A few years ago I described a friend's parents' romantic Christmas Eve ritual. Their tradition, especially the date night component, really resonated in a positive way, but back when I put that post together I'd completely forgotten my grandparents' similar gatherings.
When she and her brothers were little, my friend's parents tried to start the evening like a romantic date instead of diving straight into the frustrating toy assembly. They typically tucked the kids in bed then went downstairs to share snacks and champagne by the tree while exchanging presents with each other. After that Baby Alive and the Star Wars action figures came out of storage. Stockings were stuffed and placed at the foot of each child's bed. They wanted to savor the process not treat it like a chore, and they kept the concept going, too, letting the tradition evolve as the kids grew up.
For a while, my grandparents actually waited until Christmas Eve to decorate the tree so that Mom and her siblings would think Santa did everything. (Hard to imagine anyone having that much restraint today.) They invited their friends without children to "double date," join in the festivities, and help transform the living room into something magical before morning. It was a different era, but it's hard for me to understand how the kids slept through the merriment. Still, I thought maybe the latter ritual could be reinterpreted for single parents and various 21st century family situations.
Click here for more Christmas past.
Image two, Rylan stag ice bucket, courtesy Ralph Lauren. Similar suzani stocking available at B. Viz.