The perfect bedtime routine for kids on Christmas Eve


Try our handy tips to make sure your little elves are in bed long before Santa comes

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You can’t blame any child for wishing they could stay up until midnight to meet Father Christmas, but December 25 is going to be a long and tiring day as it is, without your little ones being grouchy and tired too!

A little bit of planning, though, can make the final countdown more relaxed, so try this routine to ensure the kids get off to sleep in time for Santa’s visit.

1pm: celebrate Aussie-style

When it’s midnight in Australia (they’re 11 hours ahead in Sydney) celebrate the start of Santa’s journey as he delivers presents to children on the other side of the world. It’s a great opportunity to remind your children to think of others, and teach them a bit of geography while you’re at it!

2pm: go for a walk

Getting out for some fresh air will do you as much good as it will your kids. Relax, get some natural light and breathe in a lungful of air on a walk in the early afternoon. Even if it’s raining, going in search of the muddiest puddles makes the bad weather fun.

4pm: invent a new tradition

If you create special routines on Christmas Eve, you can establish familiar steps towards festive bedtime. For example, get the kids to practice and act out a Christmas story for you, or sing some carols together.

Even better if there are tasks they can help you out with – for example, preparing veggies for Christmas lunch, decorating Christmas cookies or tidying the house ready for Santa’s approval.

For more ideas on this, see our article Create new Christmas traditions.

5pm: track Santa’s progress

Go online or download an app and see Santa’s sleigh make its journey across the screen as if he’s in the sky. Making it all feel a bit more real will help persuade your child that he or she had better get into bed on time, because Santa’s coming!

7pm: enjoy a family nightcap

A warm mug of milk sprinkled with cinnamon is the perfect Christmassy drink, and will help the kids wind down and feel sleepy. For the recipe and more nightcap ideas, see our article on Warming Christmas drinks.

And don’t forget Santa! Leave a mince pie for him and carrots for his reindeer by the fireplace and hang the stockings ready for presents.

To stop the kids from waking you up at 5am, leave a mini stocking at the end of their bed and tell them they can open those presents first when they wake up – choose something they can get on with, like a book or game to keep them entertained for a while. If you’re worried the idea of catching a glimpse of Santa will keep them awake, hang the stocking outside their bedroom door ready for their quiet collection in the morning.

Bed time: stick to the usual routine

It’s important to stick to their usual bedtime so they are not over-tired. Have a hot bubble bath and read them a bedtime story – a Christmas-themed one on this occasion, of course.

If they’re old enough, encourage them to read to you, suggesting that maybe Santa can hear them too and that their stories will keep him entertained on his busy night.

Sleep tight!

For more tips, see our article Keeping the kids calm before Christmas, and for ideas on how to make the big day itself extra special, see How to make your Christmas magical.

Do you have any tips for keeping the kids calm at Christmas?