Christmas Eve Preparations Guideline

You might try, like the rest of us, to keep Christmas Eve as relaxed as possible. You want to soak up the atmosphere of this magical occasion and enjoy quality time with quality people. But even if you have followed our countdown calendar suggestions to the letter, there are still preparations aplenty today for the big day tomorrow. Indeed it’s likely we might have to tap back in to the very first day of our countdown, on November 6, to suggest another list. But fear not, this is not a list of chores to dread…more like a line of largely pleasurable jobs to enhance the festive feel and make two of the biggest days of the year go smoothly. So here goes.

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Water the tree

Keep youngsters entertained

Plan Christmas Eve TV/radio

Write out a Christmas Day food plan

Cool the drinks; mull the wine

Consider last-minute gifts via email

Call friends and family you won’t see tomorrow

Add cosy touches to rooms

Set the table for Christmas dinner

Enjoy a special Christmas Eve gift giving with children, as suggested on our New Traditions page

Read “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” after opening personalised Christmas Eve box

Track Santa on NORAD

Help Santa by putting presents under the tree 

Bells

Morning

If you have a real tree, make sure the water reservoir is topped up. You won’t have to think about this again for a few days.

Keep youngsters entertained by laying out some craft materials and have them create last-minute cards for family and friends you are due to see that night or on Christmas Day – or make glittery reindeer food for Santa’s hungry sleigh-pullers. Visit Ed’s Grotto Things to Make page for ideas.

Plan Christmas Eve television viewing – or indeed radio listening – and record the things you are likely to miss if you are going to church, hosting neighbours or popping out to visit family or friends. Tuning in to one of the wonderful services from King’s College, Cambridge might be or become a tradition. Maybe suggest a Christmas film those gathered at your house on Christmas Eve night can watch together. Visit our Top 30 Movies page or More Movies page for ideas.

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Afternoon

Write out your Christmas Day food plan, including menu, defrosting times, preparation times and cooking times. Also decide what might make it on to the breakfast table and evening buffet table. Keep it as your trusty guide for tomorrow. Turkey tips and more on our Food & Drink page.

Chill drinks for tonight and tomorrow. If you don’t have enough room for everything in the fridge, put some bottles in the garage or in a container outside to keep cool. If mulled wine is on the agenda, get brewing and warming.

Check your gifts list one last time. If anyone has been overlooked send gift cards, vouchers or certificates via email. Print them off yourself for anyone with potential to spring a surprise visit. If they don’t show after all, you can spend the vouchers in due course. It won’t be money wasted.

Make a few calls to dear friends and family you won’t be seeing today to wish them a Happy Christmas Eve. Send texts or e-cards to a wider group of loved ones – even those you will be seeing tomorrow.

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Evening

Add cosy touches to rooms. If you are gathering as a group of family or friends to settle in for the evening, have a selection of throws, blankets and cushions to hand. If you are having people over to stay, make sure their rooms are warm, fragrant and inviting. Visit our Accommodating Guests page for ideas.

Set the table for Christmas dinner to save time tomorrow – unless, of course, children and pets with wandering hands and paws might endanger such a plan.

Enjoy a special Christmas Eve gift giving with children, as suggested on our New Traditions page – using Storybook Three from that page as a guide. Similarly, you could fill a personalised Christmas Eve box with treats (see further down this page for ideas) and open it up tonight. Both notions involve all kinds of fun, like leaving out mince pies and sherry for Santa and carrots for his reindeer, putting on new pyjamas and reading a festive story – like “’Twas the Night Before Christmas”. This poem is a must for our Christmas Eve box.

Track Santa on NORAD (check out: noradsanta.org), witness that he’s very close to your neighbourhood and determine that youngsters must now be tucked up in bed.

Help Santa by putting some ‘early delivery’ Christmas gifts under the tree once youngsters have gone to bed.

Bells

Did you know…our ancestors believed that a good way to ensure peak health for yourself for the following year was to eat an apple at midnight on Christmas Eve? Other superstitions include: bread baked on Christmas Eve is blessed; talking to bees on Christmas Eve and hearing them hum in response is a good omen; feeding a strand of straw from a manger to cattle is to bring good luck.

Christmas Eve Boxes

Christmas Eve has always been the most exciting night of the year. The giddy, sleepless anticipation of a visit from Father Christmas and his reindeer is a feeling rarely replicated. The excitement only grows when thoughts turn to what gifts he might leave beneath the tree. We at How to Christmas love the idea of fuelling that childhood glee with the introduction of a wooden Christmas Eve box filled with treats and essential goods for the night before Christmas. There’s a splendid selection at notonthehighstreet.com, many of which can be personalised. You could also buy your own plain box and paint and personalise it yourself – be it a solid wooden one with a hinged lid, a cardboard box with a lid or an open crate. The boxes should contain a selection of products and gifts to be opened and enjoyed amid the Christmas Eve festivities. The size of box – and indeed your budget – will obviously determine the kinds of goods you can include.

Here are some How to Christmas ideas for inclusion in each box:

The book entitled “The Night Before Christmas – make it an annual tradition to read this marvellous poem every Christmas Eve.

Christmas mug, hot chocolate sachets and mini marshmallows – for that delicious, warming, soothing bedtime drink.

Candy Canes – to stir your hot chocolate and then eat.

Christmas-themed pyjamas – got to have the new PJs at Christmas…it’s practically the law.

Reindeer food – you can buy small bags of glittery oats that have a poem and silver charm keepsake attached. Don’t forget a carrot as well.

Tree decoration – a treasured trinket to dangle from the tree on Christmas Eve.

Santa key – a piece of sculpted metal magic to allow Father Christmas entry to your home, whether or not you have a chimney.

Mince pie plate – a plate with a festive design to lay before Father Christmas and on which his mince pie can sit.

Christmas activity book – to keep youngsters occupied if the excitement is all getting to be a bit too much.

Glitter bags – mini bags of edible glitter to sprinkle outside your house to guide the reindeer in flight.

Christmas card – to leave a thank you note for Father Christmas.