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10 things to do on Christmas Eve

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These family-friendly Christmas Eve activities will get you in the festive mood in no time, from baking and indoor games, to present exchanging and outdoor exploring.

Fun, new festive activities often run dry on Christmas Eve, but it should be the opposite. The holiday period should be about family time, reflection, relaxation and, don't forget, eating as much food and treats as you can stomach!

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We've listed 10 activities that you could try on Christmas Eve with family and friends to make the most of the day. Keeping the kids entertained brings its challenges every year, so incorporating baking or other kitchen tasks will make it even more special. The act of giving is also a big part of Christmas Eve, and while presents are exciting, it's also important to give back to those in need or even treat your nearest and dearest to something special.

So, get cosy under a blanket or don matching pyjamas for the best Christmas Eve to date. As well as delicious grazing platters and crudités, you could make a simple but impressive dish from our top 10 Christmas Eve dinner recipes. For dessert, we've collated the best Christmas brownie recipes and fabulously decorated biscuits in our Christmas cookies for kids guide.

For something more health-conscious, you could try our healthy Christmas treat ideas and healthy Christmas snack recipes.

Top 10 things to do on Christmas Eve

1. Christmas movie marathon

Family watching movies

From the classics to new blockbusters, get cosy on the sofa with the family and watch your favourite Christmas movies. This is a great way to enjoy the festive season and makes room for that all-important family time. This activity applies to families with young children and adults alike. We have a sweet popcorn recipe for you to enjoy and family film night recipes, so you can enjoy a selection of sweet and savoury treats alongside your favourite films. Get festive with our healthy Christmas snack recipes for more movie-night bites.

2. Play family games

family playing a game on a table

Whether it be a fun foodie board game, hide and seek, a puzzle or some general festive trivia, put on some light entertainment for the whole family to enjoy. If it's a big gathering, choose games with the biggest number of players possible so everyone can get involved in the fun. Puzzles and simple board games are also a great way to wind down in the evening after a busy day.

3. Bake cookies for Santa and the elves

gingerbread biscuits

There’s nothing more enjoyable than festive baking. Encourage the kids to get stuck in with mixing dough and stamping out biscuits, then getting creative with the decorations – the whole process is a great winter afternoon activity. On the eve of the big day, help the kids lay out the cookies and our unbelievably easy mince pies for Santa and his helpers to add a touch of magic to proceedings. We even have a recipe for reindeer food, so Rudolf won't feel left out. This recipe for the ultimate easy gingerbread will have your house smelling delightful. For more deliciousness, try out recipes from our Christmas biscuit collection.

4. Help with Christmas Eve grazing platter

grazing platter

Whether you’re hosting loads of family or just having a small gathering, prepare a fuss-free spread of your favourite bites. Add some savoury snacks, like cheese and crackers, smoked salmon and soft cheese, bread, mini sausage rolls and Christmassy dips, to a big Christmas grazing platter.

5. Open one family gift

a family opening a present together

This heart-warming tradition can teach children the importance of family time and being grateful for the gifts they’ll receive at Christmas. By opening a collective family gift (such as a new board game) on Christmas Eve, you can engage them in a fun new activity with everyone.

6. Give out secret Santa gifts

secret santa

Perhaps more suited to older kids, secret Santa gifts can be extended to wider family members or even friends. A small portion of your Christmas Eve could involve delivering your secret Santa gifts to friends’ doorsteps. Or, share in the Christmas giving spirit by giving the exchange a fun ‘guess who?’ twist. If you're looking for a secret Santa gift for grown-up family members, check out our best secret Santa gifts for foodies guide. For the younger ones, our best kids' gift ideas for 2021 is the ideal source of inspiration.

7. Host a family sleepover

Photo of a couple of female friends in pajamas, having a slumber party on Christmas Eve

Invite your family round for the ultimate Christmas Eve sleepover. The kids will be occupied with festive movies while the adults crack open the bubbly. Make sure that there’s plenty of nibbles to go round and loads of sweet treats to keep you going. For homemade Christmas food, try recipes from our Christmas Eve collection, including irresistible gratins, cheese and crackers, canapés and loads of other dinner ideas and buffet spread nibbles.

8. Go for a festive walk outdoors

family on a christmas eve walk

Going out for a Christmas Eve walk can be a great way of de-stressing following all the big day dinner prep, and it allows restless kids some time to stretch their legs. Take warming drinks in reusable mugs, such as one of our hot chocolate recipes or coffee drinks for grown-ups.

9. Christmas tree ornament tradition

christmas tree ornaments

It's a sweet idea for each family member to buy an ornament for the tree to signify what Christmas means to them. This is a tradition to continue each year, to remind you of previous celebrations. Plus, it's simple way of encouraging kids to be creative and interact with family life. For an edible and fun twist, make these Christmas biscuits and snowy owl biscuits to hang on your Christmas tree.

10. Collect unused toys

toy donation box

Have a rummage through the toy box and encourage the kids to collect a few toys that they no longer play with. This is a useful way of helping children understand that other kids may not be as fortunate, and that by bagging them up their old toys, Santa can deliver them to other kids in need. Donate the toys to a charity shop or donation centre to make someone else's Christmas special.

More Christmas Eve inspiration

Christmas Eve box ideas for kids, teens and adults
Easy Christmas table decorations
Top 10 Christmas brunch ideas
Top 10 DIY Christmas crafts
Our best Christmas biscuit recipes
Top 10 edible Christmas wreath recipes
Best stocking fillers for foodies
Best secret Santa gifts for foodies

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Do you have any Christmas Eve traditions or activity ideas? Let us know in the comments below...

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