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How to Survive Christmas When You're a Busy Parent


Marissa is the writer of ThePracticalMommy and the blog Mommy Knows What's Best. She is a stay-at-home mom to four and was a teacher.

How Parents Survive Christmas

How to Survive Christmas

How to Survive Christmas

Christmas Survival Guide for Moms

Remember those quiet Christmas mornings when you would awaken, refreshed by a good night's sleep, and enjoy a Christmas breakfast with your spouse or significant other before opening presents?

Flash forward to now, when you are awakened at the crack of dawn by your rambunctious kids who are eager to tear apart the lovely gifts you wrapped meticulously and then fight all through the Christmas breakfast.


It can be a struggle to just get through the Christmas morning routine when you're a busy mom, let alone the rest of the Christmas season. Here are some helpful tips to help you survive all aspects of Christmas.

Opening Presents on Christmas

The fun of opening Christmas presents is over. Now what, Mom?

The fun of opening Christmas presents is over. Now what, Mom?

Preparing for Christmas

Christmas Tips for Parents

Way before the season arrives, you need to set up a general plan to help you get through the holiday. Think of every possible thing you may encounter during Christmas as a mom: the list making, shopping, cooking, cleaning, decorating, visiting, or hosting.

Here are a few things to do a few months before the Christmas holiday:

  • Decide on a holiday budget. Start to think about how much you might spend on gifts, decorations, gas to travel, and food for parties and dinners. Decide on the amount you'd like to spend on each item, and if possible, start saving money for all purchases.
  • Make your own gift lists. Before the kids start dragging you in to see every toy commercial, make a list of gifts you would want to purchase and that you can afford to purchase. Consider one item they'd want, one item they need, one item they'd wear, and one item they'd read (from Simple Kids blog). Also, consider the other people for whom you'd be buying gifts--husband, mother, father, grandparents, co-workers, etc.-- and make lists for them as well.
  • Mark your calendar. Take a look at the calendar. When does the holiday fall? Make note of it and begin planning around it. If you're going to be hosting the Christmas dinner, decide if it will be on Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day and also what time. Look at your kids' school calendars and mark on your calendar when they'll have holiday concerts or programs in school, when they'll be off from school and when they'll be going back (trust me; you'll want to know that date!). Check your work calendar and see if you can find out when the holiday party will be for your place of employment or your significant other's place of employment.
  • Organize your decorations. If you have a vast collection of Christmas decorations (as I do), make it a point to organize them and get them ready months in advance. Place decorations in boxes or containers labelled with what room or area of the house they'll be in (ex. tree ornaments=living room). Make a list of the items in each box and tape it to the inside of the lid. That way when it's time to decorate, you can easily place each box in its respective room, and when it's time to clean up, you'll know where everything goes.
  • Create a cleaning schedule for your home. If you create and keep up with a cleaning schedule, you'll keep your house clean without needed to do any major clean-ups before company arrives, expectedly or unexpectedly.

By doing these things months before the Christmas season, you'll save you and your family a ton of holiday stress!

Save Money on Presents

I saved nearly $100 by using a coupon and a current deal when shopping at Toys R' US for my kids.

I saved nearly $100 by using a coupon and a current deal when shopping at Toys R' US for my kids.

Christmas Shopping Tips for Parents

Christmas shopping as a busy mom can be a hassle, but if you're prepared ahead of time, it doesn't have to be. Here are some things to do to make your shopping easier:

  1. Make your gift list ahead of time and try to stick to it.
  2. Search for deals in circulars, online, and through blogs.
  3. Shop when the kids are rested and fed if you are bringing them along.
  4. Leave the kids with a sitter so you can focus on the shopping.
  5. Bring a small snack and a bottle of water to keep yourself from getting tired and hungry.
  6. Try to shop when most people are at work, or in the early morning hours before most people are awake.
  7. Not a fan of Black Friday craziness? Shop from the convenience of home online.
  8. Shop the deals after Christmas to stock up for next year.

These things can make your shopping trips or online shopping a bit easier! It'll take some time to prepare, but it's well worth the effort.

Tips on Saving Money

Save Money When Shopping

Stick to your list

Use coupons and rewards cards

Compare prices and deals before going out shopping

Search online for coupon codes

Try to buy everything in one store or in stores near each other to save on gas

Don't spend money on gas at all and shop online

Christmas Decorating Tips

While I personally love decorating for Christmas, it might not be as enjoyable for others. Here's what I suggest when you're decorating your house this Christmas:

  • Organize your decorations according to location in the house.
  • Make decorating a family affair, with a family snack afterwards.
  • Decorate right after Thanksgiving, when you most likely have a few days off.
  • Play some Christmas music to put you in the Christmas spirit.
  • Use the Christmas cards you receive as decorations to hang from mantles or on doorways.
  • Add some candy canes to some jars and add a ribbon for an easy festive look.
  • Hang a seasonal wreath, in this case winter, from your door to keep it up longer.
This is my favorite Christmas decoration, my Precious Moments Nativity set.

This is my favorite Christmas decoration, my Precious Moments Nativity set.

