Christmas Eve boxes and other Christmassy things I won’t do

Over the last couple of years, ie the time I have spent hanging around on social media, I have noticed a strange new phenomenon.

Christmas Eve boxes.

In case you’re not aware, these are essentially presents. On Christmas Eve. Y’know, the day before your kids get a sh*t load of presents. They include things like new pyjamas, DVDs, books and treats like hot chocolate and popcorn. I have seen some which contain more presents, in number if not in value, than I GIVE MY KIDS ON CHRISTMAS DAY.

Call me Scrooge, but it doesn’t seem to make any sense.

For one thing, most kids get a lot of Christmas presents on Christmas day. Fundamentally, why do they need more presents the day before? Could it not just possibly be spoiling them a bit? Should we be bringing kids up to expect presents on Christmas Eve? What’s next? New Year’s Day? The longest day of the year? The end of term? The third Thursday in November?

From a parent’s point of view (or maybe it’s just me being grumpy), Christmas shopping is flipping hard work. Why would you make yourself shop for even more presents?!

Oh, and then there’s a freaky doll thing that sits on a shelf or anywhere else to scare the kids into behaving all December. But not only that, said freaky doll thing makes a nuisance of himself – he unravels toilet roll around the house, he spills food, he pulls the decorations off the tree. He makes a different sort of mess every night for the WHOLE OF DECEMBER.

Again, call me Scrooge, but I don’t much like housework. So why the blinking flip would I trash my own house, so that I could clear it up again the next day?! While good humouredly tutting and laughing at the antics of a piece of plastic tat. Who actually didn’t make the mess, because it was actually me spilling food and unravelling toilet roll. Which will then become more unnecessary waste in landfill.

In addition, I don’t hand-make anything – decorations, cards or presents and I don’t do ‘Christmas crafts’ or ‘Christmas baking’. I’m not a baking or craft type of mum and I’m not going to magically transform into one just because the calendar tells me it’s the 12th month of the year.

What I am, though, is a good mum. I’m there for my kids, all day, every day. I stand in the cold while they play football and rugby and drive to dance lessons. I do everything a good mum does. I love my kids and they love me.

They have a lovely Christmas tree and the house looks festive (decorated with shop-bought decorations). They get to spend Christmas with not only their parents and siblings, but grandparents, uncles and aunties and their little cousin. They get to visit Santa on a steam train and go to the Christmas Eve carol service at the church. They have a good, but not excessive, amount of presents, which they love and appreciate. They enjoy Christmas and so do we.

I’m just really flipping grateful they’re not following a load of mums on Instagram though. Because otherwise they might be thoroughly disappointed with their distinctly ordinary Christmas.

Each to their own and all that. If you and your kids enjoy Christmas Eve boxes and the Elf on the flipping Shelf, of course that is up to you. We all make Christmas our own. Personally I like my whole family to give me a Christmas card, but nobody else agrees with that!

Christmas tree, Christmas, Christmas traditions

Author: Sarah Mummy

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41 Comments

  1. Yes, yes , yes. Bloody shelf your elf – another stupid import from USA. I have friends that used to wrap new pjs up for XMAS Eve so their children looked smart on the XMAS Day photos. Stuff n nonsense I say!!
    As for any CHRISTMAS Crafting – it was always for my benefit, not my over indulged offspring lol. Now my two kids are very boring and went and grew up on me, but these two new traditions are definitely not something I keep in my ‘ if they were only little again’ repertoire!
    Fingers crossed this posts! I’ve added you on my blog list now too!

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    • Thank you! It’s so good to hear I’m not the only one who won’t be busying into these new ‘traditions’ any time soon. Thanks for adding me to your blog list too πŸ™‚

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  2. I can’t bear those elves- toys that come to life and get up to mischief while you sleep is a horror movie plot not a festive activity! We do have a tradition of new PJs Xmas Eve, but that’s a carry over from my ex-husbands childhood – and one that has become a tradition that has remained post divorce, and we do have hot chocolate Xmas Eve- but no presents or elaborate boxes- tho as you say, each to their own!

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    • Thank you! I hadn’t even considered it sounds like a plot from a horror movie, but I see what you mean now!
      I can understand the pyjamas thing, but I know it would never be allowed in our house as my husband would see it as a complete waste of money!

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  3. I hadn’t noticed the Christmas eve present thing if I’m honest, but totally agree! My 3 all had a new onesie each (a first for the boys!) from Santa/Parents and as for that bloody Elf, it’s just plain weird, I have enough to do without as you say trashing the house each night, cleaning it up the next day & then trying to think of another ‘naughty pose’ for the elf, but each to their own!
    Judging by other peoples pictures on social media, our Christmas was quite low key, but it was brilliant, we all relaxed, had fun & spent time as a family, no rushing around trying to make things look perfect, there’s enough pressure on parents this time of year & I know that I sometimes think I should be making/crafting something but I’m a bit shit at these things so don’t bother!

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    • Thanks very much. So glad you agree on the pointlessness of the elf!
      Sounds like you had a good Christmas! Probably very similar to ours – we all just relaxed and had a good time and surely that’s what Christmas should be all about!

