As a child on Christmas morning, I can remember sitting amongst a mountain of discarded wrapping paper and foil bows with every single present already ripped opened and haphazardly played with. It was 7:30am.
So much thought and energy goes into this very day and I can’t have it be over before the coffee maker sputters out its last drop of fresh brew. Time, stop! Ditto in your house? Here are some ideas for prolonging the magic on Christmas morning and keeping everyone entertained and happy throughout the day.
1. Wrap Stocking Stuffers
Many of you may already do this, but when I was growing up, everything in our stocking was unwrapped. It would take my sister and me about 42 seconds to extract the entire contents of our stockings, giving minimal attention to each shiny new treat because we were too excited to see what else was buried in our giant sock of spoils. Yes, it takes more time to wrap, and yes, it’s not totally eco-friendly but it’ll buy you a lot more time and allow your children to give greater appreciation to each goodie.
2. Take a Breakfast Break
After the Santa gifts and stockings have been torn into and before ambushing what’s under the tree, make it a family tradition to take a hiatus for that morning meal. Cook something special and unusual like fruity pancakes with whipped cream, giant cinnamon buns or cheesy quiches (call it scrambled egg pie and the kids will actually eat it). While breakfast is being prepared, the kids will have an opportunity to enjoy Santa’s gifts and you can down at least one cup of coffee before the rest of the presents are revealed.
3. Play Santa and Take Turns
This one’s a classic, but works wonders on several levels. Assign one of your children (or have them take turns), to play “Santa”—this job entails finding a gift for each person under the tree. Once everyone has a gift to open, each person will take a turn unwrapping his or her gift. Mainly, this allows the gift giver and gift receiver to share in the excitement and gratitude of each gift. If at the end, there are more presents for the kids than parents, which is usually the case, let them go at it (this also avoids the “she/he-got-more-presents-than-I-did” traditional sibling arguments).
4. Create a Scavenger Hunt for a Gift
Growing up, my parents always hid our final gift somewhere very sneaky. They’d present us with a card which had a clue, which lead to another and another and another! They’d get us running all around the entire house, inside and out, until we finally came upon our last gift. The hunt was just as fun as getting to see what the actual gift was! My favorite hiding place – the dryer!
5. Always Purchase an Outdoor Gift
If your family works like mine, Cabin Fever starts to set in around 10:30 a.m. To avoid this, make sure you’ve purchased something you can play with outdoors like a snow fort building cube, a soccer ball or even gift wrap up a giant branch and call it a walking stick. Getting some fresh air will keep everyone energized and in good spirits. And, coupled with waking up at the crack, they’ll be ready for an early bedtime too, just saying.
6. Write Thank You Notes
Get a jump start on Thank You notes so you’re not overwhelmed and left holding the bag in January for everyone’s gifts. Have a package of Thank You notes ready and plan to sit down in the afternoon with the kids to knock out 3-4 cards. If your kids are too young to write, have them do a scribble or two on the inside fold. If they are old enough, have them jot a few words of gratitude or at minimum, write their name at the bottom.
If you’ve accomplished all of these things by 10 a.m., crash some friends’ or family’s home for a visit because absolutely nothing is open and it’ll be a looong day.