What's YOUR Christmas Eve tradition?

In my family, we’ve started a ‘new’ Christmas Eve tradition (new meaning it’s not something our parents did) of renting movies and ordering pizza. This is because, by Christmas Eve, I’ve worked hard shopping and wrapping gifts, getting the house ready, and I’m going to work hard on Christmas, fixing a big dinner. . .so delivery pizza and movies (family-friendly) on Christmas Eve give me a little break.

Our ‘tradition’ is going to have to change a little this year; having moved to a 'burg in WV that is so small that there is no pizza delivery, we’re having ‘finger food’ (summer sausage, cheese, crackers, sliced fruit, etc.) and renting movies.

Anyway, we are watching The Princess Bride and A Christmas Carol (the George C. Scott version) and dining on:
summer sausage
fresh sliced fruit
assorted cheeses
apple cider

Also, my kids are allowed to open one gift on Christmas Eve, but I get to say which gift!

So, what is your Christmas Eve tradition?

We do this too, and it’s always pajamas. It took me an embarrassing amount of my childhood to realize that it always would be pajamas…

We also make a game of being the first to say “Merry Christmas Eve!” to each other. Originally, the idea was that if you said it first, the person you said it to had to buy you another gift, but I don’t think anyone ever actually did that. The fun is in “getting” the other person. I’ll be working December 24th, and I’ll be forced to answer my work phone “Merry Christmas Eve” in order to protect myself from devious family members. :slight_smile:

My mother always let us open a gift on Christmas Eve, and it was always something that would keep us occupied in our rooms for some amount of time, like paper dolls, coloring books, stuff like that!

I can’t tell you what the kids’ Christmas Eve gift is this year, because my oldest daughter reads the boards regularly, and I don’t want to spoil anything! :wink:

:smiley: I do this for my kids, too. I just wondered aloud to my mom yesterday about when they would figure out that it’s always pajamas on Christmas Eve. They always get so excited about opening that one present and I always feel a little bad.

For Christmas Eve dinner, we always do seafood and pizza. When I was a little kid, we always did seafood. One year, my aunt & her kids unexpectedly joined us and we needed to supplement the meal, so my parents ordered a pizza. We did it every year after that and I carried on the tradition with my family.

After we eat dinner and put the kids in their new pajamas, we go to the services at our (UU) Fellowship. It’s basically an hour of singing carols, then there’s a cookie & hot cocoa social thing afterward. When that’s done, we put the kids in the car and drive around looking at lights until they fall asleep. We get them home and bundled into bed, then drink wine while we stick the Santa presents out.

We do what I’ve been told is Polish tradition. We open all our gifts on Christmas Eve. In years past, my aunt and her long-time boyfriend would come over for a big dinner and then my father would sadistically drag out the gift-opening time.

“Now dad?”
“No, after dinner.” Dinner passes.
“OK, now?”
“Let us digest a little!”
“How bout now?”
“Oh, let the adults talk, would you?”
… … … “now?”
“OK, let’s go.”
::kids explode into the living room around the tree:: But it doesn’t end there. Dad would then don a santa cap and divy out one gift at a time. We’d have to all watch and ‘admire’ the gift that our sibling got but everyone knew we were just passing the time until it was our turn. Eventually, dad just started firing out gifts faster than we could open them. A master of suspense, he was.

But then my parents got divorced, I went to Iraq, and my aunt died. After that, no holiday held a tradition anymore. Thanksgiving, Halloween, and Christmas all sorta broke apart. This year, dad’s in Florida, brother is in Afghanistan, and sister is in the hospital with nephew who set himself on fire Wednesday morning. So it’s just me, mom, and littlest brother.

I don’t really forsee a tradition occuring until I have kids in the distant future.

Sadly, we don’t have any. We definitely don’t open a present. Some members of my family go to church. I don’t.

Dinner largely depends on how many people are there. If not too many, then someone, usually my mother, will cook a nice meal. There were some years when we had frozen lasagnas.

We don’t even do stockings anymore.

For a few years, our traditional meal was pork roast, mashed potatoes au gratin, and a green salad with feta, grapes, and walnuts. I miss that meal.

Wow. :frowning:

I hope next year is better for you!

For years I’ve been spending Christmas Eve partying with friends. This actually started at my place; before we met my wife used to have “Christmas for Strays” with all of her friends at the time who didn’t have family gathering to celebrate together (she used to tell me that the funniest thing about this was watching her Jewish friends decorating the Christmas tree), and shortly after we got married we revived the practice. The party moved to a friend’s house when my wife’s health reached the point where preparing dinner for 10-20 people got to be too much for her. A lot of us at the party exchange presents, and somehow it became traditional for them to be passed out one at a time, so everyone could take turns oohing and ahhing over what each of us got; I had been appointed Santa Clause early on, and that’s now become part of the tradition. In fact, when I moved from Chicago to NC I was informed that I was expected to return to Chicago every year for the party because “it wouldn’t be Christmas without Santa”.

