4 Steps to the (Nearly) Perfect Christmas Morning

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You know how when you merge 2 households, you have lots of ‘discussions’ about the proper way to do things? I mean literally anything here: washing dishes, paying bills, peeling potatoes, changing a diaper… Well, we had this issue every year when Christmas came around. When my husband and I got married, he had a 2 year old, and I had a previous failed marriage. So we both had some baggage (not referring to the kid here, simmer down.) That sorta catapulted us into being set in our ways…which overflowed into many aspects of our marriage–even family traditions.

I can’t stress enough how opposite our families are, so this has actually been a challenge since day 1 of our marriage. But through every year of butting heads and compromises, I’ve come up with a (nearly) fail-proof way of keeping all that out of our Christmas morning. Hence: 4 Steps to the (Nearly) Perfect Christmas Morning. Why only ‘nearly’ perfect? Uh…coz I can’t control things like child-temperament after a crappy night’s sleep, or pouting over siblings getting ‘better’ toys, that’s why.


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What I cannot stress enough here is the simple fact that MOST of this holiday perfection will fall into the ‘prep’ category. Which means things happening weeks–even months–ahead of time here. Think about it, though: Who puts up their Christmas decorations the minute Thanksgiving dinner is over?



So here’s how to have that Perfect Christmas Morning:


Snag the Cheat Sheet Checklist Here!


Step 1: Weeks (or months) Ahead Prep


Oh my goodness, there is sooooo much to do in December for Christmas!! I could easily get overwhelmed with this, but through the years we’ve found certain things that we know should only be done if in dire straits (like visit the mall), and things that are totally worth the hassle (like Santa’s Wonderland.) Some of us actually create a ‘Holiday Bucket List’ or ‘Winter Bucket List’, or even a ‘Christmas Bucket List’.

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If you’re looking for things to do in your area, a good place to start is just Googling ‘things to do in ________ for Christmas’. Usually the Chamber of Commerce will have a list of things to do, plus any business with any sense should have a website with some sort of SEO so you can actually find it. Otherwise, there are normally community magazines or newspapers that come out regularly that should list things in the area to do.

Our town has a Christmas parade, and then several really fun fund-raisers that are all Christmas themed. We also make the trip to Santa’s Wonderland, and this year will be on the search for a GOOD Polar Express train.

Besides those large things to do, we make Christmas cookie baskets for the neighbors every year, decorate like crazy, and welcome Ellie (our Elf on the Shelf) into our home right after Thanksgiving.

The point of all this is to emphasize that there are a ton of different ways for your family to have (or start) traditions that are fun and worth it every year. THESE are the memories your kids will have and keep!


So–in the weeks before, my checklist includes:

DVR’ing our fave Christmas movies (or buying if we REALLY love it!)

Pulling out all our fave Christmas recipes, or even finding new fun ones

A list of prayers we’d like to say

A running Pinterest board of Elf-on-the-Shelf ideas (because I can’t be relied on every night to entertain with this thing.)

Amazon Wish Lists (read this post to find out how to get EXACTLY  what you want for Christmas!): items all purchased, updated, gifts hidden

Decide on what we want for breakfast/brunch on Christmas morning (something super easy but yummy and special!)

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Purchasing Christmas Eve gift to be Ellie’s goodbye gift (usually a DVD and pj’s for everybody to wear)

Get the Christmas bed-sheets and pillowcases out and on beds



Step 2: Days Ahead Prep


In the days ahead of Christmas, you’ll definitely need to make sure you didn’t miss any gifts, and didn’t miss anybody on your lists! (Like your kid’s teacher…) But you’ll also want to go ahead and get a few things ready that you shouldn’t run out of at the last minute on Christmas Eve. Things like snacks, booze, cookies/milk for Santa, and wrapping supplies.

But we also have to go over and agree on things like ‘order of events’ for Christmas morning. I know this sounds super controlling, but my husband is one of those anal-retentive people that freaks out during chaos, so he basically turns into the Fun Police on Christmas morning if things get messy or loud.


Anyway, we have to have a ‘pep-talk’ before-hand to agree on how things go down so he’s not freaking out and yelling at kids (on Christmas morning), and I’m not super annoyed at him for yelling at kids and being a general ass (on Christmas morning.) So we chat and decide on a ‘flow’ of events so everybody’s happy.


Here’s my checklist for ‘Pre-Prep’ items:

wrapping supplies

‘Goodbye’ letter from the Elf

food for breakfast on Christmas morning

snacks for Christmas Eve (for hubby and I)

booze for Christmas Eve (again, for hubby and I)

music selections (playlist assembled–or Pandora station all buttoned up)

DECIDE ON and AGREE on your Christmas morning ‘flow’


Step 3: Night Before Prep


I know this sounds crazy, but I actually like the part where the husband and I hole up in our bedroom to assemble toys and wrap last-minute stuff in secret. With 4 kids, we don’t get a lot of alone-time, so this part is actually fun to me! This is a cool time to make into a tradition, too. Pull out the music playlist, fix yourselves some snacks and drinks, and enjoy this time together!

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One other key thing I’ve seen that I like to do is wrap a giant box only on the outside so that it looks like a big gift (instead of a ‘trash box’ or trash bag for all the gift wrap and toy boxes) so that it looks nice in the background of your pics.

And make sure you’re rested up beforehand–Christmas Eve can be a late night!


Here’s my checklist for Christmas Eve:

Music on

Snacks and drinks made

Assemble toys

Disappear elf

Check for notes from kids (to Santa.) (or reindeer.)

Breakfast prepped

Wrap giant box on outside (for trash cleanup)

Eat cookies and milk for Santa

Everything arranged under the tree


Step 4: Christmas Morning

As soon as my kids wake us, they can basically already tell us everything Santa has brought for everybody. Which is fine. Sorta. I’d rather be able to get pictures of their little angel faces upon first surprise, but that’s probably not happening ever. So I have to settle for pics once we’re settled in to start the unwrapping.

But FIRST–we make the kids wait for us to make coffee and I go ahead and get breakfast started (put in the oven.)  Also, I go ahead and start a fire in the fireplace AND get that big box that was wrapped on the outside and make it readily available for trash.

So here’s our Christmas morning checklist:

Coffee and breakfast going

Fireplace lit



Prayers and Breakfast

PLAY & relax!

Want a ‘cheat sheet’ checklist to make your Christmas morning PERFECT, too? Click the image below!


What Christmas traditions does your family have?


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