Christmas is a magical time as a child, do you remember how you felt on Christmas Eve as a kid? Hanging up your Christmas stocking, leaving the mince pie out for Father Christmas, being too excited to sleep! Imagining Santa and his reindeer flying across the skies.
As a Mummy of a little boy as well as the owner of a shop that indulges in Christmas I know what a busy time it can be, so here is my list (in no particular order) to help remind me and to hopefully keep the magic of Christmas alive easily. More fun, less stress!
In parenting we establish patterns and traditions that can be passed on for generations - how cool is that?! Children really love their own family Christmas traditions, they really don't need to be flashy and expensive. It's the little things that seem to have the biggest impact and help create those amazing childhood memories.
Ways to Make Christmas Eve Magical
Light it up!
Put the Christmas tree lights and Christmas music on the moment you wake up! The feeling of Christmas starts with a sparkle of fairy lights and sets the mood. Christmas songs are uplifting and always help set the tone for the day.
Wear Christmas Jumpers
Nothing ramps up the excitement levels for Christmas like a festive-themed outfit. Get the family some festive jumpers to wear on Christmas Eve or better still, make your own using old jumpers and crafting supplies such as pom poms and ribbons.
Write a letter to Santa
Every child loves writing a letter to Santa and it's never too late to do just that. Instead of posting them, just leave them out on the mantlepiece or by the stockings for Father Christmas to read. If they're too young to write then maybe a picture for Santa would be nice instead.
Smells like Christmas
Scent is the most powerful sense and can create evocative memories. Orange and cinnamon is the smell of Christmas for most people. Use a diffuser for a soft background scent or a scented candle or wax melt for a more prominent fragrance. If you're not a fan of cinnamon why not try something different like Eucalyptus and Lime or comforting Vanilla.
Pack a Sack of Toys for Other Children
This is a great way to have a quick clear out. Ask the children to pick out a few toys they no longer play with, that are still in decent condition. Place them in a special sack for Santa to take away and deliver to other children who might not get as many lovely new toys as yours will the next morning. You can then pop in the car and take the sack to a charity shop when they're next open.
Thanks to the American Aerospace Defence Command the official NORAD Santa tracker is available online to track Santa as he move around the planet delivering all those presents. This is live from 1st December every year.
Bake Some Festive Treats
Baking at Christmas is really fun. It creates a beautiful aroma and who doesn't like a homemade Christmas treat?! You can make...
These are easy to make, if you want to make a show stopping pie why not use a patterned wooden rolling pin to add the wow factor! They're surprisingly simple to make; even young kids will love helping to roll out the pastry and spoon in the filling.
Don't have time to make your own pastry? Use ready-made shortcrust pastry instead – it'll save you loads of time and is just as good. If you fancy getting experimental with flavoured pastry, try adding ground almonds, cinnamon, citrus zest or nutmeg to your pastry. If you're not keen on the richness of mincemeat then finely dice an apple up and mix it in to make it less intense. Sprinkle icing sugar over your finished mince pies for a sweet, snowy effect.
Gingerbread is really easy to make but if you're not a baker your can always buy a pre-baked gingerbread house and just focus on the decorations. Don't forget to buy extra sweets as quite a few get eaten in the process. We love using jazzies, giant buttons, strawberry laces, dolly mixture and jelly tots to decorate ours!
For an easy no bake make these are easy and delicious. Fun to decorate with little ones these also make a great homemade gift to take to the neighbours as a little festive treat.
We love making these with a decorative festive twist of red smarties and broken pretzels for Rudolphs nose and antlers.
Feed the Birds Christmas Dinner
A lovely way to spend the day on Christmas Eve is by heading outside to the garden to hang food or feeders for the birds, so they have a Christmas dinner of their own the next day. You can also decorate branches and trees outside for some extra festive cheer. If you don't have a garden then just securely fix bird feeders to window boxes.
You can make your own bird feeder fat balls using pinecones or orange skins and lard and some nuts or seeds if you fancy getting crafty.
Hang the Stockings
On Christmas Eve, children hang stockings (a type of large sock) on their fireplaces so that Saint Nicholas (otherwise known as Santa Claus or Father Christmas) can fill their stockings with gifts. Stockings are so exciting, they're full of fun, traditionally you would get a tangerine, a toy and some chocolate coins and maybe a selection pack. These days they're filled full of all sorts of wonderful gifts. See our stocking filler gift guide for more ideas for both children and grown ups.
Icelanders have a beautiful tradition of giving books to each other on Christmas Eve and then spending the night reading. Known as the Christmas Book Flood, or in Icelandic Jólabókaflóðið is a term used for the annual release of new books occurring in the months before Christmas. These books are then purchased as presents to be gifted on Christmas Eve. This tradition makes books the most popular Christmas gift of the country. The tradition extends into the night, when Icelanders will often read their new books and drink hot chocolate. What a lovely way to spend the evening!
Christmas Eve Dinner
A lot of planing goes into festive food, why not start a tradition for Christmas Eve dinner. It doesn't have to be hard work, it could be fish and chips, or a chinese take-away. Or it could be a hearty comforting dish like cottage pie or bolognaise. Perhaps something that brings everyone together like a fondue or tacos, or a make your own pizza?! Whatever you choose it will be fun and memorable!
Christmas Eve Box
Giving your child a Christmas Eve box full of festive treats is an increasingly popular trend for the night before Christmas. This can be packed full of things like activity books, cosy slippers and reindeer food.
Ideas on what to include in a Christmas Eve Box
New pyjamas or snuggly dressing gown - perfect for putting on and getting cosy to watch a Christmas movie
A snuggly blanket to wrap up and get cosy
Bubble bath or a festive bath bomb - perfect for encouraging them to get them bathed and ready for bed!
A letter from Santa! In it, he could tell your child they are on the 'nice list' ... and that he can't wait to see how tidy their bedroom is! He could also make a movie suggestion to watch after bath time.
Hot Chocolate & Marshmallows - a little sachet of hot chocolate to make with a grown up and some marshmallows to sprinkle on top to go with the movie
Chocolates or biscuits - something a little bit special to snack on while watching the movie.
A Christmas Tree Decoration - Add a pretty tree decoration to hang on the Christmas tree. A lovely tradition that means your tree will fill up with memories as the years go by, as the kids can remember what Christmas Eve it was when they received which decoration.
Christmas Glasses - Dressing up is fun! Throw a pair of festive glasses in the box and your child will definitely win the award for best dressed on Christmas morning!
Paper Chains - These are great fun to make for all ages!
Leave a treat for Santa
Everyone knows that Santa needs food and drink to help keep his energy levels up on Christmas Eve. Put out a little glass of something he (and you!) likes, along with a biscuit or a mince pie. Don't forget carrots for Rudolph and the rest of the reindeer, too.
Set the Table for Breakfast
It's great to be ready for Christmas morning and children love to help decorate and it will encourage them to eat some breakfast on Christmas morning too! Let them be as imaginative as they like or guide them through your plan.
I hope you've enjoyed this - let me know if you try any of them or if you have your own Christmas eve traditions that you'd like to share? Let me know in the comments