Spending Christmas Eve With Kids: Expectations vs. Reality


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If all those Target commercials are to be believed, Christmas Eve with kids should be a day filled with Insta-worthy family moments set to the Pentatonix Christmas album. You envision that the day before Christmas will be non-stop excitement mixed with lots of family bonding as you all get ready for one of the biggest holidays of the year. But while it’s true that Christmas Eve will probably be memorable, it might not go as smoothly as you imagine. Here’s what Christmas Eve really looks like when you're a parent.

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  • Expectation: You’ll enjoy a long, relaxing day, drinking cocoa and watching classic Christmas cartoons.


    The kids will play together quietly while you bask in the glow of another beautiful holiday done right.

  • Reality: Your anxiety awakens you before dawn as you realize Christmas is TOMORROW and you still need gifts for the cousins and to hit up the grocery store.


    The kids are hyper on candy canes and the fact that Santa’s coming in 10 hours, so you bundle them up and spend the morning fighting the last minute holiday rush at the mall before grabbing lunch at a drive-through.Your eyes get misty went you finally see the glowing lights of your house. But it’s not because the decorations are so beautiful -- you’re just relieved to be home.

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  • Expectation: Your kids will gleefully help wrap the last few gifts for the extended family.


    You'll listen to your favorite Christmas songs, and sing along in unison as they hand you tape and ribbons and gently set each gift under the tree.

  • Reality: The kids start arguing over which one of them is singing "too softly", because apparently this is a thing.


    Your older one is actually helping with the wrapping, even though your heart stops every time they reach for the scissors. Your toddler is sticking bows all over their head, you can’t remember who these fuzzy socks are for, and where the hell is the tape?

  • Expectation: You’ll all have a blast baking Pinterest-worthy cookies for Santa before bed.


    You've been planning this for weeks, and you even bought spill-proof bottles to hold the icing. What could go wrong?

  • Reality: Your kids are so excited that Santa is coming, everything they do is supercharged, like they’re tiny Hulks.


    You say, “Carefully add this cup of sugar to the mixing bowl,” but they hear, “Throw this sugar in the air like confetti and dance through it!” Soon your kitchen is covered in sprinkles and there's a lake of frosting where your tile used to be. It’s taking all of your effort not to yell because you don't want to be a Grinch on Christmas Eve. You grab a couple of the least gross looking cookies, throw them on a plate for Santa, take a picture for Facebook (so your friends don’t think you’re a bad mom) and send the kids to bed. 

  • Expectation: You’ll read 'Twas The Night Before Christmas'.


    You'll snuggle with your children and they'll gaze up at you adoringly as you recite this charming Christmas tale.

  • Reality: After one page of this old fashioned snooze-fest, the kids start begging you to read their favorite 'Frozen' bedtime story book instead.


    You’re too tired to argue, so you swap books, even though you just bought a special, brand new copy of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. (But TBH, you were pretty bored, too.)

  • Expectation: After the kids go to bed, you’ll enjoy a glass of wine and admire the twinkling lights of the tree.


    The gifts will be wrapped, the stockings hung, and you'll bask in the glow of your hard work, blissful and content.

  • Reality: You forgot Santa’s bringing that play kitchen set, and it needs to be set up for tomorrow morning.


    Two screwdrivers, three arguments, and one hour and 57 minutes later you can finally go to bed. Good thing too, because you know the kids will be up in two hours to see if Santa came. Merry Christmas!