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The sleeper hit of the last couple of years has cemented its status as the new tradition for the festive season. So what’s all the fuss about?
As special occasions go, Christmas Eve doesn’t get a lot of love. Maybe it’s all the rushing around, maybe it’s wishing the day away so that you can get started on the presents – or it could be the knowledge that you have small children to cajole into their beds in the face of promises to be very good if they can stay up and see Santa.
But now a new custom, perhaps inspired by the German Christmas tradition of opening presents on December 24th, is setting out to change all that.
What is a Christmas Eve box?
The definition of a Christmas Eve box is partly up to you and what suits your loved ones best. The box itself can range from a shoebox prettily decorated with wrapping paper to a keepsake wooden, personalised Christmas Eve box engraved with the recipient’s name.
What you put inside depends on the purpose of your box. Maybe you’re looking for a distraction to keep the kids from getting overexcited about Father Christmas, or to wear them out before bedtime. Or maybe it’s you and your other half who can’t wait for the big day and want to make the night before fly by. Whatever the reason, here’s what to put in a Christmas Eve box.
For the littlest ones
Whether it’s all for them or really because you can’t wait to see their little faces light up, here’s what to put in a magical Christmas Eve box for toddlers.
Light-up toys: Make the most of dark evenings by casting stars, animals and more on walls and ceilings with toys, torches or children’s projectors.
Bubbles: Get the kind made with no-tears bubble bath, hold the bottle steady and let them try and dip the wand. Then blow them some bubbles, catch one on the wand and let them ‘pop’!
Festive PJs and slippers: The more adorable, the better – after all, it’s what they’ll be wearing in those all-important Christmas morning pics.
Bedtime story: Choose a board book if they’re likely to tear pages. Accompany with a soft toy from the story – The Gruffalo, anyone? – and encourage them to help him ‘say’ key words as you read together.
A little treat: If they’re confident enough little eaters, treat them to a festive pot of chocolate drops – each one smaller than your little fingertip, with a lid you can pop back on when it’s time to stop. Introduce older toddlers to a family Christmas tradition with chocolate coins that you unwrap for them.
Keep the kids happy and make extra snacks for the big day.
Measuring spoons: These are more fun for little bakers, who can experiment with how they jingle on the ring or fit into one another while you do the real cooking.
Hair ties: Keep long hair out of little faces – and the batter! – with cute Alice bands, bobbles or clips.
Apron: Keep everything clean – and cute – with a fun, festive cover-up.
Festive biscuit cutters: Great for royal icing decorations for your Christmas cake – or making Santa’s cookies yourselves!
Seasonal stencils: Perfect for decorating naked cakes with icing sugar or cocoa powder.
Edible decorations: Think silver balls, icing pens and edible glitter. Or take your Christmas cake up a notch with toppers such as gingerbread men, penguins or Santa Claus. (They also double as sustenance for the bakers…)
For outdoor types
Open this one early and tire them out in time for bed.
Hat, scarf and gloves: Be prepared for that longed-for white Christmas.
Wellington boots: Essential for splashing in puddles or kicking through the leaves.
Small ball: For little ones to practise kicking and bigger ones to compete over. A jolly trophy for the winners?
Kite: Make the most of a blustery afternoon.
Hand warmer: For post-snowman paws.
Flask: Take hot chocolate with you for a break between games, to warm everyone to their toes.
Keep older children occupied while you finish the preparations – or get in the Christmas spirit along with them!
Tree ornaments: If the oven’s not in use, get them some string and shrinking paper and let them sketch, colour and hole-punch some decorations of their own design that you can bake for them. Alternatively, hang these baubles instead.
My special plate: Plain white plate + ceramics pens = the sweetest place setting at the Christmas dinner table. Bonus points for designing a place mat, too.
Festive finger puppets: Felt, scissors and a sewing kit or glue are all they need to make their cast. Cardboard or a cereal box and felt tips will make their puppet theatre. Then it’s up to them to come up with a Christmas story to act out!
Stocking decorating: Santa can’t fail to feel a little more generous towards the best-dressed stocking in the street, can he? Supply iron-on transfers, sewing kit or glue, ribbons, fabric pens, felt and hole punches that make seasonal shapes and let them go to town! Just don’t forget what you’re going to fill those stockings with…
Thank-you cards: Get ahead of the game with coloured card, felt pens, sequins and glue to design their thank-you cards before the big day even begins.
For movie night
It’ll be gone midnight before you know it…
Blanket and slippers: Rule number one of movie-watching: utter cosy comfort.
The Christmas film: Who doesn’t love a must-watch Christmas movie – or three?
Festive film game: Follow the rules of Motion Picture Bingo – but give it a seasonal twist! Include cards for everyone you’re watching with.
What’s in your Christmas Eve box? Tell us on Twitter: @HotelChocolat