Christmas Morning Hacks: How To Have Your Smoothest Christmas Ever

Are you set for Christmas? Or is the prep stressing you out? My Christmas morning hacks can help you have the smoothest Christmas yet, without the stress!

For many kids, Christmas morning is the most magical time of year. There’s nothing like coming downstairs to see a tree with presents underneath, and watching our kids’ faces full of wonder is enough to bring us back to when we, too, felt that wonder and excitement one morning a year.

But as a busy mama trying to create that blissful scene for her family, the “perfect” Christmas morning can be hard to achieve.

Before Kimmie was born, we used to travel to both families for Christmas. This meant 6 hours’ drive to my mama’s house, 5 hours’ drive from there to my in-laws on Christmas Day, then 5 hours’ drive home.

Since this is not a very kid-friendly plan, we’ve hosted Christmas for most of the eight years since becoming parents. This means having my widowed mama, my mother- and father-in-law, AND my brother-in-law, all under one roof, for at least 72 hours.

This has required more than a little finesse to pull off.

After the first few times we hosted Christmas for everyone, I realized I had to make a few changes so that I, too, could enjoy the day!

So whether you’re spending a quiet Christmas at home with just your nuclear family, or hosting a crowd of far-flung travelers, these Christmas morning hacks will save your day – and your sanity.

Christmas Morning Hacks for the Best Christmas Ever

1. Clear the Decks

Imagine you’re planning a big family trip, or a huge event where you work or volunteer. Do you deliberately try to cram every possible thing into the month before the trip or event? Or do you try to carve out some extra time, so you’ll be able to complete the necessary preparations?

December is full of tempting options to pack our calendars with extra celebrations, activities, and commitments. But as I’ve learned the hard way, cramming in piles of extra commitments does NOT mesh well with prepping for the Big Day.

So try not to overcommit yourself. Be picky about what you add to your December calendar. And try to edit things OUT of your schedule, to leave extra time for holiday preparations and memory-making. If all your weekends get eaten up with outings, excursions, and extra kid activities, when will you have the time to get ready for Christmas morning?

Be picky about what you add to your December calendar .... If all your weekends get eaten up with outings, excursions, and extra kid activities, when will you have the time to get ready for Christmas morning?Click To Tweet

2. Shop Year-Round When Possible

One year in my 20s, I needed to schedule major surgery for Dec. 2. I knew that recovering from the surgery would leave me housebound, in pain, and unable to do much of anything for at least a month.

Because of this, I had to have all my Christmas presents bought AND WRAPPED before Thanksgiving that year. What seemed like Mission: Impossible became the greatest gift-to-myself ever. It felt SO liberating to have my shopping done well ahead of time!

Ever since then, I’ve shopped for Christmas gifts year-round. I love doing this for several reasons:

  • It’s more budget-friendly than racking up huge year-end credit card bills.
  • I can get special gifts for special people in my travels throughout the year – e.g., a locally-handcrafted necklace or handmade book.
  • Some things, like season-specific items, I can buy when they’re on sale – like new summer gear or fancy clothes for the girls, one size up, during end-of-season clearance sales.
  • Other times, I buy things when the opportunity presents itself. For example, I bought my niece $50 worth of board books for her first Christmas, at my favorite children’s resale event this past fall. Even though they were brand-new, I got them for under $10 total.

3. Plan, Plan, Plan

For Christmas morning to flow like clockwork, you should plan three things:

Your Timetable:

It may sound silly, but figuring out your Christmas timetable beforehand is critical, especially with a houseful of guests.

Writing down a timetable will help you stay on track, and get the turkey or ham in the oven on time. If Christmas Day or Christmas Eve church services are part of your tradition, it will also ensure you allow enough time for getting dressed, piling in the car, and other basics that always take longer with extra people involved.

Your Menu:

Even if you don’t do this year-round, menu-planning is essential when you have a houseful of company. Or a holiday that you don’t want to spend stuck in the kitchen. Or both.

