12 best Christmas Eve box gifts: Kick-start the magic early this year

·11-min read
The 24 December is just as good an excuse as the 25 (iStock/The Independent)
The 24 December is just as good an excuse as the 25 (iStock/The Independent)

For some children, the countdown to Christmas can feel neverending, with only the promise of an advent calendar chocolate each morning to soften the blow that Santa hasn’t visited just yet. But the big day can come just a little early this year, with a Christmas Eve box filled with thoughtful treats.

Traditionally these boxes are given on (you guessed it) Christmas Eve, to kick-start the festive magic and get the whole family in full-on festive mode. Rather than general gifts, the idea is to fill the box with bits to help further raise the excitement levels for the big day (if that was even possible) – things that are useful for the 25 December and, ideally, can be used year after year.

With Christmas already an expensive time of year, there should be no pressure to fill your Christmas Eve box with budget-busting goodies. This is all about creating sweet family traditions and offering just a small number of little gifts to make the night before Christmas extra special.

How we tested

Our round-up includes all kinds of gift ideas – at a range of budgets – for you to pick and choose from. We enlisted the help of our two little testers aged two-and-a-half and five years old – who, quite frankly, couldn’t believe their luck! – to find the best treats to fill your Christmas Eve box.

Paying close attention to quality, price, how much Christmas cheer and excitement they elicited, and whether they were actually useful for Christmas, these are our favourite festive buys.

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The best Christmas Eve box gifts for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Tickled Moon personalised Christmas book: £19.95, Tickledmoon.com

  • Best pyjamas – Rachel Riley polar bear flannel pyjamas: £65, Rachelriley.co.uk

  • Best slippers – JoJo Maman Bébé Father Christmas slippers: £16, Jojomamanbebe.co.uk

  • Best biscuits – Honeywell Biscuit Co. jar of Christmas Eve biscuits: £28, Honeywellbakes.com

  • Best game – Orchard Toys Christmas Eve box: £13.25, Orchardtoys.com

  • Best for magic – Lily & Giraffe personalised ‘believe’ rosette badge: £10, Notonthehighstreet.com

  • Bestcuddly toy – Jellycat amuseable candy cane soft toy: £19.99, Jellyexpress.co.uk

  • Best keepsake – Juniper Studio Christmas Eve tray: £35, Juniperstudio.co.uk

  • Best tree decoration – Meri Meri reindeer felt tree decoration: £9, Merimeri.co.uk

  • Best bedding – Bloomsbury Mill winter wonderland duvet set: £12.99, Bloomsburymill.com

  • Best for wow factor – Betsy Benn Christmas Eve box house: £75, Betsybenn.com

  • Best box for fitting everything in – No Ordinary Gift vintage stamp Christmas Eve crate: £25, Noordinarygift.co.uk

Tickled Moon personalised Christmas book

Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

Nothing beats cuddling up with a great festive story on Christmas Eve, and these personalised offerings from Tickled Moon completely captured our little testers’ imaginations. You can choose from two seasonal titles – The Christmas Boo! or The Christmas Wrapper – each full of fun personal references (from your child’s name to siblings, pets and dream Christmas presents).

Both our two-and-a-half-year-old and five-year-old were so excited to spot their names in the books, and what we loved was how fun and engaging the stories actually were. Some personalised books can feel like the references are all a little too shoehorned in, but these funny, age-appropriate stories felt natural. These are special, keep-forever books that you’ll want to dig out every December.

Buy now £19.95, Tickledmoon.com

Rachel Riley polar bear flannel pyjamas

Best: Christmas Eve pyjamas

Rating: 9/10

Christmas morning calls for the very best pyjamas, so make sure your little one looks the part by adding a pair of Rachel Riley’s luxury offerings to their Christmas Eve box. Made from the cosiest cotton flannel, these are the dreamiest pyjamas for keeping snug and looking great.

