How to Have a Stress-free Christmas Celebration
Family traditions in celebrating this joyous season differ but most Christian families gather on Christmas Eve for some wonderful bonding moments like sharing of Christmas Dinner and opening of gifts. Being the Mom, most of the planning and execution depend so much on you such that you end up stressed and fatigued and not being able to enjoy and cherish the moment. If it will make you feel better, you must know that you are not alone and there are ways to better manage the situation. I’ll share some tips that I found helpful in my own parenting journey, hope you find them useful in yours.
Finalize the Attendance Early on
Determine the number of people participating in the Christmas Eve celebration. This will help you plan the amount of food to prepare and the activities to program. The menu should also be catered to the preference of the people present balancing it with what you can realistically prepare. In our case, Christmas Eve is usually spent with the family (me, my husband and our children) and household helps. It is very seldom that close relatives celebrate the evening with us as they would have their own family Christmas tradition, too. Nonetheless, it is always a big deal for me because I want every Christmas to be memorable for my kids.
Be Realistic about your Goals
You might want to have it all and do it all,
from choosing the wrapper and ribbons for Christmas giveaways and game prizes
to offering a gourmet dining experience.
That is often the natural tendency of a hostess to please the guests and
her family. But if you are a common
housewife who doesn’t have the budget, the time and the entourage to follow
your wishes, then have it done in an informal way and enjoy the following
advantages: (1) There will be more participation
from guests because of less intimidation. (2) The lighter and relaxed ambiance encourages
people to be themselves and express genuine laughter. (3) Informal events tend to be less draining
on the budget and less demanding of your time and effort allowing you to have
more reserved energy and enthusiasm to enjoy the night. This Daily Happiness Tip might also be helpful.
Plan the Activities for the Evening
Knowing who will be present will help you identify activities that will give a chance to each and everyone to participate and enjoy. Remember that having a little share in one or more activities will make them feel part of the whole experience and thus give a sense of fulfillment. You can also consult family members and solicit their idea of fun like what I did with my children. I asked them what we could do to have a fun-fun-fun Christmas celebration and they suggested we play games even if we are too few in the house. That was the start of our Christmas tradition as a young family. For our Christmas Eve this year, our program of activities is set as follows.
7:00 pm CHRISTMAS DINNER
Prayer before meal to be led by Leon (my 7 year-old son)
7:45 pm GRATITUDE RITUAL
Everybody takes turn telling about the things, people and events that they are thankful for, especially in this occasion.
8:00 pm CHRISTMAS SERENADE
To be led by Rica (my 9 year-old daughter)
but everybody is expected to sing
8:15 pm CHRISTMAS GAMES
The game show host is yours truly.
1. Christmas Trivia- each group should correctly answer a Christmas trivia to get a piece of a Christmas tree puzzle. The first to complete the tree wins the game. My husband will assist in checking for the answers and issuance of the puzzle pieces.
2. Stuff and Share- each person will stuff their stocking with goodies for 30 seconds thinking that what they get is theirs but after the timer stops, they would be asked to line up in any order and to give their stocking to the person next to them.
3. Human Christmas Tree- One person from each team will be selected as the human Christmas tree and the rest will endeavor to decorate him/her using the materials provided. My Father-in-Law will be the judge for this game.
4. Pass the Gift- everybody should form a circle and dance while a gift is being passed around. The person holding the gift when the music stops, gets the gift. This goes on until everybody gets one gift. A special prize will be given to the best dancer and most cooperative buddy (keeps on passing the gift while the music is on).
9:30 pm OPENING OF CHRISTMAS PRESENTS
Including exchange gift for the modified Kris Kringle wherein gifts to be given should not be bought. It could be an origami or any form of art work or a love letter. We drew lots already and I’m still clueless who got my name.
10:00 pm CLEAN UP TIME
10:15 pm BEDTIME
12:00 mn SANTA’S SNEAKY ACT
(Presents from Santa is opened after breakfast on Christmas day before going to church for early morning mass)
Our household helps who chose to be with us on this occasion rather than go home to their province will be joining the games and receive presents as well. My visiting uncle will be the official photographer to capture moments of fun.
Avoid the Christmas Rush
Upon finalizing your guest list and the activities, you can start shopping. Have a list of things you need to buy for the Christmas dinner and Christmas gifts you need to wrap and other materials for your planned activities. You might have several trips to the grocery and department store so allow yourself a little luxury of time to complete your list and favor canvass for cheaper deals without being stressed by the deadline. You can also do part of the shopping online, visit the links at the right for gift ideas>>>
Enjoy Wrapping your Christmas Presents
The key to enjoyment in this activity is not to do it with haste. I usually feel the Christmas spirit as I wrap gifts, so there is more pleasure when more time is allotted. Experimenting with wrapping materials and styles sounds fun to me as well. You can try other materials in wrapping the gifts not just to save money but also for artistic expression of creativity and resourcefulness. In my husband’s lingo, it is like extracting your creative juice. Gift wrapping using the regular wrappers is fine (as opposed to the special more expensive ones), why not? You may consider buying them in bulk to get a discount. This year, I will be wrapping gifts using old newspaper and use up excess ribbons from past celebrations, what about that?
Prepare Simple Christmas Dinner
Food is always part of any celebration and ideally, the mom prepares them. Better plan a menu that includes dishes you can prepare ahead of time to spread kitchen chores over a few days rather than cramming everything up on the same day. Our Christmas Dinner plan is posted in this link as an example. By doing this, you don’t look so harassed by the time the party starts. If you have the luxury of time, you can consider learning a new dish to widen your repertoire and trying it out beforehand. This will allow you to offer something new on Christmas Eve but if circumstances will not permit, be content with what you already know and it will still be great.
Another important thing is to consider buffet style in serving the dinner and don’t bother much on table decorations. Remember that the presence of each and every smiling faces (that includes you) is more important than a well-embellished table.
Catering services are also available if you opt to but expect it to be more expensive and you should order early to be accommodated. For commercially catered food, you are spared from the hassles of food preparation but the personal touch is lost and this commands a high cost. Now, Mom you make the choice.
Dress Up and Be Proud of Yourself
After all the preparations, you should have a few minutes for yourself to freshen up. Put on you new (or old) casual wear and feel relaxed. Trust that everything will work out well and it will. You have done a great job! Bring out that fresh and happy you and »»» P A R T Y!
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