Christmas Eve Traditions

Christmas Eve is a great time for low-key, fun traditions that your family looks forward to every year.

The holiday season can get overrun with parties, shopping trips, cooking, travel and more. And Christmas itself can be full of expectations, along with more cooking, family, unwrapping presents and calling the grandparents to catch up. Traditions help us slow down and enjoy the season. If you don’t have those traditions yet or are looking for new ones, here are some traditions that’ll make Christmas Eve fun and memorable.

Attending mass or another religious service: Midnight mass is traditional for many religious families. Make it extra special; get your family Christmas dresses or other holiday clothes so you can all dress up, have Christmas songs for the drive there and then have hot cocoa and cookies or some other treat when you get home.

Christmas Eve dinner: Christmas dinner is a big shebang — lots of dishes, lots of cooking. Make dinner the night before more casual: get takeout, order pizza or have chips and sandwiches. If you want to make it fancy, eat by candlelight. Or get a bunch of snacks and finger foods and pair it with game or movie night.

Take a Christmas lights tour of the city: Although you can do this anytime in December, people tend to go all out for Christmas Eve. Find out which neighborhoods get most into the decorating spirit and drive around to see Santa and his reindeer, light displays, snowmen, luminaries and more.

Make cookies for Santa: Whether it’s sugar cookies or gingerbread that everyone gets to decorate or a special kind of cookie that reminds you of Christmasses past, spend the day baking. If you’re not sure about cookies, try your hand at candy or make Christmas bread. Find a way to get the whole household involved.

Watch a movie or read a Christmas book: Maybe you have a family favorite like “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” that you want to watch every year (though as your kids get older you may want to reassess). Or maybe your family wants to mix it up every year and watch a different holiday movie. Rotate who gets to choose the movie or book between members of your family and then settle in by the fire with blankets, pillows and lots of treats.