The Ultimate Happy Holiday Cheat Sheet

Boy writing letter to santa

Do you remember your favorite Christmas? If you do, you may also remember your least-favorite Christmas—or even a very stressful one. Oftentimes, with the good there’s also some not-so-great memories. There’s no doubt that the holidays are truly joyful, but they can also be stressful.

While there’s no magic recipe or easy button to push to make all the complications disappear from this season, you can have a very happy and mostly stress-free holiday with your family! Here is your ultimate cheat sheet with all the tips and tricks you need for a memorable and magical Christmas:

Tip #1: Make A Happy List

In addition to making a list to Santa this Christmas, ask your kids to make a list of what really makes them happy—and you should join them. Reflect on the year that has just passed, and all the moments and people that made it good. Think about what happy things you want for the future, too. Everyone should read their lists out loud.

Then, everyone compiles the items from their lists that can be acted on. The compilation is your family’s Happy To-Do List, and it’s full of things that everyone can pitch in and help with to make everyone’s Happy Lists come true.

Tip #2: Start A New Tradition

What’s the best gift you can give your family this Christmas? Time! Give them time together, and time making memories. The most enjoyable way to do this is to start a new family Christmas tradition together. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

The Christmas Eve Kit

After dinner, your kids are ready to do something fun. They are excited for Santa to arrive with all his presents and goodies, and the kids just can’t sit still! Put all of that energy into having fun as a family by putting together a Christmas Eve Kit. The kit is actually the first gift that your kids will open on the night before Christmas. The kit should include things like:

  • New pajamas
  • Popcorn
  • Hot chocolate
  • A disposable camera
  • A special ornament
  • A new board game

Get creative: Make it fun and just a little different each year. When everyone is done opening their Christmas Eve kits, don the pajamas, make the popcorn and hot chocolate, and play a game together.

A Family Christmas Movie

Is there a Christmas movie that your whole family loves? Make this your Family Christmas Eve Movie and watch it every year on Christmas Eve. Some films that are popular with family members of all ages are:

  • The Polar Express
  • How The Grinch Stole Christmas
  • It’s A Wonderful Life
  • I’ll Be Home For Christmas

You can even include this tradition as part of the Christmas Eve Kit. Who doesn’t love a movie and hot chocolate with loved ones?

Sending Wish Lists To Santa

This fun tradition for younger children can be done well before Christmas: Help your children write their wish lists to Santa! Ask them to start thinking about what they want a couple of days beforehand, and then designate a special night to write the wish lists.

Special Christmas cookies make it feel extra special when you sit down to talk about all of the wonderful presents they want Santa to bring. Make it even more creative by grabbing some catalogs that the kids can cut pictures of toys out of.

When you’re finished, don’t forget to address the envelope and send it to Santa before he gets in his sleigh!

The Christmas-Morning Game

We all remember how hard it was to go to sleep the night before Christmas when we were kids—and how easy it was to jump out of bed first thing in the morning. As an adult, however, you may want to enjoy a little extra time in bed on Christmas morning. The Christmas-Morning game is the solution that makes everyone happy.

The night before Christmas, the adults choose one gift for each child to open before the rest of the family wakes up. This is the only gift that can be opened without the adults! The next morning, when the kids are up early, they’ll enjoy playing with the first present while the adults get to relax in bed just a little bit longer.

The Gift Barrier Game

Sometimes, it’s fun to make a Christmas tradition that can be turned into a problem-solving event. In this game—The Gift Barrier—Santa has played a funny trick on the children: he has built a barrier around the gifts under the tree!

The children have to crawl, go through, or knock down the barrier to get to their gifts. Some good ideas for barriers include:

  • Cardboard “bricks” to knock down
  • A sheet tunnel to crawl through
  • Beads for a bedroom door to walk through.

This is a great chance for Santa to get creative, and a good opportunity to let the kids express all the excited energy they’ve built up!

Tip #3: Talk

What is the ultimate cheat sheet tip to a happy and relaxing holiday? Talking! Talking with your family about what you need help with, what you want for Christmas, what makes you happy, and what your dreams are for the holiday season. Talk to each other, and try to make those dreams come true.

There are probably many family Christmas activities that you enjoyed as a child that are now traditions that you keep with your own family. Remembering all the magic you felt as a child and watching children experience that all over again on their own now, is part of what makes Christmas such a special time.

And that’s what all of these tips from our cheat sheet have in common: remembering what’s important and connecting with our loved ones for a more magical and relaxed holiday. Sure, things may not go as planned sometimes, but when you’re truly enjoying the time with the people who mean the most, you will beat the stress this Christmas.