Christmas Eve Box Tradition and Ideas

Several years ago I decided I really wanted to start some Christmas traditions with my family. Traditions are a big part of what make holidays and events special and fun! Today I’m going to share a fun tradition we started a few years ago called the Christmas Eve Box. AND I’ll share some great Christmas Eve Box ideas that the entire family, kids AND adults, will enjoy!

What Is The Christmas Eve Box?

After we spend the evening with my family eating soup bowls, singing our favorite Christmas songs, my own little family will head home to have our own Christmas Eve time together! For years we’ve done the traditional Christmas Eve PJ’s, but I decided to mix that up a bit with the Christmas Eve Box.

As a kid, I was always begging the parents to let us open a present early. So, why not make it a tradition and set aside some family-oriented items for a Christmas Eve box? A Christmas Eve Box is a fun tradition where the family opens a box together and enjoys fun things to share with each other! You can wrap everything up if you want to, or just leave them unwrapped inside the big box.

Where do you get the Christmas Eve Box?

You can use whatever you want to hold the items, a bag, a box, a chest, etc. It doesn’t have to be the same each year. If you want a durable box that you could use year after year, consider a Bankers Box. Just find something big enough that you would be able to fit a variety of things in. Reinforce the seams and edges with tape, then wrap it in a nice Christmas paper.

Christmas Eve Box Ideas

You can put whatever you want in the Christmas Eve Box. If there’s a story or activity that you already do as a tradition each Christmas Eve, go ahead and put it in the box each year. You can put just one item in there or you can include many. Totally up to you. My objective is to include something that the family can do together that very evening. It is fun to include a surprise item or something new too. I also want to include at least one item that is Christ-centered to remind us what Christmas is really about. You can wrap the items individually before placing them in the box, or not!

Nativity Set

My kids treasure the fun little Nativity sets we’ve picked up thru the years. It’s always SUPER FUN to pull them out the following year after we’ve gotten them. Many times they’ve forgotten about what we got and find joy in pulling it out of the Christmas storage boxes again! Find some cute Nativity Sets here!

Family Christmas Movie and Popcorn

You could bring back an old classic or show one your family hasn’t watched together before! There are a ton of Christmas movies to choose from! Last year we watched the early 2000’s classic, Christmas with the Kranks… we’ve NEVER seen it before and we loved it! It was also fun to just get a picture of life before internet and smart phones! Ha ha! My kids also LOVE watching Home Alone… and it’s funny for them to see Donald Trumps cameo too. 🙂  This year I’m thinking of The Man Who Invented Christmas. Let me know if you think it’s a good one!

Card Game, Board Game or Puzzle for the Family

We love playing games together as a family. I can always snag a great deal on a game during the holiday shopping season! Some of our favorites the the entire family can play are Headbanz, Spot It, and Telestrations.

We also enjoy working on a big puzzle together during the Christmas break! This Thomas Kincaid Tangled puzzle was one of our favorites. A Disney themed puzzle (or Harry Potter!) would be sure to please! These are fun ideas to do together all year long!

A Christmas Book

We like to get a new Christmas book every year or so. I have a basket of books that we set out near the Christmas tree and the kids enjoy looking at them from time to time or taking one up to their room to read at night. Some of their favorites are The Polar Express, Room for a Little One, and a Christmas recordable storybook that my parents recorded their voices reading to years ago.

Christmas Pajamas or New Blankets

You can always find great deals on pjs on Amazon, Old Navy, Kohl’s, or Walmart! Follow our online deals database to find deals! It’s always fun to have new warm fuzzy PJ’s! You could even just do pajama pants! One year I did the Big One fuzzy blankets from Kohl’s… those have been great because they don’t outgrow blankets and they’ll be used for years!

Hot Chocolate Mix, Hot Cocoa Maker, or Mugs

Years ago we got a hot chocolate maker and the kids LOVE pulling it out all winter long to make some  yummy frothy hot chocolate! It’s a fun winter family tradition!

Christmas Eve Box gift ideas

Slippers or SocksChristmas Music, Homemade Gifts for Each Other

You could get your kids in on the action too and give them an assignment to add something for the family to the Christmas Eve box! We have a Christmas playlist on Spotify, so buying music isn’t a thing for us anymore… BUT warm fuzzy socks are ALWAYS a delight! You can find fun Christmas socks fairly cheap at stores like TJ Maxx, Marshalls or Ross!

holiday christmas music cd

I hope that you can take this tradition and modify it to best fit your family! Kids love opening up presents on Christmas Eve! Might as well use that present to create more family time and memories. I think this helps us step back from the materialistic view of Christmas and focus more on what matters most… LOVE!

Share your favorite Christmas traditions in the comments!


  • On Christmas Eve we always have homemade soup in “soup bowls” (huge bread bowls) – veggie cheese and clam chowder. Yum!! I’m LOVING this Christmas Eve box idea!

  • this is brilliant!!! and it gets rid of the “was this the Christmas Eve gift” dilemma! (one year my sister opened pj’s, and I opened a 6 pack of DVD’S!)

  • We do something similar to the Christmas Eve Box, however each member of the family gets their own box which includes for the kids :new Pj’s, a stuffed toy, and slippers or robe. The adults would get new pj’s and popcorn and family movie or book.
    We also order Chinese food 🙂

  • Such fun ideas Melanie. We do the Christmas Eve soup tradition and I think your Christmas Box will be a smashing success with my family. Thanks and Merry Christmas.

