For many of us here in the UK, Christmas Eve is a time of preparation. As well as the obvious jobs like sprouts, presents and potatoes, there are those tasks nobody else ever thinks about. You know the sort of thing.
- Cleaning the loos because Aunty Janine always checks
- Finding the nutcrackers you didn’t find last year
- Mending the table extension because Granddad might sit there
- Dusting the folding chair because Joe’s suddenly bringing his girlfriend
If you’re the one in your household doing most of the Christmas jobs, you’ll know how tricky managing everyone else can be. The older ones are already asking how many pigs in blankets they’ll get each, the younger ones are running around like lunatics. And you? Well you just want everything to be perfect.
We all know that Christmas perfection is a myth but it might be possible to add a bit of calm and family fun into your frantic Christmas Eve.
Outdoor fun for Christmas
If your family, like mine, gets on far better outside than they do inside, we have ten quick outdoor activities to get them (and hopefully you) outside.
- Ten-thing treasure hunt. Put some treats on the table. Gather the family round then explain they’re going to have to work together to find the treasure before they can indulge. Give them a list of treasure-items they might find outside. Include a few easy ones like an ‘orange autumn leaf’, and a few harder ones like ‘a stone that looks like Grandma’. Don’t let anyone back inside until everything’s been found.
- Juggling challenge. Give each family member two balls each (you can wrap them if you like), then show them a simple ‘how to juggle’ video on YouTube and send them outside for a set amount of time. Organise prizes for ‘most improved’, ‘most determined’ and ‘most impressive’. Make sure you’ve got enough prizes and categories for everyone.
- Ministry of Silly Walks. Explain that Santa has decided to give the person with the silliest walk a special present this year. Show the Ministry of Silly Walks video, give each person time to practice then challenge them to walk round the block doing their walk (they need to be outside so that Santa can see them!)
- Inspector Morse Code. Wait until after sunset then give each person a morse code sheet (they can take photos of it on their phones if necessary). Give them five minutes to write out their name in code (allow abbreviations and nicknames as appropriate), then ten minutes to learn how to tap it out. Send everyone out in the garden in turn to flash their name with a torch (or a phone).
- ‘Santa May I?’ Put a Santa hat on, then insist everyone comes outside with you. You stand facing the group, they stand in a line facing you some distance away. Players take it in turns to ask you, ‘Santa, May I?’. You answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’, with instructions as to how to move. For example, ‘Yes but only with elf steps.’ or ‘No, spin on the spot three times.’ The winner is the first person to reach you. The length of the game is up to you.
- The Red Car and the Blue Car. Just before lunch time, show everyone the Red Car and Blue Car Milky Way advert. Ask half the group to find a blue top to wear and the other a red one. Organise a race around the garden, around the block or up and down the street. Each team needs to stay together and have an allocated driver (who can’t run or walk). Both teams need to make it back to Dinner Town before they can have lunch.
- Christmas Clapping. Show everybody this Christmas Clapping Routine video. Then send them outside to create and rehearse their own. Arrange a viewing after dinner (with costumes if they prefer).
- Elves and reindeer. Explain that Santa’s having problems with getting all the presents into the sleigh. He needs more elves and reindeer. Give each person a piece of chalk and send them outside to draw as many elves and reindeer as they can on the pavement (or the patio).
- It’s raining again. We all need fresh air, even when it’s raining. Kit everyone out with wellies (or shoes that don’t matter) then send them out on a specified route to count puddles. One point for a puddle, two points if someone jumps in it, five points for a photo of everyone jumping in it. For extra fun, ask them to guess the number of points before they leave the house.
- Pyjama walk. If Christmas Eve pajamas are a tradition in your house, this one will work for you. Ask everyone to put their Christmas pajamas on along with an odd pair of shoes, someone else’s hat and a jacket that’s either too big or too small. Then send them out for a walk or a dance in the garden. Make sure you have the camera handy!
So there we have it. Hopefully this has given you a few ideas about how to entertain your family on Christmas Eve. What you do while they’re out playing is up to you. You can either take the time to catch up on those jobs, or join in the fun.