I can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that this will be our 13th Christmas morning with little ones. We by no means have it all figured out, but we’ve definitely learned a few tricks in that time to help things go more smoothly and be cheerful and joyful for everyone.
Here are a few Christmas Eve and Christmas morning hacks that have been helpful for our family. I hope they help you, too!
Set Expectations & Share the Schedule
If your kids are anything like mine, they do much better when they know what to expect. So even though we do basically the same thing each year, we always briefly discuss what the plan is for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Sometimes, I go so far as to write up the schedule on the family white board so everyone can see.
It’s very basic – pretty much morning hike followed by naps and then advent activities + caroling, family nativity, Bethlehem dinner, jammies, movie for Christmas Eve. But it really helps everyone know when things are starting and what order we’ll do them in.
Plan an Outdoor Activity for Christmas Eve Morning
Nothing is worse in our family for having a peaceful evening than to sit around at home all day. My kids get stir crazy and have tons of pent up energy!
We always plan a short hike for Christmas Eve morning – it lets everyone run around and burn off some energy, then nap before our afternoon and evening traditions. We’re all much happier with some fresh air and movement earlier in the day.
Do A Christmas Eve Load of Laundry
We like to wear our matching family pajamas the entire week of Christmas, which means they definitely need a wash or two during the week. While I normally only do laundry on Mondays, I always plan on a Christmas Eve load of laundry to wash everyone’s pajamas. That way, we don’t get to that night and realize that someone spilled syrup on them and refuses to wear them on Christmas morning.
Start Your Christmas Eve Program Early
We always try to get going on our Christmas Eve program in the late afternoon. That way, we have plenty of time for our daily advent activities, a live nativity from the kids, some caroling, our Bethlehem dinner, and even a movie (we always watch It’s A Wonderful Life) before a reasonable bedtime.
Choose an Easy Christmas Eve Dinner That Everyone Can Help Set Up
One of my favorite things about our family’s Christmas Eve Bethlehem dinner is that it’s so simple! We just buy most of the items at the grocery store and do a minimal amount of chopping. Then everyone helps set everything up and lay out all the food. We eat, everyone helps with clean up, and the kitchen is ready for me to make Christmas morning breakfast (more on that below). Easy peasy, because no one wants to do a ton of clean up on Christmas Eve.
Do Stockings Last
I will never stop sharing this one because it’s really changed Christmas morning for us. For years, we did the traditional stockings first, then moved through other presents. But I started to notice that my kids were generally distracted by the candy and underwear and toothbrushes in there and just not enthused by the time we got to the big gift at the end.
We considered a few options – like taking a break and then coming back to a second round of presents later in the day. But we usually have a slow Christmas afternoon with movies and such, and I like to get everything cleaned up, so I wasn’t excited about leaving more until the evening. And even with limiting presents (we’re doing 3 per kid this year – one fun thing, one experience, one book), with 6 kids and 2 adults, it just takes a while. And I didn’t want to rush them through stockings if they were having fun!
So a few years ago, we decided to try waiting on stockings until the end. And guess what – it worked perfectly for us. The kids were all cheerful and energetic for the presents for siblings (we do those first for maximum enthusiasm), still were excited by the time we got to the “big” present from Mom & Dad, and then could just enjoy all the little things in their stockings for hours while we watched Christmas movies. It works so well for us!
Make An Overnight Breakfast
I love having a warm breakfast on Christmas morning, especially so that everyone isn’t just subsisting off the jelly beans and mandarin oranges in their stockings. But I also have exactly zero interest in spending all Christmas morning in the kitchen.
I’ve made these cranberry orange rolls for years and they’re the very best. I always make them the night before and let them do the second rise in the fridge, then just bake them in the morning. I also love this breakfast slab pie, which I usually completely bake the night before and just reheat in the oven on Christmas morning. We usually get started with hot chocolate and maybe opening one present while everything heats, then pause to get some food in everyone before continuing with presents.
Set the Table the Night Before
While I’m making food, Dan is usually tidying up and sets the table for Christmas breakfast. One fewer thing to do in the morning and I love coming out to a pretty, festive table.
Gather a Christmas Morning Supplies Basket
No one wants to run around finding supplies for present opening on Christmas morning. This year, I’m planning to set out a basket with everything we may need. Here’s what I’m planning to include:
- Camera + charged batteries
- Trash bags to gather wrapping
- Small zip top bags to contain stocking candy or small parts to toys
- Batteries if needed
- Box to gather ribbons to reuse
Give Everyone a Bin or Laundry Basket to Contain Gifts
One of the best parts of Christmas to me is getting everything tied back up and not looking like a tornado just came through. We always give each kid a bin or empty box to contain their things. This means we don’t have gifts hanging out in bags all around or strewn under the couch, and it means we can get the stockings packed away instead of staying out to contain all the stuffers. It also makes it much easier for my kiddos to rehome their new things by carrying the entire bin to their rooms when they’re ready.
Set Out A Water Bottle For Each Person
Kids (and adults) tend to forget to drink when having fun, and it can be hard to have open cups out and about with little ones. Try filling a water bottle for each person to stay hydrated through the day.
Kids really feed off our energy. This can be such a joyful and happy time, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Try to leave space for feelings, and try to exude the calm and cheer you’d like to see from them. They’ll most likely reflect it back to you!
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