Christmas Debriefing - What worked what didn't
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  1. #1
    Registered User geckoace's Avatar
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    Default Christmas Debriefing - What worked what didn't

    So we tried to be a little more celebratory this year.

    this year we had a countdown calendar with a different activity each day for DS5. ok that was a tad ambitious by the week of christmas i was burned out and he was sick of lights LOL.
    Next year's countdown will be mostly book titles and craft activities with maybe 2-3 outside activities total

    This year got the cheaper tree needles EVERYWHERE and we have a 10 month old
    nxt year -um either our good old artificial tree or the more expensive type like we had last year

    This year finished the shopping early, i really put some thought into the gifts (or tried to)
    nxt year will do the same but more baking my aunt was looking for more breakfast bread

    this year - had a gift bag under the tree with batteries, scissors and screwdriver ready to roll, i threw instructions and spare parts in as i went so i can now sort those things, but nothing was lost

    next year will go ahead and assemble DS5 and DD gifts it was a lot of work when family came over and i spent a good part of brunch untwisting ties and screwing battery doors closed.

    also next year:
    -test the lights and outlets before i put them up...i know rookie mistake
    -give DH more christmas brunch duties so i am not running around like a nut and he isnt sitting happily looking at presents
    -resist the urge to buy the kids stocking stuffers.....seriously my family bought them enough stuff
    -have sorting baskets ready to go so i dont have to wake up and sort the toys/books/clothes

    overall good christmas

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    Registered User Dancing Lotus's Avatar
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    -have sorting baskets ready to go so i dont have to wake up and sort the toys/books/clothes

    Now that is a brilliant idea. We should give each person a box or basket with their name on it so that after each gift is opened they can put it in their box and take the whole thing off to the bedroom! No mess and nothing will get put in the trash by mistake. Oh I gotta write this one down!

    For me : Next year I am going to put gifts into a plastic tote when I buy it. I lost not one but three gifts this year and still haven't found them.

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    Master Dollar Stretcher madhen's Avatar
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    This year, I totally changed things up. I had moved my heavy formal dining table upstairs, because my dining area is tiny and the table had become something I had to just find my way around all the time. So everyone was served buffet-style at the kitchen counter, with flatware and glassware already set up at the table upstairs. They just had to load up their plates and carry them up to the table. I have a small dorm-type fridge that I plugged in and put the drinks in, so they wouldn't have to go downstairs to refill their glasses. Coffee and dessert was served downstairs, in the livingroom.

    Overall, the buffet-style service worked well. Everyone figured it out pretty quickly. It was also nice to eat away from the kitchen clutter. The fridge turned out to be unnecessary, because the only two who refilled their drinks were my BIL (from the wine bottle on the table) and my nephew (from the 2-liter bottle of Cherry Coke on the table).

    It was nice having a separate dining area that I could decorate and set up just for eating. (Pic attached) It seemed to make people linger a bit longer to relax and talk. The tree and its presents weren't sitting there "calling" to everyone.

    What didn't work was the livingroom needed more supplemental lighting. I don't have overheads in there, and I thought the light from the dining room would be sufficient. It was good enough to see by, but not light enough that people could see details or read instructions on packages.

    Also, I got lazy and purchased dessert - a pumpkin cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory. Turned out the thing had pecans "hidden" under the whipped cream topping, so my sister couldn't eat it (nut allergies). Next year, I'd like to try to bake dessert, so I can be sure it isn't going to turn her into a blowfish.
    DH aka Mad Hen
    (http://mad-hen-creations.blogspot.com/)

    Every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want. Anna Lappe

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    Registered User imagine's Avatar
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    1)This year there were to many sweets and not enough dip and cracker type things.

    So next year more more dips/cheese cracker type things maybe nuts and less sweets.

    2)This year seemed more hurried while opening presents that was less enjoyable for me. It might have been that I actually took pictures this year. I hate seeing the activities through the camera but I made a promise to my MIL- who lives far away - that I would try and take more pictures so she can feel included and know what is going on. Long distance is hard.

    So next year -- Well I don't know how to fix this one. Might just have to learn to put up with it and enjoy it. If you have advice on this let me know.

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    Registered User ri*smom's Avatar
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    Well I don't have any insights into the dinner aspect yet; we had to reschedule for next Sunday due to stomach flu. :yuck:

    As far as gifts, and I say this every year: fewer gifts for the kids and no gifts with freaking pieces. My kids did not get very much, and still it was overkill IMO. And here's why . . . they will still be getting presents next Sunday when we get together post sickness. How many toys does a child need? And I am saying this in all seriousness. It's just crap to lose and break and pick up. I don't think it adds much to their quality of learning and play. *sigh* Sorry. Done with the Grinchy PSA.

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    Things that worked well was the buffet-style serving, I found it so much easier this way and no waiting on everyone. That is always a plus to have people self-serve.
    We had so many people that I worried myself half sick over not enough seating, and yet when it came right down to it everyone had seating and I shouldn't have worried so much. I know now that it always works out, and no one even noticed that it was a tight squeeze! The group spilled over in to all the rooms, so if you have a small space my only words of advice is not to worry about having enough room........

    Another thing that worked well was having our Christmas Eve meal together earlier.....made it easier for the people that came here to be able to visit others that they needed to see and also made it easier for me to have time to clean up and get ready to open presents before it got late.

    We also included a big empty box when we opened gifts, plus one empty box for each person to put the gift in when opened. It worked so good, no mess to pick up at all after the gifts were opened. Everyone put the trash in the big box as it was opened and their gift in their own box to take to their rooms when it was all done. Clean up was fast and easy!

    I did run out of cookies and candy (shocked over that) I thought I had enough for an army........next year I will be sure to do more extra's there to have on hand so I won't run out.

    Madhens Cocoa mix was a huge hit! Everyone ask for the direction to make it. The only thing I did different to the mix was I added a giant hershey bar all shredded to it and stirred it in to the mix. It was so YUM!
    And a spoonful added to a cup of coffee is the GREATEST!

  8. #7
    Master Dollar Stretcher madhen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patty A View Post
    Madhens Cocoa mix was a huge hit! Everyone ask for the direction to make it. The only thing I did different to the mix was I added a giant hershey bar all shredded to it and stirred it in to the mix. It was so YUM!
    And a spoonful added to a cup of coffee is the GREATEST!
    Ooh, that Hershey bar idea sounds really wonderful! I will have to try that next year!
    DH aka Mad Hen
    (http://mad-hen-creations.blogspot.com/)

    Every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want. Anna Lappe

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    Registered User Grayce's Avatar
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    We waited to open our presents instead of getting up at the crack of dawn. We all slept in and ate breakfast before starting. The kids loved stretching out the anticipation. It was after 11 am before we started and neither of the kids wanted to be the first top open a gift LOL. They wanted to make Christams last as long as possible.

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    New stuff that worked:
    1) We bought a Playmobil advent calendar for about $15 at TRU around Halloween. I was worried that the kids would fight about it...who's turn it was to open etc. It was GREAT. The kids loved it. We got the forest animal one

    Plus, after it is done, then they can just add these toys to their playmobil collection. VERY nice and cool.

    2) I made cinnamon swirl bread for breakfast. Started it the night before and finished it just before we let the kids down stairs. It was baking while they opened presents. It was delicious and still warm when we sat down to eat.

    Didn't work as well:
    I let the kids each have 5 things that they could ask Santa for since he has so many children to give presents to. (They always get more than that anyways) I think next year I will say they should ask for 2. It limits us so much if we have to find 5 specific things. It is easier and more fun for everyone if we have the extra freedom to shop.

    Overall, I think this is one of the best Christmasses I have had.

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    Registered User georgiamom's Avatar
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    This year for my nephews after wrapping their gifts I put them in a bag with their name on them so that when I toted them in to grandmothers house and instead of having to sort them out I just handed them their bag worked like a charm. My husband needless to say does no decorating so I do it between work and bed every year so next year I will start a lot earlier. I hope next year I will have a storage building I and I will leave the tree decorated and wrap it with a bed sheet and plastic and just place in in a secure place since it is artificial and all I have to do is bring it in the house. Next year I will have time to decorate the windows since I didnt have time this year. Next year I will do my baking and freeze it. I will do my sausage balls, banana bread, gingerbread and brownies and put them in the freezer before Thanksgiving. Pecan pies and egg custard pies all the night before Christmas Eve since this is when we go to my mil. I will refuse to wrap presents no matter what my dh says since he does not do any of the wrapping. If he wants it wrapped he will have to do it.

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    Next year I will definitely wrap earlier so I don't have to spend Christmas eve wrapping forever! I will also make more cookie dough earlier & freeze them just in case. This year I ran out & had to spend Christmas eve day baking round two!

  13. #12
    Registered User missyali's Avatar
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    This year My advent calendar was TOO ambitious. My kids were crying many nights because they were too tired.
    Next year plan events better and take on less at work.

    This year did a cookie exchange at church and it was 1. the first peaceful time in December I had (12/20), 2. A great way to vary my cookie menu 3. Nice b/c dh wrapped all the gifts while the kids & I were gone

    This year Very unorganized where gifts were, doing last minute gifts....
    Next year Storage closet is cleaned up and ready to be put away in an organized way so it can come out in an organized way. I will make a list of items already bought and for whom so I can avoid looking at a gift and "deciding" who it should be for.

    This yearMade a strata the night before & stuck it in the oven while we opened gifts.
    Next yearWill definitely do again. What a great success that was!
    Last edited by missyali; 12-29-2008 at 10:02 AM.

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    This year: Fabric Gift bags worked a treat! I don't think the family was terribly impressed, but tough 'nanas. Remove tag, pop gift in, tie bag shut, DONE. No more wasting time wrapping something just to have it shredded in a heartbeat, no more wasting money on wrapping paper just to have it thrown away.
    Next year: More gift bags in a wider variety of sizes and fabrics. Start making them early.

    This year: DH and FIL over-ruled MIL and had Christmas with them when it fit our schedule, instead of waiting until BIL and his wife were ALSO available. No more stretching Christmas into January.


    This year: Stuck to the budget. New this year was a set of rules about who gave to whom with my family. It felt a lot better. Repeat for next year. We gave less to the kids, but more thought went into it. And Christmas money/gifts from far away wasn't opened as it trickled in but tucked into stockings for Christmas morning.

    Next year: I want to make more cookies.
    Last edited by UUMomof3; 12-30-2008 at 10:58 AM.

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