Things to do on Christmas Eve; 20 fun family ideas! 

Ever wondered about what Christmas eve activities might be suitable for the whole family? Here are 20 ideas for things to do on Christmas eve that may just become fun Christmas eve traditions for you!


It’s the Christmas season, full of sparkling lights, visits to Santa, and activities for the whole family. Every year, Christmas brings families together, and in doing so, traditions are made. Though Christmas Day is the time for presents, festivities, family time, Christmas food and religious celebrations, Christmas Eve is the perfect day for spending time with intimate and extended family. So what activities can you do that everyone, young and old, can enjoy? Perhaps you already have your Christmas Eve traditions, but in case you’re looking for some inspiration, here are 20 activities that you might like.

What are some Christmas Eve Activities that are fun for the whole family?

1. Watch Christmas movies together

Of course, you can’t watch all the amazing Christmas movies available in one day, but there’s plenty of time to throw in a Christmas movie here or there or have them playing in the background. Some favorites include: Home Alone, Elf, Jingle All the Way, and Klaus. If you’re looking for the classics, try these: White Christmas, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Holiday Inn, and It’s A Wonderful Life.

This is probably my favourite Christmas eve tradition, paired with getting the cookies, milk (or Baileys) and carrots ready for Santa and the reindeer.

2. Make a gingerbread house together

This activity is especially fun for the kids, but let’s be honest, adults also like to indulge in candy and icing every now and then. What better way to do that than to go all out and make a gingerbread house (or more than one) with your family? Stores have made it very convenient with gingerbread house kits that have everything you need. If you’re feeling energetic, however, make the gingerbread yourself and shop for all the tasty treats you can nibble on as you decorate your house. This is one that I particularly enjoyed doing with Andy a few times, allowing him to destroy it and eat it once we were done (and after a photo had been taken of course).

things to do on christmas eve, gingerbread house
Making a gingerbread house with Andy and my family is one of my favourite Christmas eve activities, especially watching him destroy it when we’re done!

3. Go see Christmas lights

There’s no need to stay cooped up in the house all day. Plenty of Christmas Eve activities can happen outside the home, one of those being a nice walk around the neighborhood to see the Christmas lights and decorations everyone has adorned their house with. Not a fan of walking? Usher everyone into the car(s), and drive around looking at the lights. You could have classic Christmas tunes playing in the car too!

4. Go caroling

Here’s another out of the house activity your family can partake in. And chances are, even if your crazy Aunt Edna sings ferociously loud and horribly off-key, no one cares because of a lovely thing we like to call “holiday spirit”… Do you have a favorite Christmas carol?

things to do on christmas eve, caroling
Caroling is a favourite with many people on Christmas eve, and can bring a lot of joy and Christmas spirit.

5. Have a neighborhood Christmas Eve party

Don’t want to keep Christmas Eve activities to just the family? Really enjoy getting together with your neighbors? What better time to host a neighborhood Christmas Eve party. Ask people to bring a plate so that all the food prep stress isn’t placed on you, open up the backyard for plenty of space to congregate and play yard games, and enjoy keeping the family at home.

6. Board game night with Christmas music and Xmas cookies

Christmas music and Christmas cookies are staples at this time of year. Pair the two with a night (or day) of fun, competitive board games (or Christmas board games) and everyone will be happy. Get out the kids’ games, card games, strategy games, maybe even play Christmas charades, and dive in. A hot chocolate wouldn’t go astray either, I’m sure.

7. Open one present each

This one will be well received by the children in the family, but it’s also exciting for adults to rip open presents, especially a day early. Choose one gift, and let the excitement of Christmas Day begin a little early. If you’re a family that likes to wear matching Christmas pajamas on Christmas morning, this is your time to reveal them.

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Open one present each on Christmas eve? Personally, not for me.. but I know many families do..

8. Host a baking day

This can be done with family or friends or both. Find those traditional Christmas sweets recipes, throw in a few new recipes, and bake the day away. If you find yourself with so many goodies that you don’t know what to do with, make up a tray, and go around the neighborhood sharing your delicious creations.

9. Snuggle up and read

Nobody said that Christmas Eve needed to be busy. Stay in your PJs or throw on comfy clothes, grab your favorite, cozy blanket, and curl up in your favorite spot to read. If you have little ones or a significant other, let each one choose their favorite book, and snuggle up on the couch to read aloud. This is a great time to read of Jesus’s birth in the Bible, if you so choose.

10. Have a wrapping party

Are you someone that waits until Christmas Eve to wrap all of your presents? You’re not alone. Make it an official day, filled with snacks, drinks, wrapping paper, tape, gift tags, scissors and all the gifts. Of course, you might have to retreat to another room to wrap certain gifts, but involve the rest of the family as much as possible so the task isn’t just left to you.

