Most people are so fixated by Christmas Day and all the planning that goes along with it that most of them forget about Christmas Eve. I firmly believe that the magic and wonder shouldn’t be left to just one day. It’s all over way too quickly for me anyway. So to make the magic last that much longer, I’ve come up with some special ways to celebrate those days leading up to the Big Day.
1. The Christmas Eve Meal.
Every year when I was a kid my grandmother used to pull off this amazing meal that we only had on Christmas Eve called the feast of the seven fishes. I don’t know why my Grandmother did it, could have been we lived in and Italian neighborhood and they were all doing it, all I know is, I looked forward to it every year. My grandmother would fry up different kinds of fish and we would have shrimp cocktail. She made these amazing fried potatoes that she only cooked once a year and boy did I look forward to Christmas Eve if for no other reason than I got to eat those potatoes. Today, I still carry on the tradition, sort of, my husband is allergic to fish and can only eat fried clams. I only make clams and one type of fish, I’m really only in it for the potatoes anyway. Point is make something special for Christmas Eve dinner too.
2. The Cookies
I know most people do a cookie exchange in December and start baking up goodies as soon as the month starts, I like to wait until Christmas Eve to do it or even the day before that, if I have a lot to make. I do this because the kids are excited and making dozens of cookies keeps them busy. When I was a kid we would make at least a million pizzelles for the neighbors. I didn’t keep that tradition up, mostly because I don’t have a press. We do make cookies and cakes. Lots of them.
I know most people do exchange one gift on Christmas Eve and we are no exception. We do it with a twist. Every person (even the adults) gets a shirt box. In this shirt box (called their Christmas Eve Box) are their Christmas Pajamas and one small gift. The small gift could be anything from a favorite snack to a little spa kit or crayons and a coloring book. For the adults something a tad naughty might be fun too. It’s just a little something to tide the kids over to the big day and can be fun for the parents as well.
4. Christmas Pajamas
If you don’t know the importance of this, I’m going to tell you. ALWAYS buy your kids new Christmas Pajamas. Nothing looks better in those Christmas pictures, when the kids are ripping open presents than seeing them in adorable brand new and clean PJs. This year, I got footsie ones for me, the hubby wouldn’t wear them so I didn’t bother. Every year the kids look forward to their Christmas PJs. I can totally see them as adults wondering why they didn’t get pajamas in their Christmas Eve boxes.
5. Board Games
My family usually reserved the Monopoly marathons for Thanksgiving but if you’re a family that loves board games, there’s no better way to pass the night. If your family has a favorite one this could be the night to dust it off and make some memories.
6. Movie Night
This is what we usually wind up doing. After snacks and the Christmas Eve gifts have been given out, we put on our family Christmas movie of choice, A Christmas Story. We watch it every single year. I have watched it every single year since the day I was born it feels like. In my opinion, there is no better Christmas movie. It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle of 34th Street can just suck it.
7. Couple Time
This is important, I know most people when they think of Christmas, it’s all about the kids. It’s not. Somewhere in all of the crazy of the next few days, you need to make time in the day for your spouse, You’ve both been working hard to pull together a great holiday for the family, pause and enjoy the fruits of your labor together. Once the kids are in bed on Christmas Eve, put on some music, make some cocktails and just sit on the couch and talk. The ambiance of the twinkle lights is very romantic. Just enjoy each other’s company. On Christmas morning if you have a special gift for your spouse give it to them in bed before you go get the kids. That way you can enjoy the moment together without all the chaos. Just find little ways throughout this time to reconnect as a couple, it’s your holiday too.
8. Extended Relations.
I know Christmas is all about family and what not but can we all just admit that having to schlep kids around on Christmas Day is a pain in the arse. All they want to do is stay at home and play with what they got. They really don’t want to go anywhere and I don’t blame them. If you can, make a new rule, until the kids are teens, you stay home. Have a party the day before or the day after Christmas. In our family, we get together with my In-Laws on Christmas Eve. We have a little get together and exchange gifts then. The younger ones know these are gifts their grandparents bought for them and that Santa brings the “real” stuff on Christmas. That way everyone gets to stay home on Christmas Day and just relax and enjoy themselves. Just try it one year, you’ll be glad you did.
9. Christmas Lights
On Christmas Eve, right after dinner we pile in the car and go for a drive. The reason, to look at all the decorated houses. We put on the radio station that plays all Christmas songs and just ride around for thirty minutes. It kills time and the kids enjoy pointing out the ones they liked and didn’t like. One year we took them to one of those light shows, never again. By the time we got up to it to do the drive through, half the kids were asleep.Driving through neighborhoods is easy and free. Just scope some out while you’re driving back and forth to work and then that night have a blast singing songs and making fun of the poorly decorated houses.
10. No Early Risers
The most important tradition for us is that the kids know that they can not wake us up early on Christmas Morning. It never happens, ever. If they wake up early they play quietly in their room with their Christmas Eve toys until we wake up and tell them okay let’s go, Then you can bet they’re knocking us over running down the steps. This ensures that no one is grumpy Christmas Morning and that we all have a wonderful start to an awesome day.
I hope some of these will inspire you to extend the magic a little longer. To all my readers, have a wonderful Christmas and since Hanukkah came early this year, if you celebrate that I hope that it was wonderful as well. I hope the New Year keeps us all in good health and that happiness is never in short supply. Enjoy your families, your days off and please don’t forget to eat the cookies the kids left out, like I always do.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
Michelle and the Tribe