Getting little ones equal parts excited and calm on Christmas Eve takes some skill – here are three ideas for making it a happy (and sleepy) time.
A boxful of gifts makes an early treat
1. A Christmas Eve box
Embrace the traditions of our European neighbours and give little ones a small box of goodies to open on Christmas Eve. Presenting them with a few gifts on 24th December is a way of diffusing excitement on the lead up to the big day, giving them a taste of what’s to come and allowing them to feel contented ahead of time.
Perfect gift ideas include things to use straight away: a fresh pair of festive pyjamas, a new cuddly toy, a decoration for the tree and a Christmassy book for you to read with them before bed are all welcome treats (plus, a mince pie and carrot for them to leave out for Santa).
Protein-rich eggs or fish will help them settle
2. Eat well, sleep better
Make sure little ones don’t fill up on too many Quality Streets on Christmas Eve; it’s tempting to give in and let them gorge on sugar, but it’ll only fuel sleepless nights and stroppy mornings.
Instead, ensure they eat a protein-rich, tasty dinner that will leave them full, ahead of the big meal tomorrow. Ideal choices are Christmas kedgeree and roasted seabass – or, for fussier palettes, fish fingers. Follow this with one treat (and one treat only!) before bed with a mug of hot milk.
A calm bedroom is the key to peaceful slumbers
3. Stick to the routine
If you want little ones to sleep as well as they do any other night of the year, you need to follow their usual bedtime routine as closely as possible. Undoubtedly, they will be extra-excited, but parents will reap the rewards (and perhaps find a quiet moment to themselves to have a glass of port before bed, too).
As December evenings are so dark, use nightfall to your advantage; get them bathed and into festive PJs (gingham and reindeer styles are our favourites) and fresh bedding as early as possible. Once teeth have been brushed and the mince pie and carrot left out, lead little ones up to bed (with stockings strictly left downstairs for fewer distractions).
Now, get them snuggled down and read a Christmas book together, until eyelids are heavy.
Discover our entire children’s Christmas collection for more festive ideas.