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There are lots of different ways to celebrate, but what is the BEST way to celebrate Christmas Eve? In my mind, a fun, relaxed evening is the way to go.
When I was in my early twenties, our family kind of had a reboot with my mom’s divorce from my step-dad. As a family of three, we could decide to have Christmas any way we wanted. Our plan was to throw out what we didn’t like and keep the traditions we loved. We had always opened our presents on Christmas Eve at my Granny’s house and we liked it, so presents were in. Having a big, fancy dinner and cleaning up before we got to open presents was definitely out!
Over the years, we’ve settled in with, what I consider to be, the very best way to celebrate Christmas Eve…
Last Minute Shopping
No matter how well you plan, it seems like there is always last minute shopping to do! Did you remember stocking stuffers for everyone, including yourself? My daughter was sad when she thought Santa had forgotten me, so Santa always leaves something for me too.
Is anyone bringing a new boyfriend? Did your husband invite a coworker who couldn’t be with his own family? What about your ex-husband’s new wife’s kids? True story for one of my sweet sisters-in-law.
Did your husband find another gag gift and throw the count off? Yes, I count all of the gifts. I like for everyone to have the same number of gifts to open. More on that later…
Mom, Can I Have My Phone?
Uh, yeah…no. You, my sweet, sweet girl, can come and interact with humans. The afternoon brings kind of a lull and, lest we fill it with more YouTube videos of people playing Minecraft (don’t get me started), I am prepared with games.
When I was growing up we played Trivial Pursuit. I loved that game! Now, we play Cranium, Sequence, card games, or the latest, Bears vs. Babies. If you have young teens, check it out, they’ll love it. It’s borderline inappropriate, so that’s probably the appeal. If you aren’t ready for words like “friggin” to be bandied about, better skip it.
Dinner is Not the Main Event
For me, food is always the main event, but not for kids. But, hey, you gotta eat! Like all of the other holidays, I serve the same thing every year. I give the people what they want. Since we have a big, fancy dinner on Christmas Day, we do something more low-key on Christmas Eve.
On Christmas Eve, we have lasagna, salad and French bread. I can make the lasagna ahead of time and have it in the oven while we’re playing games, so prep is easy. Since you cooked ahead, you didn’t dirty up every dish in your kitchen, so cleaning up is a breeze too.
By the time the dishes are done, the kids want to skip dessert and get to…
The Main Event is Opening our Dang Presents!
Now don’t get all, “the reason for the season” on me. That’s not what I’m talking about and I’m not getting into that with you. Everybody knows that for kids, and for lots of the rest of us, giving and getting gifts is what we look forward to the most on Christmas. There is not a thing wrong with that, especially when children are taught to anticipate not only the fun of getting, but the joy of giving.
One way to encourage this is to take turns opening presents. I’ll admit, I just don’t like chaos and having eight people fly into their presents at once seems super crazy to me. My Granny must have felt the same way because as long as I can remember, and no matter how big the crowd, we gathered in the formal living room, with the little ones “playing Santa” and passing out gifts. Everyone waited patiently until all of the presents were distributed, then the youngest kid got to start. They would open their present with oos and ahhs from all of the cousins, aunts and uncles and, most importantly, they would have a chance to thank the giver.
This is where the gift counting comes in. It’s super awkward if one person has way more presents than everyone else, so I try to make sure there are close to the same number of gifts for everyone.
Sayonara, Elf on a Shelf! Does anyone else just dread hiding that little bastard every night? Why on earth did I get sucked into this particular tradition? Probably ’cause I’m all, “I want a shiny, perfect Christmas for my little angel!” This year, I kind of hoped that Karly would have outgrown Elf, but nope.
Anyway, on Christmas Eve, we tell Elf thanks for visiting and we’ll see you next year.
Carbs for Santa
Santa has a tough job delivering millions of presents and he needs carbs! We leave cookies on my favorite Fitz & Floyd Santa plate and without fail, he eats them all up. He also leaves a bit of a mess to clean up Christmas morning. Have I told you how amazing my husband is? He always makes sure there is a little “evidence” of Santa’s visit.
After the littles are off to bed, stockings are filled and a nightcap is had by Santa’s helpers. I treasure these moments and I feel grateful in every fiber of my being that I have such a beautiful life. What does your Christmas Eve look like?