Besides saving you time and money, menu-planning will help you avoid last-minute trips to the store – the last place you’ll want to be on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning!

Your Preparations:

Big events like Christmas take advance work to run smoothly. Clearing the decks (see #1 above) will leave room in your schedule to prep beforehand, so Christmas morning doesn’t sneak up on you.

I absorbed this lesson in childhood from Great-Aunt Nancy. I love that woman to death, but I learned early that other grownups could predict her like clockwork:

  • If she was hosting Christmas, she would disappear upstairs as soon as we arrived, to finish wrapping her gifts.
  • If someone else was hosting, she would arrive at least two hours later than everyone else, for the exact same reason.

Present-buying and present-wrapping take time. So do decorating, cooking, and cleaning. And planning time to do them (the earlier, the better) means less chaos for you in the days closer to Christmas, and especially on Christmas morning itself.

4. Keep It Simple

While we’re on the subject of planning: Don’t go overboard the first time you have Christmas at home, or host your extended family for the holidays.

New house you’ve never decorated for the holidays before? There’s no need to purchase every decoration you’ll ever need in that first year!

Never hosted Christmas dinner before? Rather than planning an entire meal’s worth of fancy new recipes, start with basic favorites, then add maybe ONE new dish at most.

No, you may not accomplish everything on your Ideal Christmas Checklist the first time around. But will your infants and toddlers really care that you didn’t get the outside lights strung up for their first Christmas in their new home? Keep things simple (especially if you’re a new parent!), and cut yourself some slack.

No, you may not accomplish everything on your Ideal Christmas Checklist the first time around. But will your kids really care (or even notice)? Keep things simple, and cut yourself some slack!Click To Tweet

5. Sharing is Best

Likewise, there’s no shame or weakness in asking guests to help with the preparations, Especially if they’re driving in from out-of-town.

my mama’s Christmas bread

Whenever we host Christmas, my mother-in-law brings her famous apple pie for Christmas dessert, and my own mama brings a loaf of her family’s special Christmas bread with candied fruits.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s your great-grandma’s Christmas bread recipe, the favorite pie from your hubby’s childhood­, or the adult beverages for the holiday meal. Having guests bring something that is appropriate and meaningful for them will make your life easier, ensure they have something they enjoy on the table, and enrich everyone’s Christmas experience.

6. Get Cooking

Planning your menu in advance also lets you prep food ahead of time.

My dear husband loves to cook, and he’s definitely the gourmand/chef extraordinaire in our marriage. So the first time we hosted everyone for Christmas dinner, he insisted on cooking the entire meal, all by himself.

The meal WAS delicious. But he was stuck in the kitchen from noon until 9pm, three hours after our planned dinnertime.

That experience taught him to set aside time in the days before Christmas for food prep, so he could enjoy the day with us. Since then, he’s also been happy to let me make some side dishes in advance.

Likewise, before our holiday guests arrive, I take my meal plan for the whole week we’ll have houseguests (see #3 above) and cook as many things ahead as I can. Warming already-made soups, quiches, and lasagnas in the days around Christmas leaves room for last-minute things, as well as for enjoying our extended family.

7. Get everyone on the same page

Remember those plans you laid out in step #3? Plans won’t work if you’re the only one who knows them. Communicating your plans to others lets everyone know what to expect.

last year’s impromptu Christmas Eve pageant at church

In my family of origin, Christmas morning starts with opening stockings over a special breakfast. Because this is not how my husband grew up, my in-laws won’t get to see their granddaughters open their stockings if I don’t tell them what time breakfast is served.

Likewise, Christmas itself can be tense when extended families include people of faith as well as those for whom Christmas is a secular holiday. If you expect family members who don’t usually attend church to go on Christmas (or, in my family, Christmas Eve), you need to tell them this well in advance so they can plan accordingly. (In our case, I also sweeten the pot by mentioning to my husband’s family how they’ll get to see our girls sing during the service, so they know they have something to look forward to!)

