10 best Christmas Eve boxes that will fill children with festive cheer

·9-min read
Testing both pre-filled and empty treasure troves, we gave extra points to those with festive detail and personalisation   (iStock/The Independent)
Testing both pre-filled and empty treasure troves, we gave extra points to those with festive detail and personalisation (iStock/The Independent)

‘Twas the night before Christmas... and your child was desperate to open a present. Sound familiar? We thought so.

Christmas Eve has a tendency to be a bit of a rollercoaster. It’s the last day to get your ducks in a row and the kid’s excitement levels are through the roof.

Much like leaving a mince pie or swig of the strong stuff out for Father Christmas, and a carrot or two for his fleet of reindeers, the Christmas Eve box is becoming quite the festive tradition. It allows kids to open a present a day early, and is a lovely way to kickstart the celebrations. But which one should you buy?

How we tested

Christmas Eve came early for our two little testers, aged three and five years old. Together, we looked at a range of boxes – both pre-filled and empty – suitable for the job. We paid close attention to the festive detailing, the size of the box in question and gave extra kudos for those that could be personalised.

Of course, price was under close inspection too, given not only the expense of Christmas, but the contents that may be required to put in the box too.

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The best Christmas Eve boxes for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – My 1st Years personalised red Christmas Eve box: £30, My1styears.com

  • Best for toddlers – JoJo Maman Bébé Christmas Eve pyjama gift set: £49, Jojomamanbebe.co.uk

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

  • Best luxury box – Selfridges star Christmas Eve box: £70, Selfridges.com

  • Best gift experience – Santa’s Calling You secret Santa family box, from £12.99, Santascallingyou.co.uk

  • Best festive-inspired design – Candy Land Christmas Eve box: £10, Paperchase.com

  • Best for timelessness – Hobbycraft wooden Christmas Eve box: £10, Hobbycraft.co.uk

  • Best for versatility – Meri Meri cat suitcases (set of 2): £28, Merimeri.co.uk

  • Best for gifting from afar – Marks & Spencer a little taste of Christmas letterbox gift: £20, Marksandspencer.com

  • Best purse-friendly option – Next children’s Christmas Eve box: £7, Next.co.uk

My 1st Years personalised red Christmas Eve box

Best: Overall

Rating: 9/10

Personalisation adds to the magic of Christmas and, naturally, the personalisation experts at My 1st Years are offering a selection of unique Christmas paraphernalia, from decadent decorations to enchanting gifts, for 2021. Before the big day though, kick proceedings off with this charming Christmas Eve box. There’s complimentary personalisation up to 12 letters, and the box’s dimensions are 28.1cm x 16.3cm x 14.2cm, meaning there’s room for a teddy, a pair of socks, Christmas jumper and any extra festive fodder you fancy. We love the American airmail-inspired design, complete with cute star handle for easy opening. Made from plywood, the quality is impressive and will see you through plenty of Christmas Eves to come. Time to start a new tradition, we think.

Buy now £30.00, My1styears.com

JoJo Maman Bébé Christmas Eve pyjama gift set

Best: For toddlers

Rating: 9/10

A dead giveaway that there’s only one more sleep to go is a new pair of pyjamas to cosy up with on Christmas Eve. Baby and children’s specialist, JoJo Maman Bébé has gone one step further by creating this beautifully presented Christmas Eve pyjama gift set. Untie the ribbon and inside you’ll find cotton reindeer pyjamas with tartan bottoms, adorable matching reindeer slippers with a Velcro fastening, and a stocking to hang out in anticipation of the big day. Only available from ages 18 months to two years, while your toddler mightn’t show quite as much appreciation as the doting parents, this is a festive fanfare which will see you uploading #babyspam in no time at all.

Buy now £49.00, Jojomamanbebe.co.uk

Orchard Toys Christmas Eve box

Best: For playing

Rating: 9/10

Orchard Toys is the king of educational games. We recently crowned its famous shopping list game (£8.50, Orchardtoys.com) our best buy in our review of the best kids’ memory games, and continue to be impressed with the brand. This dedicated Christmas Eve box features a festive version of the award-winning shopping list matching memory game, with the trolley replaced by a stocking, and a 20-piece jigsaw puzzle. Designed for ages three to six, we’re confident this will occupy overexcited kids.

