5 Simple Christmas Eve Traditions your Family will Love

For me as a child, nothing compared to the magic of Christmas eve.

The memories of warm fires, family time, good company, and the burning anticipation; it all hits me in a wave of nostalgia this time of year, and inspires me to come up with special traditions for my own family to look back on.

My hope is that they will carry the same joyful Christmas spirit in their lives that I do, and subsequently, spread the goodness that accompanies the holiday season.

It warms my heart to think the traditions we begin in our boys’ early lives, will likely be the same ones we practice 10-15 years from now!

Christmas eve traditions

But I’m also a firm believer that it is never too late to create a tradition, or to add something new to spice up the holiday as well.

For example, the pickle ornament idea is something my parents incorporated on our holiday traditions list when we were teenagers. Now it’s a Christmas Eve staple!

And we certainly can’t dismiss the importance of family traditions in general. Studies show family traditions are the basis in creating family culture. Traditions nurture bonds between siblings and parents, and develop a sense of familial belonging. All good stuff!

Whether you’re stocking up on ideas for future Christmas Eves or right in the thick of it with your own family, here are 5 Unique Family Traditions for Christmas Eve.

The Pickle Ornament Hunt

This is one of my favorite Christmas eve traditions, and a game that I know my boys will delight in for years to come. It’s quite simple, first the pickle ornament is hidden deep in the branches of the tree.

Then, the hunters search high and low until they discover the bright green pickle and win a prize. We usually make the winnings monetary, but another fun piece to this, would be allowing the winning child to open one gift!

The winner of the pickle prize is also said to have been gifted a year of good fortune.

Link to download your own pickle below!

Make Reindeer Food

How is it fair that Santa gets to eat all the treats, while the reindeer carry the heavy load? Something must be done to balance this careless injustice!

Have your kids whip up some snacks for the reindeer with this fun reindeer food recipe:

Start with any of these base ingredients:

  • Oats
  • Cheerios
  • Chex Mix
  • Bird seed

Then add the mix-ins:

  • Chocolate chips
  • Marshmallows
  • M&Ms
  • Chopped carrots or celery
  • Nuts
  • Craisins/raisins
  • Sprinkles or edible glitter

Have kids sprinkle the reindeer food on the deck, patio, ground or wherever they’re assuming the reindeer will land for the evening.

Winter Hike

For a holiday that can get choked up on the consumer and commercialism, why not get back to the basics with a winter hike!

Bundle up and head out on a nature trail.

Christmas Eve book Exchange

In the country of Iceland there is a Christmas eve tradition called Jólabókaflóð (I think I spelled that right!) where each family member gifts the other a book to read, and afterwards, the evening is spent cuddled up reading together.

Iceland has a rich legacy of being extremely well-read. The country has more writers, more books published and more books read, per head, than anywhere else in the world.

This “Yule Book Flood” inspires a cozy evening with parents snuggled up reading new books to their kids, or quietly by the fire with some hot cocoa after bedtime.

As a big advocate for literacy and a self proclaimed bookworm looking to pass on a love for reading to my kids, I can’t love this tradition enough!

Cookie Baking Contest

Cookies, sweets, treats, whatever your family prefers, make it a baking competition!

Have each person choose a new recipe (or a new spin on a family favorite) and vote on which one takes the proverbial cake.

Christmas eve traditions

Another idea on the topic of sweets is to celebrate with Holiday cheer in the form of Hot Cocoa! Warm up the evening with a Hot Cocoa bar.

Allow kids to come up with their own creations, from whipped cream toppings to those super fun Hot chocolate bombs that are everywhere on Pinterest right now.


We hope you’re able to incorporate atleast one of these fantastic traditions into your Christmas eve!

For more holiday cheer- check out our DIY scrabble tile ornament!

Christmas Eve

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  • Mimi

    As an avid reader, I’d definitely love the book one

    December 23, 2020 at 10:49 am Reply
  • Marta

    I love all of these. My kiddos are so excited about the book exchange! They are avid readers and are really looking forward to getting some new books. Thank you for sharing.

    December 23, 2020 at 9:18 pm Reply
  • Halimeh Salem

    These traditions are fun

    December 24, 2020 at 12:44 am Reply
  • Cassie

    I forgot about the pickle hunt! SO FUN! I love all of the ideas you shared.

    December 24, 2020 at 9:49 am Reply
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