7 Ways to make Christmas less hectic and a lot more fun
They say that one of the best things about having kids is that you get to re-experience all the excitement of the holidays that you remember from your own childhood, and it's true.
You know what else is true about kids and holidays? It is, or at least has the potential to be, insanity. Top-to-bottom insanity. Between the shopping and the wrapping and the baking and the is-Santa-coming-yets, the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas can be a little less "peace and joy" and a little more "stressful and crazy."
When we welcomed our first child, I went a little overboard: I think there were something like 80,000 gifts sitting under that first Christmas tree, and I DIY-ed myself into a glitter-and-frosting covered ball of nerves (seriously, scented pinecones? Do not make them; buy them. Your life will be much easier and your hands will be much less sticky and much less cinnamon-scented). Now that we have a second child, there's some major potential for the holiday season to be that much more overwhelming... and so I've decided to take it down a notch or 20. Chill out, and put down the glitter gun. Maintain those traditions that really matter, and then let the rest of it go so that I can spend time just relaxing by the tree with my kids... which is, of course, the best holiday tradition of all.
So first, let's talk holiday entertaining shortcuts for those of you more into relaxing by the tree with some eggnog than hand-stringing popcorn wreaths (which I have to assume is all of you).
Fake a fireplace
If you don't have a fireplace in your home (or don't feel like making a for-real fire), an electric fireplace gives you the cozy effect minus the smoke and effort. Want to go one step lazier? On Christmas morning, just flip the channel over to the Yule log station (check local listings); as a bonus, it comes complete with a wonderfully cheesy Christmas soundtrack.
Rather than spending your day baking homemade cookies, light a cookie-scented candle for atmosphere and skip straight to the fun part: the decorating. Just pick up sugar cookies, white frosting, food coloring (to add to the frosting) and sprinkles at the supermarket, and let your kids get good and messy.
Paper or plastic
Use disposable plates, cups and cutlery when entertaining; it makes cleanup a snap (and prevents the inevitable tears, by which I mean yours, when a child sends one of your precious crystal glasses flying).
Wrap it up
Rather than getting tangled up in elaborate gift-wrapping, purchase a large roll of brown paper and some twine; not only will it make your life easier (and less expensive), the end result will be totally minimalist chic.
But, of course, there are still some traditions that can't be compromised on... and for me, they're these.
One new ornament each
Every year, my family and I visit a Christmas Shop and each pick out one new ornament for the tree that symbolizes the past year to us (last year, I chose a pencil because I had just completed my first book, and my son chose a lion because... it was a lion).
Christmas Eve coffee table picnic
After the kids are finally in bed for the evening, my husband and I sit down to a late dinner of lemony roast chicken and mashed potatoes on the living room floor, and wrap any remaining presents while It's A Wonderful Life plays on the TV. It's romantic, cozy and a nice way to get in a little alone time (and maybe exchange one or two special gifts) before the madness of the next morning commences.
Christmas morning bacon sandwich
Nothing says Christmas like bacon on buttered bread. Except, maybe, bacon on buttered bread served alongside mimosas... because nothing goes better with Christmas presents than a little champagne.
And finally, no holiday season is complete without a Family Dancing Video. This is the one we made the year after our son was born. Now that our daughter is here, I think it's time for another.
Disclosure: This post is part of a collaboration with Energizer MAX Batteries and SheKnows.