The cute polar bear print stops these PJs from heading into “Christmas Day only” territory, and helps to justify the price tag, as well as making them an excellent choice for passing from sibling to sibling. Our five-year-old tester adored the pattern, and he also thought they were the softest pyjamas he’d ever owned and was desperate to wear them on repeat. They run up to size 14 years, so if you’re after that perfect matching pyjama family photo in front of the Christmas tree, these should have you covered.

Buy now £65.00, Rachelriley.co.uk

JoJo Maman Bébé Father Christmas slippers

Best: Christmas Eve slippers

Rating: 9/10

No Christmas Eve box is complete without a pair of slippers, and this sweet pair from JoJo Maman Bébé are a must for younger boys and girls. Featuring a jolly Father Christmas design, we found these to be well made, comfy (our toddler tester happily kept these on, and that speaks volumes!) and small enough to actually fit into the box with no problems.

The stretchy back and pull tab made them easy for our two-and-a-half-year-old tester to pull on and off herself, while the anti-slip grips on the sole stopped any disasters as she hurtled from room to room to show off her new “Santa feet”,

Buy now £16.00, Jojomamanbebe.co.uk

Honeywell Biscuit Co. jar of Christmas Eve biscuits

Best: Christmas Eve biscuits

Rating: 10/10

Adding an edible treat to your Christmas Eve box is always going to go down well, and we felt these delicious gingerbread biscuits made a welcome change from all the chocolate consumed in the run up to the big day. Featuring everything from carrots and reindeer to milk bottles and stockings, this gorgeous collection of iced biscuits is perfectly Christmas Eve-themed, and comes in a use-again glass jar, complete with a beautifully illustrated label.

The biscuits themselves are just so delicious. The taste and texture is heavenly, and we really appreciate how they are the perfect kid-friendly size to enjoy one or two at a time. Our testers often find gingerbread to be a little too much, but these went down a storm, and there were (actual) tears when the jar was finished. They would make an excellent treat for Santa too, if you can bear to save one for him.

Buy now £28.00, Honeywellbakes.com

Orchard Toys Christmas Eve box

Best: Christmas Eve game

Rating: 9/10

With excitement building to fever pitch, it’s a good idea to try and take things down a notch at some point on Christmas Eve. This charming game from Orchard Toys is just the thing. The fun Christmas list game, where players take turns to reveal the tokens and try to match the pictures to their stockings, was simple enough for even our toddler to join in, but still a lot of fun for the whole family.

The box also includes a festive 20-piece jigsaw, which offered the perfect amount of downtime for our five-year-old to sit and concentrate before the whirlwind countdown began again. We really love how it’s free from gimmicks – simply a fun and engaging game and jigsaw that can be brought out and enjoyed as a family each year.

Buy now £13.25, Orchardtoys.com

Lily & Giraffe personalised ‘believe’ rosette badge

Best: For Christmas Eve magic

Rating: 9/10

Let the Big Man be in no doubt as to who believes in the magic of Christmas, with this colourful, personalised rosette. With space to add up to 12 characters, this handmade badge is a thoughtful addition to any Christmas Eve box. Our littlest tester wore her rosette with pride (there’s a safety pin on the back to fix it in place), then insisted we add it to the Christmas tree, so Father Christmas knows where to leave her presents. It’s also a great price for a handmade keepsake that can be used for years.

Buy now £10.00, Notonthehighstreet.com

Jellycat amuseable candy cane soft toy

Best: Christmas Eve cuddly toy

Rating: 8.5/10

We think a festive cuddly toy is a real Christmas Eve box must-have, and this quirky pick from Jellycat really stands out from the crowd. Forget reindeer or baby penguins, this super-snuggly, smiley candy cane won us and our little testers over. Delivering the cute factor in spades, our testers were both desperate to be the one to cuddle up with the candy cane in bed. It’s small enough to pop into a Christmas Eve box and brings all the sweetness without the dreaded sugar rush!

