Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Coordinating Christmas

One of the few upsides of my years in retail management is the toolbox of useful skills it has left me with, skills that are particularly useful here at the holidays.  I multi-task like a champ, can giftwrap with my eyes clothed, decorate with a shoestring budget, and scheduling for three houses is nothing after you've scheduled holiday shifts for twenty employees.  I'm awesome with my time management, which is why I've had all my Christmas presents (stocking stuffers included) wrapped and stashed in the attic for weeks.  As much as anyone can be, I am organized at Christmas.

Unfortunately, the last couple of Christmas mornings, chaos has reigned supreme.  We typically spend the day at my parents' house, which is awesome because there is a lot of space and the kids all get to be together with the extended family.  The problem is, once we start passing out presents, patience becomes an issue for the kids, and space becomes an issue for everyone.  The adults are walled in behind their boxes of gifts while the kids are asked to stare down their mountain of presents and patiently wait for everyone to take turns opening one.  It doesn't work.

So, I've been putting the majority of my thought-power into figuring out a system where we can still have everyone take turns opening one gift at a time, but that also leaves everyone room to move, and doesn't require toddlers to have the patience of a Buddha.

And, I think I've got it.

In the current incarnation of our gift-distribution system, the presents are moved from where they are scenically piled under the tree and passed out to their recipients, so everyone has a pile in front of them.  This blocks foot traffic, and gives the little ones the irresistible temptation of a mountain of presents.  To resolve these problems, I propose that we sort everyone's gifts into piles, but leave these piles in front of the Christmas tree.  This way, we can still see how many gifts everyone has left (so that we can skip turns as needed, and no one runs out too fast), but it will make it easier for people to get up and move around as needed, and will also make it easier to clean up trash (wrapping paper, ribbon, etc.) as we go.

To keep the kids from getting restless, we should enlist them as "Santa's little helpers" (like elves, not the dog from "The Simpsons").  The kids can bring everyone their gifts one at a time.  This will give them something to do, and keep them from getting bored while they wait for their turn.  Also, maybe it will help to reinforce the moral that it is better to give than to receive.

Of course, all of these "problems" are things most people would love to have.  Too many presents, too many babies, too much loving family all together at Christmas.  When these are the worst of my worries, I have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season.

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