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More than any other time of the year, the holiday season puts pressure on us to be Pinterest perfect.

Trying to live up to that… with beautiful mantels, amazing parties with cranberry cocktails and chai-spiced cookies, and letter-pressed gift wrap was stressful enough before having kids.

After having kids? Forget it. It’s the makings of a tearful and tense holiday season.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. With a little planning and some shortcuts, you can have more joy and less stress this holiday season.

Want to know how? Try these hacks!

Related: 10 Signs you’re a really awesome mom

5 Mom hacks for hassle-free holidays

1. Focus on finger foods

Before having kids, I hosted a Christmas Eve dinner at my house complete with a Martha Stewart-inspired chili bar that required soaking beans and slow cooking for hours, and chocolate fondue.

But Christmas Eve dinner at my house changed after I had my first baby.

Instead of an elaborate meal, our dinner was casual and completely made up of finger foods. And it was delicious.

I made a simple, but tasty footlong sandwich (salami, mascarpone cheese, capers, artichokes, and arugula).

I put out a veggie tray and asked others to bring dips and sides. And, we had chocolate fondue again.

The informal meal was a welcomed change since the following day we’d have a big traditional Christmas dinner anyway. We munched, we chatted, and still enjoyed the fun new tradition of chocolate fondue on Christmas Eve.

Bottom line: Host a finger food potluck. Having a fun, standout feature like chocolate fondue or a decorate-your-own-sugar-cookie station (store-bought dough and sprinkles) will make it memorable.

2. Batch bake

Listen: There are enough comfort foods to go around during the holiday season. So, if baking seems like a headache, don’t do it.

But, if it wouldn’t feel like the holidays without it, then by all means go for it. Double or triple your cookie recipe and then freeze the cookies.

In one baking session, you’ll make enough treats to bring to every get together.

Bottom line: Make a huge batch of cookies and freeze them. You can thaw them out to take to every gathering.

3. Have a potluck game plan

Whether in the office or at a friend’s house, ‘tis the season to bring a dish.

This year, forget the 20-step recipe you always make for potlucks.

Instead, offer to bring wine, pies, fresh bread, or salad. You know, all the things you can just buy rather than having to slave over in the kitchen.

Bottom line: Offer to bring something you can pick up at the store on your way to the party.

4. Shop on Black Friday

Pre-2020, the key to making Black Friday shopping fun and productive was finding a less popular mall or store so that you could skip the crowds and find decent parking.

At the time of writing this (late 2020), we are still being urged to stay at home as much as possible and practice social distancing when we are out and about.

What does this mean? Online shopping is the way to go. At least, for right now.

We do the majority of our online shopping on Amazon.

Let me tell you, there is NO better time to snag an Amazon Prime membership than right now.

Click here for a full list of the benefits you get from being an Amazon Prime member.

Bottom line: Start buying gifts right after Thanksgiving to get a running start on your holiday shopping. Shop online to keep it hassle-free!

5. Simplify gift wrap

I detest wrapping gifts.

I’d much rather throw something in a pretty gift bag (which my husband says is no fun for the giftee, but whatever).

Who has time for pulling and cutting and taping and ribbons and bows and tags and all that? Not me.

You can buy gift bags and tissue paper at a dollar store and “wrap” your gifts in seconds.

Bottom line: Gift bags and tissue paper. Need I say more?

When you’re a mom (especially a new mom or mom of little kids), finding ways to feel relaxed and ahead of the game is crucial during the holiday season.

Remember: There’s no shame in shortcuts. Getting things done in less time with less effort lets you spend more time and energy on what matters most to you– which is guaranteed to make you feel merrier.

Share these mom hacks for hassle-free holidays with other moms by pinning to your favorite Pinterest board!

Feeling overwhelmed by the holidays? Check out these easy ways to pare down your Christmas “to-do” list, so you can have more time with your kids and focus on what you love most about the season. #holidays #holidayprep #christmas #parentinghacks #mommycribnotes


  1. Kristi – Sounds perfect. I have an amazingly high fat, but utterly delish recipe I'll be sharing for a French toast casserole.

  2. I love everyone's tips. Mandyland, I'm definitely going to have to do the make-ahead breakfast this year. My vision of Christmas morning is that we have a yummy breakfast, that I'm not spending the morning making, the girls dive into their stockings and are utterly absorbed in new toys, and that we stay in PJs until we have to head out to the family dinner (for which I will be volunteering to bring wine).

  3. AWESOME ideas!! I esp like the volunteering for the easiest thing on the potluck list. I am ALL OVER that like white on rice. Except when it's brown rice. Anyway. I really love this esp. because it is importatnt that we moms remember that we don't have to do it all. For the first few years after becoming a mom, I stressed myself out trying to do it all. Trying to do everything the same as before. By the time the second one came around, I got wise and eased up. I wish I had been nicer to myself earlier on. Oh well. Live and learn. That's what they always say, right?

  4. Great tips!

    I try to keep things fairly simple. One thing that makes life a bit less hectic on Christmas morning is making the breakfast the night before. All I have to do is pop it in the oven and then sit and enjoy.

    I usually buy pre-made cookies for Joseph to decorate. (I'm not the world's best baker.) This year, though, he keeps asking to make cookies, so I've enlisted the help of a girlfriend who loves to bake and has an empty nest for the first time.

    As for the potluck idea…have I ever told you about the Mincemeat Pie incident?

  5. Peryl – you are on top of it! You go mama! Doesn't it feel so good to not be racing? I love feeling organized – when it happens here and there.

    Lunch Box Mom – I didn't see the Martha Stewart mag but it does sound like something I would like. Did they take prepackaged sugar cookie dough and show how to spice it up? One time Real Simple magazine did a feature on that and I, of course, ripped it out and saved it. It's here somewhere!

  6. I agree. Great tips, Kristi. And, wonderful things to be thanksful for.
    Did you happen to see the section in this month's Martha Stewart Living with the cookie recipe –one basic with four variations and then variations on that? It looked inspiring and fun and right up your alley with these tips on efficiency. I am slowing gathering ingredients to try some. You see how I operate!
    I am impressed your cards are already ordered. I need to get with it!

  7. Great tips, Kristi!! We do everything very simply and pre-order our meal. We've bought the kids' gifts and go very low key with eachotehr -haven't ordered cards yet, but it's on my list for this weekend(excuse the typos, but it's freeeeazing in Seattle and I'm typing with gloves on!!)


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