With Christmas not too far away I wanted to share with you a little trick that goes a long way to preserving the vestiges of sanity I have left on the big day itself. Being a veteran at motherhood, and having earned the stripes to prove it, I wanted to share one of my sanity-saving tips with you. If you want to grab the free Gift Receiving checklist printable, just click on this link to download it.
Picture the scene, you are gathered around the tree, underneath piled up high, are packages in all shapes and sizes, the kids are chomping at the bit to open up their presents and you have a good idea of what the majority of the gaudily (or tastefully ;-))) wrapped gifts contain. Obviously, you are organised, the turkey is in the oven and you are wearing your best outfit with a glass of Bucks Fizz in hand, your darling angels are dressed and politely waiting to carefully open their packages, knowing that you (being the eco-conscious person you are :-)) will want to save the wrapping for other occasions or even, thinking ahead, for crafting next Christmas.
If you are like me, and I really hope you are not, the only stipulation is to be fully dressed and breakfasted before the present opening fest. Even this has gone by the board a little as the boys have grown up and trying to get them out of bed before midday is harder than prying a limpet off a rock.
Last Christmas (wouldn't that be a great title for a song?! ;-)) was a milestone for us, for all the wrong reasons, unfortunately, but, ironically, it was also one of our best. Instead of a frazzled mother getting stressed out over creating a perfect Christmas dinner being delivered at a specific time, we ate when it was ready. Instead of being perfectly dressed and an immaculately coiffed, we wore what was comfortable. I let my "Hallmark Channel" ideal Christmas day go and we just went with the flow.
One thing I didn't forfeit though was my Christmas Day Present Kit. There is nothing worse than your darling ones opening up (carefully) their present from Auntie Mabel, to find that, horror of horrors, it's fastened to the box in such a way that an experienced engineer would have trouble un-boxing it. Then, on top of all that, you realise you don't have the correct batteries to make the thing work. Now some might say this is a good thing, after all the sounds of various toys firing, singing and ringing does clash rather with the refined Christmas carols playing subtly in the background...but, which is worse? Whining kids or noisy toys? So from the earliest Christmases as a mother, I assembled a little kit over the week before the big day to lessen the drama of the present opening tradition.
It goes something like this;
Lots and lots of them (they are not going to go off, so if you don't use them on Christmas Day you'll use them during the following year). Don't forget the flat LV type batteries that go in watches or LED ornaments and toys, you can pick up mixed packs of these at most supermarkets or DIY stores.
A mini screwdriver set is worth its weight in gold. I have lost count of the times I have tried to take out those tiny screws that hold toys to their cardboard boxes with the tips of a pair of scissors, so I was so grateful to win a small set in a box of Christmas crackers (I had to do some serious haggling with the person that actually won them, strangely enough, there's not much a man can do with a thimble nowadays!). Since then, I have upgraded my kit and I bought a set similar to this one and keep it in a secret place, although it does take me some time to remember where said hiding place actually is! An ordinary flat head and cross headed screwdriver could also come in handy.
A cutter, Stanley Knife, or pocket knife and a pair of scissors. The bladed tool will help with the slicing of taped boxes and uncooperative plastic bags.
A notebook and pen
I like to make a note of who gave what to whom and encourage my kids to write their thank you notes. How they express their thanks is less important to me than the act of gratitude for their gifts. Nowadays they'll text or email, with the exception of my daughter, who at the age of ten is still not allowed access to the internet unsupervised and still doesn't have a mobile phone, much to her chagrin! So we do little videos of her expressing her thanks.
This may seem a bit left field considering the little darlings are ripping it off the paper with gay abandon, but bear with me. In the days that follow Christmas, there may be toys that don't work and need to be returned, together with any fiddly bits and pieces they came with. Imagine the outcry on Boxing Day, when your kids want to play with their presents and they're whining and moaning because they are missing a Playmobil spade or a Barbie shoe. I used to encourage my sons, who back in the day loved Playmobil, Lego and Action Man and latterly my daughter, who loves Barbie, Lego and Playmobil to tape their little accessories to a piece of cardboard or to re-seal the bag to avoid losing them.
Finally, several plastic bin liners, I have one for the recyclable cardboard etc. and one for the wrapping paper that you want to keep. Just a quick note; make sure that any envelopes are checked for paper money or cheques before they are thrown away. One Christmas I didn't check and was seen rummaging through bin bags of Christmas detritus (turkey carcass and all) looking for an envelope with £150 in it, only to find that I had put it in one of my secret hiding places! Doh!
Keep this kit in a box that you've prepared on Christmas Eve, you could even put it under the tree as a gift to yourself because, there is nothing more rewarding than knowing that our kids have had a hassle-free, magical Christmas with a (semi!) sane mother and/or father.
Have a very Merry Christmas!
P.S. If you want to print this checklist out click here
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I'm just like you, struggling to come to terms with life and everything it throws at you!