The week before Christmas is a flurry of gift shopping, wrapping paper, guest room prep and christmas cookie decorating! Throw some crazy excited kids and a mischievous elf and christmas service bell practice into the mix, it gets a little chaotic. Go ahead and yell ‘SON OF A NUTCRACKER’ right now because I am here to make your to-do list a little longer. Yes. I said longer. But it’s gonna be OK because these items will actually HELP in the long run. These seven things are super quick but make a huge difference in making your holiday go SO much smoother. With seven days till Christmas, you could designate one of these tasks per day to really bring out the Christmas spirit!
Clean out the old Toys
Nothing motivates the kids to clean out the playroom like Santa’s upcoming arrival! We like to clean out the playroom in the weeks leading up to Christmas and find that it’s got so many perks. First, you are making room for any new toys! Jeremy and I generally try to limit the toys we buy the kids (not that we don’t want to buy them ALL the toys but honestly because the grandparents spoil them to the moon!) and not knowing the exact toys they are about to receive means that we need to make sure there is plenty of storage space. During this week, the kids also are much more open to the idea of tossing broken toys and donating rarely used ones. I also take that time to get inventory of the things that kids might like for last minute gifts….like this year, we noticed that the boys favorite car ramp was cracked beyond repair….and it was a perfect item to suggest to doting grandparents 🙂
Buy all the Christmas feast food
One of my favorite parts of Christmas is the meal! I love having everyone gather around the table and thanking God for his son before spending time with my loved ones. And then sitting on the couch with a filled sink of dirty dishes and a full belly while watching a Christmas movie is THE BEST. Make your meal plan ahead of time and shop for all the food now. You can prep most of it ahead of time to make things smoother later in the week. And one of my favorite traditions is to pick up a ‘week-after-meal’ for a family is a friend or neighbor. Its such a welcomed surprise to gift them with a ready-to-go meal for the week after Christmas (think frozen lasagna, garlic bread and a bag of salad mix!) and it literally needs no work from you!
Designate your FFF (forced family fun)
Fun with your family (especially extended fam) is sometimes a little difficult…..schedules collide and sometimes the only free time is inconvenient or annoying. Trust me…I have five kids and three of them have a variety of napping times…I get it. But forcing yourself to participate in family fun is sending a big message…that family time is important enough to not compromise. I mean…you wouldn’t cancel on Santa…and family time is more important than Jolly Ole Saint Nick! Plan your forced family fun time now for the whole year!
Put together your Christmas morning Prep basket
Gifts are one of the many highlights on Christmas morning….I mean…can you just sense the excitement in their little faces in this picture from last year! But sometimes gifts and documenting the celebration come with needs. Put together your Christmas morning prep accessory basket ahead of time to make the most of your family together time. I fill mine with a couple trash bags, scissors, screwdrivers, batteries, extra camera battery/memory card, and even tissues (for the happy tears!). It makes everything go a little bit smoother and you will spend less time looking for the batteries and more time laughing about the funny stocking stuffer with your family!
Plan out your Christmas Best
The day of Christmas eve always feels a bit rushed….probably because it FLIES by at the speed of eight tiny reindeer. So before you get to the big day, plan out your Christmas best – for example, your church’s Christmas eve service, your Christmas eve pajamas and your clothing for Christmas day. Having the whole families clothing washed and ironed makes it so much easier to actually enjoy the time together….plus, I find that having the clothing ready makes the service feel extra special.
Do something free filled with Christmas spirit
It’s so easy to get caught up in the world of spending that sometimes we forget that the best Christmas things in life are free! I love making an intentional effort in doing FREE activities that fill us up with Christmas spirit. Some of my favorites are driving around the neighborhood and looking at twinkle lights, writing a letter to Santa and then delivering it by hand by going to a store that has the jolly man himself, reading a Christmas classic before bed, writing a Christmas card to someone serving in the armed forces, clip “mistletoe” and hang it on the doorway and take turns giving kisses, even making a fun display of Christmas cards! Try to think of Christmas activities that you love that cost money and be creative to make it free! (Oh and if you are looking for a Santa letter – I put mine as a FREE DOWNLOAD in the header above – click on FREEBIES!)
Donate, Volunteer or Give
The week before the holiday is the best time to donate, volunteer or give! There are so many opportunities to serve…it doesn’t need to necessarily be Christmas related. Grabbing an extra toy and dropping it off at a Toys for Tots location, grabbing a extra $5 at checkout and popping it in the bell-ringers jar, or even choosing to sponsor a goat for a family in poverty…your money can go a long way and is easier to donate than ever before. If you don’t have money or goods to donate, consider volunteering an hour to a local nursing home, or at a nonprofit, church or children’s hospital. If nothing else, you can drop off food at your local police office or fire house or even give blood….remember that the world doesn’t completely shut down just because Christmas is coming! If you don’t know what to do, consider reaching out to a local pastor – they usually know all of the local opportunities and families in need.
So there you have it – a list that you probably didn’t read somewhere else yet! I’d love to hear what must-do things are on your christmas to-do-list this year? And ways you have prepped for the best Christmas ever! The season is always filled with such great ideas like decorating gingerbread houses and drinking hot cocoa but I also like hearing the non-glamourous ways to make the season smoother, spirit filled and cheerful! Whether that be making a bunch of lists and checking them twice or being Santa to a family in need or simply ironing everything a few days a head of time…I always love ideas especially when Santa, Jesus and lots of little eyes are watching and learning how to do this thing called Christmas!
Lisa Erdmann says
Wow, you are so organized and that is awesome! What great ideas! This year it was about giving more. We did the typical angel tree gifts but this year my church was collecting for veterans. I might have gone a little crazy because I am so grateful for their service.
related pro-tip: Kid’s christmas pajamas at consignment stores are in really good condition because they’re not worn very much.
Just a note about planning Christmas best outfits. This is a such a pro tip for all year round.
I have designated Sunday Naps for my time to pick out a whole weeks worth of outfits for myself. I also try and get all my laundry put away at that time too.
I find that this simple ack makes it so I feel put together all week long.
Thanks for the nudge about doing it for the whole family for Christmas!
Jess M says
This. ALL OF THIS! This is a perfect list. And I should short hand it and keep it on my office desk. This is our second Christmas with 2 little ones and the joy of the season is getting more and more exciting each year. My almost 3-year-old is bringing back the anticipation of Christmas that I lost from childhood. 🙂 I cannot wait to see her face on Christmas morning. But first! This list! I plan to take the girls to the basement to fill a box of toys for “the babies” aka, kids in need. Thank you for reminding us of the “reason for the season”. I look forward to our forced family fun. The only one who grumbles is my hubby! Ha!
Elizabeth T says
Great ideas! I love the planning ahead for the 3 outfits and the Christmas morning basket. I’m gonna do it! Thanks for sharing so much of your life and family with us! Hope you guys have a wonderful Christmas!
3 year old Christmas is my FAVORITE. They are usually verbal enough to know how to get the message across that they are so excited!
xo – kb
xo – kb
Great suggestions, I love the idea of purging before all the gifts. Btw, your mantle is beautiful ( I was peeking at your previous posts).
We try to do this as well. I have a closet organizer (the kind that hangs and has 6 square bins, I think it’s made for sweaters) in each kid’s closet to hold all of their outfits for the week, including socks, underwear & hair accessories. Saves a lot of time in the morning when they can just grab their outfit and get dressed.
Ashley-at home with Ashley says
Awesome ideas! I love the idea of donating less used toys to make space for the new toys.