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  4. Yes! Well I do like making and baking at Xmas but I understand if that’s not your thing but the Xmas Eve boxes and the elves are very bizarre. I hate the elves I think they are creepy and yes why give presents the day before they get lots of presents? It makes no sense

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    • Thanks very much! So glad I’m not the only one who thinks this!
      I get that crafting and baking are your thing (and lots of other people’s) and they do it all year round, so it seems natural to do it at Christmas too. For other people, it just becomes an extra pressure they should do without!

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  5. I hate elf on a shelf I really don’t understand it at all. I do Christmas Eve bags, which ahve new pjs ( so they look decent on Christmas morning for the pictures) a DVD nice we watch together, popcorn, not choc and a book. We celebrate for three days as my mom and nan come on Christmas eve and the kids open there presents so they can see them do it. Our presents Christmas day, then my dads and sisters boxing day. I think it’s all about different ways people celebrate. Some kids open stockings first, some wait. I love the Christmas eve bags and its settles them down before the big day.

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    • Thanks very much. There’s a lot of people who obviously dislike and don’t understand the elf!
      You’re right, everyone celebrates in different ways and if presents on Christmas Eve work for you and your family, that’s good.

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  6. I like Claire’s kindness elves – they do something nice for you in the night and then give you a suggestion of something kind you could do for someone else the next day. πŸ™‚ But I absolutely agree that there is no need to try and become someone you are not just to keep up with the online Joneses. If you are not a crafty bakey mum then why try to be one to spread more Christmas cheer?!? Your kids seem totally cheery and happy with an uncrafty Christmas. Also, I think when you’re not terrible crafty yourself your kids just develop other interests (like sport) that suit the family dynamic better.

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    • Thank you, Judith! That is so true. I hadn’t even considered that families like ours do different things that suit our own family dynamic. I know there are plenty of parents who can think of nothing worse than standing in the cold for football and rugby every weekend!

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  7. Pa ha ha ha ha πŸ™‚ I’d like presents on every one of those days you’ve mentioned please! The elf with the smiley eyes is really creepy and if I could mute the hashtag on Instagram I’d so do it! I never get the concept of them being naughty to make kids behave!

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    • Thank you! I would totally mute the hashtag too!
      That’s a very good point – I hadn’t even considered the contradiction of the damn thing being naughty to supposedly make kids behave. That really does make no sense!

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  8. I don’t know that we are raising spoilt brats, but some parents are certainly setting themselves up for heartache and headaches if they can’t keep up with the “traditions” they’ve started.
    As you say, and rightly so, each to their own, but parents should ask themselves why they are introducing such things to their children; is it to keep up with others or because they genuinely believe their children deserve some thing the day before getting a shit load of presents.
    I grew up with many a Christmas where we got no presents, so the idea of pre Christmas Day presents is totally alien to me, I just don’t get it!

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    • Thanks very much. That must have been so hard as a kid growing up and getting no presents at Christmas. That certainly puts the excesses of Christmas in general and especially the Christmas Eve boxes into perspective.
      How can any child ‘deserve’ presents the day before getting loads of presents? I am totally convinced it’s all about keeping up with others.

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  9. firstly I have a oust just like this sat in my drafts!

    Could not agre more. These Christmas Eve boxes are ridiculous, just setting kids up to be materialistic.

    Mine have new PJs Xmas eve but that’s usually as they are due new ones this time of year.

    Totally disagree with these elf on the shelf craze. I too hate housework and can’t understand why you would make work for yourself. Also when has it been the done thing to make districting a house a good thing? Distraction of anything is wrong why would you teach your kids it’s acceptable?

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    • Yay! Good to know you were thinking along the same lines! I was wondering whether I’d made a mistake by posting it after Christmas when everyone was over Christmas and wouldn’t read it, but I only thought about it on Christmas day! I hadn’t made a mistake! It’s been my most popular post in AGES! It’s had such a positive reaction.
      I can understand the new pyjamas thing – it’s something kids generally need anyway.
      So true that the elf is actually making kids think that making a mess deliberately is acceptable. That really does make no sense!

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  10. i completely agree with you. Christmas is expensive enough without adding more presents to the mix and I did try Elf on the Shelf one year – I gave up as a) I ran out of things to do and b) the kids weren’t bothered lol

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    • Absolutely!
      I kind of like it that you tried the elf and it failed! πŸ™‚

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  11. The last few years I have done Christmas Eve boxes…..My girls used to get pj’s, some crafty stuff and a dvd…..To occupy them while I was preparing the Christmas dinner…..This year I didn’t bother! I just didn’t have time. The girls had their new pj’s that was it….
    We had an Elf on the shelf….Don’t hate me…lol x

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    • Ha ha, I don’t hate you! Each to their own. Families have to do what works for them. x

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  12. I am totally with you on the Elf business. December is busy enough without some Elf trashing your house on a daily basis. You wont catch me in the kitchen either making gingerbread houses or sprinkling glitter on card. However we do all have a great family Christmas every year. Great post Sarah x

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    • Yay, that’s all that matters!
      Thanks very much, really appreciate your comments. x

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  13. I’m with you here. We wrap a pair of new pj’s for O to open on Xmas eve and that’s it. No elf. No box. No dvds or presents. We spend Xmas eve visiting family we won’t see on Xmas day then come home to put out a mince pie and carrot and take our stockings to bed. Here’s to a traditional Christmas without all these new fangled “traditions” that are only a few years old. Let’s have gratitude for those gifts we do receive but more importantly, appreciate the love of the people around us.