  • We always do the PJ thing. It is nice to have the kids wake up Christmas morning in new pjs instead of old raggedy ones. Love the idea of family and Christ centered activities! Gives you something to keep everyone engaged when eagerly awaiting Christmas day!

  • This year I decided to do this too. I’m putting pajamas, hot chocolate, snacks and a Christmas movie in my kid’s boxes this year. Does anyone have any other cheap ideas of what to add? I have 6 kid’s so I’m trying to be frugal! 🙂

    • One of the beauties of doing one box for the family is that you don’t have to have an item for each kid. It can just be a few things that the whole family can use together. 🙂 It sounds like you have a great box put together for this year!
      But, yes, I’d love to hear of some more frugal ideas too!

    • Puzzles or coloring books and crayons or deck of cards or crossword puzzles or other game books depends on the age of kids.

    • Here are a ton of ideas:
      Use stuff you already have: Raid their toy boxes for Legos so the family can try to build a Lego Christmas tree together. Raid the kitchen for mugs. Raid the closets for throw blankets, cushy socks, pillows, etc.
      Put in gloves for a snowball fight, and a bag of marshmallows in case it doesn’t snow.
      If you do Netflix or a similar service, you could bookmark a couple movies. I like to watch YouTube videos of classic cartoons from the Betty Boop era, lol, so I make a playlist of those to watch.
      YouTube also has narrated story videos, so you can all enjoy having a story read to you. You could also find christmas stories on the net, like gift of the magi, or the night before Christmas, and either read from your phone/computer, or print them off and pass them around, letting everyone take turns telling the story.
      I like to make coupons, things like: get out of chores for one day, valid for one trip to the park, good for one movie night, or I will prepare your favorite meal, or this coupon entitles the bearer to stay up one hour late (valid one night only, coupon must surrendered upon redemption, lol). It can be really fun and free.
      You can also make a diy cookie decorating kit, make plain cookies, make some colored frosting, and tint some sugar with food coloring. You can even include store bought sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, or little candies.
      Similarly, you could together a craft or ornament kit, so the family could make ornaments together, or do origami together, paint handprints. One year, we made tiny books to hang on the tree, and the kids got to decorate inside the little books.
      Or you could put together Christmas themed photo booth props- cut shapes out poster board or construction paper, like a Santa hat, a beard, elf ears, etc. decorate them with markers/paint/etc, and glue or tape to a stick. If you want a special backdrop, you could hang a Christmas tablecloth (the cheap plastic $1 kind).
      Cheap store bought items- slinky, play dough or silly putty, a flashlight, card games.
      Also, party favor sets are great for when you have a lot of kids. Most dollar tree or everything for a dollar type stores carry them, they usually have at least 6 in a set, and it’s usually little toy or game type trinkets.
      And I second the family gift idea, as mentioned before. It really helps cut costs, but it also helps to create a sense of togetherness, when the kids all work together to open and empty the biggest cardboard box I could find, lol. And the gifts tend to promote family bonding, because a lot of them are meant to be shared. Well, except for the pajamas of course, lol.
      Anyway, I hope something here helps anyone who comes along looking for frugal Christmas Eve box ideas. Merry Christmas!!!!

  • We do pajamas or sweatpants, a special treat not normally in the house (fancy box of choc covered pretzels this year & big gourmet candy canes) and a new family game.

  • We’ve lived away from our families since starting our own. I tried to hang on to traditions I grew up with but they just didn’t work. So years ago I started the tradition of buying new pjs and a new ornament for each kid. They love it! And they hang the new ornament on the tree that night. that used to be the only gifts we let them open, but we decided to let them open extended family gifts too because it was too overwhelming to have so many things on Christmas day. I love the soup idea, we normally do finger foods but soup seems simpler and healthier.

  • We would always get to open one present on Christmas Eve. It was always pajamas but that didn’t really ruin the fun. When we were really little, we would get a pair of new tights to go with our Christmas dresses. We were pretty easy to please.

  • Last year we made a box (my daughter and me) for her boys with P.J.’s, a movie, popcorn and a letter from Elf of the Shelf about leaving for the year…..

  • Oh we do something SO much better. We do Christmas baskets on Christmas Eve BUT we give them away! First we load them with Christmas items, goodies, mugs , socks or winter hats, decorations, movies etc. that we have bought on special offer in the run-up to Christmas then we PRAY that God would lead us to the houses of people who need them and we drive around the less affluent neighborhoods until one of the kids says ‘THAT house/trailer!’ then they jump out (wearing their Santa hats) and put the basket on the doorstep and run away quick. SO fun for them to play at being Santa and hopefully, bless someone else too. Then we go home, put on new PJs – yes we do that too and read the Christmas story together before putting out our stockings and going to bed.

  • My parents are divorced, so we separate the celebrations. We have a big Christmas dinner at my house with my siblings and my mother. We open gifts with them. Then, we are doing a family box with PJ’s for everyone, a family DVD, popcorn, hot chocolate, candy canes, and a family game. Then, on Christmas day, we are able to have lunch at my father’s house. We get to do a big meal with each, and the kids get to do presents several times.

  • There has been a tradition in my family since I was in High School. Growing up we always open 1 gift on Christmas Eve, at some point we switch to having @Ugliest gift on Christmas Eve. It was the best cause we would all laugh at each other’s gift. It didn’t matter if we liked it or not, it HAD to be ugly or very tacky! Best was to spend Christmas Eve, laughing with family!!!

  • I like this plan so much, as well as all of your ideas for what to put in the box. We are heading to Australia that year so it will be a small difficult and my daughter is only 2, but I think we might start the tradition next year.

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