12 Old-School Christmas Eve Traditions We’ll Never Give Up:-There is magic in the air during the holidays. Lights twinkle in people’s windows, Christmas songs play on the radio, and happiness seems to color every encounter. Although Christmas Day is pretty magical, Christmas Eve might be even more so.
Families sit around the tree, open one set of gifts, and kids rush off to bed without a peep because they can’t wait for Santa to come down the chimney. We will never, ever give up these beloved old-school Christmas Eve practices, like setting out cookies and milk and reading “The Night Before Christmas.”
12 Old-School Christmas Eve Traditions We’ll Never Give Up
Getting ready for Christmas dinner
- Many families’ big holiday gathering is on Christmas Eve, when everyone sits down to the most festive meal of the year. You can be sure that no detail is missed when it comes to decorating.
- This is the time for hosts to bring out their most loved holiday plates, silver, and heirloom table linens (all of which will be ironed, of course). They may also add personal touches like handwritten place cards and magnolia centerpieces picked from the backyard.
Going to a church service
- For many families, Christmas Eve doesn’t start until everyone is in their Sunday best and tucked into a bench. Different churches have different services, but many of them celebrate by singing “Silent Night” by candles. This is one of the last signs that Christmas is almost here.
Giving Santa Milk and Cookies
- To teach our kids early on about hospitality, we teach them that it’s rude to wait for visitors with gifts and not give them something to eat and drink. That’s why you need to leave Santa milk and cookies. There’s no real rule about what kind of sweets we should give Saint Nick—a plate of pralines or bourbon balls will make him just as happy, if not happier!
“The Night Before Christmas” to read
- It doesn’t matter if your kids aren’t reading yet or are in the middle of high school—every year they have to read this famous Christmas story by the tree. What’s the only thing that changes when kids get older? Which person is reading? Your parents need a break every once in a while.
Putting on matching pajamas
- We often put our kids in clothes that go together all year, but during the holidays, we parents also have to wear clothes that go together. Putting on holiday pajamas as a group is the best thing ever, and it makes for especially happy photos on Christmas morning, provided everyone has had their coffee.
Carols to Sing
- We might not be able to take our singing skills (or lack thereof) on the road, but we can’t really celebrate Christmas until we sing along to our favorite holiday songs at home. If your family still prints out song sheets, that’s even better.
Seeing “It’s a Wonderful Life”
- We love a lot of holiday movies, like White Christmas and Miracle on 34th Street, but the black-and-white 1946 classic starring James Stewart and Donna Reed really makes us feel things. A tear will almost certainly not be dry in the house when Zuzu Bailey says the movie’s most famous line: “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings!”
Getting one set of gifts early
- For kids who have been looking forward to Santa’s visit since December 26 of the previous year, not being able to open their presents until Christmas morning can be unbearable. That’s why we’ll always love the custom of letting each family member open one gift early. Usually, it’s something small or that can be used right away, like clothes that match.
Putting the stockings up
- We all know that you’re not really part of the family until your in-laws get you a personalized stocking with your name on it. Similarly, you can’t go to sleep on Christmas Eve until the stockings have been carefully hung on the wall, preferably needlepointed and personalized with the family’s names.
Putting up Christmas Crackers
- This custom comes from Victorian-era England, but it has become a fun part of many Southern families’ celebrations. They pop the paper-wrapped tubes open to find paper crowns that they wear for fun for the rest of the night.
Making a (very important) birthday cake
- Many families have a small birthday party for Jesus by making him a cake and saying “Happy Birthday.” This helps them remember why we celebrate the season.
Putting the Nativity Scene together
- Many families put baby Jesus in the manger of the crèche all season long, but others choose to hide him until Christmas Eve. That’s when they finally put the small figure in the manger to finish the scene.
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