8. Include Flex Time

Whether you call it “wiggle room” or (as Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom calls it) “margin,” including flex time in your holiday schedule is essential, especially if not everyone remembers to follow step #7.

My “dollhouse” at my parents’ house

One year during my childhood, my father used scraps of wood to build me a “dollhouse” – a small shed in which I could play house and have sleepovers.

He assembled the dollhouse in the barn. Then, around noon on December 24th, he asked my mama to take his elderly mother (our houseguest), my brother, and me on an afternoon-long outing. And not to return until after dark, so he could get the dollhouse into the front yard.

Having been without power for much of December the year before, thanks to a massive storm, my mama had already learned NOT to leave all the baking, shopping, and wrapping until the last minute. So although it wasn’t her first choice of how to spend the afternoon, her schedule had enough wiggle room to accommodate this request with grace.

9. Pack Some Protein into Breakfast

When I was brainstorming ideas for this post, I asked my own mama for suggestions. Without batting an eyelash, she said, “Make sure that Christmas breakfast includes protein.” When I thought about it, I realized how spot-on this advice is.

My late father was an old-fashioned country doctor. The kind who made house calls, and who often had hospital rounds to complete or emergencies to attend on Christmas morning. So on Christmas, my brother and I opened our stockings early, but saved the presents under the tree until Daddy was there.

Mama making her special Christmas morning eggs

Opening our stockings went hand-in-hand with a hearty breakfast that included eggs and sausage – rarities in our everyday diet, since my father was also a heart-attack survivor.

These special Christmas morning “treats” kept us full until Christmas dinner in the early afternoon. And kept our moods and blood sugar stable. Especially important when you have little kids who desperately want to open their presents, but have to wait until Daddy gets back from the hospital.

So even if a large, protein-laden breakfast isn’t your daily preference, adding this into your Christmas morning will keep everyone going strong. Your tummies (and your kids’ spirits) will thank you.

10. Keep it Real

Finally, gather all those lovely Pinterest-perfect Christmas morning ideas that are dancing in your head like so many sugarplums. Then do one of two things with them:

  • Make sure your plan to accomplish them is realistic and starts weeks ahead of time.
  • Otherwise, toss them out.

Your Christmas morning does NOT have to look like the “perfection” you see on a greeting card, in a magazine, or online. And your family will NOT enjoy themselves if you spend the whole month stressing and moping about your own inability to achieve unrealistically high ideals!

Trust me on this one. Been there, done that, SO not worth it.

There’s no point beating yourself up (and making your family miserable) if your house, your plans, or your Christmas morning don’t achieve someone else’s unrealistically high standards.

Your Christmas morning does NOT have to look like the “perfection” you see on a greeting card, in a magazine, or online!Click To Tweet

Build your own traditions, based on what makes sense for you and your kids. Focus on YOUR family, YOUR schedule/budget, and what is realistic for YOU to accomplish, and you’ll all be much happier.

What is YOUR top tip for ensuring that Christmas morning runs smoothly? Let us know in the comments!

If you enjoyed these Christmas morning hacks, why not share them by pinning this image?


NOTE: This site contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission from any purchases made through affiliate links, at no additional cost to you. For more information, please read the full disclosure/privacy policy.

Follow Super Mom Hacks on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and X!

Or stay in the loop by  joining our mailing list!


