Christmas Traditions: Christmas Eve Box

Last year 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! Traditions within your family are the best kind because they bring the family together and strengthen your bond. Warms the heart just to think about it!


I’m not the super creative type to come up with new traditions on my own, so I love it when people share their ideas and their favorites. Favorite traditions are worth sharing!

Our Family Traditions

My family is going to start having homemade pizza for our Christmas Eve dinner. Everyone in my family loves pizza (even the super picky ones) and we even have some involvement in a local pizza restaurant. So, it makes total sense for my family and I’m so glad that someone shared that tradition with us! You can make pizza as easy or fancy as you want. You can use all store-bought ingredients, or purchase the dough or sauce from your favorite local pizzeria, or make most of it from scratch. The topping options are plenty. Whatever works. Love it. Doing it. Here are some of our pizza recipes to get your started!

pizza food pyramid

Next new-to-us tradition:

I am going to put together a Christmas Eve Box. I hadn’t heard of this idea until this year. I think I saw it in passing on Facebook as I was scrolling away. The idea stuck with me though and I decided it could be a great idea for my family. So, I did a search online to see how other people were doing it, like here. Here’s how I see it…

Who doesn’t want to open a present or two early on Christmas Eve?

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?

Where do you get the 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, but I like the idea of having a durable box that you can use over and over. Size-wise, if you plan to use the same receptacle each year, find something big enough that you would be able to fit a variety of things in it. I decided to use a Bankers Box and just reinforced the seams and edges with tape. Then I wrapped it in a nice Christmas paper.

my christmas eve box

What do you put in the box?

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!

Here are some ideas…

Nativity Set

little people nativity set

Family Christmas Movie and Popcorn (Popcorn Coupons)

arthur christmas blu-ray dvd movie

Card Game, Board Game or Puzzle for the Family

HedBanz Game

Christmas Book

the story of christmas book


(Find great deals on pjs on Amazon, Old Navy, Kohl’s, or Walmart)


Hot Chocolate Mix, Hot Cocoa Maker, or Mugs

latte or hot chocolate

Slippers or SocksChristmas Music, Homemade Gifts for Each Other

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 cannot wait to do this with my kids this year. I have learned overtime how important it is that we step back from the materialistic view of Christmas and focus more on what matters most.

Feel free to share your favorite Christmas traditions in the comments.

Merry Christmas!

christmas eve box tradition


  • 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!

    • Melanie

      I’ve heard of people doing soup and it sounds especially great with bread bowls! Too bad my little guys won’t even eat soup.

  • 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!)

  • Janelle

    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 🙂

  • Renée

    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.

  • Monica

    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!

  • Robbin

    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! 🙂

    • Melanie

      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!

    • dee

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

    • Crystal

      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!!!!

  • Sue

    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.

  • Gail

    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.

  • Jackie M.

    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.

  • Karin Y

    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…..

  • Vicki

    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.

  • Heather

    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.

  • Rebecca

    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!!!

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