Tips for getting your kids to sleep on Christmas Eve

Worried about getting your children to go to sleep on Christmas Eve?

Excitement levels peak for kids on Christmas Eve but that means getting your children to go to sleep feels like a battle!

The struggle to get children to go to bed the night before Christmas stems from a few things. 

The key one is obviously the excitement at Santa coming and all the presents they will be tearing into on Christmas Day. 

But it’s also the food (because Christmas time comes with a lot of sugary snacks and big spreads of buffet nosh), and the change in routine.

Even though you may be in familiar surroundings on Christmas Eve, their routine will feel different due to the decorations around the house, the specials on television and the relatives who will be popping in and out to visit. It just feels like a special time of year, which means your kids won’t want to waste a minute of it on sleep!

top tips for getting kids to sleep on Christmas Eve

So how can you help your kids go to sleep at a reasonable hour on Christmas Eve?

Check out these top tips for getting the kids to sleep on Christmas Eve so that you can enjoy a peaceful evening before the big day!

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1. Keep them busy during the day

You may have lots to get organised on Christmas Eve, such as buying the turkey and last minute bits of food. 

But try to factor in a walk, as fresh air will really help to tire your kids out a little. 

Organise some festive crafts or games at home. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, just something simple like drawing Christmas pictures to put on the fridge. 

Try to keep them active and busy leading up to the late afternoon so that they will have burned off some of that extra energy. 

2. Give them a Christmas Eve box

Christmas Eve box

You can hopefully calm down their desperation for gifts a little with a Christmas Eve box. These are a relatively new tradition but you can put together something really lovely without having to spend an absolute fortune. 


A good Christmas Eve box may include festive socks, a Christmassy jumper, silly noisy toy, and an activity book. 

3. Have a relaxing bath

A warm bath can really help your child to relax and begin to wind down for bedtime. 

On Christmas Eve try not to make it a really quick bath, so allow plenty of time for them to splash around and have fun in the water. 

Try to use a bubble bath that contains lavender or similar soothing scents that help to promote sleepy feelings!

Babies and toddlers may benefit from a little massage with either baby oil or a nice child-friendly moisturiser. Just gently rub it into their tummy, back and limbs. It can really help to relax them for sleep!

4. Get them new PJs

This is a perfect gift to include in a Christmas Eve box. If the PJs are new and have their favourite character from TV on them they will be desperate to put their pyjamas on, which is half the battle at bedtime!

5. Read extra stories 

It is a special occasion so it should be fun! But if you want your kids to get to sleep, try to avoid letting them play with any toys at this time. Read them a couple of extra books at bedtime instead. 


You could get some Christmassy themed books, but whatever you choose go for books that are soothing, capture their attention and don’t involve encouraging them to dance around the room like crazy!

The books I am loving right now are The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse, and The Crayons’ Christmas.

Tips for getting your children to sleep on Christmas Eve

6. Give them a slightly later bedtime

Routine is great for kids when it comes to bedtime, but it is a special day so don’t hammer the routine too hard. 

Instead, let your kids stay up a little later, as this gives you a slightly stronger position for bargaining with them. Let them stay up an additional 30 minutes on the condition they get in bed when it’s time. 

It might work, or you may still have the usual arguments with them! But it is a special occasion, so don’t worry too much about getting them into bed at exactly the right time. 

7. Have a winding down period 

Around 90 minutes before you would like your kids to go to sleep start a winding down period. This involves tidying away toys and having quiet play, such as drawing or watching TV. 

I find that if my kids are running around the room and screaming in the lead-up to bedtime they are much harder to settle down. Try to have this time be calm, quiet and without too much physical activity. 

8. Make it magic 

It is Christmas after all! Tell your kids that Santa is coming and get them involved with the preparations for the big day. 

You could get them to help you prepare a snack and drink to leave out for Santa and his reindeer. They will love the idea of this!

Add your own family traditions for Christmas Eve too, such as sprinkling a little bird seed outside the front door as a snack for Santa’s reindeer. 

You could also check out the live Santa tracker. Google has Christmas-related games on its Santa Tracker too. 

9. Avoid sugar before bedtime

It may feel impossible, but try to avoid sugary treats in the afternoon leading up to Christmas Eve night. 

Although sugar doesn’t make my kids hyper, it does seem to make them more moody which is not a great thing when I’m trying to convince them to go to bed!

10. Ditch the screens 

The Sleep Foundation says electronic devices stimulate your brain before bedtime. 

Get rid of phones, iPads and any other devices before bedtime. Stick to books and cuddly toys. 

11. Remind them Santa can’t come if they are awake 

Are you even a parent if you don’t tell your kids white lies every now and then?

Keep telling your kids that Christmas cannot begin unless they have been to sleep. 

Remember that you may still have a battle on your hands but all of the above tips should help to make it a little easier. 

Keep your cool and reinforce the message that the fun can only start if they have had a good night’s sleep. 

One thing that always helps my kids to nod off is when I suggest that they speak to their favourite toy about the best thing that happened to them that day. On Christmas Eve you can encourage your child to tell their favourite toy about what will happen tomorrow and describe the presents under the tree. 

I hope these tips help you to get your little ones to sleep this Christmas Eve!

Wishing you a very happy Christmas with your family. 

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Top tips for getting your kids to sleep on Christmas Eve