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    • Absolutely! Those are all the things that really matter.

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  14. This year was the first year I had seen Christmas Eve boxes, they were everywhere! Except here, nope not doing that. And isn’t Santa and his helpers suppose to have a naughty/nice list, without an elf destroying my house??
    As for the crafts, guilty as charged, your honour. But I love doing them, not with the kids, just me!

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    • I know how much you love your crafts! And you’re really good at them. Each to their own, I admire people who have those skills! But if you’re a non-crafty person you shouldn’t feel the pressure to do them just because it’s December.
      Yes! I think Father Christmas is perfectly capable of keeping track of who is being good and who isn’t without trashing anyone’s house!

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  15. I’m glad I’m not the only elf hater here! It’s all so competitive when it really doesn’t matter one bit to the kids at all

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    • Yes! Such important points – it is so competitive and it doesn’t matter to the kids! So why do people even bother, unless to make themselves look good?

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  16. I think by the sound of things I am glad my boys are too old to do Elf on the Shelf and we escaped to very much less present-orientated France! Certainly no Christmas Eve boxes here. I do bake at Christmas but then I bake all year round and in years gone by, pre children and pre gite/smallholding, I did make cards. Not now! I totally agree that Christmas has, in many cases, become too materialistic and too competitive. Did our boys suffer from the lack of crafts, Elves and Christmas Eve presents? I don’t think so. Games played together as a family and long walks on the beach will probably be remembered far longer than a box of presents on Christmas Eve.

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    • I’m glad my kids are too old for this stuff too, although I’m confident I wouldn’t have been drawn in by it even when they were younger.
      Like my kids, yours didn’t suffer from the lack of this stuff and just had a lovely, relaxing Christmas πŸ™‚

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  17. Too flipping’ right! I had no idea about Xmas eve boxes, but it doesn’t surprise me. Its more of the commercialism of Christmas partnered with over-indulging our kids phenomenon. I agree with Judith that the only elf i like is Claire’s which she uses to encourage unselfishness in Advent. I have done some homemade presents and my daughter has made some fab little things but hats cos I like doing it and also in an attempt to make Xmas less bloomin expensive and less commercial. So thanks for your post, Sarah. Nice and refreshing (I’ll be calling you PG Tips next!) S

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    • Thank you! What a lovely comment. I hadn’t heard of the kindness elf, but that doesn’t sound like a good idea to remind kids of the true meaning of Christmas.
      It’s a good idea to do homemade presents if you have the time and enjoy it. And if you don’t, that’s fine too! Nobody should feel any pressure to do it.

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  18. Thank goodness you wrote this, I thought I was the only one who didn’t provide a Christmas Eve box. My son hasn’t missed out though as he’s never heard of it.

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    • Thank you! That’s certainly how it felt looking at Instagram on Christmas Eve! My kids haven’t heard of it either. Long may it continue!

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  19. Finally someone who talks some sense. I don’t understand why you need to give a child a gift the night before they get more gifts than is necessary! Why????
    As for Elf on the flipping shelf. Get. A. Grip. All you are doing is saying to your kids that it is fine to misbehave and made a mess and act in a ridiculous manner, but wait, you have to be good to be on Santa’s good list and if you dare unroll a whole lot of toilet paper round the house you are going to get a rollicking. But hey its hilarious if it is a creepy doll that does it.

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    • Thanks very much! I’m so glad I’ve had so many comments talking sense. I felt like I was the only one who thought these things.
      It’s so true that having an ‘elf’ make a mess as a way to make kids behave makes no sense whatsoever!

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  20. Don’t do any of those here either! The ideas were obviously created by consumerism to persuade us to part with even more of our hard-earned cash during the festive season!!!

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  21. Trying a second time at commenting (you’ve had a million comments since!). Totally agree, what a refreshing post, its all gone crazy with our kids getting yes, spoilt, lets say it, with far too much stuff. I’ve never heard of Xmas eve boxes, to be honest, but it doesn’t surprise me. More of the same over-consumption and over-doing it to keep the kids happy that is becoming so normal now. The Elf on the Shelf thing has passed me by too, and like Judith, I like Claire’s but only because it encourages kindness and unselfishness in advent – brilliant idea of hers. Me and my daughter do make some of our own presents but only because a) i love it and b) it makes Christmas presents more personal and less expensive! And I have it on reliable authority that they’re nice!

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  22. No to the Elf is all I can say! I’m not a fan, and tbh I’m not that fussed about reading about/looking at their antics either

    We always go out for a family meal on Christmas eve so one of the boxes wouldn’t be an option for us. N does have new pjs on Christmas even – usually Christmassy ones. And he’s usually had some new Christmas books in the run up – but then we buy quite a lot of books anyway. But nothing else. He just has to wait til stockings on Christmas morning

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