There's something special about a baby's first Christmas – or any big holiday focusing on celebrating as a family – but it can get overwhelming fast. Family expectations combined with a baby who does not give two hall deckings about things like Aunt Christine's traditional holiday photo can make it stressful.
Here are some tips to help you survive (and maybe even thrive) your baby's first Christmas with family and friends.
1. Be realistic
Set realistic expectations and prioritize what is important to you and your family. There will be many Christmases to come, so don't feel like you have to go nuts on the first one. Ease into the traditions rather than going full tilt the first one out.
2. Cut Corners
I mean, this is pretty much my favorite holiday hack for any parent, but I feel like it is extra relevant when you have a baby. Order online, have things gift-wrapped, order holiday cards that come pre-addressed, buy cookies, etc., or anything else that lightens the load during the season.
3. Baby-Safe Decorating
If your baby is mobile, use non-breakable ornaments and avoid small parts. Save the heavy stocking hangers, windpipe-sized ornaments, and breakable family heirlooms for when your baby is older. (The ornaments my grandmother made didn't come back out until my kids were tweens because I knew I'd be crushed if anything happened to them.) Also, keep an eye out for toxic plants like mistletoe and holly.
4. Choose Engagements Wisely
Try not to book too much stuff back-to-back if you can, and try to keep things as flexible as possible so you can pull the chute at the last minute – it's easier to back out of a party if you haven't promised to drive your cousin there.
Use a baby carrier or sling to keep your hands free while attending holiday events or parties. It also minimizes baby theft from people you might not want to hold your kid and dirty hands getting up in their face.
6. Take a Beat
Pause and take a moment to savor holiday activities like listening to Christmas music or looking at Christmas lights. It's something we often take for granted as adults, but it's pretty cool your first time. For the record, this isn't the same as 'enjoy every moment'. This is more about appreciating the small stuff that is blowing this new little person's mind.
7. Take Photos
Take plenty of photos and videos of your baby's first Christmas. They don't have to be epic photoshoots, just documenting how it all went down. Here are some first Christmas photoshoot ideas that range from easy to inspirational. If you decide to take a Santa photo, go early when your baby is in the best mood.
Helpful note: Kids often go from indifferent to Santa (under 1) to full on terror of a mall stranger (2-4'ish), to delight and then excitement about scoring free toys (4+ ish). They are hitting important awareness milestones during those freakout years, and they will often shift, so don't sweat it or force it.
8. Family Boundaries
Communicate with family and friends to ensure they understand and respect your boundaries. That might be saying "no" to activities or events that don't work for you, being firm with no kissing or handling of a newborn in the height of RSV season, or shutting down the "back in my day" garbage with a firm "I'm glad that worked for you" and then moving on.
9. Limit Gifts
It is easy to go bananas in the gift-giving department but babies don't need much, and frankly, they are disappointing gift openers. (The box and the wrapping paper are often all the entertainment they need.) Ask for gifts they can grow into and save the big gift years for when they are older and can appreciate it more. Here are some gift ideas for babies under one that stand the test of time.
10. Embrace the Season
Christmas can be a time of chaos and extended family dysfunction, but it's also a chance to spend quality time with your baby and reflect on the magic of your baby's first Christmas. Take it easy, cut yourself a break when you can, and enjoy the season with your new little family.
Also check out: 12 Meaningful Traditions to Start on Baby’s First Christmas