I put together these Christmas Hacks because it the holidays often feel as if 'Tis the Season... to be overwhelmed
Some days it feels like Christine Baranski's character Ruth in A Bad Moms Christmas was spot on with "Moms don't enjoy, they give joy, that's how being a mom works." Now, my Christmas hacks don't include stealing a tree from the lady foot locker like the main character did, but I understood her desire to just have it done! Between the planning, the shopping, the budgeting, the travel arranging (well, most years), the decorating, the cooking, the moving that dang elf...
Heck, I'm exhausted just typing that and thinking about it all.
But, I have a secret. I'm about to share a bunch of my favorite practical Christmas Hacks with you, but the number one thing that will make your life easier, is to lower your expectations of yourself. If you don't bake cookies from scratch, no one is going to come and put you in Christmas Jail. Your kids will enjoy seeing the lights in your neighborhood if you don't have the energy to drag them across town to the biggest display- the memories they cherish are formed with YOU. The real secret is that it's not about the lights, or the cookies, or the gifts, or even the tree. It's the quality time spent with the people who love them most in the world.
So let's make a little more of that time available to spend with our littles! On to the Christmas hacks!
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Christmas Hack 1: Do your Christmas Shopping Online
I do this a lot year round for convenience, but it's even more important this time of year. Even pre-COVID, you could not pay me to go to a mall on a weekend in December. The crowds, the parking lots, the lines. Even a food court pretzel isn't worth that madness.
Christmas Hack 2: Reduce the number of people you exchange with
Even if you have an unlimited budget (which is uh... not most of us), it takes time to pick out and wrap something.
The discussion to not exchange can be awkward, but generally keeping the conversation focused on that you are trying to reduce clutter and "stuff" is received best. Within family or a tight friend group, you can suggest drawing names instead of everyone shopping for everyone.
Christmas Hack 3: Use a command hook to hang your wreath from the inside of your door
For YEARS, my metal wreath hanger made it hard to close my front door. Now it stays on the garage storage cabinet it spent 11 months on anyways, and I hang my wreath from a command hook like this:
The only addition to your door thickness is a strap from an old bag or some pretty ribbon, and it makes SUCH a difference. Before not only was the door really challenging to get closed again, but once I managed it the weather stripping was always displaced. Not anymore!
Of course, Command also makes wreath hooks that go directly on the front of your door. The inside trick worked better for me for two reasons. One, I already had an extra command hook in my kitchen. Two, since I have double doors, going from the inside allowed me to center it on the front of my door a little better. Plus, when I take my wreath down in January I don't necessarily want a hook on the front door, and I'm too lazy to remove it and reapply it every year. Inside? No one will really see it. So I guess there are three reasons this Christmas hack worked better for me than buying the fancier hook.
Christmas Hack 4: Wrap each kid's gifts with different paper
I stole this little trick shamelessly from my own mom. Every Christmas my sister and I would come downstairs to two colors of wrapping under the tree- one hers, one mine. That means no tagging each individual gift. Also, my mom used tissue paper instead of wrapping paper, which was easier to work with.
Christmas Hack 5: Institute a "give to get" policy
While I wouldn't use that exact verbatim phrase with my kids, they have PLENTY of toys. So to keep things less overwhelming at the house after the holidays, you can encourage them to give some of the things they don't use often anymore to children who will spend more time with them. It can also help them appreciate the spirit of giving as a core part of the holidays.
Christmas Hack 6: Print your Christmas card labels instead of hand writing them
I'll level with you here, year 1, this is more work. So if you are under the gun this year, you might want to hand write this year and then make the switch pre-December next year. Because man, year 2?! It's flippin' awesome. I send about 75 cards which takes two and a half pages of these Avery labels, and now it takes me about 10 minutes to update any addresses that have changed before printing them out.
Christmas Hack 7: Keep a running gift idea list on your phone for your VIPs
Mid-year, my husband broke his Vegas wine glass. He mentioned, and I wrote it down in my phone that he'd like a new not-girly but fun wine glass. Chances of me ordering and him getting a Snoopy or Harry Potter themed wine glass if I hadn't written that down? 0%.
Christmas Hack 8: Repurpose old or cheap toys into Christmas Ornaments
I learned this brilliant Christmas hack from Olivia at We're The Fishers, and it was so easy and smart and simple that I knew I had to share it. So, your kid can't bear to toss that toy that came with their fast food meal? Tie or hot glue some ribbon on it, and hang it on the tree. TA-DA! They're happy, you're happy. For a more sentimental twist, a toy from their baby mobile when they outgrow it can be a sweet keepsake this way. Not that I still have the entire mobile.
This toy was from a fast food meal and it being made of blocks was a favorite of my son for awhile. Now it is one less thing in my living room, and I think looks pretty cute on our tree! I tied a bit of ribbon and made sure the knot was good and tight before trimming the ends off, then hot glued the knot directly onto the top of the toy.
Christmas Hack 9: Use paper clips for hooks
When I first entered this thing we call "adulthood" most of my ornaments were ones I'd been given over the years as a kid. They had hooks, or ribbon, or something to hang them with from the tree. So imagine my surprise the first time I unboxed a shiny new ornament I'd purchased to find that... it still needed a hook. Luckily, my BFF from middle school let me in on her mom's teacher secret: use a paperclip. This is even more awesome now with young kids, because while I actually have a box of hooks thrown in with the ornaments, my littles are far less likely to poke themselves with a paper clip.
What's your favorite Christmas Hack?