If we learned anything from Chevy Chase and “Christmas Vacation,” it’s that no one wants to spend the holiday extinguishing Christmas tree fires and carving out dried meat from the burnt carcass of a turkey. Holidays can bring added stress with deadlines, house guests, messes, traffic and the inevitable unexpected circumstances that always happen to find us when chaos is brewing. Add our unattainable holiday visions — their spells cast by perfect family scenes in holiday movies and dreamy photos from picture books and Pinterest and blogs — and it’s easy to fall into a trap of disappointment. Here’s a tip: lower your expectations. Seek peace and relaxation from the holidays and give yourself permission to fully enjoy yourself; put your feet up, watch your family, feel the feeling.
Here are a few tips to enjoy a laid back Christmas morning.
Tackle the Three C’s of Christmas Morning: Coffee, Candles, Carols
Maybe I’m just easily fooled, but no matter how chaotic or not-according-to-plan things go, if there are candles flickering and good music playing and a cup of hot coffee in my hand, things feel much more peaceful. If I squint my eyes, I might even believe my house is clean. Every Christmas morning, I wake up before everyone else, in time to make a pot of coffee, light some candles and get some Christmas music playing. It sets the tone for enjoyment and creates a welcoming atmosphere for my family. Little pleasures go a long way.
Prepare Breakfast the Night Before
Egg casseroles, sticky buns, cinnamon rolls — these are all things that you can easily prepare on Christmas Eve so that when you wake up, all you have to do is slip things in the oven and forget about them.
Also, not that I know this from personal experience or anything, but if breakfast doesn’t go as planned or if, say, your bread dough doesn’t keep its beautiful braided shape while rising, let it go. It’s going to be OK.
Decide: Beautiful Mess or Controlled Chaos?
Decide ahead of time if you’re going to accept the mess and let wrapping paper and dishes sit around as the morning progresses with an “It’s Christmas, let it go” attitude or if you’re going to keep things tidy. If you’re a needs-to-have-everything-clean-to-enjoy-herself mom, have garbage bags ready and a box for recycling gift wrap so you can easily clean up wrapping paper and other morning messes.
Skip a Fancy Dinner and Try a Display of Appetizers
One of my favorite Christmas meal memories is a few years back when we decided to skip our usual big dinner and put a display of appetizers out instead. It cut preparation time down to nearly nothing and created a great laid-back vibe. Gather some new recipes before Christmas, marry them with some old hors d’oeuvre favorites and put out a spread of goodies on your counter for everyone to enjoy throughout the day.
Stock Up On…
Think about everything you might need and make a list before stores close on Christmas Eve. Do you have coffee and cream? Tape, tissue paper and shirt boxes for last minute wrapping? Firewood, drinks, your favorite foods, movies and batteries for new toys? Nobody likes to leave the house once they’ve settled in for the holiday.
Buy a New Game
We started a new holiday tradition last year where we gift our family with a new game. Once everything’s settled down on Christmas afternoon, we all gather to play the game together. It’s a great bonding ritual and a reminder of what holidays are truly about — spending time together.
Ask Santa to Stuff Your Stocking with Bath Goods
Since you have a little something to do with what Santa puts in your stocking, arrange to have it filled with a new magazine and some bath goods — salts, bubble bath, some essential oil, a cool eye gel mask. Since you want to put Santa’s gifts to good use, you might need to excuse yourself in the afternoon when the kids are playing with their new goodies, and enjoy a nice long bath. I do this every Christmas, and I so enjoy how relaxed it makes me feel.