The Ultimate Family Christmas Check List
Christmas can be a stressful time of year, with so many things to do, it’s easy to lose track of everything. Here is a guide to help you out in the next few days: things to do, plans to make, items to stock and bake, the Ultimate Family Christmas Check List. I hope you find it as useful as I have. Read it through and check it (twice if you like!) and have a very happy family Christmas!
Two Days (or more) Before Christmas
- Purchase last minute presents. It may be too late for an Amazon order, so any last minute purchases will have to be done by you. I confess to Christmas Eve shopping once- cough cough, okay, more than once, so no judging from this mom 😉 Gift cards in Dollar Store fancy gift boxes make great gifts for teens (Steam/itunes) by the way.
- A note on presents- it’s so easy to go overboard. Your child won’t remember the most of the presents when they get older, believe it or not, and too much creates overwhelm for them and you too.
- Buy extra tape, wrapping paper, bows and labels (or sharpie for name-writing). Don’t run out of these essentials, because chances are, you may be wrapping presents on Christmas Eve!
- Wrap the presents. Wrapping presents with kids in the house can be difficult, so wait until they are asleep, or get your partner or a friend to take them to the park. And yes, I’ve done wrapping on more than one 3 AM on Christmas Eve too (sigh).
- Bake cookies for Santa. Seriously, if you can do this before Christmas Eve, do! For years the kids and I baked and decorated Gingerbread Man cookies. Then we put them in festive treat bags and passed them out as Christmas presents to friends and family, and anyone we met along the way. Awesome memories, and a favorite family tradition. If you run short on time, buy cookie dough to bake- 10-15 minutes. Of course, you can always just buy cookies. If you are up to the baking challenge, mom blogger Becky Mansfield compiled 25 different healthy cookie recipes on her Your Modern Family website. Check them out for some cookie making inspiration.
- A Christmas Family Movie. Christmas Eve is so exciting that it may be hard to get the kids to bed, so an action plan might be necessary. Warm baths, or showers and into some cozy PJ’s for all, then maybe a movie- Christmas themed- we recommend the Polar Express, Home Alone, ELF with Will Farrell, or The Santa Clause with Tim Allen. Be warned about The Grinch that Stole Christmas- it’s good but very long. Check the running times for your chosen movie beforehand.
- Put out the cookies and milk. Have your kids put out a plate of cookies (2 or 3) and a small glass of milk for Santa? Some kids may want to include a carrot or celery stick for the reindeer.
- Read a Christmas bedtime story. Time to put the kids to bed, tuck the kids in bed and read a Christmas Story, like Twas the Night Before Christmas. If your kids have separate beds, snuggle on the couch, read the story and then tuck them in bed. You can find Christmas Tales at your local library or even on your smartphone in the I- book/Kindle app.
- Bedtime for adults. Yes there is a lot to do, but a quiet house will get the kids asleep sooner, so set a quiet alarm and take a nap yourself. We usually get up at 3 am. Leave your Christmas tree lit tonight.
- Wake up Santa and get to work! Time to wake up! Finish wrapping gifts if necessary and place them under the tree. Don’t forget the stockings. Oranges are great for stocking fillers, by the way 😉 Try and be as quiet as possible, and before you begin your Santa-work, close your children’s bedroom doors. Open them when you are done.
- Don’t Forget those Cookies. Before you head off to bed yourself, don’t forget to take a nibble or two or three of those cookies (and carrots) and drink some milk!
- Open presents or not. Not everyone lets their kids open presents first thing in the morning. What’s your family style? For years we made the kids wait until their dad came home from work- yes, he worked on Christmas Day. I would take them to my parents, then stop by his work, then pick up my step-daughter and feed the school pig and come back around to our house for a late Christmas. Either let the kids open presents in the morning, or wait for family, or for after dinner. That choice is up to you.
- A Pre-Planned Christmas Breakfast. Make a breakfast plan and have all of the ingredients ready. Something simple, yet special, for today, is a very special day. Eggs and bacon? Bagels and Smoked Salmon? Pancakes? An Omelet? Today is not a day for cereal. Put the coffee on early.
- The Christmas Travel Plan. Have a plan for the day. Going to Grandma’s? To your sister’s? Or just staying put. Make your travel plans before Christmas Day and make sure you have gas in the car- many places are not open today. In fact, it’s usually a very quiet day on the roads. I used to go to the beach in Greece on Christmas.
- Christmas Dinner. Are you cooking dinner? Start your prepping. Get the entire family, and whoever else shows up to lend a hand. Christmas is a family affair. Even the kids can make small nibbles- cheese and crackers anyone? Or put chips in bowls or set the table. Don’t go it alone. In fact, if you know of friends or family spending Christmas alone this year, invite them to dinner as well. The holiday season can be especially depressing to those who have lost a loved one or are solo. Having Christmas dinner at someone else’s house? Bring a dessert or dish and be sure to lend a hand. Offer to help wash dishes afterward, because guess what- no one wants to spend Christmas washing dishes! Southern Living has traditional Christmas dinner menus with recipes, and Woman’s Day offers 40 different recipes to liven up your Christmas meal. It all looks scrummy!
- Christmas nights and Christmas lights. If you have not partaken of the Christmas wine, take the family out for a drive to check out the Christmas lights. Pack some hot cocoa in a thermos, let everyone wear PJ’s and give them some cozy blankets to keep warm.
- Is it over yet? That depends on the energy left in the family. A board game? Chutes and Ladders or Candy Land, or a Christmas movie to chill with- we still are working on the Home Alone movies, but there are many others. Soon it will be bedtime, though chances are the kids are already falling asleep- as are you!
- What next? There is no law that says you need to take down the tree immediately; in fact, many people wait until New Years Day (a friend of mine doesn’t get around to it until April!). Leave the decorations up. The younger your kids are, the more they appreciate them. And now you have an entire week until New Year’s Eve- a week of planning, and spending time enjoying your family.
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