I’m kind of embarrassed by the lameness of the title, but I’ve amassed a collection of helpful habits for myself over the years that have made Christmas more joyful and slightly less stressful.
They’re not profound so let’s get right to it.
I stuff everyone’s stockings into a grocery bag helpful labeled with their names as I amass the stuffings. Come Christmas Eve, as soon as I’m sure the last sugarplum is asleep, I can dump the appropriate bag directly into each stocking with one hand while holding a glass of wine in the other.
Every time I’m shopping during the month of December, I buy scotch tape. Sometimes just a single roll, usually more. I then hide the tape literally everywhere in the house so that the odds of at least a couple rolls surviving the ravaging hands of an artistic kindergartener are decent.
I keep a running list on my phone of gifts desired, gifts purchased, and where they’re stashed for each family member. (I added the last category this year after spending a few hours last week hunting for a kitty umbrella that I’d hidden a little too well. Lesson learned). As I buy the gifts, they get moved down to the purchased category, which helps me balance out the number and quality of gifts per kid and reminds me on December 23rd that I AM DONE SHOPPING. DO NOT OPEN THE AMAZON APP.
I order/buy/make a ton of snacks before the start of Christmas break, which seasoned parents know is basically summer break in miniature with more screen time and about 1000 hours of snow gear application + removal. My secret garage pantry is now stocked with beef jerky, peanut butter crackers, fruit leathers, energy balls, and goldfish that nobody but me knows about, and I feel like a plump and satisfied mother squirrel with a nest stuffed full of acorns.
I book babysitters for December in November (I know, I know…this one’s not much help now) because it’s a blitz of birthdays and Christmas parties, and we usually need a sitter one night a week all through December and into January.
Paper plates. Just going to leave it at that.
Pay all your bills this week, if you can. The wine and cheese coma that stretches from December 26th into January whatever will make your water bill late. Don’t ask me how I know.
Get thee to zero sum laundry, by whatever means necessary. I’ve done 4 loads of laundry per day this week and I am almost there. Is the laundry going stop piling up come Christmas? No, no it is not. But gosh darn it I AM NOT GOING TO WORRY ABOUT IT FOR AT LEAST 3 DAYS. Merry Christmas to me.
Purge ya house. Get the toys out now. The broken ones with too many pieces, the ones that make dastardly noises. The rejected and the forgotten. Donate them, sell them on Marketplace, whatever … just get them out of your house before next week! Even if they’re in the garage or the trunk for a month or until you can get them to where they’re going next, it is so, so nice to start from a cleaner slate on Christmas day.
Make a little time each day to connect with your husband. Light a candle and snuggle up with coffee or wine, depending upon the hour, and sit near the Christmas tree. You can watch a movie together, wrap gifts together (I find this one insanely stressful for some reason) pray a rosary, talk about your expectations for what the celebration will look like this year, catch up on the Mandalorian, whatever! Just remember that he’s the whole reason you’re in this whole “making a magical family Christmas happen” situation, so don’t forget to prioritize your marriage in this season of sleepless tiny tots with glowing eyes.
Pray. Duh. The O Antiphons begin today and I love them. I love adding new (to us) verses to our dinnertime rendition of O Come, O Come Emmanuel to coordinate with whichever “O” day we’re on, and I love reminding myself that even if I screwed up Advent, the Church is a benevolent mother and gives us a little week of mini Advent – and Advent intensive, you might call it – to refocus and reprioritize our eyes and our energy on Him.
Merry Christmas to all, and … I almost forgot to say this, but don’t forget to buy some trash bags!