11. Pre-Christmas beach day

Who says you can only have one beach day? Grab those swimsuits, loungers, coolers, snack bags and Candy canes, and hit the beach. This allows the adults to sit back and relax while the kids splash in the water and create castles in the sand, or you could play holiday games together at the beach! Just don’t forget the sun protection!

christmas activities, beach day xmas
Christmas eve at the beach? Beats the rush of the shopping centres on Xmas eve.. that’s for sure, just don’t forget the hats and sunscreen!

12. Christmas eve church service

Many churches offer Christmas Eve services. If this is something your family partakes in, dress in your Sunday best and head to church for singing, worshipping, possibly even a candlelight service. If there are multiple home churches amongst the group, rotate where you attend with your family each year.

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13. Hit up a Christmas market

Christmas markets provide so many great things: delicious food and drink, unique gifts, and beautiful scenery. Walk through rows of wooden stands selling goods, grab a bevvie and some BBQ as you meander, and take in the dazzling lit-up Christmas trees.

14. Take a picture with Santa

If your little one has yet to be photographed by a long-bearded, overly-plump bellied, jolly old Santa, head out to the nearest festivity or department store and get in line. Be sure and ask your little one beforehand what they want Santa to bring them so they know what to say when they approach him.

15. Carols by Candlelight

Melbourne’s Sidney Myer Music Bowl would be a phenomenal experience for the whole family. Not only do you get to hear beautiful music brought to you by a 30 person choir, two solo performers, and the Metropolitan Fire Brigade band, but the donations go to helping children who are blind or have limited vision. I also have fond memories of watching the Christmas carols on the TV with my family, while helping mum wrap last-minute gifts.

16. Christmas crafts

Children may not automatically drift toward the craft table, but they’ll quickly get into the spirit once they spot the glitter glue, markers, paint sticks, scissors, and colored paper. Let’s be honest, the adults will enjoy it, too. So grab your kids and set up an art area (kitchen table, desk, out on the lawn, etc.). Cut out snowflakes, glue together a snowman, decorate Christmas trees, and string together paper garlands until the house looks like Christmas exploded inside. You can check out this article HERE for ideas on different Christmas crafts to do with kids.

17. Have a special Christmas Eve dinner

We all have our traditions, and Christmas Eve dinner might be one that’s set in stone, but if it’s not, plan something a little different this year. Does Christmas Eve always consist of prawns or bbq? Not this year. This year, Christmas Eve dinner is a roast in the oven or a pizza baked on the grill out on the back patio. Want to stretch even further? Try your hand at Korean BBQ or homemade Sushi. Just make sure no one ends up with food poisoning as their present on Christmas morn. In my family, we prefer a whole afternoon or evening of various Christmas nibbles..with drinks of course.

things to do on christmas eve, christmas dinner
A Christmas eve dinner with family and/or friends can be a lovely tradition. In my family, we prefer a whole afternoon or evening of various Christmas nibbles..with drinks of course.

18. Gift a Christmas Eve box

Yes, we’ve already mentioned everyone opening up a gift, but this idea is a bit different from that. A Christmas Eve box is to be opened by everyone. Go ahead, throw in the matching pajamas, but other ideas could include: a game for the family to play together, a movie to be watched by all, or a book that everyone can enjoy. The best thing about a Christmas Eve box is that the box reappears each year. So, find that perfect cedar box or simply use a cardboard box decorated and added to as the years go by. You could also use Christmas stockings for this idea.

19. Host an ornament exchange

Most everyone that puts up a tree for the Christmas season adorns it with ornaments. What truly makes this special is that ornaments have their own story. Hosting an ornament exchange is a great way to show a friend or family member that they’re special; after all, you’ve chosen an ornament that means something to you that you’re gifting to another.

20. Donate to the Children’s Hospital

Talk to your children about the importance of thinking about others, especially at this time of year, and make them aware that there are always people (or other children) that are not as lucky as us. There are always children who will spend Christmas in hospital, so I like to make a donation of gifts to the children’s hospital where Andy frequents each year for his health issues, and use this opportunity to encourage Andy to get in touch with his empathetic side, and show generosity of spirit.


The Christmas season is such a special time. It’s filled with merriment, family time, and traditions and memories made for years to come. Christmas Eve is a special part of that. Christmas Eve activities vary from solitude to social gatherings, from religious to everyday entertainment. They can range from kid level fun with crafts and movies to adult enjoyment with backyard bbq’s and Christmas markets. There’s a plethora of activities to be done on this special day; unfortunately, there are so many that only a select few can be accomplished within these 24 hours.

Oh and if your Christmas tree isn’t up yet, (as was the case in my family on several Christmas Eves), that can be an activity all its own!

The best news is that the activities themselves don’t matter nearly as much as those you surround yourselves with. 

How do you like to spend Christmas eve? What are your favorite Christmas eve traditions? Do you have some you could add to my list? Let me know, I would love to extend my list each year!!

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Merry Christmas everyone!

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