This morning, my family began a marathon. My daughter will be celebrating this joyous season at eight different households between today and Monday evening. For a pre-schooler, that’s a whole lot of presents and excitement. Honestly, I think she’s so anxious for everything to begin that she might just bounce right out the front door at daycare. Our provider told me that she’s wanted to have her coat on since 10am. She’s ready to leave.
I, on the other hand, am wishing that I had just a few more hours to prepare. No matter how much I thought I had prepped in advance, there’s just too many variables to worry about when it comes to coordinating a huge family holiday. From packing for travels, cooking for each household and sorting every package according to which tree it needs to sit under, my head is spinning in circles. My kitchen is emitting what I sincerely hope is steam. And my sanity might have just reached it’s breaking point.
What to wear, what we’ll eat, what we’ll bring… We’ll see my in-laws, my grandparents and my extremely enthusiastic mother. Here’s a few tips that I’m desperately trying to implement to keep our family happy, healthy and enjoying the holidays.
- Cook the same dish for every potluck. Sure, you’re children might get tired of homemade macaroni and cheese or stuffed mushrooms. But there will always be plenty of food to go around. If you agree to take the same thing to multiple gatherings, you only have one recipe to worry about and one set of ingredients to buy, in bulk of course. These year, my cheesy potato casserole is making an appearance at my office carry-in, my in-laws potluck and my grandmother’s brunch.
- Make it to bed on time. It’s so tempting to stay out late, socializing and visiting with family. But don’t let your kids stay up until midnight tonight and then expect them up and ready for more activities at 8am sharp tomorrow. There’s so much excitement and energy in the air, your kids need time to decompress and get good rest. Bowing out at a decent hour may not seem like the most fun, but it will make the rest of the weekend so much easier for you and your youngsters.
- Have a staging area. Whether it’s the kitchen table or a spare bedroom, get those gifts pre-sorted before the hustle begins. Have each engagement’s presents in a nice pile, ready to transfer to the car in a moment’s notice, will ease your mind and keep you organized. While you’re making those piles, it’s a good time to double check your own list and make sure that you didn’t forget that stupid gift card for your husband’s uncle!
- Designate a “memory-maker.” Have one person in charge of pictures and movies. They lug the cameras around. They transfer all the footage to DVDs for the whole family. Having three people at every gathering trying to get each shot just takes up time and energy. If this is a large task for your family because you guys are a little camera-happy, take turns at each different event.
- Don’t forget to have fun. Every mom I know has this odd mix of excitement and dread going on this weekend. We love the holidays but there’s just a lot of stress and pressure. I realize this is so much easier to say than to do, but try to sit back and enjoy this cheerful time with your family. At the end of the day, no one will care if you forgot a cookie tin or if your daughter’s shoes match her dress perfectly. Don’t forget to remember the important part of the holidays, spending time with your family.