Make Gifts Last All Day – A New Christmas Tradition

It’s Christmas Morning. You have spent the last month (6 months if you are my mother) preparing every last detail to make the morning perfect for your children.

Finally, the stockings are filled, the Christmas gifts are under the tree, and the kids are coming down the stairs.

Then in the blink of an eye, Christmas morning is over. For many people, the gift opening only lasts an hour; for some, it ends much quicker.

When my husband and I became parents to two boys, I knew by the time my oldest was two years old that Christmas morning had to change.

So I created a new tradition to make the joy of Christmas last all day, and we are never going back. I’ve shared this tradition with many friends with small children, and after trying it out last Christmas, they agree this is the way to go.

We hope you agree too!

The Tradition

Open your Christmas gifts throughout the day instead of all at once in the morning.

It may sound like too far of a departure from the Christmas morning we all know and love, but keep reading and see if this tradition is right for you.

Why We Changed How We Open Christmas Gifts

There are two primary reasons we decided to incorporate this new Christmas gift tradition: 

  1. Simply put, I was not going to spend months planning the perfect Christmas and have it over in 30 minutes. 
  2. I knew my little ones would get overwhelmed by opening all the gifts at once. I wanted them to appreciate each gift a little more, have time to thank the gift giver, and play with their new toy. 

How To Use The Christmas Gift Tradition

When our three-year-old woke up on Christmas Morning last year, we had strategically planned Christmas morning.

Under the tree was one gift for everyone. His first gift was from Santa (as Santa brings one gift and the rest are from family), and the Christmas stockings were full and waiting to be opened.

We immediately realized this was a good plan as the first thing he opened was a new box of crayons from his stocking. Once he had the crayons in hand, he was ready to color. 

Throughout the rest of the day, we set an alarm to go off every hour. He then had an hour to enjoy and play with his new present, and when the alarm went off, he would yell – Presents!

Then he would rush to the tree where we had already placed his next gift – this sequence of events repeated throughout the day until all the gifts had been opened.

To Summarize:

  • Leave one gift and the Christmas stockings out to be opened first thing in the morning.
  • Have your child open one gift every hour after opening the first gift.

Presents Around The Tree

I suggest not leaving all the gifts around the tree for younger children.

Young children have little self-control, and having the gifts accessible may start more conflict than you want on Christmas morning.

It’s the same reason we don’t leave gifts around on the tree on the days leading up to Christmas.

If the kids are older, then determine if you want all the gifts out or not. We like having just the gifts we are preparing to open under the tree.

Overcoming Possible Issues 

But we are going to another home on Christmas…

  • Talk with the family you are joining on Christmas and see if they want to try the new tradition also. If you are going to a home with no other children, there shouldn’t be an issue; bring the gifts along! 

  • If you are only going to another home for a small portion of the day, perhaps for Christmas Dinner, then consider simply restarting the gifts when you get home or if the visit is later in the day, all the gifts may already be opened.

But other people are coming to our home on Christmas… 

  • Same options as listed above
    • See if the visiting family wants to join in.
    • Hold off on gifts until they have left again.

But everyone doesn’t have the same amount of Christmas gifts.

This problem is very age specific. For example, if the gathering consists of:

  • Adults and children – The adults should be fine with having fewer gifts than the Children.

  • Teens and younger children – The same as above applies. Teens, in most cases, won’t mind having fewer gifts.

  • Multiple young children – With very few exceptions, young children must have the same amount of gifts. 

When we did this new tradition last Christmas, my parents visited and had gifts for the grandchildren, my husband, and me.

This tradition not only extended the joy of Christmas for our sons, but when the alarm would go off, I would see my husband rush to the tree alongside our children.

While my husband and I ran out of gifts long before the children did, the tradition continued throughout the day.

This upcoming Christmas, the entire extended family will be getting together. There are only three younger children and then teens and adults.

We are following the rules above and ensuring the younger children have the same amount of gifts and are not concerning ourselves with gift quantities past that.

We are traveling on Christmas Day

If you are traveling on Christmas day, you have two primary options.

  • Move your celebration to another day.

  • Keep the gifts in the car or your carry-on luggage aboard the plane and continue as planned. 

But I want my children to come down the stairs in the morning and see all the Christmas gifts under the tree

That is the classic Christmas morning moment in all the movies. The kids come down the stairs and see the pile of gifts surrounding the Christmas Tree.

While that moment is amazing, it’s just one moment. With this Christmas gift tradition, the kids will run to the tree excited to see what’s there again and again throughout the day.

But my children are used to getting all their gifts at once…

If your children have experienced Christmas in the past and know what to expect, you will have to talk with them before Christmas about this change.

One option is to have the Elf on the Shelf bring a note from Santa Clause explaining the new tradition.

My Child Now Thinks Alarms Equal Gifts

I bring this up because it happened to us. The day after Christmas, an alarm went off, and my toddler popped up and yelled Presents!

To avoid this, consider setting the alarm with a song or tune that is not similar to a standard alarm used in your home.

A Christmas song would be perfect.

The reality is the holidays tend to be a little stressful. There is a lot to do but with the extra effort comes extra fun and joy.

So this Christmas, create a day that works for you and your family. We all have treasured memories of Christmas morning from when we are kids, but you get to give your child the memory of Christmas day.

If you are looking for another unique way to give your children their Christmas gifts, check out How to Create a Christmas Scavenger Hunt.