The Holiday Season is considered the most wonderful time of the year, with countless parties, events, and festivities leading up to Christmas Day. But the excitement peaks on Christmas Eve. Families can take advantage of the downtime and the anticipation of Christmas morning to make memories that will outlast the best-wrapped gift.
Christians celebrate Christmas Eve because Jesus is traditionally thought to have been born at midnight. Many families set aside time to go to a Christmas Eve service of music and candle lighting, or attend a midnight mass, as a way to refocus and remind us all of the reason for the season. Or a simple yet powerful reading of the Christmas story can help ground us before a day filled with presents, family fun, and a delicious dinner.
There is also something special about getting into matching festive pajamas, piling into a minivan with hot chocolate, sugary snacks, and heading out to look at neighborhood light displays. Although our communities have been all a glow since Thanksgiving, it seems as if they shine extra bright on Christmas Eve night. If you happen to live in a walkable neighborhood, bundle up, and catch the lights from a different vantage point, the sidewalk.
Once you’re back home, all warm, and the children are all wound up, give them the gift of selecting one present to open. Your children have been eyeing and taking stock of every present under the tree for weeks. Come, Christmas Eve, give them a chance to make the tough decision of which to open first.
It wouldn’t be Christmas Eve without making cookies for Santa and don’t forget to feed the reindeer. Mix dry oats and your children’s favorite sprinkles for a sparkly, energizing snack for Santa’s hardworking reindeer. Sprinkle it outside before bed, and share that the moonlight will make it sparkle bright and help guide Santa to your home.
The gift of Christmas Eve is to make sure there is time for some “just family” Christmas cheer. Put away the devices, turn on a holiday movie, pull out a stack of cards or board games. All of which are perfect ways to set the tone for family togetherness.
Finally, don’t stress about Christmas Eve dinner. Let loose and enjoy a fun cheese and chocolate fondue spread, let the family build their own pizzas, or get take out to take that worry off your table. The last thing Christmas Eve needs to be is stressful.
As the Christmas season slowly comes to an end on Christmas Eve, the true miracle begins with the celebration of the birth of Christ.
Homemade Hot Chocolate
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 4 cups milk
- 2 cups (12 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips*
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract**
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Optional garnish: whipped cream, mini marshmallows, chocolate chips, shaved chocolate
1. Combine sugar and cocoa powder in a medium, heavy-bottom pot and whisk until evenly combined. Whisk in milk and bring to a simmer on the stovetop over low heat.
2. Stir in chocolate chips, vanilla extract, and salt and stir constantly until chocolate is completed melted and mixture is smooth.
3. Pour hot chocolate into mugs and garnish with whipped cream, marshmallows, chocolate chips or chocolate shavings as desired.
* If a sweeter, creamier hot chocolate is desired, swap in milk chocolate chips for semi-sweet.
** For peppermint hot chocolate, reduce vanilla extract to 1 teaspoon and add an additional 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract