With Christmas day just around the corner, we have a lot of family favorite cookies to bake in a couple of days: butter cookies, pomanders, sugar cookies from the 200 year old recipe that we have to cut by a fourth to make manageable. At the supermarket, I purchased extra flour, sugar, eggs, butter, and vanilla extract – probably more than we need, but I hate to run out and have to dash out for more, and it will eventually get used up throughout the year. Everything I needed was on sale. The store was crazy busy, and while I weaved through, I came across a group of employees complaining that there were too many workers scheduled for the day.
As I mentioned before, there are quite a few people coming over to my in-law’s house, where we usually spend the holiday. On the Eve, we (my family of four) will be the only ones staying the night (it’s just so much easier that way), so we’ll head over to the nearby Deanna Rose Farmstead to watch the light display. In the morning, everyone will arrive for breakfast and we’ll begin the slow, methodical process of opening gifts.
I know, it sounds crazy, but we don’t let the kids just rip into everything at once. We want everyone to appreciate the gifts and get a chance to see what everyone got and say thank you.
So you probably want to know how we accomplish this.
First we have stockings. Everyone in the family has at least one stocking filled with little goodies like lotion, chocolate, small household gadgets, etc. We open these while still in our pajamas. At the same time, the kids have one gift each from Santa Claus already out by the tree, something they can play with instantly. Usually the assembly happens the night before after the kids are in bed and the grown-ups are enjoying a little bit of quiet time.
After that, everyone has to get dressed for breakfast. No breakfast until you are showered and/or dressed. This makes breakfast a shift activity, while people are getting cleaned up and presentable, Eggs Benedict is being served.
Gathering in the living room with scissors and a couple of trash bags, we elect an gift sorter or two and start handing out packages. Then each person takes a turn guessing the gift. If you’re right, you get a point. If you’re wrong, big fat zero. Half-points may be granted for mixed gifts and there are also votes on points if it’s a close guess. The guess are by category, so you don’t have to be extremely specific. At the end of the process (which can take a few hours), the points are counted and averaged in a percentage to see who won. I will say, this leads to some very creative packaging for gifts that are easy to guess, including rocks for extra weight, or very large boxes for very small gifts. One year, I received several very small boxes, each enclosing a catalog picture of the actual gift. I did not win that year.
The youngest kids don’t have to guess yet, but they still take turns. This always gives them time to play with the new toy for a awhile until they get bored again and come back. There are many cookies, mimosas, and conversation during this long process, and it’s actually a lot more fun than shredding the wrapping in 60 seconds or less. For the little ones, they are encouraged to say thank you and take time to appreciate what they have. Usually, they forget for a while that they have more gifts to unwrap.
Looking forward to Christmas Eve!