Our tips for a relaxed Christmas
Christmas with children is magical. With children, you feel the magic of Christmas so much more intensely! But it can also change from magical to chaotic very quickly. How to make Christmas with kids meaningful and as stress-free as possible is shown in our collected holiday tips:
1. The presents
The most important thing for children. From kindergarten age, it makes sense to create a wish list. Of course, not all wishes have to be fulfilled then. But if it is possible, it creates shining eyes when the heart’s desire is unwrapped on Christmas Eve. It makes sense to agree in advance within the family: what is on the wish list, what is needed, who gives what? This way, the children are not flooded with gifts. Maybe several family members can join togehter if your child has a bigger wish?
2. The preparations
Christmas is a family celebration. The whole family should be involved in the preparations. If everything rests on one pair of shoulders, this can quickly lead to frustration and bad moods – and rightly so! Basically, everyone can help with the preparations for the feast and tasks can be handed over. A few ideas:
- Traditionally, the Christmas tree is not put up and decorated until the 23rd or even the 24th of December. On Christmas Eve, so much happens – you can put up the tree a few days before and decorate it together with the children – a highlight for young and old! Add to that beautiful Christmas music and cookies, and the anticipation increases even more.
- The cookies can be baked during the entire pre-Christmas season. This can also always be a special highlight for children. How about dividing up among family or friends and then swapping cookies? One bakes vanilla crescents, the other the butter cookies and the third the stollen….
- The meal on Christmas Eve: It is not without reason that many families in Germany have sausages with potato salad on Christmas Eve. That’s due to the reason that it is fast prepared and nobody must stand for a long time in the kitchen. The roast can still be served on the first Christmas Day. And the soup can be prepared, the dessert brings perhaps the visit? Or how about ice cream in the form of fir trees – ready from the freezer shelf. Tastes guaranteed and makes for happy children.
3. The process
Most people feel more comfortable when they know what’s coming. Most children feel the same way. How will the 24th December go for you? Decide on the schedule together: perhaps there will be breakfast together, a family walk, cookies and tea to warm up, and then a visit to the children’s church service. Back home, the kids disappear into the playroom and the living room stays locked until the bell rings… once that finally rings, it’s time for the gift-giving. And afterwards, of course, there’s some food. Or do you have a completely different schedule? Of course, you can decide for yourself exactly what your plan looks like. The only important thing is that you know it yourself and involve the children (and of course the other family members). That way, everyone feels safe and the question “When will there finally be presents?” can be answered confidently.
Note: Of course, the schedule does not have to be followed to the letter. We prepare our children for Christmas Eve by playing: talking about the service, talking with anticipation about the magical ringing of the bell….
4. Involve children
It’s great to involve children in the organization of Christmas Eve. The children’s anticipation is enormous, but so is their impatience. Why not involve the children with small tasks? For example, have them practice the Christmas story or a poem in advance that they can contribute to Christmas. Children like to perform important tasks. Concentration works wonders against impatience.
5. The church
If you want to go to church on Christmas Eve, it’s best to take the children to a service with a nativity play. This entertains the little ones and brings them closer to the Christmas story. In addition, the nativity plays are usually in the afternoon and are a wonderful way to structure the day.
Note: In many nativity plays, the children can join in. For some children a nightmare, for others a dream come true. Check with your local church for more information. Our daughters will be performing as angels and shepherds this year- they love it!
6. The gift giving
The highlight for the kids! Whether the gift giving should take place before or after the meal is a matter of taste. The celebration can be more stress-free if the gift-giving takes place before the meal, because the children can hardly wait to open their gifts. With the gift giving itself, there is then perhaps finger food – nobody should be hangry.
At the gift giving itself, one can meet depending upon age individual rain: with small children it can make sense that the gifts are divided depending upon child and ready to be opened immediately. With older children, you can also take turns opening one gift at a time. The children can then also distribute the gifts to everyone present. This keeps them busy and at the same time teaches them the joy of gift-giving.
7. The feast
On Christmas holidays, many families have a classic feast consisting of dumplings, red cabbage and goose. On Christmas Eve, it’s often bockwurst with potato salad. If you are celebrating Christmas in a large group, you can make the feast a joint project and divide the preparations: one person takes care of the drinks, one person takes care of the appetizer, the main course and one person takes care of the dessert. If, instead of a 5-course meal, you opt for a simpler meal (such as raclette or fondue), not only will the children be happy, because the meal will not be a continuous procedure, but at the same time you will be doing something good for yourself.
If the gift-giving is to take place before the meal – so that the children don’t have to wait so long for the presents – you should consider whether small appetizers or finger food make sense. After all, no one should go hungry.
8. Traditions and rituals
Traditions and rituals can be beautiful as long as they really bring joy. However, there are also traditions and rituals that one maintains because it has always been that way, without questioning whether they still bring joy. You can use the pre-Christmas period very well to become aware of what is really important to you, what gives you joy and what you want to pass on to your children. Everything that causes stress or is not important to you can be left out – in consultation with the other family members. Because let’s face it – a less overloaded Christmas program is more relaxing for everyone.
9. Disputes and discussions
They exist, the repetitive discussions and disputes. Every year the same topics that lead to disputes. What can be done about it? Either discuss it openly before Christmas Eve and clarify the issue, or agree that the topic will not come up at Christmas. Discussions of principle – for example, about raising children or politics – should be postponed to another time anyway.
If there is a discussion after all and an argument is imminent, it’s okay to take a step back and take a deep breath.
And our last tip: Enjoy! As exhausting as the pre-Christmas season may be, as empty as your own batteries are… You are very lucky to have a family. You get to celebrate Christmas with your children! The individual days can be long, but we as parents all know that the years are short. Children turn into adults so quickly. Enjoy Christmas with your children, because no one can tell us how many more times we may celebrate it in this constellation.
We at Viva Family Service sincerely wish you and your family a Merry Christmas!