9 Magical Christmas Eve traditions to try with your family

9 Magical Christmas Eve traditions to try with your family

9 Magical Christmas Eve traditions to try with your family

Magical Christmas Eve traditions to try with your family
Magical Christmas Eve traditions to try with your family
Image Credit: Unsplash

If you’ve organised the usual holiday cheer for the night before Christmas – from leaving Santa’s mince pies out to hanging the stockings – and you still find yourself casting about for memory-making activities to introduce to the kids, then check out these ideas:

The Icelandic book flood

Between the snow and the reindeer Scandinavians don’t have to work very hard to make things Christmassy, but one thing they do make an effort with is Christmas Eve traditions. Known as Jólabókaflóð, or the Yule Book Flood, this is the festive period when Iceland’s book publishers release the majority of their titles. Family and friends then gift their favourite tomes to each other on Christmas Eve, then everyone proceeds to bed to read them with a hot chocolate. How cosy is that? Gift your kids a book they’ll love and read it together. The idea works particularly well as it creates an activity to pass the high-excitement time between getting ready for bed and waking up on Christmas morning.

Track Santa’s progress

Google has developed a lovely idea that allows you to watch Santa’s progress around the world on Google Earth. Santa starts at the furthest east time zone at about midnight so he will be available to watch in the UAE from around 2pm. Each time he arrives in a city the tracker tells you a little bit about the place, provides counters showing how far Santa has travelled as well as how long until he reaches the your city and the total number of presents delivered. There are also lots of games and activities to keep kids busy.

Or the NORAD Santa tracker, created by the  North American Aerospace Defense Command, has also been tracking Santa’s progress annually for 65 years, and its website is full of scientific-style explanations of how it is physically possible for Santa to visit so many children in one night. 

Gift Christmas pajamas

The Christmas Eve Box tradition has grown in popularity over the years but the key element of it is new pajamas! If you’ve seen tons of festive PJs in the shops you’re just dying to wrestle your kids into for cute pictures, make a treat of it by gifting them cosy xmas PJs for their first present on the night of the 24th. Getting them ready for bed has never been easier…

Plant the Christmas pickle

One of the quirkier ideas we’ve come across, the ‘Weihnachtsgurke’ tradition goes that a parent hides a pickle-shaped ornament (or a real pickle if you can’t find one!) on the Christmas tree. The first person to find it receives good fortune for the New Year and sometimes a little extra reward from Santa. While it was thought that this ritual originated in Germany it actually began in Canada and the US and it’s a fun, outside-the-box game to introduce to the kids.

Leave a Santa key out

Perfect for the UAE, the Santa Claus Key is a creative way to explain how Santa visits homes without chimneys. You can use any key and jazz it up with glitter or purchase a special one from the dozens of shops that sell them like Ace Hardware. Have it delivered by elf or Christmas envelope with an explanatory note and then leave it outside together on Christmas Eve under a mat or in your garden. Don’t forget to pick it up again once the little one’s in bed and put it inside somewhere they’ll find it. This will definitely ease any troubled minds concerned that Father Christmas won’t be able to get in to deliver the presents!

Make a Christmas Memory Book

Remember the good times from 2021 and cherish precious holiday memories forever with a gorgeous Christmas Memory Book, which you can either make from scratch using a simple scrapbook or, even easier, get a pre-made memory photo book from homegrown, UAE mum-owned company Story For Me. A great way to encourage children to be creative, show kids how to write, stick and frame your festive fun, making for an excellent holiday activity and an invaluable keepsake. Story For Me’s book includes Christmas-themed jokes, stickers and DIY activities like making your own Christmas ornaments, for a gift that will not only keep kids busy, but will keep on giving over the years as a wonderful memory album.

Tell ghost stories

It might seem strange to tell spooky stories this time of year but exchanging a good ghost tale is an old tradition dating back to well before the 19th century when Charles Dickens wrote his famous yarn about ghosts and Christmas. As the nights grow longer it makes sense to cosy up inside and tell stories that give a little thrill. To make it friendly for the under fours watch The Muppet Christmas Carol (you might want to skip the bit with Ghost of Christmas Future though, he still gives us the creeps) or pick up one of the many children’s versions of Dickens’ book to read together.

Build a gingerbread house

An activity that encourages kids to play together, this’ll keep them occupied for an hour or two while you work on the finishing touches for the big day. It’s also minimal effort on your part if you buy a pre-made kit that requires assembly only. Buy extra sprinkles, icing and sweets for them to express their creative side too. After Christmas, if you have kids that like destruction as much as construction, turn it into a makeshift piñata by laying it out on some newspaper and letting them smash it up into pieces with a rolling pin before they eat it.

Write a letter to your children about their year

This has been an unusual year to say the least and Christmas is a wonderful time to think about family and is a more natural period for children to look back on their year than New Years’ Eve (when they’ll likely be in bed by the time the clock strikes twelve). Start a series of touching keepsakes by writing a letter to them at Christmas reminding them about the last twelve months: the moments when you were particularly proud of them, when they learnt something new or when they did something they really enjoyed. These will become treasured possessions in years to come and allows a little time for reflection in the busy holiday period.

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