Buy now £13.25, Orchardtoys.com

Selfridges star Christmas Eve box

Best: Luxury box

Rating: 9/10

Want to add a touch of luxe to the night before Christmas? Available in sizes two to seven years, this Christmas Eve box from Selfridges is the most indulgent of all the boxes we tested. At £70, it’s a little pricey, but we think it’s a seasonal showstopper. So, what’s inside? Every child deserves to snuggle up to a soft Jellycat toy on Christmas Eve, and it doesn’t get much more apt than a furry penguin. Its Polar Express paperback book makes for a wonderful pre-Christmas read, but the real standout product for us are the navy star pyjamas. With an all-over satin texture, these 100 per cent cotton pyjamas have gorgeous gold star embroidery and pearlescent buttons – making them the perfect pair of PJs to fall asleep in on a special night, and wake up in on the most magical day of the year.

Buy now £70.00, Selfridges.com

Santa’s Calling You secret Santa family box

Best: Gift experience

Rating: 8/10

Now, for something a little different, look no further than a Christmas Eve box from the company that allows your family to have a live video call with Santa from the comfort of your home. Designed to be opened either before or during your call with Santa, or on Christmas Eve (it’s worth bearing in mind that the call is an additional £19.99), you’ll be sent a selection of Christmas-inspired paraphernalia. If you want to heighten your children’s experience, we’d suggest sourcing an extra box to put the items in to add to the excitement. You’ll get Santa’s bingo and Santa’s dice games to play as a family, two colouring-in sheets complete with four mini colouring pencils, a sachet of reindeer food – a personal favourite – as well as a letter from “Chief Elf,” and a fridge magnet.

Buy now £12.99, Santascallingyou.co.uk

Candy Land Christmas Eve box

Best: Festive-inspired design

Rating: 8/10

In the shape of a traditional gingerbread house, this Christmas Eve box is illustrated as a winter wonderland with Christmas trees, mince pies and snowmen to name but a few. Our favourite feature? It has to be the multicoloured pom-pom attachments sitting atop of the snowy roofed lid, mimicking Christmas lights. At nearly 20cm wide and 22cm tall, it’ll fit a handful of small festive treats. We love the fun design of this box, which is printed on recycled Kraft paper and is widely recyclable after use.

Buy now £10.00, Paperchase.com

Hobbycraft wooden Christmas Eve box

Best: For timelessness

Rating: 8/10

With plenty of space for fun festive treats (sized 30cm x 20cm x 13cm), this sturdy wooden Christmas Eve box from Hobbycraft is a classic. Inscribed with “Christmas Eve Box” and snowflake detailing, the light wood gives an understated Scandi feel. Fill this box up each year to celebrate the night before Christmas in a new family tradition.

Buy now £10.00, Hobbycraft.co.uk

Meri Meri cat suitcases (set of 2)

Best: For versatility

Rating: 9/10

Not your conventional Christmas Eve box, but gold is part of the Christmas palette, right? American-born brand Meri Meri is known for its partyware and seasonal decorations, so naturally its set of cat suitcases clawed its way into our round-up. Made with some serious attention to detail, the suitcases are beautifully crafted from laminated card featuring brass buckles, neon cord stitching and gold leatherette handles (and ears, of course!). The large case is just the right size for pre-Christmas treats at 29cm wide, while the smaller one is 24cm wide, and will fit a few smaller objects. Okay, so it’s not full of yuletide cheer like many others in this round-up, but we think these suitcases will be used beyond Christmas Eve, making them a purrrrfect choice.

Buy now £28.00, Merimeri.co.uk

Marks & Spencer a little taste of Christmas letterbox gift

Best: For gifting from afar

Rating: 9/10

Have a chocolate lover in your household? Yes, you’re not alone. This year Marks & Spencer has thought of it all with its Christmas letterbox gift, which we think makes a wonderful Christmas Eve gift if you’re unable to be there in person. It may be compact enough to fit through your letterbox, but fear not, as it’s packed to the rafters inside. Containing some of M&S’s favourites, Colin the Caterpillar mint faces, and festive inspired Percy Pig sweeties, you’ll also find unusual suspects like tasty sprouts and minty snowballs. There’s also a little pack of Christmas jokes, which had the whole family chuckling.

Buy now £20.00, Marksandspencer.com

Next children’s Christmas Eve box

Best: Purse-friendly option

Rating: 8/10

No peeking… this Christmas Eve box is inexpensive at £7 and the cheapest of all that we reviewed. But it does the trick and is surprisingly sturdy given that it’s made of cardboard. At 28cm wide and a similar length in height, with just one more sleep to go, open the lid and fill with festive trinkets such as a small book, something edible and a little toy to cuddle up with before the big day arrives.

Buy now £7.00, Next.co.uk

The verdict: Christmas Eve Boxes

The personalised red Christmas Eve box from My 1st Years is a worthy winner for us. Made from sturdy wood, it’ll see you through many Christmas Eves, while the festive detailing provides Yuletide splendour. But the star on top of the tree has to be the complimentary personalisation, which is a magical touch!

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