Inside: Opening Christmas presents with kids doesn’t have to be a chaotic whirlwind of torn paper and flying bows. In this post, you’ll see how to plan your Christmas morning with space for gratitude, play, and calmness.
Every Christmas morning, my kids stare at the stack of presents piled in front of our tree and their eyes widen.
Are those all for us?
Can we open them all right now?
With a large family of generous people who miss us, the space around our Christmas tree is always shockingly packed with gifts.
So it’s easy on Christmas morning to get swept up in it and carried away.
Christmas Eve is our time when we remind our kids to focus on the spirit of giving, but Christmas morning is wild and crazy.
Because who wouldn’t want to dive in and see what’s waiting underneath all the glittery bows and shiny paper?
In past years, wrapping paper and gift bags get thrown to the floor with new toys hidden among the debris from the tornado that is my over-excited kids on Christmas morning.
I have to tiptoe through it all in case I step on new gifts that got accidentally covered up.
It took me months of planning and hard work to find the perfect Christmas presents, but with the opening frenzy, it all tends to be over in under an hour.
It’s absolute and utter chaos. And I just wasn’t enjoying my favorite holiday.
Opening Christmas Presents Doesn’t Have To Be Chaotic
So how can we slow it down? Calm it all down?
And how can we enjoy what we open without rushing through?
How can focus on being grateful for what we opened without being desperately impatient to open the next gift?
We only have one day a year to have this sweet moment. And as sad as it is, we only have so many years where all of my kids believe and still get excited about princess socks and Star Wars underwear and dolls that burp and poop.
I want to relish these years where they pad down the stairs in their footie jammies to inspect the cookie plate and glass of milk to see if Santa came.
I want to revel in the magic they see and believe in with all their hearts.
I want to be able to close my eyes when they’ve long since moved out and remember these Christmas mornings piled on the couch together, excited over a pack of Pokemon cards and the newest Disney movie.
I needed a way to make it all last longer. To make it mean more. To get my kids to stop and appreciate each gift and the specialness that is December 25th.
The Secret to Slow Down Christmas Morning
Since we celebrate Christmas far from our family, after we open a present, there’s no one to get up and thank. No one to go and hug. No built-in way to slow it all down.
But we still want our kids to focus on and enjoy what they opened rather than wondering how many presents are left for them under the tree.
We slow down the morning, focus on being grateful, and we bring more calmness to Christmas with one simple shift.
We now open up our gifts in sections.
This new plan wasn’t popular with my kids the first time we tried it, but we had to do it.
One Christmas about two years ago, the morning seemed extra crazy. Extra overwhelming. I felt like I could no longer fully enjoy the morning, my kids, or the holiday. I was frustrated because I couldn’t see what my kids opened. I couldn’t enjoy their expressions as they saw what I had picked out for them.
And I was stressed. I had no way to remember who gave them what because they were opening so fast…information I needed so they could write their dreaded thank you notes later on.
Call a Christmas Time-Out
I called a timeout and poured myself and my husband another mimosa.
I told my kids to go play with their new gifts.
My kids whined about wanting to open more, but I told them it could wait. The presents under the tree would wait.
As they scurried off to try on new dresses and open up doll packaging and put their Pokemon cards into the appropriate sleeves in their notebook, I took a breath.
We paused our gift opening frenzy which allowed our kids to truly enjoy what they received. They could focus on being grateful for what they got by taking the time to play, try on and enjoy their new gifts. And I could take pictures of them that aren’t a blurry hot mess.
My daughter twirled in her fancy party dress and she fed her baby mashed peas. And my son found a rare Pokemon card in his pack that will apparently beat his friend’s best card.
Slowing it all down lets Christmas morning last a little longer for all of us.
Because on a day everyone seems to look forward to for months, it feels special when we can leisurely enjoy the day.
Here’s how we Slow Down Christmas Morning:
- Open Santa gifts
- Clean up wrapping paper, play with toys, and make a strong cup of coffee
- Open stockings (We don’t dump them out in our laps. We pull an item out, one at a time, in order from oldest to youngest).
- Put the new treasures in bedrooms so they don’t get lost in the shuffle and definitely get more coffee
- Open gifts from parents
- Clean up wrapping paper, play with toys, and eat breakfast
- Open gifts from my side of the family
- Clean up wrapping paper, play with gifts, time for mimosas
- Open gifts from my husband’s family
- Clean up wrapping paper, play with all their gifts, and eat lunch
So our stack of Christmas presents dwindle, but at a much slower rate.
We turn up the Christmas carols and sing along as we slowly open our gifts.
I get to see every reaction, every expression, every shocked mouth gape my kids make as they open their gifts.
And I’ve fallen in love with Christmas morning all over again.
Because we take the time to enjoy each present, enjoy each other, and enjoy each mimosa.
And that’s something I can definitely be grateful for.
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I love when structure and planning actually lends itself to greater enjoyment and relaxed fun! This is a great way of eliminating the chaos and turning Christmas back into the family fun it’s supposed to be.
Ever since I was a kid, we have always opened our gifts on Christmas Eve. and we opened them one at a time. My grandpa and I would hand out all the gifts and then we would go in the circle watching each other open a gift until all the gifts were done. It was so nice. I do that with my own kids now. It actually stresses me out when I go to someone else’s house and they have everyone opening presents all at once. It’s more fun to see everyone’s expressions and be able to take pictures of the moment also.
Since being married we have adopted my husband’s family’s way of opening gifts. Rather than a free for all (like my family of 8 kids always did it) that is over in a crazy flurry. After dad has checked to see if santa came (while kids wait anxiously in the hall) we all come to the family room to see Santa’s gifts (which are unwrapped) and look at stockings. We thoroughly look at and try those things out and then we move on to the wrapped presents. We sort them all out so each person has a pile of their presents next them. Then one by one, starting with the youngest and going up we each open a present and then go around again. We get to see and enjoy each child’s excitement and take pictures and videos as we want. It is still over in an hour or two because we only get each kid 2 presents/3 if I do a homemade one (in addition to Santa’s present) and then they have presents from each other and grandpa.
Wonderful! If more children were being raised with this mindset. Hats off to you!!