Monday, December 21, 2015

10 Ways to Make Christmas Even Better (+ Easier!)

10 Ways to make your Christmas even better (and easier!)

Here's a few things I make sure to do each year to make our Christmas extra special (and a little easier to handle!)

1. Do Your Wrapping NOW!
If you're the type to totally forget (or not realize) how much wrapping you have to do, don't put it off! I almost always have at least one of the kids with me (no group naps anymore!), so I do the wrapping I CAN do in front of them during the day (for Grandparents, nieces and nephews, etc.) Then whenever we have an evening without much going on, Matt and I make a night of wrapping. Light some candles, pour some wine, put on a Christmas movie, and knock it out. Don't wait for Christmas Eve - that sucks, man! My goal is always to have everything wrapped by the 22nd, or during the day on the 23rd if some things are shipping late.

2. Organize Your Stocking Stuffers.

This isn't the prettiest way to do it (who needs it to be?), but I organize stocking stuffers for each family member in plastic grocery bags. As I buy things, I split them up and put them in each family member's bag, and wrap the entire bag's contents at the same time, and put the person's initial on the bag so I know whose it is. When it's time to stuff stockings, it's super easy to basically dump each bag into the right stocking.

3. Make a Christmas Eve Box.
I'm sure you've seen these on Pinterest - they usually have pj's, hot choocolate, a movie and/or book to watch or read that night. I think this is more well suited for families without Christmas Eve plans, but in our area - almost everyone is off partying with family the night before. (In fact, we had to change my family's plans because my husband's family does the same thing!) Our problem, instead, is that the party starts around dinner time. It's great for ushering the kids into their beds as soon as we get home, but the wait until we actually leave for the party is grueling for them. They don't really understand the passage of time, and don't know what to do with themselves! So every year, I collect some arts and crafts and little games and projects for them to do. I get most of the supplies from the dollar store and Target's one spot, so it's not a terribly expensive thing to put together. I usually throw in some candy canes or some sort of treat, too. They open the box in the morning, along with their ornament for the year, and the box keeps them busy for quite a long time! It's super helpful when you have cooking and cleaning and preparations to get done!

4. Clean Up Your Camera.
Charge the battery, and clear off your memory card. I forget to do these things so often! If you have a spare memory card, it's not a bad idea to empty it and have your camera reformat it so it can take videos, too (which can sometimes be a struggle for DSLRs, if you have one.) Make sure you have plenty of room and power to capture all the special moments!

5. Pre-Make Christmas Morning Breakfast.
Find something you can prepare ahead of time, and either freeze (if you want to make it days ahead of time) or keep in the fridge (if you make it on Christmas Eve) so you can just pop it in the oven or wherever it needs to go on Christmas morning. I like to preheat the oven as soon as I get up, so breakfast can cook while we open gifts, and be cooled and ready to eat when we're done. This year I'm making The Pioneer Woman's Baked French Toast (which freezes VERY well, I've done it!), and frozen homemade whipped cream so we can use cookie cutters to cut out shapes for our coffee and hot chocolate - the kids will love it!

6. Write Out Your Christmas Eve Schedule.

I do this almost every single day while I have my morning coffee. It's so helpful to sit down and review the things you need to get done, and sort of map out a game plan for the order you'll do them in. I always get more done when I do this. If your Christmas Eve is as busy as mine, it can be SO helpful just to have everything on paper so things don't get forgotten! It's also not a bad idea to make a list of all the things you need to bring with you to your Christmas Eve party (if you're going to one.)

7. Write to Santa Early.
No one wants to come home with sugared-up, overly excited and exhausted kids, and go through the process of leaving a note for Santa with his milk and cookies. I always include blank paper and note in their Christmas Eve box telling them to write their note as one of the things to occupy them while they wait for the Christmas Eve party. It can even be sitting out on the table with a cookie plate, so you can just toss some cookies on it and you're all set!

8. Pack PJs!
Speaking of making the transition into bed that night easier, pack everyone's pj's (except for maybe yours, snort!) and change everyone just before you leave for home. With everyone all cozied up, all you need to do is set out your Santa cookies, brush teeth, and off to bed you go!

9. Make It A Date.
Once everyone is tucked into bed (which we try to do in record time - and it usually happens, because the kids all know Santa can't come until they are asleep!), we like to take some time to ourselves. We always have to wait for everyone to quiet down anyway, so we get into our pj's (now it's okay, haha!), turn off all the lights except the tree and our other Christmas lights, and get cozy by the tree. We usually just talk and admire our tree, but in the past we've exchanged a gift, and there's all kinds of things you can do to make this a special time for the two of you without the chaos of the kids around. Christmas is a holiday for the little ones, sure, but it can also be super romantic, and this is such a good time to soak that in. You can have a glass of wine, exchange letters or cards, talk about Christmas memories or your plans for the coming years - make this time count!

10. Set Your Alarm.
I know the holidays are exhausting, but I love Christmas SO much, and always want to make the most of it. I don't do all of the work I do leading up to it for it not to go at least somewhat smoothly, ya know? And besides, who has a hard time rolling out of bed on CHRISTMAS!? I usually set my alarm for 5:45 or 6 (my kids get up early when they're excited!), and do a few things to make the morning special. I plug in the tree and all the Christmas lights, put the fireplace DVD on the tv (yeah, no fireplace problems, haha!), turn on some Christmas music, preheat the oven for breakfast, get the coffee maker loaded up and ready to brew, get the camera ready, and take a few minutes in the bathroom to put myself together. I usually have all of that done by 6:15, and then my mom shows up to be with us for gift opening. I hit start on the coffee maker, toss breakfast in the oven, and grab my camera. The kids usually emerge on their own, but sometimes we go and wake one or two of them up. (We have a lot of plans for Christmas Day, so we need them up early anyway!)

I hope these help and give you some ideas....have the best Christmas!!!

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