The Genius Trick to Get Your Kids to Go to Sleep on Christmas Eve

published Dec 13, 2022
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Kid in santa hat next to a lantern looking outside the window at dusk
Credit: Shutterstock

If you celebrate Christmas, you know how magical it is to see the holiday through your children’s eyes. You probably also know how incredibly difficult it is to get your kids to get into bed and fall asleep on Christmas Eve. On a night when you have So. Much. To. Do. after the kids go to bed, they just can’t seem to settle down enough to drift off and start seeing those visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads. 

If this experience is all too familiar, you’re in luck because I have a trick that gets kids to go to bed and also creates a beautiful core memory for them. It works best if your kids believe in Santa, and let’s be honest, those are the kids that struggle to fall asleep on Christmas Eve the most. 

How to Get Your Kids to Sleep on Christmas Eve 

On Christmas Eve, put on some cozy Christmas pajamas, set out the milk and cookies, leave the reindeer food in the yard, and read a Christmas book or two. Then, tell the kids that if they’re quiet and in bed, they just might hear Santa starting to make his way to the house. Usually this is enough to get them to scurry into their bedrooms. If they need a little more convincing, tell them that Santa doesn’t come unless all the kids in the house are asleep and in bed.

If that doesn’t work, you can do what we do to really make it fun and magical:

Once we get your kids in their rooms, “Santa” (aka my in-laws) sneaks around outside ringing sleigh bells, ho-ho-hoing, and some years he even stomps around on the roof. It’s so fun to watch my kids wait in anticipation. My favorite part is when their faces light up with wonder as they start to hear his bells. 

Once Santa is done ringing his bells, we remind our kids that they need to be asleep for Santa’s magic to work. Here’s where it might get tricky because falling asleep is usually the hardest part. In my experience though, it doesn’t take too long for them to settle down and fall asleep, especially after a long day of Christmas Eve festivities. 

This trick not only works for my own kids, but it worked many years ago for my husband, his siblings, and cousins as well. His grandparents did the same for them when they were kids, and it’s a memory they still talk about today. It’s fun for us to carry on the tradition for our kids. 

If you live in an apartment or home without easy access to windows or the roof, it might be a bit more challenging to execute this trick but not impossible. Here are some ideas:

  • Have a friend ring bells near the front door.
  • Ask a neighbor to loudly “ho ho ho” on the other side of an adjoining wall. 
  • Secretly bring a friend or family member inside to act as Santa from the hallway. 
  • Hire a Santa on Cameo to leave a personalized message urging the kids to get in bed. 

Now, if anyone has any tricks to keep kids in bed past 5 AM on Christmas morning, please let me know.

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