The Christmas Eve box came to Blighty back in 2017 and two years on the craze is bigger and better than ever. Here we've compiled a complete 2019 guide to Christmas Eve boxes, from what they are to what you should stash inside them
Hang on, what is a Christmas Eve box?
Reports of its existence on these shores, imported from overseas climes, surfaced in 2016 and since then online parenting comment boards are ablaze with discussion about the 'new tradition', which sees lucky children receiving a box of presents on Christmas Eve. Think of it as an early Christmas stocking.
The fad is understood to be borne of the German tradition of opening presents on Christmas Eve, but may also reflect the fact that when December 24 rolls around, families in the UK can simply no longer contain their excitement.
While some see the boxes as adding unnecessary expense and rigmarole to the already crowded Christmas calendar, for others it's a means to convene and treat each other to a few goodies. It adds a sense of ceremony and occasion to the giving of essential items that would have been bought anyway and fits nicely after a family dinner and just before the obligatory mince pie and carrot are left out for Father Christmas and his reindeer.
What should I put in a Christmas Eve box?
The most popular inclusions are;
- Sweet treats, from hot chocolate to marshmallows
For more inspiration, read our guide on the best Christmas Eve box fillers.
How to put together the perfect children's Christmas Eve box
1. The box
Begin with a small crate or a cardboard box – a large shoe box works perfectly, and comes with a neat lid. For something a little sturdier and reusable, try this fantastically red festive Christmas Eve box with a snowflake design. (£22, John Lewis & Partners).
If using your own plain box, line it with festive wrapping paper and craft a custom design on the outside with wrapping paper, glitter or stencils (as ever, Pinterest and Instagram are useful for inspiration here).
2. A Christmas movie
Many parents like to follow the opening of the Christmas box with a cosy Christmas film night to encourage the children to wind down and go to sleep, thus tactfully avoiding their demands to stay up waiting for Father Christmas to appear in the fireplace.
3. A Christmas story
If you're trying to cut back on screen time, or if you don't tend to buy DVDs these days, a Christmas story (or two) may be your preferred option. Try Matt Haig's A Boy Called Christmas (£6.99, Waterstones) which tells the tale of how Father Christmas came to be.
For toddlers and younger children, we recommend Rod Campbell's perennially popular Dear Santa (£4.64, Amazon) or how about the ever poignant The Snowman by Raymond Briggs (£7.99, Waterstones)? A classic.
4. Hot chocolate
Hot chocolate is a Christmas Eve box staple (to be drunk during either the Christmas movie or with the bedtime story (see above). So make it extra special with these very dapper penguins dressed to suit the season. (£16, Trouva).
5. Reindeer food
A proper Christmas Eve box is also in need of a pouch of reindeer food to sprinkle along your walkway before midnight (so the reindeer find their way to your home, obviously). Buy some that's prettily packaged like these animal friendly bags by Two Littles (£6.99, notonthehighstreet.com), or make your own. Just be wary of what you put in it as animals will eat whatever you leave on the ground outside, so ideally get one with bird food mixed in and other treats of this sort.
They'll love finding Piccadilly Sweets' Marshmallow Shake in their box and if they don't scoff them all at once then you could use them for toasting. But if you're lacking in the wood burner department, then head to the Naked Marshmallow Co where you'll find a clever little toasting kit for £19 (not suitable for young children; children should be supervised by an adult).
Gingerbread is a Christmas essential (in our eyes anyway) so pop in a festive biscuit for your little ones to enjoy. Let them dip it in their hot chocolate if you're feeling really indulgent. This iced gingerbread Christmas Tree (£15, Harrods) is just the thing.
Christmas is a time for wearing pyjamas, even during the day so it's an opportune moment to upgrade their nightwear with a matching set, preferably a festive one for the ultimate in cosy Christmas Eve vibes. And, Marks and Spencer does matching adult and kids versions on some of their pjs so the whole family can get involved.
9. A onesie
The onesie may have been adopted by adults but let's be honest, they look so much cuter on kids. And not only do they make a funny alternative to pyjamas, they're actually incredibly warm too so can be worn all winter whether in bed or lounging on the sofa. You can find all kinds of animals but a reindeer all-in-one will keep it Christmas.
Put some slippers in their Christmas Eve box to keep their toes toasty. Create your own Santa's Little Helper with Cosy Reindeer Slipper Boots (£18) or Marks & Spencer's Penguin Slippers (£11) are too adorable for words.
11. A soft toy
A cuddly toy will help get them off to sleep in time for Santa's arrival and this little reindeer from The White Company is ultra soft and snuggly. His name is Jingles too so that's pretty cute.
12. Novelty toothbrushes
A common trick is to disguise everyday essentials as gifts to delight. These Star Wars Lightsaber toothbrushes are a case in point. With flashing lights and impressive sound effects, the Star Wars Lightsaber Toothbrush will have kids of all sizes queuing for the sink – and they needed a new one, anyway, especially with all that chocolate they're about to eat (£9.60, Amazon).
The three best ready-made boxes available to buy now
For time-poor parents, here's our pick of three best Christmas Eve cheat boxes.
Personalised wooden night before Christmas Eve Pre Filled box, pillow case, DVD, Hot chocolate, sweets
This pre-packed box has all the elements they'll need for a cosy Christmas Eve. Alongside a letter from Santa, a gingerbread man, a wooden tree decoration and of course the must-have reindeer food. (£28, notonthehighstreet.com).
2. Cinnamon Bay Personalised wooden night before Christmas Eve Pre Filled box, pillow case, DVD, Hot chocolate, sweets, games
A box for the whole family will keep everyone happy. Inside you'll find a decorative Christmas plate, a Santa bottle, reindeer food, a light up 'Santa Stop Here' sign, hot chocolate and more. (£64.95, Amazon).
3. Virginia Hayward Christmas Eve Box
With candy canes, chocolate coins, hot chocolate, a gingerbread man, marshmallows, an elf door and reindeer food all to be unpacked from this jolly red box, they'll be wide eyed with excitement. And to make it truly personal have their name added to the lid and then reuse it every year (£27.50, Virginia Hayward).