Early mornings are hard enough, but Christmas morning can easily morph from calm into all-out chaos. But not this year. That’s because time is on your side. Use it now to plan and prep and you’ll give yourself the gift of being able to sit back, relax, and enjoy this beautiful time together—knowing everything is under control.
Here’s the deal. We overestimate the time we’ll have to get everything ready on Christmas morning but underestimate just how much time and effort that represents. We get fixated on the coffee and food while the little ones are already ripping open their gifts. Do you see where this is going? Happily we can unwind that tape.
All of what follows must happen the night before—yes, on Christmas Eve. But don’t sweat it. This is so easy, and super fun. It’s part of the journey and can be the best part of getting to the destination.
1. Prep the coffee
Whatever it takes to make coffee at your house, get it all ready before your head hits the pillow. Grind the beans, load up the filter, get the pot of water poured, and at the ready. If you have a coffee maker with a built-in timer, set it! The point is to eliminate all the work. If all you need to do is press a button in the morning, that’s awesome. Just don’t forget to do it first thing after your feet hit the floor.
2. Spill-proof cups and mugs
Locate your travel mugs, sippy cups—drinking vessels that have lids—and set them out. Oh, how many Christmas mornings have been temporarily spoiled by spilled hot chocolate, coffee, tea, or orange juice? A big mess right there on the beautiful carpet that sends at least two clean freaks running for towels, scrubbers, and maybe even the carpet cleaning machine! Please no, not on Christmas. Pre-empt even the hint of a spill with spill-proof cups and mugs.
3. Breakfast setup
Whatever you will be having for breakfast, do all the prep work you can the night before. If it’s Cinnamon Rolls (for sure!), make sure those Pillsbury Grands are handy in the refrigerator along with the heavy cream. Measure out the brown sugar in a bowl or cup so you don’t have to go looking for it in the morning. Have the baking pan all prepped and ready to go.
Making a breakfast casserole? Opt for a recipe for the slow cooker so you can get going the night before. Set the slow cooker for how many hours it takes, timing its finish with your family’s big event in the morning. Check this site for lots of slow cooker breakfast casserole recipes.
4. Create a system
I can think of nothing quite as chaotic as several people all opening their gifts at the same time. Maybe I’m nosy and like to see what others get? (Well, yes I do). Regardless, bringing a little peace and tranquility to the process of gift-opening not only makes Christmas morning last longer—it becomes much more satisfying and peaceful.
Here’s an idea created by my mother, followed strategically for all my growing-up years, and now observed and practiced by our family. Even the little ones can figure this out.
Once the gifts are all handed out and everyone has their stack (no opening until we say go), the youngest person starts by opening one gift. Then the next oldest opens (just one gift!) and around it goes. Of course, everyone has to ‘fess up to their age (a-hem), but it’s great fun.
The youngest among you will, for sure, keep everyone on their toes for the order of gift opening. And that is so adorable.
If our system doesn’t work for you, come up with something that does—a way to maintain a sense of lovely, peaceful order so everyone sees their gifts opened and the gift opening event goes on longer than five minutes of ripping and noisy chaos!
5. Stash a trash bag
Make that two trash bags. Big ones. Fold them up and stash them under the Christmas tree. No more running to find a bag once you see the build-up of gift wrap, ribbons, Styrofoam peanuts, boxes, and other trash! You’ll know exactly where the bags are and I am certain one of them will be the first thing you open. You will head off the agony of Christmas trash chaos.
6. Hide scissors
Invariably some packages are going to need scissors to get them open. Instead of struggling to locate a pair of scissors on Christmas morning—or attempting to use Grandpa’s buck knife to cut ribbon—find those scissors now. Got ’em? OK, now hide them. Mine are in the garland on the staircase—tucked into the greenery and completely out of sight. I know where they are, and it will take me two steps to reach in and bring those scissors out as needed.
7. Battery up
Face it. Toys use batteries. Make sure to battery up those toys before you wrap them. Eliminate all the struggles so the toys are ready to go the minute the kids open them.
If you’ve already wrapped those toys, do the next best thing: Find the right size screwdriver you will need to open the battery case. Have the number and size batteries required right at hand (hide them near the scissors!) to reduce the amount of time it will take to get things powered up.
If your gifts include rechargeable items, make sure you have charged them up to the max. Often these devices come “charged,” but only 10% or so. For the giftee who wants to start using it right away, that can be annoying if not disappointing. Eliminate the hassles and do it ahead of time.
8. Cue-up the classics
You’re going to find yourself scrambling to find a good playlist if you wait until chaos sets in. You can head that off by finding the perfect classic playlist now.
Determine how you want to play it. On your phone? Your Anker bluetooth speaker? Sonos? iPad, whole-house sound system? Figure out all of the where what, and how … now! Perform a little rehearsal to make sure you have the volume just right. Now, set it so all you have to do is hit “Play!”
9. Set up for face time
Will you be inviting friends and relatives who cannot be with you physically, to join in on all the fun via face time? The only thing more annoying than trying to find the tripod, figuring out the right device, re-learning how to actually use FaceTime, finding Nana’s number while everyone is standing there staring at you in unbelief, is watching someone else going through all of that. Seriously!
Do the prep work now. Set it up. Get the location exactly right, practice making the call. That will help those on the other end to do their prep work, as well.
How proud you’ll be when you can simply press a button, make a single call and have everything working flawlessly—first try!
All is calm, all is bright
There you go … nine simple ways to make sure your Christmas morning brings joy and peace to you and those you love.