A few years back my mom started a new tradition with her grandchildren (she has 14 now). On Christmas Eve when we gather at her house, she has these sweet Santa Balls up on the mantle, one for each child three years and up. (For those grandchildren who are far away on Christmas, the balls are mailed and opened on Christmas Eve.)
The Santa Balls are full of surprises, wrapped in layers and layers of crepe paper (also known as surprise balls.. there is a great how-to here. If you can't find crepe paper sheets, which can be hard to find, my mom cuts rolls of streamers in half so they are only an inch or so wide... time consuming but it gets the job done). My mom finds all sorts of tiny toys and little trinkets to hide inside. I'm always amazed at how much stuff she can fit in each little ball. The kids have the best time unwrapping their balls, which have to be carefully unwrapped layer by layer, revealing more and more goodies. The whole thing takes a half hour or so.
Here are a few of the things inside the kids' balls this year. There was also gold chocolate coins and some other candy which was gobbled up before I could take a photo. As the children get older, my mom varies what is inside each ball... teenagers get dollar bills and coins, so the Santa Balls are loved by all.
My favorite thing is how festive they make the room look at the end of the night. The kids are covered in piles of crepe paper, and the littler ones who aren't quite old enough to get their own Santa Ball still have something to play with. Such a wonderful Christmas tradition.. just goes to show it's never too late to add something new to your family rituals.