Whilst a Christmas Eve box was not part of my childhood, I desperately used to wish it was. Much like my brother and I, as kids, used to spend hours paging through our neighbour’s Mattel’s US toy catalogue, fantasizing about the awesome toys that our SA shores had never ever even seen. (This would also slightly explain why he and I spent hours in the toy section in a London store as young adults, oogling and testing ALL the toys to see which ones to bring back for our nieces and nephews – that toy catalogue fascination never left us!) Roll on to where I am now a parent, and fortunate enough to indulge in all my Klismassy fantasies which also never left me, I made sure that a Christmas eve box was a tradition for our little ones.
Our fourth year in now, and I’m feeling pretty comfy with what goes in there, especially since BOTH girls are already of the age where they get stoked about it. For our family, two years of age seems to be the magic number for them to be able to appreciate it. (If memories of last Christmas Eve are anything to go by). So, then, what about you? Keen to start your own little Christmas eve box tradition for your family? Looking for some ideas that won’t feel like you’re just adding to the pile of useless junk in your home? Well, I got your back! It doesn’t have to break the bank or be super over the top either.
You see, my idea for the Christmas Eve box is to encourage more family time. To slow things down a bit and enjoy being with each other in this rather holy season. You see, I have countless memories of my own mom slaving away in the kitchen every Christmas eve – probably what was passed down from her family. And yes, she cooked up a wicked Christmas spread every year that remains unrivalled. But I used to beg her to stop and come do something with me – let’s grab some cookies and go watch the Christmas movie on telly. Or let’s all meet in the lounge for a board game with milk and cookies. Or something like that…with some cookies, of course. But she never budged, because of the time factor involved. Until one night I got permission to whip up some egg nog. Yes, the only time in our home that a 10 year old was allowed to even come close to that bottle of brandy- eggnog nights on Christmas eve. (granted I had to have mine virgin) It was the one time that all seven of us stopped all the Christmas hustle, gathered together and truly enjoyed the merriness of the season on Christmas eve – and it was awesome. So I definitely want to breed more of that within my own little family.
So what’s in the box?
1. First up, Christmas Jammies! We ALL get new jammies. Usually all matchy matchy. And Whilst we look like absolute Christmas cheeseballs, it’s ok…because we actually are Christmas cheeseballs.
The level of excitement in our home for new sleeping threads is oddly high, but I’m not complaining. Since most of SA retailers have not yet to cottoned on to the matchy-matchy family jammies, I either have ours made or I import them. (Although this year I’m a little nervous as our SA postal service is keeping me on my toes to say the least.)
However, at least Cotton On has…ermm, cottoned on to the idea a bit, and had some sweet xmas themed jammies for young and old- but not matching. MonkeyBum also had some on offer, but only for the littles. If you cant find Christmassy jammies, fret not, the idea is all about being cosy together, so any pair of new cute jammies will actually do.
2. Christmas movies for everyone. Not something we do often, but come holidays, in between our swims, we like to cosy up for some family movie fest.
For kids, if I may recommend some of our faves:
• Buddy the Elf (the animated version),
• Arthur Christmas,
• Dr Suess’ How the Grinch stole Christmas,
• Elf on the Shelf: an Elf’s story,
• Barbie’s Perfect Christmas (don’t judge me, but it was a gift to the girls and it surprised me as how non-superficial it actually was).
• And this year, we’re adding Home Alone to the list, as our girls are finally getting interested in movies that are not purely animated.
On that note, one’s we’d still love to try in future as the girls get older:
• Miracle on 34th street (because, you just gotta!),
• The Santa Claus ( another one I watched every December, even as a grown adult.)
For teens and adults:
• National Lampoons Christmas holiday makes it every year without fail. I am such a sucker for this movie ever since I saw it as a little kid – and has very possibly had the most influence on my excessive take on Christmas.(particularly the lights. The fact that Mike has called me Clarke Griswald all these years obviously didn’t deter me.)
• Love actually – because, I mean, c’monnnn, who doesn’t enjoy that movie?
• Family Stone – doesn’t go down well with Mike, so I kind of have to sneak this one for myself if I get the chance.
• Home for the Holidays – Not watched yet, but was recommended to me as a grown, yet comedic look at a dysfunctional family holiday. Sounds formulaic yet worthy of a shot.
3. Roasted nuts – because, “Chestnuts roasting on the open fire”, and this is as close as it gets for me. Also enjoy it.
4.Popcorn: Lots and lots of popcorn – with the exception of Mike, we are big fans of popcorn. And Morgy is desperately trying to convince me to make popcorn garlands for the tree (shoot me now) Alternatives for non-popcorn lovers apply.
5. Cherries (this one and the nuts goes down so well with Mom’s and dad’s egg nog)
6. Hot chocolate – I buy a pack of ready-made sachets. Our favourite is Woolworths make fr sachets, otherwise we’re all in for Cadbury’s Hot Chocolate. However, this year, thanks to my buddy, I’m going for the white hot chocolate one to make Unicorn Hot cocoa!
7. So, in the name of Unicorn hot chocolate, add a bag of mini marshmallows, colourful sprinkles or whatever will make that white hot chocolate pop with splendour!
8. Mugs – Hot chocolate christmassy mugs, that is. I usually buy some plain decent ones at the stores then personalize them. (not pictured here, ’cause Im still planning on doing it later today) Wanna make your own personalized mugs? See my easy tutorial here.. (It REALLY does work – I found the trick that makes your design actually stay permanent!)
There really are no rules as to what goes in that box really – just have fun with it. In fact, this year I’m adding some store bought cookies to the mix, because we already ate our christmas stash, and Im not sure if we’re going to get a chance to bake again.
I repurposed a large old gift box which I use every single year. Simply add some pretty tissue paper and big bow on top. Then when both kids awake on the morning of Christmas Eve, I let them loose on it. With the exception of last year (where we also popped in at V&A Santa Village, and helped my mom out), the whole day is then spent chilling in our jammies, watching movies and taking it easy.
Yes, I still cook – not quite as good as mom’s – but more importantly, I still get to enjoy our girls. Then after bath time, girls do their thing with the reindeer food in the drive way and head to bed. When they eventually fall asleep (which I pray will be early this year), Mom and dad chill out with their egg nog and snacks…and also last minute scurrying for any last minute gifts we forgot to wrap. Bcause THAT happens every year….Every. Year… Let’s just put it down to tradition, whatever!
Here’s to you and yours enjoying every bit of this holy season together in merriness and cosiness.X