special gift (or all the gifts)

You could put together a special Christmas Eve box (yep, like the one I just mentioned) to be opened or just choose one special gift each year to be opened on Christmas Eve.

Or you could even choose to open all the family gifts on Christmas Eve. And just leave Santa’s gifts to be opened on Christmas morning.

This only works if you’re not like me, staying up all night wrapping gifts. But it’s a great option if you have multiple houses to visit on Christmas Day.

family of four sitting on sofa wearing matching green plaid pajamas
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18. Wear Christmas pajamas

So those Christmas pajamas that you just got from your Christmas Eve box – put them on!

And if Christmas Eve is on the weekend, do it early. Watch movies, read books, go for that drive to see lights – all in your Christmas pajamas.

With all the excitement and stress this holiday brings, sometimes you just need to snuggle up in some comfy pajamas.

child holding a book
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19. Read The Night Before Christmas

It’s a short poem to settle your little ones in for the night, and they’ll be dreaming of sugar plums in no time.

For an extra special treat, get your kiddo a personalized copy of The Night Before Christmas.

Related: 35 Cheerful Christmas Books for Toddlers


There you have it: all the fun things to do on Christmas Eve to make it magical! Ideas for when you’re bored to ideas kids will enjoy to traditional ideas; I’m sure there is something to help put some extra joy in your Christmas Eve.

Don’t try to do everything on Christmas Eve. Choose the ones your family enjoy most and make them part of your yearly Christmas traditions.

What things do you plan on doing this Christmas Eve? Let us know in the comments.

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19 Things to Do on Christmas Eve to Make it More Magical

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