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8 Creative Christmas Eve traditions to make the night even more magical

Julie Ryan Evans is an editor and writer who has covered everything from Capitol Hill to the politics of preschool. A mother of two, a runner of races, and a gourmet chef wannabe, she currently lives outside of Orlando, Florida.

8 Great Christmas Eve traditions for families

Christmas Eve is one of the most exciting nights of a child's life. It's filled with anticipation, excitement, sugar and wonder. To make it even more special (and perhaps distract little ones from the begging to just pleeeeease let them open the presents), here are some traditions to try.

1. Christmas Eve pickle

This tradition is one that will tickle everyone. It's German in origin, though no one seems to be exactly sure how it started. Basically the pickle-shaped ornament is the last one that goes on the tree on Christmas Eve, and it's hidden deep in the branches. Whichever kid finds it first in the morning gets an extra gift from Santa.

More: 10 Worst toys of 2015: Is your kid's wish on the list?

2. Peppermint pig

Believing that pigs were good luck, the Victorians started this tradition. To make it your own, order a peppermint pig, then smash it after dinner. Share the candy around the table, and it's good luck for the rest of the year.

3. Pajama elves

Christmas is a great time for cozy new pajamas, especially because the elves can deliver them on Christmas Eve. There's even a book, The Pajama Elves by Hayden Edwards, that tells the tale of elves bringing magic pajamas that you can incorporate as well.

4. Caroling

Gather a group, and go singing through your neighborhood, at a local nursing home or at a hospital. You will spread holiday cheer and tire out little ones who are amped up on sugar cookies and dreams.

More: 33 Hilarious ways to pose your Elf on the Shelf

5. Takeout

With all the hustle and bustle and preparation for the big day, sometimes ordering takeout or pizza from a favorite restaurant is a great way to take a little break and just enjoy some good food. Turn on your favorite holiday movie, and snuggle up.

6. Christmas key

Don't have a chimney? No worries, just leave Santa a magic Christmas key. Hang it outside on Christmas Eve, and she's sure to have no problem at all getting in and leaving gifts.

7. Reindeer food

While cookies and milk are good for Santa, don't forget his trusty sleigh mates. Sprinkling this mix of oats, birdseed and sparkly sugar crystals will dazzle your kids and make the birds happy in the morning too.

More: 15 Insanely simple Elf on the Shelf ideas for Christmas Eve

8. Track Santa

The NORAD Santa Tracker lets kids (and adults) track the Big Guy via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other means. Volunteers answer calls and emails from around the world to keep everyone informed just where in the world Santa is on the big night.

8 Great Christmas Eve traditions for families
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