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Getting Ready for Christmas: Tips and Tricks from Squaw Creek

Every year, I look forward to Christmas.  Beautiful decorations, yummy goodies, candlelit church services, holiday music, time with family and gifts to show them how much I love them.  What’s not to love?
What’s not to love?  Turns out there’s plenty.  The holidays are great, but it’s no secret that they can also be stressful.  My holiday motto is “Keep it Simple, Make it Meaningful” but simple and Christmas seem to be very contradictory.
So here is the Squaw Creek Survival Guide for Christmas with Kids
Christmas with Kids

Tip #1: Shrink your big tree
My fake tree is huge.  But I care more about floor space in my dining room than whether or not the tree looks perfect, so I only put up HALF the tree.  That’s right – I put the branches on the front, and then smash it against the windows.  Not as pretty, but much more functional.
Christmas Tree
(Someday I’ll get the trim back up around the new windows!)

Tip #2:  Keep wrapping supplies close at hand
I use this decorative snowman bucket (can?) to hold my wrapping supplies.  That way, they’re easy to find when we’re wrapping last minute gifts as we head out the door to one of our 17 family gatherings.
Christmas Wrapping Paper
Tip #3:  Feed your kids.
I have no doubt that my kids will eat a lot of Christmas goodies, then get worn out and crabby because they are lacking in nutrition.  I have a plan for this…I will bring foods my kids like to every family gathering.  Last year, that meant peanut butter sandwiches.  This year, it’s still up in the air, but rest assured, they WILL eat something besides sugar cookies!
And when we’re not at those family gatherings, they will eat scrambled eggs.  Both Adam and Isaac LOVE scrambled eggs, and the protein seems to keep them off the “sugar high – sugar low” roller coaster.

Feed Your Kids Something Healthy at Holiday Gathering

Tip #4: Keep Your Yum-Yums Simple
Last year I blogged about my favorite microwave recipes for Christmas, and also how I made roll-out sugar cookies without losing my mind.  Read these posts.  You’ll thank me later.
Make cut-out cookies easy
Tip #5: Skip the Elf and Read Books Instead
You can throw something at me if you want, but we’re not doing the Elf on a Shelf thing.  Seems like too much work for me.  Instead, to get the kids ready for Christmas, we wrapped our Christmas books and then unwrap one every night.  The last one will be unwrapped on Christmas Eve.
Christmas Book Countdown
Tip #6: Enlist Help
I try to involve my kids in all of my Christmas “tasks” (except shopping.)  The presents might not be as pretty if a 4 year old wraps them, and it may take 4 times as long, but think about how this time benefits him.. When we wrap together, Adam gets quality time with his mommy, tons of fine motor skill practice, and gets to experience the joy in giving.
Both boys helped decorate the tree.  Again, it’s not the most beautiful tree in the world, but it’s very special.
Let Your Kids Help!
Tip #7: Purge Toys
We make it a point to purge toys before Christmas every year.  This gets the house ready for all the new toys that will be coming in.  If you’re having trouble deciding what to keep and what to toss, visit The Little Stories blog and check out all of Kim’s posts on toys. 
Toys In The Attic
(photo via Overcoming Busy, who does a “Pre-Christmas Toy Purge.”)
Tip #8: is actually FIVE tips in ONE beautiful blog post!
I wrote this blog post after Christmas last year with tips for surviving family gatherings.  Re-reading it, I’m amazed at the good info I provided and how darn cute my kids were last year!
Party Animals: 5 Tips for Surviving a Party with Youngsters
Boys at Christmas

Those are my survival guidelines…which one was your favorite?  Pin it, share it or email it, and save some other mommies some grief!

And how about you?  How are you planning to survive and ENJOY this Christmas season?

Would you like to comment?

  1. Love the book idea!! Eva would love that, since she's my reader. What an awesome idea!

  2. Katie, your posts continue to amaze me! This was exactly what I needed tonight! Thanks!

  3. AWESOME ideas! Where were you about five years ago? Trying to play catch up with the latest and greatest and praying I can come back and really catch up very soon. Meanwhile, I am very thankful for Facebook to keep up with you and several others!!

  4. Hi Katie! Love your idea about only putting up the front half of the Christmas tree! I'm totally doing that next year :) I agree about the Elf on the Shelf thing... Great idea about the Christmas books, do you buy new ones every year or just wrap up the old ones? Little kids are excited to unwrap anything!

  5. Kids would always love to be part of any home activity, be it cooking or decorating! Just be reminded to take away sharp tools and don't forget to compliment them on any accomplishment.-Ally