10 christmas eve traditions to start with your kids

10 christmas eve traditions: radmomcoolkid

This post may contain affiliate links.

The night before Christmas is such a fun time for families.  You create memories that last forever.  Lane and I really want to incorporate our childhood traditions into our lives, while still creating our own as well.  Tough balance!  But, the bottom line is, I want to make sure that I make memories with my kids that they will always carry with them.  With it just around the corner, here is a list of 10 Christmas eve traditions to start with your kids!

1. Ditch the big Christmas eve dinner

Christmas is stressful enough.  You’re up late, getting up early, trying to make everything perfect… why add a huge Christmas Eve meal to that list?  Try a pizza party, or order take out.  Make it something special that you don’t do often.  That way your kids can look forward to it every year.  We do Belgian waffles with strawberries, chocolate and whipped cream at my house.  It’s easy to make and easy to clean up.  If you still want to keep the big Christmas Eve dinner, think about moving it to the Sunday before Christmas.  Or, eat it off of paper plates. Cut yourself a break and don’t spend Christmas Eve doing dishes!

2. Go swimming

My parents introduced this tradition to us when I was about 7.  I just thought they were the best parents ever….little did I know that they were trying to wear me out so I would go to bed earlier/easier.  But, we loved it!  We would take a bunch of water toys and spend 2-3 hours playing hard in the water, and then come home, eat waffles and crash.  Trust me, this is the easiest way to wear your kids out and get them to sleep so the big man in a red coat can do his thang. There are quite a few indoor rec centers that are open on Christmas Eve.  American Fork and Provo are both great places to go!

3. Christmas Jammies

I know a lot of families receive a pair of Christmas jammies every year.  Such a fun tradition!  Get your kids all ready for the night by giving them a warm pair of jammies.  They are excited because they get to open a gift.  You’re excited because you got them that pair of pajamas they need, got them ready for bed, and because there is nothing like snuggling your babies after they are all changed into their new jim-jams.  3 birds, 1 stone my friends.

10 christmas eve traditions: radmomcoolkid

4. Christmas Movie

This is one of my favorite Christmas Eve traditions.  There is nothing like a Christmas movie.  This is the perfect way to wind down on Christmas Eve.  Get your family all settled down next to the tree, sip some hot cocoa, and put in your favorite holiday flick.  Our family tradition is ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, but there are soooo many you can choose from!  To hear about some of Briton’s favorites, check out this post.

5. Letters to Christ

Often times, we get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays, that we forget the reason for the season.  This tradition will bring Christ back to the center of your Christmas.  Have your family sit down together and write individual letters to Christ.  In these letters, make spiritual goals or ‘gifts’ to give to Christ over the next year.  Every Christmas Eve, read the letter you wrote the year before.  You can place the written letters in a special stocking that you can hang from the fire place among your family stockings.  I know this might sound a little strange to some.  I have found, however, that it really does keep me thinking about Christ more.  Reflecting on our spiritual goals and my relationship with Christ helps keep that spirit year round.

6. Nativity Play

There is nothing cuter than 5 year olds acting out the Nativity play.  As you can see from the picture below…. It’s not as cute when you are 16 and hating your parents/life in general. Nope, definitely not as cute. I still love watching other people do it.  Whether you just read the nativity story or your family acts it out, it is a great way to get your kids familiar with the birth of Christ. Plus, kids have fun working together to make costumes out of everyday items.

10 christmas eve traditions: radmomcoolkid

7. Christmas Book

Giving your kids a book the night before Christmas is another great way to get them to wind down and end the evening.  If they don’t have the attention span to sit through a movie, consider having them unwrap a Christmas book and reading it to them.  Turn the lights down, sit close to the tree and soak in those memories! My mom gave us The Christmas Alphabet Book last year.  It is gorgeous!  It’s basically an origami/paper cut out Christmas book.  It is my favorite book we have received so far! Don’t let Lane’s confused face fool you in the pic below.  He loves it too.  That’s his look of awe.

