Memorable Christmas Eve box ideas for everyone in the family

A Christmas Eve box is a growing tradition where families gift a special box filled with small items on the night before Christmas to heighten the anticipation of the holiday. This post will provide a range of creative ideas for what to include in your Christmas Eve box, ensuring it’s a hit with everyone.

A girl is putting Christmas gifts and decorations in a wooden box.
Photo credit: YayImages.

What is a Christmas Eve box?

A Christmas Eve box is a relatively new tradition that has gained popularity in recent years. It’s a special box given to family members on Christmas Eve that is filled with small gifts to enhance the anticipation and magic of Christmas Day.

The main idea of Christmas Eve boxes is to provide some immediate gratification on the evening before Christmas, especially for young kids who may be particularly eager or restless in anticipation of holiday activities.

It can also be a fun and creative tradition for the family if the gift or gifts are similar year after year, like family-matching pajamas.

“My family has gifted me Christmas Eve boxes since childhood. Every year, my mom buys pajamas for all the kids and adults. We open them on Christmas Eve and wear them to bed that night. Even though we know what we are getting, it’s always exciting to open that one gift on Christmas Eve.”

— Heidi Bruaw, Real Life of Lulu

The boxes’ contents can vary based on the preferences and ages of family members.

Here are some ideas for what to put in your family’s Christmas Eve boxes.

Clothes

Start with some cozy apparel for the evening, like matching family pajamas, slippers or socks.

Holiday books

Set the scene with a new or classic holiday book for each member of your family, depending on their age.

For toddlers and young children:

  • “The Polar Express” by Chris Van Allsburg — A story of a magical train ride to the North Pole.
  • “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” by Dr. Seuss — A classic story about a change of heart about Christmas.
  • “Stick Man” by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler — A rhyming story of a stick man’s adventures as he tries to return home for Christmas.

For elementary school-aged children:

  • “The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus” by L. Frank Baum — A unique origin story for Santa Claus.
  • “Letters from Father Christmas” by J.R.R. Tolkien — Letters that Tolkien for his children as Father Christmas.

For young adults:

  • “Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances” by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle — Interwoven stories of love and friendship during a Christmas snowstorm.
  • “My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories” edited by Stephanie Perkins — A collection of holiday-themed short stories.

For adults:

  • “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens — This timeless story of Scrooge’s redemption.
  • “Holidays on Ice” by David Sedaris — A compilation of funny essays, both fictional and autobiographical, centered around the holidays.
  • “The Christmas Train” by David Baldacci — A story of love and adventure during the holidays.

Snacks, treats and drinks

Gift some sweet and savory delights, like hot cocoa mix with marshmallows, gourmet popcorn, chocolate, Christmas cookies, gingerbread cookies or candy canes.

Chocolate peanut butter balls in a bowl.
Chocolate peanut butter balls. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Family games

Consider including a new game or puzzle that the whole family can enjoy together on Christmas Eve night and throughout the holiday season.

Board games:

  • “Christmas-opoly”: A festive spin on the classic Monopoly game.
  • “12 Days”: A card game based on the 12 days of Christmas song.
  • “Santa’s Bag”: A game where players are elves helping Santa by making toys.

Puzzles:

  • Holiday-themed jigsaw puzzles with scenes like Christmas markets, Santa’s workshop or snowy landscapes can be a relaxing activity for the family.

Printable games:

  • Christmas scavenger hunt: Create a list of holiday items or clues and have family members search the house or yard.
  • Christmas word search or crossword: Printable or store-bought, these can be fun solo activities.

Personalized items

Add a personal touch with tailored gifts like custom mugs with each family member’s name, personalized tree ornaments or customized stockings.

Craft supplies

Depending on your family’s interests, include items like DIY ornament kits, coloring books, sketchpads or DIY wreath kits.

Self-care items

Pack everyone’s box for a family pampering night with items like bath bombs, skincare, makeup, face masks or foot soaks.

Outdoor fun

If you live in a snowy area, consider putting a snowman kit, sled, or snowball maker in the boxes.

How to pack a Christmas Eve box

The exact way to pack the box will vary depending on what you decide to put in the box and the recipient’s age, but here are some general guidelines and suggestions:

Type of box

Two brown gift boxes with a Christmas tree on one of them.
Photo credit: YayImages.

Choose the ideal container based on what’s available at the store or what you already have on hand:

  • Wooden crate or wicker basket: These are durable and can be reused annually.
  • Cardboard box: A simple cardboard box can be decorated with wrapping paper, ribbons, or stickers.
  • Personalized box: Get a box with the recipient’s name engraved or printed on it.

Lining

Use tissue paper, fabric, or even a Christmas-themed tea towel to line the inside of the box. In addition to looking nice, this can provide a little extra cushioning for the gifts in the box.

Layering items

Organize your gifts to ensure safe and aesthetic placement:

  • Start with the flattest items on the bottom, such as books or puzzles.
  • Add soft items like clothing next.
  • Heavier items, like mugs or craft kits, can be placed in the center.
  • Lighter and fragile items, such as ornaments or cookies, can be placed on top.

Packaging individual items

Consider wrapping each item individually in wrapping paper. If you’re including perishable items like snacks, make sure they’re in airtight containers or bags. For liquid items, ensure they’re sealed properly to prevent leaks.

Decorate the outside

Add final touches:

  • Tie the box with a ribbon or string and add a jingle bell or pinecone for a festive touch.
  • Attach a tag with the recipient’s name.
  • If using a reusable box, consider adding festive stickers, decals or even painting a Christmas design.

Final thoughts

The most important part is the experience of opening and enjoying the Christmas Eve box together as a family. Tailor the contents to suit your family’s tastes and traditions, and it’ll surely be a memorable event year after year.

Sara Nelson is the food blogger behind Real Balanced, a site that shares easy and balanced recipes. Since 2017, she has shared delicious, nutritious and allergy-friendly recipes with thousands of blog readers and social media followers. Sara lives in Wisconsin with her husband, two children and their dog.

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