Buy now £19.99, Jellyexpress.co.uk

Juniper Studio Christmas Eve tray

Best: Christmas Eve keepsake

Rating: 9/10

Set Santa and his reindeer up for the big night with this charming Christmas Eve tray. With space for a drink and a treat for Father Christmas, as well as some much-needed sustenance for his reindeer, this enamel tray is more than worthy of a place in your Christmas Eve box. Children love laying everything out before they go to bed, and this personalised tray just makes the whole experience feel extra special. Our little testers like to be hands-on, so we appreciated an enamel tray, rather than a ceramic plate, which would have “Christmas Eve disaster” written all over it. This is sure to become a treasured part of your family Christmas Eve tradition.

Buy now £35.00, Juniperstudio.co.uk

Meri Meri reindeer felt tree decoration

Best: Christmas Eve tree decoration

Rating: 8.5/10

Yes, your tree may have been up and decorated since November, but there’s always room for one more extra special bauble to hang on Christmas Eve. Made from white felt with glittery antlers, a green scarf and statement pom-pom nose, this cute reindeer ornament is as jolly as they come. It’s a great size to put in your Christmas Eve box, and we liked how it was rather indestructible compared with the more delicate glass and plastic baubles that aren’t always as kid-friendly. Our little testers thought this reindeer was adorable and helped pick the perfect spot on our tree for it. It must have been a hit as it was the item that disappeared off the tree on a regular basis (and ended up in our toddler’s room), which is an accolade reserved for only the very best decorations.

Buy now £9.00, Merimeri.co.uk

Bloomsbury Mill winter wonderland duvet set

Best: Christmas Eve bedding

Rating: 9/10

Waking up on Christmas morning in Christmassy bedding is really the ultimate for kids. This charming winter wonderland set comes in cot bed and single bed size, feels soft and lightweight, and instantly added a festive makeover to our little testers’ bedrooms. They loved pointing out all of the different characters and pictures – so much so, it did drag bedtime out a little longer than usual! – and at such a great price, we were thrilled with the quality. What we really like is how, unlike some other festive bedding, this doesn’t feel too “young”, and we can imagine it being just as popular with older children as it was with our young testers.

Buy now £12.99, Bloomsburymill.com

Betsy Benn Christmas Eve box house

Best: For wow factor

Rating: 9/10

When it comes to show-stopping Christmas Eve boxes, we think you’d be hard pushed to beat this enchanting offering from Betsy Benn. Shaped like a house, with a luxurious red velvet ribbon at the top to open it up, this beautiful box is made from sustainable cherry veneer, and everything about it feels special.

What really makes it so unique is all the ways you can personalise the box. You can add your child’s name, family name, your house name and road number, as well as silhouettes of your family pets by the front door – which was met with a LOT of excitement from our little testers. There’s even the option of sending over a photo of the front of your own house, for the team to try and replicate it as best they can.

It’s so much more than a standard Christmas Eve box – this is a festive family heirloom in the making.

Buy now £75.00, Betsybenn.com

No Ordinary Gift vintage stamp Christmas Eve crate

Best: Box for fitting everything in

Rating: 9/10

If you’ve ever found yourself trying to cram in the last of your Christmas Eve box presents, or precariously balancing the box lid on top, we’ve found the answer to your prayers! This vintage-style crate has space to fill with all your gifts, without the worry of wedging the lid back on.

Made from solid pine, it’s sturdy enough to be brought out year after year, and we love the magical print on the front, which comes in festive green, red or blue. You can even personalise the crate with a name and address, so there’s no mistaking who the presents belong to.

Buy now £25.00, Noordinarygift.co.uk

The verdict: Christmas Eve box gifts

Packed full of charm, with the added bonus of being truly personal to your child, the fun Tickled Moon books are guaranteed to spark joy for years to come. If you’re after a sweet treat the whole family will love, we can’t recommend the Honeywell Biscuit Co. jar of Christmas Eve biscuits enough.

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