Mom Tip: Whew! That was crazy. With all the build up and excitement of the holiday’s it is amazing how quickly it is all over. In 2012 with the arrival of our daughter my husband and I decided to purchase a 7.5 foot Dunhill Fir artificial tree. We realized quickly that having our tree up all holiday season was important to us. After we became parents the benefits were plentiful; never having to water, not having poisonous water around our crawling baby, no more messy needles to vacuum up, no more worrying about the sharp sting of dried out branches when taking ornaments off the tree and most of all we got to have it up from the beginning of November through the first week or so of January. Now with two Little’s we start off our November with putting up the tree and we spend the good part of the month adding holiday decor into each space so that we can fully enjoy the holiday slender, which leaves us with a fuller sense of wonder and fulfillment instead of a quick tree and its done feeling.
Our Christmas Eve is spent with family and a full stuff-the-sock gift exchange. All of us adults seem to take great care in looking for and purchasing just the right neat-thing for everyone, but now that all of the couples have small children under five things get more emotional than intended. My Little’s are the oldest at 4.5 and youngest at 20 months with two cousins both aged 2; this is usually where the chaos takes over. This year was no different. After a few explanations about how to nicely open gifts and how to stay calm when you see something you want that someone else was given; I decided that Christmas Day was going to go smoothly … but how? I spent the evening brainstorming and came up with a few ideas. Armed with snacks, coloring, reading and dancing we started our festive holiday morning.
Godinger Lotus Candlesticks Set of 2 (holds tapper or taillight)
This year, Christmas Day started out with pancakes from daddy and gifts at the breakfast table. I learned from the prior day’s excursions that separating the gifts and stockings at home would make a huge difference when hoping for a tear-free and tantrum-free holiday. Apple cider was made, pancakes were passed out, fruit was cut and enjoyed plus music was playing. I had books strategically placed by our tree, plus the various books that I knew were wrapped up to open. My kids’ favorite holiday books: Tap the Magic Tree – This is a great book to get kids involved and also teach them about the seasons. Bear Stays Up – Our Family Favorite! Such a sweet story of friends and waiting for Christmas The Gingerbread Family: A Scratch-and-Sniff Book The Cheerios Christmas Play Book – Great for interaction and finger play. A Night Before Christmas – The well loved, classic story. Baby Reindeer – Finger Puppet Book Little Snowman – Finger Puppet Book
Next came the smaller, less emotion evoking gifts like puzzles and books. Then we enjoyed some coloring. We had family coming over later in the day so our table was set with a holiday themed color page and a set of two crayons for each place setting. Everything looked festive and felt relaxed as the kids took breaks eating, coloring and playing with the previously opened gifts.
Next, I had placed a few of the larger items away from the tree making them more focal points so that they would be open next and allow for some playing and cool-down before transitioning to the next gift. This allowed us all time to open gifts. While the kids were occupied and playing my husband and I plus grandma actually got to exchange presents and talk.
Finally, my husband and I quickly decided that maybe we should save a few for the days ahead. So several gifts were set aside for December 26th and New Year’s Eve. All in all it went well and everyone was able to really relax and talk and play instead of heading-off outbursts. What helped keep your holiday happy and festive? I would love to hear from you. How did your holiday go? I hope everyone had a wonderful time. Here are my Top 5 Tips to help make any holiday go off without a hitch.
Make a plan: No one ever intends for things to get out of control, but without a timeline a seemingly fun day turns into a chore.
Plan for food: Hangry is real! Very real! So make sure snacks are available and everyone feels comfortable enough to eat. Hydration is also very important. Remember that alcohol and fruit juice doesn’t hydrate you so always keep some lemon water or water bottles available.
Take breaks: It is so much fun to just keep opening new gifts, but everyone can get overwhelmed and tired. Take a break and change gears. A lively dance-off with kids or saying-a-long can lively up a dulling party. Offer a game, coloring or puzzle time.
Keep an open door policy. The holiday’s are a crazy time of year where family’s or couples must dash away to visit everyone. With an open door policy guests won’t feel trapped to stay. Plus they’ll know they can show up whenever and not get harassed for being late having to leave.
Limit gifts. I know this may be hard especially with children, but remember the holiday’s are really about connecting and enjoying family time. So let everyone know kids only get one or two gifts from each family member/couple. Also, make it more interesting with just a stocking exchange where adults get one or two things for each adult that are just for a stocking. Switch it up with a Secret Santa or White Elephant Pet Gift Exchange, just make sure everyone know the rules long before the holiday begins.