Handy tips for making Christmas easy….the wrapping edition!
Last week I wrote about how I use my Christmas Timetable to keep things relaxing and stress free in the busy season. This week I thought I would continue the trend with a few handy tips of things that we have found really help us in the OMC household.
The thing is I started writing a list of the things that we do to keep things simple at Christmas and I found that the list would just keep getting longer and longer. It was like once the Christmas flood gates were open I couldn’t get them closed again! So I have chosen to write this blog post as a specific gift wrapping edition. Now I know you’re thinking can there really be that many tips to wrapping presents…trust me I was surprised too!!!
For the women in my family wrapping presents is like an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours, but unfortunately not for me, I seem to have skipped this gene! I just look at everything and have to tell myself, it’s okay I can get through this! I have friends who in the past have wrapped things in the carrier bags they came in - if you're reading this you know who you are! If I presented that to my family I’m not sure it would ever be forgotten, it would haunt me forever! When it comes to wrapping gifts I just want to get everything done in one go before Christmas Eve and then accept that the whole experience is an evening of my life I will never get back!
Mr OMC and I wrap the presents together, usually about a week before the big day and it's something that we plan in on the timetable because if we didn't we would be rushing them Christmas eve. We always say "Perhaps we should have a glass of something to accompany the task?" but we never do, I think we’re both just as eager to get it over and done with! My biggest issue with the wrapping is that I wrap everything, I cant help it! My mother wrapped everything (let's remember this is something she enjoyed) and it's a tradition I haven't been able to let go of. Besides which, I think half of the excitement is taking off the paper to reveal what is underneath it! So accepting that there's a lot of wrapping to be done we put on some Christmas music and keep ours fingers crossed that we make it to the end!
We start by organising what are the stocking fillers, what’s from us and what’s from Father Christmas and then we do each set in turn. Stocking fillers get done first and I save on labels here by keeping both the Coffee Beans piles separate and then once they’re wrapped we put each child’s in a large food bag and write their name on it. It helps with storage and makes decanting everything into their Christmas sacks (we don’t do stockings) really quick and easy on Christmas Eve. I always like to put a few little presents under the tree from Father Christmas too. These essentially are still small stocking filler type gifts but I refer to them as tree fillers and they’re really for my benefit to make the tree look like it has lots under it without breaking the bank.
The tree fillers and everything else all have labels on so that we know who it's to and from, but here’s my other little handy tip. We stopped buying paper labels a few years back, we still have labels but now they are in sticker form. They are SO much easier! I just slap them on fill in the names and we’re good to go, not to mention that you get much more of them for your money.
When we wrap any presents for children we are always careful to think about what will happen when they open it. Most children want to play with things straight away, it’s almost inevitable and there's nothing worse than opening a present and realising that it needs batteries but you don’t have the right size. If we are giving a present that takes batteries we include them, if we are giving the Coffee Beans a present that needs batteries then we put them in before we wrap it - no scrambling around for a screwdriver for us on Christmas day! We also (and we usually only do this for our children) take off the plastic ties or whatever is holding the present in the display box before we wrap it. This way once they've opened it they can play with it straight away. Sometimes now they even screw the toys into place in the box and again you’re left having to prove your DIY skills as you grapple with a fixing on Christmas Day. Not to mention the fact that all this takes place whilst an impatient child excitedly jumps around you - its just not fun! It sounds a bit overkill but for us it's little bits of simple prep beforehand that makes the actual day much more simple.
Since we like to wrap the presents before Christmas Eve we are also in need of storing them. We hide things in plain sight, well kind of! We love those large PVC reusable bags that you can buy - I’m sorry I really don’t know what they’re called but here’s a picture so that you know what I mean!
We use these to keep the presents in before we wrap them and after and they just sit in our spare room. The other day 6 year old Coffee Bean said ‘I’d like my scalextric out but theres a giant bag in the way’ and even then he didn’t think to ask what was in it or take a look for himself, what a good boy! We put all the presents for under the tree in one of these and then Christmas Eve night when they’ve gone to bed we literally unzip it and empty it out. It works a treat and means that we get our Christmas Eve evening stress free and to ourselves!
My last handy tip comes from my childhood and so I guess I have to give credit for this one to my parents. Every year at Christmas without fail my sister and I were provided with a cardboard box, but this was not any box this was a functional cardboard box!
I think in hindsight it was my mothers way of having a stress free Christmas school holiday. The box was basically to put all of our presents in, to make sure little bits and pieces didn’t get lost and to still be able to hoover around without the clutter of new presents all around the living room. The ruling, although I don’t think it was ever explained as such, was that the Christmas presents can stay in the box in the living room throughout the Christmas holidays but before we went back to school we had to find places to put all the new stuff and in reality by this point most things had sort of found a new home anyway.
It sounds silly but thinking back I loved having this box! I liked the challenge of trying to pack everything in it without any overspill and the best bit was it was like a treasure trove. We’d always get a selection box and some gold coins in our presents and it would take a while to eat through all the chocolate so you’d put them in your cardboard box. The thing is as a child you don’t really think about which way up you store things and regularly the selection box would go in the wrong way round and a chocolate bar would fall out, but that was the best bit. If you were lucky you didn’t notice and so when you came to clear out your box it was like a little surprise gift at the bottom, a Cadburys Chomp bar or a couple of wayward chocolate coins! Let's face it a box which supplies surprise chocolate was always going to be a hit with me as a child!
So those are my few simple OMC gift wrapping tips that help make our Christmas run a little more smoothly. Do you have any of your own that you'd like to share below? If you do leave me a comment, I'm always on the look out for handy tips and tricks!