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‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.’

Sounds pretty boring doesn’t it? Instead, we want to make sure your youngsters are filled with festive excitement and joy before bed, and as soon as they wake up – which, let’s face it, won’t be far behind! Wondering what to do on Christmas Eve to make this year extra special? We’ve come up with 5 Christmas Eve ideas for kids.

From fun things to do on Christmas Eve, to secret surprises you can lay on ahead of Christmas morning, we’ll look at Christmas Eve box ideas, and a few tips for what they can leave out for Santa (and his reindeer of course!).

Christmas Eve Ideas: Children Decorating the Tree

What to do on Christmas Eve: Pre bedtime

‘The sooner you go to bed, the sooner Santa will come…’. We’ve all tried that one, but don’t waste such precious family time. Just this once they can stay up a bit later. At least that way they’ll sleep right through the night without disturbing the big man on his chimney descent, which gives you a little more time to carry out some of the other fun post-bedtime Christmas Eve ideas we’ve set out below! Fuel their excitement with some of these festive family activities:

Christmas Eve Ideas

Christmas Eve box ideas

If you’ve looking for things to do on Christmas Eve, other than watching films and eating chocolate (and there’s nothing wrong with that!), Christmas Eve boxes have become a popular investment for families across Britain. Struggling to resist their demands to open a present early? Well, now you don’t have to.

What should your box be made of? It could be anything from a recycled shoe box, to a purpose-bought wooden box engraved with your family surname on that you can use year after year. The important thing is that it is robust enough to last a few years to keep up with your family tradition.

What do you put in Christmas Eve boxes?

You can fill them with anything you like; from hot chocolate sachets and chocolate coins, to socks, pyjamas, slippers, teddies – even family pictures and cards. A good guide is to go with some small gifts that carry an evening theme, but don’t detract from the goodies they’ll be opening the following day.

A ceremonial Christmas Eve box opening is a lovely way to get everyone in the spirit and in the present opening mode! And if your box contains a DVD…

Movie Christmas Ideas for Kids

Watch a Christmas movie

What to do on Christmas Eve? An obvious one, but there’s no better way to spend your night than snuggled up on the sofa together watching a festive classic. Whether it’s Miracle on 34th Street, Elf or A Christmas Carol, crack open a box of mince pies, open up your favourite selection box and sprinkle your lounge with Christmas sparkle.

Christmas Eve Ideas for Baking

Bake some Christmas biscuits for them and the tree

Festive baking is one of the best things to do on Christmas Eve. So get them in the spirit and into the kitchen by making up a batch of these easy Christmas cookies. They’re a delicious treat and make a delightful addition to your Christmas tree.

To make a batch of 36, you will need:

  • 100g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 275g plain flour
  • 400g icing sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp water
  • 2-3 drops food colourings and sparkly edible decoration

Preheat the oven to 190°C and cover your baking tray with greaseproof paper. Ask one of your helpers to mix together the butter and sugar until pale, light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and your vanilla extract until well combined before stirring in the flour and a dough is formed.

Roll the dough out on a lightly floured work surface to a thickness of around 1cm and, using a festive shaped biscuit cutter, cut biscuits out of the dough. If you want to use them as Christmas decorations to nibble on throughout the holiday, puncture a hole in the top of your biscuit with a drinking straw. Bake the biscuits for 10 minutes, or until pale golden-brown. Set aside to harden and then cool on a wire rack.

To decorate, sift the icing sugar into a large mixing bowl and stir in enough water to create a smooth mixture. Stir in any necessary food colouring. Carefully spread the icing onto the biscuits using a knife and sprinkle on your edible decorations. Thread with ribbon once set and hang on the tree.

Christmas Eve Illustration

What to do on Christmas Eve: After they’re tucked in

Next on the list of Christmas Eve ideas for kids is strictly to be kept secret from little prying ears! These are brilliant ways to fuel their imagination and surprise and delight as they wake.

Leave some treats out for Santa and the reindeers

OK, so you can let them in on this one initially, as they can help you leave some well-deserved nourishment out for the famous Christmas Eve visitor and his loyal steeds. But after that, it’s up to you to devour the contents of the plate before they wake up.

Christmas Eve Ideas for Kids

What to leave out for Santa?

Tradition dictates a mince pie, a small shot of brandy for the cold, and of course, a carrot for his reindeer. All available in the award-winning range of food and drinks at your local SPAR. Want to get a bit more creative? Here are a few more Christmas Eve ideas based on traditions around the world:

  • Cookies
  • Milk
  • Straw or oats for the reindeer
  • Chocolate
  • Turkey sandwiches (as he may miss his own Christmas dinner on his travels)
  • Ale, wine or stout (often dependant on the taste of mummy or daddy!)
Christmas Eve Ideas for Kids: Writing a List

A good accompaniment to the plate of goodies is a personalised letter to Santa to say thank you for his visit. Then, once they have gone to bed, handwrite a response from Santa to say how much he enjoyed the treats and how they have secured a spot on the nice list for next year. You can do this after you have enjoyed what’s been left out…

Leave Some Evidence He’s Been

When they wake up and see the piles of presents and the empty plate they’ll probably be pretty convinced that they’ve had a visit. But imagine the looks on their faces when they see the evidence left behind! Leaving some Santa footprints is a lovely Christmas Eve idea that will enchant the little ones, and won’t cause too much of a clean up operation – we promise! 

Santa Footprints made of Baking Soda

How to make Santa footprints:

All you will need is a pair of men’s boots or wellies, baking soda, some card and a pair of scissors. Once they are safely tucked up in bed and out for the count, simply take your pair of boots and stand them on your card. Draw around the sole with a pencil and then cut out the middle of each so you have a sheet of card with two boot shaped holes in it. Cut the card in half so that each foot is separate and you can lay them out in a walking pattern across the floor: from fireplace to tree, to plate of treats and back to fireplace again.

Simply lay your stencil on the floor of your lounge and pour on the baking soda to leave behind what looks like a snowy footprint. Then the following morning, after their faces have lit up, you just need to vacuum the soda up again. The beauty of using this is that it is easy to clean up and good for your carpet – it provides you with a clean, great smelling floor ahead of your Christmas Day celebrations!

Christmas Tree Decorations

For more Christmas Eve ideas for kids, head to SPAR

Now you know what to do on Christmas Eve, head to SPAR. Find ingredients for your cookies, contents for your Christmas Eve box ideas and snacks leave out for Santa at your local convenience store! Find everything you need for the big day, and last-minute essentials you may have forgotten, with stores open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Looking for more things to do on Christmas Eve? Sign up to our E-newsletter for regular foodie and seasonal updates.


Merry Christmas, from SPAR!