What to Do on Christmas Eve With Kids

What to Do on Christmas Eve With Kids

With the clamor of Christmas Day stealing the spotlight, it’s all too easy to leave Christmas Eve planning in the dust. But planning some fun winter activities for kids on Christmas Eve can help to build the excitement—and stretch out the seasonal fun to yet another joyful day.

This December, consider spreading out the Christmas spirit by kickstarting some new customs a day early. Whether you’re looking to stay in all day or venture out into the winter weather, there’s sure to be a new tradition or two that the whole family will love.


These 11 sure-to-please activities can solve your question of what to do on Christmas Eve and transform it into a more-than-memorable day for you and the kids.

#1 Tour Your Town’s Christmas Lights

This Christmas activity is the perfect way to venture out of the house without too much effort. Pile everyone into the car with some warm blankets, hot cocoa, put on a Christmas album, and see what you can find!

You can also turn up the fun by transforming the ride into a Christmas decoration scavenger hunt. All you’ll need to do is print out a list of things the kids have to look for from the window. Some ideas of items for your scavenger hunt are:

  • Christmas wreaths 
  • Elves  
  • Sleighs
  • Presents 
  • Reindeer 
  • Colored Christmas lights 
  • Windows with candles 
  • Candy canes 
  • The Grinch 

There are sure to be a good amount of holiday light displays and decorations, whether they’re displayed in houses or shopping centers. Some towns even offer a specially designed holiday light show that you can drive through.


#2 Plan a Game Night

If you’re looking to introduce some friendly competition into Christmas Eve, organize a holiday game night. Here are three unique ideas that require little preparation:

  • Pin the Nose on Rudolph – Not to be confused with Pin the Tail on the Donkey, this game involves hanging up a large photo of Rudolph on a door or wall. It can be drawn or printed out. Then, you spin the blindfolded participant around three times before they attempt to stick a red circle (with a bit of tape on the back) onto Rudolph. 


  • Reindeer Relay Race – This Christmas race is perfect for a larger group. It requires red plastic cups, a bowl, and a ball—that’s it! Each player will put their hands into the red cups, resembling the hooves of a reindeer. Then, in teams, they will need to pass along a white ball until it reaches a bowl. It can be made from wadded-up white paper or a ping-pong ball. The first team to get a set number in their bowl wins.

  • Best Elf – Who in your family would make the best elf? Santa Claus is hiring new elves soon and needs a strong and agile extra helper. Wrap up 10 to 15 empty boxes to look like presents and set them on one end of a room. Each person will attempt to load up with as many presents as they can and then carry them to the other side of the room. Whoever can carry the most without dropping any is hired!

#3 Track Santa’s Journey 

If you haven’t used the NORAD Santa tracker yet, you’re missing out. This website is sponsored by the U.S. Air Force and allows you to track the current location of Santa Claus, as well as view videos. 


Your kids are sure to be mesmerized at the ability to see how close Santa and his sleigh are. Once he starts approaching the United States, typically between 10 pm and midnight, your kids will know when to head off to bed.

#4 Order Takeout for Christmas Dinner 

If you’re looking for a way to cut down on holiday cooking, ordering takeout on Christmas Eve might be your favorite new family tradition. Chances are, you’ll be doing your fair share of holiday meal preparation—so this allows you to take a little break and treat yourselves and the kids to a special meal at the same time.

Some of your local restaurants may be offering a Christmas Eve special. But you can always order takeout like pizza or tacos. Depending on where you live, these are usually available even on the night before Christmas.

#5 Host a Christmas Karaoke Night 

Channel your inner Mariah Carey and set up a proper karaoke party in your living room that the whole family can partake in. There are tons of karaoke videos available on YouTube. You can start building your karaoke playlist with the following tunes:

If anyone in your family is averse to singing (or isn’t old enough to read the lyrics), there’s no need for them to miss out on the fun. Give them a tambourine or drum so they can provide some live percussion.

#6 Make Some Crazy Hot Cocoa

Some of the best Christmas Eve activities are those which combine both sweet treats and creativity. You and your kids are sure to be enthralled by the opportunity to concoct your own crazy hot chocolate creation. 


Set up an at-home hot chocolate bar with the following ingredients: 


  • Several holiday mugs to choose from 
  • Chocolate bars, chocolate syrup, and chocolate powder 
  • Marshmallows in different sizes 
  • Sprinkles 
  • Whipped cream 
  • Peppermint candy canes 
  • Chocolate and vanilla nibs 
  • Cookies 
  • Food coloring
  • Straws and spoons 

Once the kids (and adults) have filled their mugs to the brim, it’s time to enjoy. These are the perfect treat to devour while decked out in Christmas pajamas—which leads us to the next possible tradition.