58 thoughts on “Christmas Morning Hacks: How To Have Your Smoothest Christmas Ever”

  1. not sure if my comment actually went thru..
    But love all these tips – so so practical and easy to do (just need to keep reminding ourselves to make sure we do it)… and great for all party planning..
    And love that dollhouse (my childhood reading hours would have been spent there)

  2. such great practical tips.. and these will work for all party planning too
    Love that childhood dollhouse 🙂 I know I would have spent my time reading there

  3. You have so many hacks…I love the one about wrapping Christmas gifts early. I used to be that person too, and the past 2 years I have made a huge effort to them early! The menu suggestion is a great one too! 😊👓🍕🏨👜

    1. So glad you find them useful! Now that it’s almost December/Thanksgiving is behind us, I’ve started making meals out of already-cooked-things in our freezer to clear out some space for holiday cooking, and have begun wrapping presents as well so I can plug the holes in my shopping list before it’s too late 🙂

  4. Great tips! Shopping year round is a life-saver! I finished ALL of my Christmas shopping this year by July 31st and I couldn’t be happier! And less stressed!

    1. Wow – July 31? That has got to be a new record! I’ve been having fun this past week going through gifts purchased in our summer travels and saying to myself, “oh, look, I already bought something for THIS person and THAT person…” – it has really chopped the remaining gifts-to-purchase for my huge extended family down to a more manageable size!

  5. All of these ideas are fantastic, always nice to have holidays go smoothly without stressing out over little things. I agree picking things up throughout the year on clearance or on sale to put away for the holidays is a huge help.

  6. Thanks for these tips! I do hope to plan ahead by cleaning and decluttering before getting a ton of gifts again! It helps in proper storage 🙂

    1. It definitely does – so much easier to find homes for the “new” things when you’ve already cleared out the old ones!

  7. These are wonderful Christmas Morning Hacks and I love the look of your beautiful Christmas Tree! This is my favorite tie of the year and it is so sad when its over so appreciating it every step of the way while I can 🙂 Thank you for sharing!

  8. YESSSSS! These are all great suggestions, and the first 3 are my favorite (plus #10). I actually made (to sell) a 3-month Christmas planner that starts in October! There’s so much you can really do ahead of time so that you can just focus on enjoying time spent together in December. 🙂 Meals freeze, too! Love these. Thanks for sharing at #heartandsoullinkup today!

  9. Good post and very true. Not sure I could have all those people under one roof for so long, but if I did I would be delegating out jobs for them to do!! Happy Holidays to you!

  10. I always say I’m going to be done with my Christmas shopping super early one year yet here we are, Nov. 28th and I haven’t bought my first gift yet!

  11. These are wonderful tips to keep. They are a great way to build a tradition of one of the most popular holidays in the world.

  12. These are great tips. We get our shopping done by October, though the odd small thing may be bought after that. Planning ahead definitely pays off in the end, for Christmas and life in general.

    1. It occurred to me the other day, as I looked at this year’s edition, that my mama probably now has about 2 decades’ worth of jigsaw puzzles (which she loves) from all the places I’ve travelled over the years…

  13. Great tips for organization during the holidays. Im not one for celebrating much anymore, but could you imagine having to do this for eight days? We grew up celebrating two major holidays and it just became a little too much to handle 😉

    1. Get this: my 6yo is of the notion that we SHOULD. She thinks we should do full-on Hanukkah and then do full-on Christmas, ever since she read a Sesame Street book explaining the Festival of Lights to her!

  14. Flossie, Christmas morning is still magical to me. I recalled when I used to work as a floor nurse, I would beg to have that day off and live the magic at home.

    1. Aww! If I recall, that’s how my parents (doctor and hospital head unit nurse) first got to know each other, working Christmases because they didn’t have families and wanted those who DID to have the holiday off 🙂 …

  15. It definitely helps to plan ahead. Our Christmas has been a little different every year since having kids, and I’ve just learned to roll with it. One thing that does help is preparing a make-ahead breakfast so we don’t have to do much in the morning.

    1. Exactly! Esp when (as with us) there is any form of company involved, whether you’re entertaining or going out later on…

  16. Shopping year round is a must because some sales are so perfect! I suck at keeping secrets though so that is one of the toughest things for me!

    1. Every year you can get a little better at it – until the year I had my surgery, that’s what I was aiming for! Baby steps!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Exit mobile version