Christmas Eve Traditions We Love

by Editors

Christmas Eve Traditions We Love

Sure, exchanging Christmas gifts is a highlight of the holiday season, but what truly makes it the most wonderful time of year is gathering together and sharing family Christmas traditions. Christmas caroling, attending midnight Mass, feasting on a home-cooked meal and watching classic films like How the Grinch Stole Christmas are among the most popular traditions, but every family is unique — which is exactly why we asked readers to share their favorite holiday traditions. Whether you’re wondering what to do on Christmas Eve or you’re looking for Christmas tradition ideas that you can start with your own family, we hope these reader stories will inspire you.



Reindeer Gifts




On Christmas Eve, when we are at church, the reindeer come and bring all 5 of us a gift—usually PJs, slippers or robes. They leave a note saying they wanted to figure out where our stockings were to let Santa know. They also remind our kids to get to bed early so Santa can come. My kids look forward to it every year!” -Kim Van Camp





Feliz Navidad!



“We go spend our evening and day with our family eating, eating and eating, opening presents and more eating. We usually go through a big pot of posole, ponche, atole, bunuelos—all that good Mexican holiday food.” -Citlaly Nahomi Dominguez





The Late, Late Show



“We attend Midnight Mass. Last year, we brought my 4-month-old daughter with hopes she would mostly sleep during the service. However, she was wide-eyed and bushy-tailed the entire service, just taking in all the hymns and even babbling during some. When we got home, my husband and I enjoyed a cup of hot cocoa while our daughter enjoyed a bottle and we each opened one Christmas present. We intend to continue this tradition for as long as possible as it made for a fantastic memory.” -Michelle Schutzman





Take-Out Christmas Tradition



“With all the brouhaha of the holidays, my mother, after years of suffering in silence, had finally had it with planning (and washing up after) two special meals, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, back to back. She found the only place that was open late in our small town on Christmas Eve was The Golden Dragon. She all got our favorites, and because it was Christmas, she splurged on extra egg rolls and spareribs. We ate out of cartons with those disposable chopsticks and cheap paper napkins, making hardly any dishes at all. So my mom transformed Christmas Eve into something that everyone enjoyed.


Now I’m the mom, and to my little family Chinese take-out is as traditional to Christmas as candy canes and stockings.” -Margaret Preller Osako





Remembering the Reindeer



“We usually make cookies for Santa and leave them out with a glass of milk and some carrots for the reindeer. But this year we will be making reindeer food to sprinkle in our front lawn, to help Santa’s reindeer find their way to our house!” -Kristy, Oxford, MI





Movie Night



“What’s Christmas Eve without watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas and A Christmas Story?” -Heather Wilbanks





No Chimney, No Problem



“We don’t have a fireplace, so we hang out a magic key for Santa and put out cookies for him, too. We also make reindeer dust, which is oatmeal and glitter. The glitter is to guide the reindeer to the house, and we sprinkle it just before we go to bed!” -Susan Bailey Davis





Party Animals



“My husband’s family is from Argentina, so Christmas Eve is a huge party. Then when the clock strikes midnight it’s time to open presents!” -Karla Cepeda





Deck the Halls




“I surprise my kids by redecorating the whole house during the night. I put Christmas lights from the tree all the way up the stairs into their room. Then of course I set out all the presents.” -Jamie Watkins





Candlelight Caroling



“We go to my in-laws for a seafood buffet and midnight caroling in the woods with candles.” -Danelle French





Going Back in Time



“We have what we call a Jerusalem Dinner. We make simple foods, such that they might have eaten back then—fried salmon in olive oil and seasonings, hummus, cheese, crackers, grapes, etc. We eat on the floor by candle light, then Dad reads the nativity story out of the New Testament. My kids count on it as part of our traditions now!” -Wendy Robertson






Dinner and a Light Show



“My husband and I go out for dinner to a local diner that is open late, and then take a drive to look at Christmas lights. We don’t go out to dinner much during the year, so it is special when we can do it on Christmas Eve. It’s less stressful and I enjoy how we can be together enjoying a great meal without the clean up or cooking on this special night. ” -Desiree Farside




Santa Shindig



“Santa visits our house so we have a party for all of our friends with little kids. Then Santa comes and gives the kids one present to open. After Santa leaves the kids decorate cookies to take home and leave out for Santa and trail mix for the reindeer.” -Cheryl Mathenia





Want Fries With That?



“We attend Christmas Eve service, drive around and look at Christmas lights, have homemade hamburgers and french fries and read and open presents.” -Haven Danielle Smith





No-Fuss Holiday Meal



“My family doesn’t have a formal dinner; instead we have a sort of snack bar. We eat stuff like nachos, little smokies, crackers, summer sausage and gourmet cheese. It’s one of my favorite traditions because everything is so relaxed and easy-going.” -Sarah Harrison





A Very Trekkie Christmas



“We used to always watch a Star Trek movie on Christmas Eve. We purchased all the movies after they came out, and Christmas Eve was a perfect time to watch them because we would all be home together, even after we grew up and moved out. We especially loved Star Trek II, The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek IV and The Voyage Home. Lots of great lines and quotes we would all be saying during the movie.” -Alexis Amrhein Salerno





Pass It On



“My dad’s side of the family all meet up to celebrate Christmas and my grandparent’s anniversary. We make a line and pass the gifts from one child to the next down the hall from the tree to the living room, where one person wears the Santa hat and passes out all the gifts! I look forward to this every year!” -Lindsy Morgan Evans





Mama Moment



“I enjoy a hot peppermint tea with a peppermint stick—and leave everything else up to Hubs.” -Melissa Harris





Tricks and Treats



“We spray the bottoms of our feet with fake snow and walk from the chimney to the coffee table in the living room where the snacks await Santa and company. We eat all but just a teeny nibble of everything and leave just a bit of milk. Then we turn around and back-track to the fireplace. Once there, we take our shoes off in order to leave the tracks intact. When the kids awake on Christmas morning, they see the evidence and swear that Santa had paid them a visit. My kids love, love, love it, as do their dad and I!” -Tina Powell