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Christmas Eve Tips for Single Parents

How to Be a Calm, Stress-Free Elf

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Mom and Daughter at Christmas
Photo © Betsie Van der Meer/Getty Images

Christmas is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but when you're the only ELf around, it can be incredibly stressful. Ease the pressure -- and make Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning more enjoyable -- with these tips:

  • Enlist Some Help: Swap play dates with a neighbor so you can each finish the wrapping and assembling that needs to get done before your kids go to bed on Christmas Eve.

  • Be Realistic: Santa doesn't always assemble every gift. Nor does he always wrap them! So be realistic and give yourself permission not to do the things you don't have time for this year.

  • Ready Your Camera: If you need to charge the batteries or move pictures to your computer, do it before Christmas morning.

  • Plan a Simple Breakfast: On Christmas Eve, set the timer on your coffeepot so you can enjoy a cup of joe while the kids are opening gifts in the morning. And if you're planning to make breakfast, keep it simple. Try a loaf of Easy Pumpkin Bread or Make-Ahead French Toast, which can both be made the day before.

  • Start a Meaningful Tradition: Pick an easy holiday tradition that also helps your kids understand the meaning of Christmas. For example, read a child's version of A Christmas Carol, sing your favorite Christmas songs together, write a thank you letter to Santa (and leave it with the cookies), or pray together for your loved ones and the world at large. Doing one of these activities will help you all slow down and remember what Christmas is really about.

  • Find a Quiet Moment: At some point between Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning, steal five minutes just for yourself. Think about what you're most thankful for this year -- all that you've received and all that you've given. Time to reflect is hard to come by at a busy time like this. But taking the time to recognize what you're grateful for, personally, will make the holiday even more meaningful to you.

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