Last Minute Christmas Tips
by Susan Dunn


 Related Resources: Advent Index
Christian Christmas Coloring Pictures



Try these last minute tips for increasing your enjoyment and decreasing your stress at Christmas.

1. Try opening the gifts a new way.

Open the gifts one by one as everyone watches and enjoys. This gives you a chance to slow it down, appreciate it more, and teach about giving and receiving. You can talk about the gift-giver and memories.

2. Have a special time for you and your spouse/partner to exchange gifts.

Amidst all the rush, take time to bond with your spouse or partner. You're a couple and this is an important part of your life. This is important for now, and important for later. When the kids have left home, you’ll have a lasting tradition to enjoy together. Have your special celebration and gift-exchanging Christmas Eve after the children are in bed, or save them for late Christmas Day when the kids are out playing, off with friends, or in bed for a nap. Or get a sitter and go out for dinner Christmas night and exchange your gifts then.

3. Can't get the kids to bed Christmas Eve? Try this.

Bundle them up and go out for a walk to enjoy the neighborhood Christmas lights. Enjoyable, peaceful and good for winding down. Also a chance to talk. And take the dog along!

4. Try something different, easier and more fun for the holiday meal.

A buffet is a great idea. Gives everyone a chance to visit, get up and move around. Little kids -- and some adults -- get tired of all that sitting. You may find you eat less, as well.

5. Have a Treasure Hunt!

This works especially well for teenagers who often want money for gifts, but just as well for smaller children. Make one special gift the object of a treasure hunt. Make short rhyming clues going from place to place in your home. Have the final gift somewhere safe and hidden, like in the microwave or bottom oven. SAMPLE CLUE: For this clue, look high and low. It's nestled beside the shoveler of snow. (Beside the snow shovel.) Yes, they're corny, but that's 90% of the fun!

6. How to present money as a gift?

Lots of people ask for, and give, money for presents. How can you present it? (1) Put it in a festive or colored envelope and clothespin it to the Christmas tree. (2) Gift wrap a series of boxes going from small to large - ending with as big a box as you can -- available at moving companies, storage places, or parcel post stores. (3) Make it the final gift of a treasure hunt (4) Stick it in the pocket of an item of clothing you give them (5) Make a collage of things they'll likely use the money for. (6) Lead them astray by wrapping it in a box from a toy, watch, microwave, computer, etc. (7) Stuff it inside a Santa or snowman piñata and let them take a whack at it.

7. Make your Christmas Eve dinner manageable and different.

(1) Bake pizza from scratch together as a family - grate the cheese, cut up the tomatoes and onions, knead the dough, etc. (2) Eat at card tables in front of the fireplace. Wrap sandwiches and deviled eggs in foil with ribbon and place inside special inexpensive Christmas stockings. Serve a light soup in Santa mugs. (3) Order in Chinese - most Chinese restaurants are open Christmas Eve. Have some festive paper goods to eat it on. (4) Have a make-your-own pancake supper. Set out special ingredients for the kids to add to their pancakes - Christmas colored sprinkles, cranberries, chocolate chips, nuts. Serve with cranberry syrup!

8. Make gratitude a part of the ceremony.

Give each child old enough to write, a pad and pencil and make sure after they open each gift, they write down what it was and whom it was from. They can use this the next day to write their thank you notes.

9. What to do about the after-Christmas letdown?

Most people experience a let-down after Christmas. Try one of these pick-ups: (1) Have a "Look What I Got for Christmas" Party for friends and neighbors; kids too. They can wear that new sweater or watch! (2) Have a scrapbook evening where you assemble the photos from the big day. (3) Have a New Year's Resolution party. Lay out supplies for everyone to make a poster of their New Year's Resolutions. Provide markers, glitter, glue, yarn, magazines, computer printout graphics and such for pictures.

10. Going over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house?

Surveys say kids tire after 30 minutes in the car (train, plane or boat!) Bring along some gifts they can open in the car and use -- books, tapes, headset, new tape or DC, a new toy. They also never seem to tire of the “I see an A in Alamo” game. If you’re in town or on the highway, use the words on billboards and store signs; out in the country, real objects such as M is for Mailbox or T is for Tree.