Oh, I remember those days well. It was 3 a.m. on Christmas Eve – well, I suppose really it was the wee hours of Christmas Day by then. I was on my 4th or 5th of assembling gifts for my daughter.
Then there was the time I LEAPED out of bed at 4 am, suddenly realizing that I had forgotten to make Santa’s footprints. Or how about the time we ran out of tape in the middle of Christmas Eve gift wrapping (after the stores had closed, of course!).
That’s why I put together this Christmas Eve Survival Guide for Parents. Christmas should be a time of joy and peace, not panic and stress. These tips of Christmas must haves for parents will ensure that everyone has a happy holiday.
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Christmas Eve Survival Guide for Parents
We all want our kids to have a special, magical Christmas. I learned right after our car accident that one of the best ways for my daughter to have the best Christmas was for me to be organized and relaxed. These tips reduce the stress of Christmas Eve and Christmas morning!
MAKE A LIST
I have found that the best way to ensure that everything gets done and we all have a happy holiday is by making a list. It seems like we make a lot of lists for Christmas – gift lists, Christmas card lists, lists of food to serve at our holiday party, and more.
It took me a few years, though, before I realized the importance of a list for Christmas Eve. That list used to be written out, but these days I keep it on my phone.
PRO TIP: One of the advantages of adding it to your phone is that you can schedule things in with alarms so you’re sure not to miss a thing! Use whatever type of list works best with your personality.
STOCK UP ON WRAPPING PAPER, BOWS, GIFT BAGS, TAGS, AND SO ON.
If you’re going to buy wrapping paper, I suggest you add a reminder to get this done by mid-November (better yet, buy it at the after Christmas sales and tuck it away for the next year). I highly recommend making or buying fabric gift bags (Lush has lovely squares of fabric each holiday season sort of like scarves that are perfect for wrapping gifts) so that you can reuse them year after year.
My suggestion would be to start wrapping gifts well before Christmas Eve. I like to do them as I buy them, but I know some people make an evening event out of it. Either way, don’t leave it until Christmas Eve!
PRO TIP: Make sure you have plenty of Scotch tape on hand if you’re using standard wrapping paper. There’s nothing worse than being on a roll with wrapping gifts and running out of tape midway through.
BUY PLENTY OF BATTERIES
Most toys and electronic devices needing batteries will state just how many and what kind right on the outside of the box. I highly recommend adding these to a running list in your phone each time you buy another battery operated gift.
It can be a real letdown for a child to open a gift, get all excited, and then realize there are no batteries on hand for it. Avoid disappointment and stock up!
PRO TIP: No matter how many batteries are needed, ALWAYS buy extras just in case. You never know when a well-meaning grandparent might show up with a gift and no batteries for it!
ASSEMBLE ANY GIFTS THAT NEED IT.
Oh those late nights trying to get that new bicycle put together before morning – they can suck the Christmas cheer right out of a parent! It’s not always easy to do, especially with really large gifts, but if you can, assemble everything well before Christmas Eve.
PRO TIP: By putting these items together well before Christmas, you have time to ensure that they are complete. If any parts are missing, you still have time to take them back to the store and get a replacement. In addition, you’ll be able to find or buy the right sized wrench well ahead of time.
WHERE POSSIBLE, REMOVE GIFTS FROM THEIR ORIGINAL PACKAGING.
When giving toys to children, it is often a good idea to remove the items from their original packaging before wrapping. Any parent who has sat there with a pair of scissors, trying not to stab themselves, as they cut through a gazillion little plastic thingies holding the toys in place in the box.
Seriously, how DO they expect us to remove those without hurting ourselves? Then there are usually 20-30 twist ties and 15 pieces of plastic to take out, all the while you have an impatient child waiting to play with their toy. Take my advice. Do it ahead of time!
PRO TIP: Recently, I’ve started noticing, particularly on Amazon, toys that are designated as coming in “frustration free packaging”. I purposely look for it now!
MAKE SURE YOUR PHONES AND TABLETS ARE FULLY CHARGED.
You’re going to want to take photos and videos. Be prepared by ensuring that your devices have been fully charged overnight on Christmas Eve.
PRO TIP: If you’re headed out on Christmas Day to visit friends and family, be sure to take your chargers or portable power banks along with you.
MEAL PREP AHEAD OF TIME.
Do as much meal prep for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day ahead of time as possible. Often side dishes and desserts can easily be prepared before the big day and then simply heated in the oven (or placed in the slow cooker).
PRO TIP: Don’t forget about your Christmas morning breakfast. It can be so frustrating to have to leave the rest of the family as they have fun with their new goodies and head to the kitchen to prepare an elaborate meal. Consider making an overnight French toast casserole or breakfast strata.
SET REMINDERS FOR THOSE SPECIAL CHRISTMAS EVE TRADITIONS.
Sit down and do some brainstorming about all those little things that you and your kids look forward to on Christmas Eve. Set reminders on your phone so that you’re sure not to forget any of them.
These could include: putting out Santa’s cookies and milk (and another reminder to ensure they get nibbled on/sipped!), making and putting out reindeer feed, moving the elf, leaving behind Santa’s footprints, using one of those apps to take a photo of Santa by the tree, and putting Mary and Joseph in the stable.
PRO TIP: If there are any traditional books you read or movies you watch on Christmas Eve, be sure to find those well before the 24th and put them aside in a safe place so you’ll know where to find them! We always read T’was the Night Before Christmas and Santa’s Favorite Story (Santa tells the story of the first Christmas). We always watch The Muppet’s Christmas Carol so we can sing “It’s Only One More Sleep Til Christmas”.
Be sure to check out some more amazing holiday survival guides below!
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