It was the night before Christmas and all through the house….
For children, Christmas Eve is THE most exciting night of the year. They’ve left their carrots for the reindeer, the glass of sherry for Father Christmas and they’re sleeping with one ear open to listen out for the sleigh bells.
So far so traditional.
But, there’s a new night-before ritual that is fast gaining popularity amongst parents. Enter, Christmas Eve boxes.
Now instead of having to wait until 25 December to open their first gift, more and more parents are treating their little ones to Christmas Eve boxes to break the anticipation of the big day.
But what even are Christmas Eve boxes? And do they add to the festive fun or pile on the pressure for parents?
The boxes, usually filled with little presents, such as chocolate, pyjamas, books and puzzles, are a growing trend that saw a spike in interest last Christmas.
According to the BBC, Google searches for Christmas Eve boxes reached their highest ever-point between 13 and 19 November last year, tripling search figures from 2014.
Meanwhile, Matalan sold out of 10,000 Christmas Eve boxes in the run up to Christmas last year, and Notonthehighstreet.com claimed Christmas Eve box sales had increased by a staggering 364% between 2015 and 2016.
And this year the trend is set to grow even further. A quick search of Instagram throws up more than 33K posts for the hashtag #christmasevebox
Like most Christmas traditions there are two ways to get involved in the Christmas Eve box thing ; buy one ready-made or make your own.
Boxes sold by retailers vary drastically in price. Notonthehighstreet’s range varies from £12 for a more basic cardboard option to around £100 for a luxury wooden Christmas Eve chest.
A more affordable option is to make like Kirstie Allsopp and make your own.
I succumbed to the whole Christmas Eve box thing for the first time last year. Having previously been reluctant to be adding one more thing to the parenting festive to-do list. (See also Elf on the Shelf.) Plus, don’t they get enough?
But I have to admit it was lovely seeing their faces as they opened them last year. I got everything inside from a couple of High Street shops and chose small gifts that attempted to be educational – a Christmas colouring book, a festive story book and a Santa puzzle.
These worked a treat for keeping the kids distracted on Christmas morning and they went back to them throughout the day.
I threw in some new PJs and Christmas chocolate and both of them couldn’t have been happier with their loot.
While I’m now sold on the tradition, others argue the boxes are something of a gimmick and just one more opportunity to add to the commercialism of Christmas.
A recent Mumsnet post from a parent asking what the point of Christmas Eve boxes sparked a debate about whether they are just another opportunity to spend money.
“It’s basically giving xmas presents on Xmas eve,” one parent argued. “It seems popular with working class culture who take photos of mounds of presents. It’s another opportunity to maximise on the presents. Somebody last year also did a box on 1st Dec and new years eve. God knows where people put all this crap.”
“It’s a bunch of consumerist b*****s and another excuse to buy your kids more stuff,” another user agreed.
But others argued the tradition was a great way of helping little ones wind down from all the pre-Christmas excitement and spend time together as a family.
“I found it was a good way of getting over excited children into bed: new PJs, film and a milky drink,” one user commented.
“Honestly for us it’s part of the routine for Christmas that makes getting them settled for bed easier,” another agreed. “Ours isn’t a fancy box though, it’s DPs boot box wrapped in Christmas paper. We have PJs, popcorn, hot chocolate and a DVD in it and they munch the popcorn, drink the hot chocolate (which is a treat rather than an every day thing) and make paper chains before tootling happily off to bed.”
Love em or hate em, Christmas Eve boxes are clearly the divider of parents, but if you like the idea of trying the trend out for yourself, here’s some suggestions of what to include.
What to put in your child’s Christmas Eve box:
- Some hot chocolate powder and marshmallows
- New PJs to wear on Christmas Eve
- Festive puzzles or games to keep your children occupied on Christmas Day
- A Christmas book or film
- A Christmas colouring book
- Some festive snacks – like chocolate snowballs, etc..
- A novelty Christmas mask or headband.
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