Christmas Party Tips for Parents

Here are some tips if you are going to be hosting a Christmas party at your house or at a restaurant:

  • Plan ahead. Many people like to have parties around Christmastime. Take a look at your calendar at least a month or so in advance to choose the date of your party. Once the date is chosen, send out an email, post on Facebook, or call friends and family to let them know invitations will be coming for that day. If you're hosting at a restaurant or another building, call them to reserve the space before the date is taken.
  • Choose the menu. You need to decide if your party will be a sit down dinner, buffet, or potluck. If it's going to be a formal party, you'll most likely have a dinner or buffet menu for your guests. If it's an informal get together, snack foods, like dips or finger foods, will be easy to prepare. If your budget is tight and people offer to bring food, have a potluck so that there's some variety.
  • Make a list of guests. Who's invited? Make a list of guests. If it's at your house, think about how much comfortable room you'll have for everyone. If it's somewhere else, ask about capacity and charges related to guests.
  • Make and send invitations a few weeks before the party. Like I said, the holidays are usually party time for everyone. Be sure your invited guests come to your party by getting your invites out on time. They can either be sent by mail or online, although most prefer a physical invitation.
  • Think about entertainment. Will you have music playing? What games will be on hand? Is there a movie everyone would be interested in? For most parties, being with your friends and family is enough, but sometimes adding in a game or entertainment can mix things up and keep the party interesting. Don't forget about entertainment for the kids as well!
  • Make a list of things that need to be accomplished a week before the party. Start working on your cleaning, supply gathering, and final preparations a week before the party. Enlist the help of your significant other and kids, especially with the cleaning.
  • Call guests who haven't responded to the invitations. Also a week before the party, get in contact with those who haven't responded. That way you can get an idea of the number of people who will be attending and how much stuff you need for everyone.
  • Go over your list the morning of the party. Don't wait until an hour before the party begins to realize you forgot something. Check your list again that morning.
  • Make sure your kids are ready. Do they need a bath? How about a nap so they're not cranky during the party? Do they know general house rules and rules when guests are over? Will they need a snack or drink before they get to eat the party food? Prepare your kids ahead of time to ensure they don't foil any party fun for them or for you.

After that, you should be able to enjoy the party and your guests!

Christmas Safety

Watch your little ones by the Christmas tree!

Watch your little ones by the Christmas tree!

Christmas Safety Tips for Parents

You want to keep your kids safe during the Christmas season, both in and out of the home. Here are some tips to keep your kids safe:

  • Keep sharp or breakable decorations out of the reach of babies and toddlers.
  • Place delicate ornaments higher up on the tree.
  • Make sure your tree is secure in its base.
  • Keep alcohol out of reach and locked away.
  • Place guards in power outlets, especially in any power strips you use for the season.
  • Properly tuck away extension cords that could be tripped over.
  • Keep candles and matches safely out of reach.
  • Keep your sidewalks and steps clear of ice around your home.
  • When shopping, keep your kids near you and carry a current photo of them, especially when it's busy in stores.
  • When opening presents or putting together toys, dispose of or keep out of reach any little pieces of plastic or bolts/nuts that could be choked on.

Following these tips can help keep your little ones safe this holiday season!

Surviving Christmas

I hope that by following these tips, you can have a relaxing and enjoyable Christmas season even when you're a busy mom.

If not, you can always join in the fun by singing along with The Twelve Pains of Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

The 12 Pains of Christmas


Marissa (author) from United States on December 08, 2014:

I read it every year as a reminder :) Merry Christmas to you too!

Demas W Jasper from Today's America and The World Beyond on December 06, 2014:

Almost past time to put this one front and center again. Hopefully you read this again for yourself this year? Merry Christmas!

Marissa (author) from United States on December 06, 2012:

tirelesstraveler, three birthdays on the same day and all in December? Yikes! Good luck, and have fun with your grandson. :)

Thanks for reading, commenting, and linking!

Judy Specht from California on December 06, 2012:

Great ideas. We have gone from one December birth(Dad's) to three and they are all on Dad's birthday. We are going to navigate the holidays simply with the newly walking one year old grandson. I am linking this hub to my baby swaddling hub. Good work.

Marissa (author) from United States on December 01, 2012:

GoodLady, I love the idea of oranges with cloves! It must smell amazing. We do enjoy decorating as a family every year. My mom used to do it when we were kids, and now I am doing it with my own kids. How time flies! Family time is precious.

Thank you so much for reading and commenting! :)

Penelope Hart from Rome, Italy on December 01, 2012:

You have it covered! Nice one, all your suggestions are totally helpful. I think it's lovely that you suggest making decorating the house a family affair (the snack part sounds just perfect), totally getting into the spirit and the fun. I'm going to hang oranges stuck with cloves in our farmhouse kitchen this year - and it'll be so great to have my eldest 30 year old son and his girlfriend sticking the cloves in the oranges with some hot mulled wine and spice cake afterwards. Sharing and voting!

Marissa (author) from United States on November 26, 2012:

Glimmer Twin Fan, I'm in the same predicament with December birthdays. My daughter turns two six days before Christmas!

Having a cleaning schedule helps tremendously. It did for me this week when we had family from out of town come to visit and the house only needed a few touch ups here and there.

Thanks for reading and commenting!

Claudia Mitchell on November 26, 2012:

Up and useful. Love the idea of a cleaning schedule. Just this morning I was looking at all the things I need to do on my calendar and I am now trying to figure what to do when. It does not help when there are a number of family birthdays in December too!

Marissa (author) from United States on November 25, 2012:

Minnetonka Twin, I'm glad you find the article useful and informative. I hope you have a less-crazy holiday! :)

Linda Rogers from Minnesota on November 24, 2012:

Very informative and useful article on how to be prepared for the Holiday's. You sure sound like an organized person. I will try to work on these great skills so I'm less crazed. I hit many buttons and voted up.

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