#7 Throw a Christmas Pajama Party
What’s better than cozying up into a soft new pair of pajamas on a winter day? This tradition has gained quite a bit of popularity, and for a good reason. Exchanging pajamas is an excellent, enjoyable way to start gift-giving a day early, all without risking kids getting too excited over a new toy. 


Check out these festive, soft, and comfy options:

Consider gifting the pajamas on Christmas Eve morning and lounging around in them all day, or gifting them in the evening to have a holiday pajama party. If your kids typically sleep in separate rooms, you could shake things up by throwing a sibling sleepover. This way, they can run straight from the bed to their stockings on Christmas morning. 


#8 End the Night with a Christmas Movie 

Another effortless option is to have an at-home Christmas movie screening. If you have a projector, find a large white wall and project a movie there. If not, a normal television will do the trick.

Here are six films, new and old, that are sure to drop the whole family into the Christmas spirit:

  • A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) 
  • The Polar Express (2004) 
  • Miracle on 34th Street (1947) 
  • A Christmas Carol (2009)
  • Frosty the Snowman (1969) 
  • The Grinch (2000)

Make this movie night extra special by laying out as many pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals as you can. If your couch happens to be a pullout couch, go ahead and open it for extra lounging space.

Don’t forget the snacks, either. A snazzy snack mix can be thrown together in a huge bowl using the following ingredients:

  • Pretzels
  • Green and red M&M’s 
  • Peanuts 
  • Popcorn
  • Cereals like Chex mix 
  • White chocolate chips
  • Small cookies
  • Mini marshmallows 
  • Smashed peppermint sticks 


Assembling this snack bowl can serve as an activity in and of itself! 


#9 Decorate Christmas Ornaments
Looking for simple yet entertaining winter crafts for kids to do on Christmas Eve? Head to your local craft store and pick up clear or white ornaments as a neutral base, along with the following mess-free materials to decorate:

  • Glitter glue and regular glue
  • Paint markers or regular markers 
  • Ribbons
  • Stick-on gems, pom-poms, and stickers
  • Scissors 
  • Printed photos of the kids


If you buy globe ornaments that have a twist-off top, you can also have your kids write a final wish to Santa and place it in before hanging it on the Christmas tree. Don’t forget to set out some newspapers below the workstation for easy post-creation cleanup.

#10 Design a Gratitude Poster 

Practicing gratitude before receiving gifts on Christmas Day is an excellent way for everyone in the family to reflect on everything they have. Studies show that counting your blessings, especially as teens, can boost your optimism and satisfaction with life.


You most likely won’t have to pick up any new materials, either. Paper of any size and color, along with coloring materials, will suffice. Once they’re all finished, hang them on a wall where Santa can appreciate them.  


#11 Curl Up with a New Book 

In Iceland, there’s a Christmas Eve tradition known as Yule Book Flood (or Jolabokaflod), where families exchange and enjoy new books together each year. You can add a Yule Book Flood to your own Christmas traditions by gifting each of your kids a shiny new Christmas book to enjoy. Pick a book up at a local bookstore or see if other families have Christmas books from years past they’d like to exchange.

Who knows—reading a holiday story or two on Christmas Eve might even help to lull your kids to sleep and help calm their excitement about opening presents in the morning.

Celebrate Christmas Eve with RuffleButts 

Whichever of these Christmas traditions you choose to incorporate into this year’s Christmas Eve, you’re sure to create lasting memories. Don’t stress too much about filling every second up, either—a few fun activities in festive outfits will have everyone feeling the holiday spirit.

With the right ensemble, your kids are sure to enjoy the day even more in adorable and festive outfits. This holiday season, Rufflebutts has you covered whether you are looking for Christmas outfits for girls or boys we have everything from bows to button-downs. Shop our Christmas collection in our Holiday Shop as you count down the days until Christmas Eve.  




Journal of School Psychology. Counting blessings in early adolescents. doi:10.1016/j.jsp.2007.03.005 (berkeley.edu)


Country Living. What is Jolabokaflod? - Iceland's "Christmas Book Flood".  https://www.countryliving.com/life/a46204/jolabokaflod-iceland-christmas-reading-tradition/