I have talked at length about our Christmas Eve celebrations, games, food, and tradition. One newer tradition that we began a few years ago with all of our olders (who are now all olders!) is the Pass and “Steal” Grab Bags.
A lot of groups do this activity in which you bring a gift of a certain type or price range (all gift cards or white elephant or all food gifts or all ornaments or all games or all movies, etc.) then you draw numbers. The person with number one goes first and chooses a gift and opens it. The person with number two may choose another gift or “steal” the first person’s gift. When a person’s gift is stolen, he may steal someone else’s gift or choose an unwrapped one. The game continues like this until everybody has gone and there are no gifts remaining. There is usually some kind of rule to keep the game from going on forever, such as that a gift may only be “stolen” twice or three times (depending on the number of people playing) and then it is “dead,” meaning that the person who has it on the last steal keeps it (it may not be stolen again).
Several years ago we decided to do this with our kids on Christmas Eve with common things that a lot of them like or would like to have. They always have the option of stealing if they don’t particularly want what they opened. And in the end, they often trade anyway (“I’ll give you my Starbucks gift card for your McDonald’s”), so it all shakes out in the end.
This game has been especially fun as I have put in some special things—a stack of Christmas picture books that I collected from Goodwill and garage sales that we always read aloud when the kids were little or a complete set of some books that we had when the kids were growing up (all of the Josh Ladd chapter books), etc. These got stolen often, and it was fun to see how much these things meant to the kids.
For us, these grab bags are part of their “Christmas,” meaning we use some of the kids’ gift money for these presents, so they have some pretty cool things in them, such as books, videos, games, car charger, inverter, Bath and Body Works set (this is fun if a guy gets it and ends up giving it to one of his sisters!), and lots of gift cards to restaurants and favorite stores, as well as car wash cards and more.
Again, we do this on our Christmas Eve, before or after the sibling gift exchange and Plastic Wrap Prizes Ball (but after our stories and songs), and it adds a lot of excitement to our Christmas Eve as well as mystery as the kids try to guess what might be in a bag by its weight, etc. Just more family fun on Christmas Eve!