As a mom with three ranch kids, I’ve listed four handy tips for making the days before Christmas a little less crazy and a little more merry.

This year marks the ninth year I’ve celebrated Christmas as a married mother, a title that automatically makes me “She Who Plans and Organizes All the Things.” I wish my promotion from “Single Girl at the Family Gathering” came with a handbook, but it didn’t. So, instead, I developed a few tricks for surviving the holiday with small ranch kids in the house. Because while the children keep it festive and fun, they also make it messy. 

Here are a few tips for keeping Christmas tips for a busy household. 

1. Don’t hang breakable ornaments. 

We’re a household with three young children and a klutzy mother. Fragile is not our thing, especially when it comes to Christmas tree ornaments. Between the four of us, we have shattered 30-year-old glass orbs, cracked keepsakes with special dates etched onto their shiny surfaces, and broken countless legs/arms/hats/tails off of various other ornaments. 

My daughter painted a porcelain snowman when she was a toddler, then her youngest brother took a bite out of it when he was a toddler. I left that one on the tree, because his little teeth marks were so cute.

Which brings me to my next point:

2. Don’t use edible ornaments (even if they’re not supposed to be edible). 

Deciding what to chomp your teeth into can be a fine, hazy line, especially for the 5-and-under crowd. Six years ago, a fellow ranch wife and I gathered our children together and crafted homemade ornaments out of durable cinnamon-scented dough. My daughter, then 3, nibbled at the finished product little by little until she ate the whole dang thing, Elmer’s glue and all, over a few years. All that was left was a little yarn loop that had briefly served as a hanger. 

So, to recap: We don’t decorate our tree with anything that shatters easily or looks like cookies. A blown glass gingerbread man wouldn’t even make it out of the box. 

Christmas tips with kids
Decorating the Christmas tree with three small children requires some expert guidelines, believe me.
Photo by Jolyn Young

3. Use the correct size tree stand. 

If your tree stand is not the right size, it will ensure that your tree-decorating festivities are kicked off in one of two possible ways. Here’s a quick breakdown of your options:

  1. If the stand is too big, your husband will cut up a 2-by-4 and add shims to the tree trunk while you balance it in the stand. The kids take turns pulling on branches and yelling, “Is it straight now, Daddy?” until your husband throws a shim at them. 
  2. If the stand is too small, your husband will tie the tree to the wall while you hold it straight and the kids take turns pulling on branches and yelling, “Is this helping? Am I helping? Daddy, I want to help! LET ME HELP!” until he throws a shim at them. I’m beginning to think he carries shims around in his pocket just for this purpose.

4. Have a baby six days before Christmas. 

I only did this once, but it was a neat trick for getting out of cooking Christmas dinner and taking down the tree after the celebration was over. If you are too young, too old or too male for this strategy, then sorry, you’re out of luck. But you also won’t gain weight, lose your hair and cry at tire commercials, so that’s nice. 

Author

Jolyn Young lives with her cowboy husband, Jim, and their three kids near Fallon, Nevada. She chooses to focus on the comical side of life, because her family is going to laugh at her anyway.

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