8 Life Hacks for an Easy (well, easier) Christmas Season

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Let me be honest here - it's currently December 16th and our Christmas lights aren't up. There's no wreath on the door. Our Christmas tree is somewhere in our woods, waiting to be cut down on December 23rd. We've got plenty of books out, nativities, the Advent wreath, and a tiny "Advent tree" that the kids decided to decorate with construction paper and tinfoil. But the whole shebang? Not even close.

I like to streeeetch Advent as much as possible in terms of preparation, and then streeeetch the Christmas season as well. It's just my favorite. And with as many kids as we've got, I do what I can to make things as easy on me as possible. Here are some of my favorite hacks to make things a little more manageable:

1. Bake, bake, and bake some more and just throw it all in the freezer. You'll have handy stashes of goodies to bring out throughout Christmas, New Year's, and all of January! Let the kids make goodies on their own (they love unwrapping the chocolate kisses to make peanut butter blossoms & pretzel bites) and admit to yourself that they won't be perfect and that's okay. Own it. Pull a few bags of goodies out of the freezer when you have visitors, plate them up with a big smile and a hearty, "The kids made these themselves this year!"

2. Fill the stockings with breakfast goodies. Nobody wants to sit down to a big breakfast when all they care about is the fun loot in their stockings. They will, however, eat every single food item I put in their stockings. So I've learned to steer clear of candy and throw a clementine, some trail mix, a granola bar, peanut butter crackers, and other breakfast foods in their stockings. Okay yes, also a little bit of candy. It's Christmas! They wake up and get to have their stockings first thing without waiting for anybody, and I don't have to make breakfast.

3. Christmas Morning Mass is THE BEST. Okay yes, Midnight Mass is beautiful and glorious and wonderful, but it's also sooo late and with a baby who doesn't sleep through the night and kids who are up at 6, I can't. I just can't. Everybody else seems to go to Christmas Eve Mass, though, which means most of the Masses on Christmas Morning are pretty empty! No jockeying for parking spots, no sparring for prime pew space... Just a peaceful encounter with Jesus (or as peaceful as it can be with kids in tow)!

4. Stretch out the presents. We generally have grandparents (and various aunts and uncles, depending on the year) over in the afternoon on Christmas Day. They give the kids their presents, we give them gifts, and the kids actually don't get their main presents from the parents until Epiphany. I've always been a huge fan of extended birthday present giving (I love late birthday presents. It's like it's still my birthday!!!), so extended Christmas present giving is right up my alley. Add to that the fact that my husband is a church musician and I'm on my own trying to throw everything together on Christmas Eve, and it's a no-brainer to wait to give our family gifts until Jesus received His gifts!

5. Happy Birthday, Jesus! Not sure what to do about Christmas dessert? Bake a cake. A birthday cake. Add special candles, and maybe even sing Happy Birthday. After all, that's what we're celebrating! (Consider baking the layers in advance and then freezing them so you can just pull them out Christmas morning and decorate them later in the day - makes things much easier!)

6. You've got twelve days! Don't forget that the twelve days of Christmas don't actually begin until Christmas Day! Every single day after that up through January 5th? STILL CHRISTMAS! I try to plan fun family activities for each of the twelve days of Christmas - here are some ideas to get you started. Don't let anyone badger you into taking down the tree and the lights on Boxing Day!

7. Keep reading beautiful books. The sugar-frenzy is kind of unavoidable, and everyone is always really excited about any gifts that they've gotten... Taking some time to sit together and read calming books helps keep a nice rhythm when the excitement and joy have taken hold of everyone and turned them crazy. We add to our book basket every year, and always look forward to continuing to pull out new books throughout Advent and Christmas to help us bond, to educate, and to grow in faith.

8. Gift bags. I know some people really love wrapping gifts. I... don't. I get gift bags on clearance after Christmas and we just use them over and over and over again. I wrap almost nothing. This is so much easier. 

That's all I've got! What about you? Any tried-and-true life hacks to edify the rest of us?


  1. Gift bags... YES! Especially the re-using part. Most of the folks who get gifts from me return the bags. I also get to re-use the bags in which I got gifts myself.
    This year I'm back to cutting and taping, because I wanted to use the paper I had designed myself. Except that I couldn't find the tape, nor yet the scads of stickers that must be somewhere. I used to be a wizard at wrapping gifts without using tape. That was then. So the gifts are flapping open, awaiting the tape that Santa will bring me on his Peapod sleigh tomorrow. Have you ever tried to find earth-friendly tape?
    Wrapping gifts in scraps of fabric also works beautifully. A bit of reusable ribbon keeps the package together. Recipient has the choice of keeping or returning the fabric.
    Another advantage of bags and fabric over traditional wrappings is that when you realize you have forgotten what's in the package, and therefore you don't know whom the gift is for, you can peek at it without trying to peel off the tape. Then you can attach the tag knowing that Johnie will get the gift you meant for him. - Miriam Kilmer

  2. I forgot the part where I used to traipse about after people as they opened their gifts, salvaging the paper for reuse. Miriam


I *love* reading your kind comments and will always try my best to reply right here in the comment box so we can keep the conversation going! If you have a blog of your own, please do link to it so I can visit back :)

CopyRight © | Theme Designed By Hello Manhattan