Open 1 gift, but it is the pajamas we made for them. And chinese food take out eaten around the tree. Christmas eve is always so busy that just getting take out really makes a more relaxed evening. And everyone gets to choose what they want to eat!

Growing up, our Christmas tradition was always to go to my grandma’s (dad’s side) on Christmas Eve. I have so many magical memories of those times … there’s just a glow and warmth about Christmas Eve that I’ve yet to feel at any other time. Often we would go to candlelight service at grandma’s church beforehand. For dinner we would have meat balls, roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, lutefisk, and lefse. And grasshoppers and Christmas cookies for dessert. After dinner and before gifts, we have a program. This is a time for the kids to present songs/pieces from their school and/or church Christmas programs. At the end we sing “Silent Night” and read the Christmas story. Then we open gifts.
Grandma’s still kicking (and feisty!) at 92, but last year we moved our Christmas Eve to my dad’s place. That’s a good thing—Grandma pushes herself too much to do everything and really can’t handle it anymore, although she’d absolutely die if she knew we all knew that. Anyway, that’s our only Christmas with dad since mom and dad divorced a few years back, so it’s nice to have it at his place. We open gifts from dad and grandma, and give them presents in return. We still do the kids’ program, which is probably my favorite part.
My father-in-law is a pastor, so pretty much every year since my husband and I started dating umpteen years ago, we have gone to his dad’s church for Christmas Eve service. My father-in-law is retiring at the end of the year, so this year will mark his last Christmas Eve service. :frowning:

It’s German tradition too, and my wife and I grew up with it (we’re American but we each have a German parent), so we kept it for our own house. Also we eat lentil soup and pickles and very dark bread. For some reason the tree is extra bright that evening; I love Christmas Eve.

(Bolding mine).
Heavens to Betsy! Please tell me that by ‘grasshoppers’, you’re talking about the mint-flavored cocktail! :wink:

If so, we have a traditional holiday dinner ‘festive’ drink, too: Ice wine! My hubby doesn’t like any kind of wine but this, but he loves this! Even my 9YO likes it, and gets her own little glass of it! (It’s really too sweet to be consumed more than 2oz at a time anyway; definitely a ‘dessert wine’). So we have little liqueur glasses, and serve chilled ice wine with the pumpkin pie, apple pie, whipped cream, etc.

Only traditions right now: pajamas on Christmas Eve, but we don’t wrap them: putting out milk and not-cookies for Santa (kids insist on brownies or muffins - more substance) and spreading reindeer food on the ground outside (oatmeal with glitter).

Die Hard

The way we used to do it when we were kids was that we would go to the 4 PM Christmas Eve service at church, eat dinner (nothing memorable, just something nice), and then open one present. That present was always an ornament. All of us kids had themes for our ornaments–my sister got rocking horses, I got bells, and my brother got snowflakes. Then we would watch a Christmas movie–in early years it was the old animated version of How The Grinch Stole Christmas, until our VHS tape stopped working. We later switched to The Santa Clause. Then my parents would go to the 11 PM candlelight Christmas Eve service, and us kids would color in coloring books and then go to bed. Parents would come home, set out “Santa” presents, then go to bed.

It actually hasn’t changed much now that we’re older, but there are a few variations. We all go to the 11 PM service and skip the 4 PM one. We still get our ornaments in themes, although now my new brother-in-law gets a theme of his own (trains). We watch just about any Christmas movie (like White Christmas or It’s a Wonderful Life). The BIL cooks dinner for us. After the service, we stay up for a couple hours drinking egg nog with amaretto, then we go to bed.

Amaretto? Wimp! :stuck_out_tongue:

I invented my own egg nog-based holiday cocktail a few years ago, I call it a Yuletide Russian (loosely based on a White Russian): it’s egg nog, vanilla vodka and Kahlua (or similar coffee liqueur). Mmmmmmm. Not only is it tasty, but it will kick your ass! :smiley:

We go out looking at Christmas lights while listening to carols. Then once we’re home, the husband and I open one gift too. Plus we watch pre-recorded Christmas specials until it’s time to hop in bed and wait for Santa. :smiley:

We’ve adapted a tradition from my mom’s family: Opening a Whitman’s Sampler of chocolate on Christmas Eve.

We still do it, but it’s not quite the same. Nowadays, my parents come to our place on Christmas Eve to do presents, have lunch, and break into the chocolates.

Then they go stay overnight at my brother’s so they can be around for the early-morning kiddie greed-fest.

We come over a little later in the morning and we all have brunch.

Since my brother and SIL are in professions that often require them to be on call or at work on Christmas and/or Christmas Eve, this just works out better than trying to herd us all into one place for 2+ days.

Bad Santa and bourbon.

My family often opens presents on Christmas Eve because that’s what my mother’s family did. Her father was a radio announcer in San Francisco and always volunteered to work on Christmas. Santa knew this, too, and he always managed to deliver the presents while the five of them were out driving around looking at Christmas lights (right after my grandmother forgot her scarf inside and took forever to find it).