Are you a little nervous or apprehensive for Christmas Day? Are you hoping everything goes right and according to plan? Especially with kids, Christmas Day can be unpredictable. From an exciting morning with Santa coming and opening presents to gathering with family and friends, and potentially traveling to multiple places. Also, maybe you are coming off a busy Christmas Eve with parties and a holiday performance. The holidays can be rough on young kids, which makes it rough on the parents. It doesn’t have to be this way. Follow these tips for a smooth Christmas Day with kids.
Prepare for Christmas Day Ahead
The perfect Christmas day starts with planning and preparing ahead of time. Everything you can do in advance of Christmas Day, do it. Then you can relax and actually enjoy the festivities and fun of Christmas Day with your family.
First, I suggest making a list a few days before Christmas of everything you need to get done for Christmas Day. Once you make the list, separate out the tasks and do as many as you can prior to Christmas. Then have your list of what you need to do on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Get Gifts Ready
Second, get all the gifts for Christmas morning ready before Christmas Eve, so you aren’t coming from a party and then having to get all this ready for the next day. Make sure all gifts are bought, wrapped, and organized by person. Set a time that the kids can get up to go open presents. If they are younger and cannot tell time you can say it has to be light out or your nightlight off, etc. Explain the night before how Christmas morning will work.
If you need gifts for a gathering on Christmas Day have those bought, wrapped and ready to go as well.
Prepare Food Ahead of Time
Third, prepare the food for Christmas Day ahead. Have all the ingredients you need and all your grocery shopping done. Make as much of the food the day before if you can. If you can’t make food items ahead, get all the ingredients out and together, dishes ready, to make food prep faster.
If you are hosting Christmas Day, do as much of the food prep as you can ahead. In addition to actually making the food, get the dinnerware, serving ware, cutlery, out and ready ahead. Also, clean your house a day or two before. Get my ultimate party planning checklist with everything you need to host a holiday party as part of my holiday planning guide HERE.
Traveling Tips for Christmas
If you are traveling with food, bring food items that are easy to travel with. Pick items that do not have to stay warm, unless you are bringing a crock pot. Bring items that do not need to be cooked or prepped right at the end. Pick items that you can make ahead.
Another tip if you are traveling to other people’s houses, think about what your kids will need to have along and to keep themselves occupied there. Kids are not going to sit on a couch for hours on end and talk to people. Do you need to bring along some toys, play a game, go outside or go for a walk to burn some energy? Plan for where you are going beforehand, so it doesn’t turn into a disaster while you are there.
For a smooth Christmas day, one other tip that can save you holiday stress is to take a day off from work. If you have a spare vacation day, near Christmas is a good time to take a day off and focus on holiday preparations. This way you don’t have to cram it all in on nights and weekends or with kids around.
Make Christmas Day Fun
For kids and adults fun times are memorable times. Entertain your family at Christmas with fun activities and traditions. Do things that you know your family will enjoy and get excited about.
The perfect Christmas Day includes doing some fun Christmas traditions with your family. Each year kids look forward to holiday traditions. They don’t have to be anything huge or extravagant, but things you do each year to make Christmas Day special. Here are some examples of Christmas traditions:
- Pajamas you wear and open gifts in
- Holiday trinket or accessory you wear
- When, where, and how you open gifts
- A special breakfast item
- Treat you eat
- Special beverage you drink
- Particular dishes you use
- Certain game you play
- Movie you watch
- Book you read
Make Christmas Day Special
Along with making Christmas Day fun, make it a special day for your kids. Do things that you normally wouldn’t do and do your Christmas traditions. Make it magical for them by doing something that they don’t get to do any other day of the year.
To me kids are what makes Christmas magical. Make your kids feel on top of the world on Christmas and join in their excitement and innocent holiday spirit. Smile and giggle with your kids. Play with them and their new toys. Focus your attention on your kids.
Have Realistic Expectations
For a smooth Christmas Day have realistic expectations for your kids and yourself. Christmas is like any other day of the year with habits and behaviors. Kids aren’t going to be on their best behavior or act any different than they normally do. Expect your kids to do and act as they normally do, if not worse, on Christmas.
Don’t trigger your kids actions or make them upset if you can help it. For example, if your kids normally can’t sit at the dinner table longer than 30 minutes, don’t expect them to sit at the table on Christmas for an hour. It is unrealistic and someone is going to end up crying, yelling or mad. Do not expect young children to be on their best behavior with the excitement of Christmas.
Make a Realistic Schedule
Make Christmas Day enjoyable with a light, flexible schedule. Do not have an unrealistic schedule for Christmas Day because that is not helping realistic expectations for your kids.
Instead of rushing around trying to do every single activity out there or go from here to there to everywhere, pick your favorites and enjoy them to the fullest. If you were invited to 5 different parties, pick a couple to go to and then rotate each year instead of trying to fit in all 5 in one day.
Don’t jam pack your schedule for the day. Furthermore, don’t do anything extra to try fit something else in. Sometimes we think we need to do all these things and be busy every second for our family to have a fun memorable Christmas when actually most of the fun is just being together. Don’t stress about keeping busy all the time.
You may have this picture in your mind of how everything is supposed to go with your kids on Christmas. As parents, we just want everything to be perfect for our kids, and go how it should.
However, usually that is not the case. If your kids are super against something, don’t do it. Go with the flow. With kids, Christmas can be unpredictable. They may love opening gifts, they may hate it. Kids may talk to guests or others or they may be shy. They may love putting on their Christmas outfit or they may hate it. If things end up turning out differently than you had planned that is ok. It is still going to be a great day full of great memories.
One of the best moments as a parent is watching your kid open up gifts, especially a present they really wanted or you thought they would really like. Well, when my kids were 1 and 2 years old, when it came time to open presents, they didn’t want to do it. They would open one gift, but then lose interest completely. As a parent I was so disappointed, but I didn’t force the issue. We ended up opening gifts later in the day or even throughout the next couple of days. It was worth it to me to be flexible, wait, and open gifts on their time so I could see their true reaction and excitement than to rush and open at a specific time.
There are many opportunities for frustration with kids on Christmas. Lots of things that can go wrong or differently than you had planned. Throughout the day, if you feel yourself getting frustrated here are a couple of things you can do to stay calm.
- Take a couple of deep breaths
- Create space from the situation by walking away for a few moments
- Smile and laugh – it is hard to be upset when you are smiling and laughing
Get Some Rest
Christmas is busy and emotional for everyone. As hard as it may be on December 23rd and Christmas Eve, get your kids to bed on time. In addition, get plenty of sleep yourself. The days leading up to Christmas get to bed on time and do your normal routine as much as possible. This will help keep everyone refreshed, relaxed and ready for the big day.
Give Kids Time to Play With Their New Toys
Santa coming and opening presents is a huge deal for kids. They look forward to Christmas morning all year long. It is disappointing for kids to open all their fun, neat new toys and then have to leave right away after to go somewhere for the day. Try to open presents at a time that gives kids some time with their new items. The joy for the kids is to play and enjoy their new gifts.
Drink Plenty of Water
Next, for an enjoyable Christmas Day, make sure you are staying hydrated. Between running around, sweet treats, salty foods, and sugary beverages make sure you are drinking enough water around Christmas. It is important to take care of yourself, so you can enjoy and take care of your kids.
Christmas is supposed to be one of the most wonderful days of the year. However, instead it can be stressful and anything but bright and cheerful. Make Christmas fun, enjoyable, and perfect with your family this year. Follow these tips for a smooth Christmas Day with kids.