10 christmas eve traditions: radmomcoolkid

8. Secret Santa

Have your kids secretly choose each other’s name’s out of a hat.  Set a small dollar amount and hit a store together.  Split your kids up between the parents and set out to buy a gift for the chosen sibling.  Make it like a secret mission! Avoid being seen by the other team.  Afterwards, exchange gifts.  Your kids will have a blast swapping stories about sneaking around the store.

9. Service

There are so many great opportunities to serve on Christmas Eve.  I can’t think of a better way to display Christ-like charity than to give service.  You can always contact Food and Care Coalition for things that need to be done or go sing carols for the elderly.  But, if your kids are younger, think about dropping off gifts or a treat anonymously to someone in need.  What kid doesn’t love ringing a doorbell and running?  Plus, kids KNOW when they have done something good for someone else.  Those are the kinds of feelings that stick with them!

10. Christmas Lights

There is always Temple Square to see.  You can also pile in the car; hit some neighborhoods or even Thanksgiving point to see more.  If your kids fight with each other in the car…. This may or may not be a pleasant experience for you.  It wasn’t for my parents until we were like….in our twenties.

10 christmas eve traditions: radmomcoolkid

Some of these traditions we still do, some we have never done and some we have stopped doing.  That’s the beauty of traditions though, they can change based on your family (see Fiddler on the Roof).  Find what works for you.  It doesn’t have to be elaborate or cost a ton. The important thing is the memories you are creating together.    Even the smallest of traditions will stick with your kids and bring a spirit of unity to your family.  I hope you have a great Christmas season and get to soak up every minute with those you love!

Check out these products to help get your traditions started.

Looking for more Christmas traditions? Check out Brit’s HERE!

Don’t miss our Holiday Gift and Style Guides!

Holiday Gift and Style Guides www.radmomcoolkid.com

Sponsors // Affiliates


  1. Fantastic post! I’m always thinking about new traditions we can create together as a young family. Love keeping Christ as the center of Christmas.

  2. Christmas Jammies were always my favorite as a kid growing up!

  3. Great ideas! I love the Letters to Christ! My daughter is probably old enough to do that this year!

  4. love these! No kids at the moment, but our family traditions include pajamas every year as gifts, tamales with my bf’s mom every year, and going to the Mission Inn to see Christmas Lights (they have an entire display that spans several blocks) ♥

  5. i love the idea of swimming except we live in pittsburgh:( my little one would just loooove it if we could swim on xmas eve!!

  6. All good ideas, but we could never ditch the big Christmas Eve family dinner, in the Cuban (and most Latin) cultures that’s a huge tradition that we look forward to, Noche Buena!

  7. So excited to find your blog and that you’re local. I mentioned on FB that we fondue on Christmas Eve. I LOVE the idea of writing a letter to Christ on Christmas Eve. I’ve tried for several years to have a special unremarkably wrapped gift under the tree for Christmas morning to bring our focus back to the Saviour (a painting, new Scriptures, etc) but it has been a big failure getting lost in all the hubbub. We’re definitely going to try this out this year.

  8. I love this list especially number five. It never even dawned on me to have the kids write letters to Christ. That’s definitely one that I am going to keep in mind going forward.

  9. Why did I not think to take the kids swimming?! That one is definitely my favorite.

  10. Isabelle Sladek says:

    This is a great site. My husband just started dialysis and not sure of his future and a bit down in the dumps at this wonderful time of the year. Our daughter and her family live in Ontario and our son is busy with his wife and his little . But a wonderful tradition we did when the kids were young was going as family carolling, going to dinner and thinking of others on Christmas eve.We loved to go and pick a Christmas tree together or when my husband and neighbors would go out by Cochrane and pick a tree and bring it home. We also would read the Christmas story together and sing of the savior.

  11. Kim Lester says:

    Singing happy birthday to my son he was born on Christmas Day


  1. […] mom COOL kid – 10 Christmas Eve Traditions to start with your kids The 36th Avenue – 25 Christmas Traditions Six Sister’s STUFF – 25 Family […]

  2. […] If you can’t get enough of it, don’t miss this and this! […]

  3. […] 10 Christmas Eve Traditions from Rad Mom, Cool Kid […]

Rad Mom Cool Kid

Rad Mom Cool Kid