We work for weeks to create this special holiday for our families, hoping that with all the planning and shopping and wrapping and cooking and decorating we can enjoy a truly memorable day. But more often than not, the joy is eclipsed by still more work – putting together toys, throwing out wrapping paper and packaging, cooking favorite recipes, and managing to the unexpected. But a few tips can help minimize the stress on the big day, so Christmas can be as magical for you as it is your kids.
Prep Gifts Before Wrapping them
Especially relevant to parents of young children, cutting through the suctioned plastic and twisty ties, unscrewing the cardboard, applying the stickers and inserting the batteries, and figuring out how they work – for multiple gifts – can add SO MUCH WORK to Christmas morning. If you feel certain that the toy won’t need to be returned, prep the toys so they are ready to play with as soon as you open them. (Just remember to turn switches to “off” so the toys aren’t blinking and buzzing through the packaging before they are opened. If there isn’t an off setting, tape the batteries to the outside of the toy for convenience Christmas morning.)
For older kids, electronics present a similar challenge. Before wrapping, charge it up, log in, and download games or software so it is ready to use the moment it is opened.
And if you like to prewash clothing before it is worn, at a minimum you might consider prewashing the Christmas Eve pajamas before wrapping them.
Assemble a Christmas morning kit
Even if you do some prep work on gifts before wrapping them, you’ll likely still need some supplies to cut through some sort of packaging. There have been too many years I have been rummaging around looking for scissors or screw drivers, instead of watching the looks on everyone’s faces as they open the gifts I’ve shopped for and wrapped all season long. I’ve learned to assemble a small kit on Christmas Eve that is ready and waiting the next morning, so I don’t have to miss a moment of the fun. You might include:
· Box cutter
· Small tools, such as a flat head or phillip’s screw driver
· Sandwich-size ziplock bags for toys with tiny parts that might get lost (and a sharpie to label them)
· Empty trash bags for wrapping paper
Provide everyone with containers for unwrapped gifts
This. Is. Game changing.
I seriously used to stress out that the earrings or air pods or lego parts would get lost in the boxes and gift wrap and ribbons all over the floor. The solution? Provide everyone with a container where they can immediately place their presents after opening. Laundry baskets or bankers boxes work great. The kids just tote their containers back to their rooms after opening, and everyone is happy.
Combined with stashing wrapping in garbage bags as we go, this trick goes a long way to having a clean space when you are done opening presents.
Think ahead for photos
This is probably obvious, but make sure to charge your phones and cameras on Christmas Eve. You don’t want to run out of battery part way through the morning.
And if clutter is something you struggle with, take a quick glance around your family or living room a few days before Christmas. What will the background to your photos be? You may decide to doctor up the surrounding area a bit so you have beautiful photos without any distractions in the background.
Choose a Christmas morning playlist
If there’s one morning you want some ambiance, it is this one! If you don’t have a go-to source for some good Christmas music, spend a few minutes collecting your favorites so you can hear the magic at the flip of a switch.
If you need some suggestions, HERE is what is being claimed as one of the best Christmas music playlists on Apple.
Precook Christmas meals
Who hates spending Christmas day in the kitchen? Me!
But who wants to eat all the favorite Christmas food? Also me!
This is a lesson I learned the hard way. In early years, I spent WAAAY to many hours preparing special Christmas breakfasts and dinners. Now I’ve learned to plan a menu around foods that can be cooked ahead of time.
· Breakfast casseroles assembled the day before instead of bacon and eggs
· Our favorite pumpkin waffles mixed up and ready to go on Christmas Eve, cooked fresh Christmas morning
· Homemade rolls, pies, etc. baked in advance
· Ingredients for soups, salads, etc., pre-chopped and ready to throw in the pot