Christmas Eve is supposed to be a time of peace and family. The preparations for the big day are done. Cookies are made, presents are wrapped, and cuddling up with the family by a roaring fire is the best ticket in town. This wonderful time comes before what could be easily considered a parent's worst nightmare: the set up for Christmas morning.
It begins with trying to get your excited, hyper kids to bed. Too many chocolates and cookies have made the little sweethearts crazier than normal. Call this a bribe if you will but I park my children around the computer and click onto the NORAD Santa Tracker (www.noradsanta.org). The wonderful guys at NORAD devised the perfect way to get the kids to bed. When I first started using this site, it wasn't nearly as cool as it is now. It's got games and cute animations that the kids love. And lo and behold, the Santa tracker now uses Google Earth to enhance the reality. There's a Santa Cam too. Show them where Santa is and that they need to hurry to bed! It works like a charm!
So the teeth are brushed, they've donned their Santa pajamas, and the little ones are in bed. After a good half-hour wait, it's should be safe to begin your preparations. Did you know you need a checklist? You do. Why, you ask? Because if you aren't ready, you're going to be putting toys together until 2 a.m. Here's what you need:
Needle nose pliers
Red wrapping paper
Bottle of wine
Optional other adult beverages:
Bailey's spiked coffee, Apple Cider with whiskey
For some reason, some sadistic person has decided to bind and secure every single toy made. There's no way to get into a package of anything without having a tool handy. You have two choices, either you clip and untwist every tie and metal band now, or do it Christmas morning and risk your kids impatiently hollering at you! This is where the adult beverage comes in. Removing a toy from a box requires every ounce of patience you have, and wire cutters and pliers too. Be tenacious and drink that wine or cognac! It'll help you keep your sanity.
My daughter was 2 years old when she first really became aware and excited about Santa. I had no clue that removing toys from packages would take HOURS. In my frustration, I heaved a talking Furbie toy across the family room. It promptly started chattering cute, little Furbie sounds and wouldn't stop! My daughter heard it and woke up. More delay to get her back to sleep. I broke out my bottle of wine. Things progressed nicely from there but I spent Christmas Day in a sleepy daze. From that point on, I never let a toy get the best of me ever again!
The hammer and screwdrivers are for toy assembly so please no bashing the toys to pieces! Having them close by just makes life a little easier, especially if the wine bottle is heading towards half-empty. It'll also aid your mental health when something really goes wrong. No matter how much we plan, Christmas Eve setup has to have an "incident." It's predestined. Last year, I had my father in law's help to assemble toys. I was so happy that things were going so smoothly when he offered to put together my daughter's moon shoes. These miserable things have huge rubber bands that fasten tightly on a circular platform with a shoe on top. Of course, the box never said the things are designed to torment! Rubber bands were snapping our hands, we were sweating; what a mess! My father in law pulled and tugged so much, he slid backwards in the dining room chair. For some unknown reason, it decided to collapse at that moment. He went headfirst into the wall, just inches from the woodwork! Thankfully, my father in law wasn't hurt but I now had a hole in my wall. I was up nearly all night quaking over what could have happened a visit to the hospital!
Okay, so we've got the toys assembled and displayed. Kids like tearing into wrapping paper too. We get a big roll of red paper, grab a black sharpie marker and label red-wrapped presents for everyone specifically from Santa. This requires more wrapping and if you're more with the program than I usually am, you'll have these done and labeled before Christmas Eve. Once you finish this, you just might be able to curl up for some quiet time with your significant other. If your lucky, it's not yet midnight!
My husband told me that he thinks Santa doesn't want hot cocoa this year or the blackberry tea my daughter insists he wants because milk is so boring. He's decided he's making the kids leave Santa a beer. For purely medicinal purposes, of course!