What are your family's Christmas Eve traditions?

Tell us where you’re from, as well.

I am originally from New York City, parents from the Carribean and the US South. Our adult kids were raised in Northern California, but until recently living in New York and Turkey.

It used to be about “midnight mass”, and watching "Scrooge ", and later, as a parent of visiting adult children, tossing up the tree before planes landed, THEN watching “Scrooge”, and furiously wrapping presents.

This year might be different. Tree and lights already up!


Christmas Eve afternoon is at my mom’s…we eat cookies and my dad reads " The Night Before Christmas" and my mom reads the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke. We’ve done that for decades, and even though the grandkids are all adults, it’s still a treasured life moment on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Day has been at my sister’s for years (we are incredibly fortunate to all live close together)…but while Thanksgiving is always the same menu Christmas always changes…this year I’m in charge of the standing rib roast.

We quit exchanging gifts years ago between the adults, so the kids get gift cards (their choice), and gifts are only within the household. It started when the kids were little, and we all realized we were spending time and money we didnt have to buy things that we didnt need…so we started spending time looking at lights and enjoying friends and family instead.

(In Florida, but it’s been a long strange trip)

The most amazing Christmas Eve was when we were living in France…we made a point of going to Notre Dame in Paris for Christmas Eve mass…it is a treasured memory to have heard the grand lady in her full glory as she was designed to be used.


Amen to that.


Am in my adopted home for the past 29 years - the greater Seattle-Tacoma area.

Christmas Eve, as well as Christmas itself keeps evolving, with that especially being true this year!

Usually it’s always dinner out at either a favorite Asian place or Italian. We have cocktails, great food, and always a wonderful dessert. We then used to open one gift, which for the kids was pajamas. They’re grown now, so sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t gift PJ’s. In the last few years the girls have gotten dogs and cats, so they go back to Seattle, and return on Christmas Day to open gifts and have dinner. It’s almost always prime or standing rib roast, but we switch up sides and desserts. Due to Covid, we’re skipping all traditions, but will gather safely outside after the day of, to exchange gifts.
Don’t know about food yet, and it’s still subject to change.


Meant to say the girls became pet parents, and not that they got cats and dogs for Christmas lol. Sentence didn’t read right…


From KC originally, there and here in Oregon, we always had chili with all the fixings.


What style of chili, and with beans or without @bbqboy? Also, what are your family favorite toppings?

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Standard ground beef chili w/beans, made with William’s chili seasoning which my sister would always send from KC. I would add my dad was a native Texan, born in Ballinger, and his family recipe always had beans, usually kidneys. Pintos are a separate dish altogether. :slight_smile:

After living in Arizona, we added green chile stew/ Chile verde to the feast.
Bowls of noodles and rice, diced onions, grated cheddar, black olives, and whatever else seemed interesting :thinking:
Those were the days…


It sounds good! Those days ended too soon, didn’t they…? Did you make cornbread too, biscuits perhaps, or maybe tortillas?

This year, since its Covid, and everything usually done is not happening, I’m thinking of making pork posole, probably some cornbread also, since I’m craving both things. Thought about making a few tamales, but probably not quite motivated enough for that production. Think I might be able to pull together some Mexican hot chocolate with a little Kahlua in there, and whipped cream on top.

Whatever, it will all work, with the added bonus of not having to manage anyone’s expectations. That is a good thing!


Biscuits and tortillas; we were never much of a cornbread family.


Thanks for sharing your family traditions @bbqboy. Biscuits and tortillas - both yum!


East coast. West coast. All around the town.

Christmas Eve can be simple or raucous; depends on the guests. Family usually plans a meal of indoor/outdoor cooking. The kids look forward to live music, fire pit cooking and the one time all year I sing with my crazy arse siblings rather than just play. We invite our friends on a drop in basis.

This year is going to be a much smaller cast of characters and a lot of Facetime calls while my wife, son and I enjoy Uno, grilled pizzas and beer midday. Our son promised to prepare chocolate mousse he learned how to fix proper while studying abroad in France a few years back for us and my sister.

Firmer Christmas Eve traditions sort of faded when my sublings and I became the elders of our family :wink:.


Now that it’s just the two of us, we always make something special for dinner & watch “Love Actually”. Or “Die Hard”.


Now those are interesting choices! Sound like me and the hubs. I like the little girl’s rendition of "All I Want for Christmas ", but otherwise I’m all about “Die Hard”.

Word is she had to “dumb it down”!


While I love Die Hard and Love Actually, I don’t really consider them Christmas movies. Now, It’s a Wonderful Life is a different story. Too bad I can’t my copy now and I’m a little upset about that. :slightly_smiling_face::christmas_tree:


My niece just requested we watch Jingle Jangle on Netflix Christmas Eve. Something new!


Our rotation as always, White Christmas with Bing and Danny Kaye, Charlie Brown, Rudolph, and The Grinch all originals of course. :christmas_tree: :christmas_tree: :christmas_tree:


Maybe a compromise for “Love Hard” followed by “Die Actually”?

(If those existed, I think I wouldn’t go see them.)

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I’m originally from the Pittsburgh area, where people of Slovak heritage and other Central European countries have very specific Christmas Eve traditions involving foods eaten once a year.

It’s all about Christmas Eve.

A sweet-and-sour mushroom and cabbage soup, fish, horseradish, langos (in our case, this resembled a sort of yeasted flatbread stuffed with sauerkraut), raw garlic cloves to be dipped in salt, and wafers (oplatki) to be dipped in honey were the main traditional dishes on the family table.

Each dish is symbolic. I won’t even try to explain the meanings because I’m certain I’d get them wrong.

You’re also supposed to feed pets first—or perhaps put breadcrumbs out for birds—to honor the animals that shared shelter with the Holy Family after they were turned away at the inn. And that’s but a taste of the folklore and the ritual surrounding the Christmas Eve meal!

As an adult, most years until recently my husband and I have had to travel at the holidays. We made our own tradition of either dining out or getting delicious takeout that’s unavailable in the locales of our extended family. Food from a neighborhood Thai place has been a favorite in recent years. Before that we had a go-to Indian restaurant that sadly closed several years ago.

Now virtually all the elders on my side have passed. The Slovak traditions will probably be a memory unless we manage to reunite with my cousins some year.

Though I did manage to make langos to take to my brother-in-law’s house last year. They ate the “sauerkraut bread“ enthusiastically, so you never know. Maybe I’ll get to pass along a tradition or two to another generation.