4 Ways to Keep Your Toddler Entertained Before It’s Time to Open Gifts

Image adapted via Flickr/ tobias.fuchs

As a child, I had a love/hate relationship with this time of year. I loved all the family gatherings, the gifts, and the excitement of it all, but I was an impatient child who didn't like surprises, so waiting for gift opening was hard for me.

I was the kid who would snoop — the one who would constantly ask if it was time to open yet — and when the time came to open gifts, it seemed to take forever. With six of us in my immediately family, we had to wait while each person opened a gift — a wonderful tradition I think — but all that wait while overloading with excitement can be hard for a child.

{ MORE: Skip the Frustration by Setting Realistic Holiday Expectations }

If you've got a child of toddler age this holiday, brace yourselves for the same impatience. If you need some ideas on how to help your child stay entertained while waiting to open presents, here are 3 ways that have worked for my family, and may just work for yours, too!

Image via Flickr/ Julie, Dave & Family

Fill their stocking with small activities they can do during present-opening time.

When I was a young child, I hated waiting for everyone to wake up so we could open the presents — it was kind of like torture, you know, for a child.

My parents knew how challenging it was — they had four young children after all — so they came up with a plan: They filled our stockings with activities, and we were allowed to sneak down and get them any time after 5 a.m. This way, we got to open small presents that actually kept us busy until about 8 or 9 in the morning, when everyone else was ready to start the day.

Image via Flickr/ storyvillegirl

Wrap the gifts in plain paper and give them crayons.

OK, so Christmas wrapping paper with the fancy ribbons always looks amazing under the tree, but if you have a toddler who just can't wait to open their gifts, you may need a new tactic.

Try this: Wrap your gifts in plain paper — that's right, no fancy paper. And instead of a ribbon, tape on a few crayons and maybe a small photo in the corner. This way, your toddler can be tasked with drawing the small attached photo onto the wrapping paper, and they will be having so much fun decorating their own present. They'll be happy to wait a little bit.

{ MORE: According to Kids: What Were the Best Presents from This Christmas? }

Image via Flickr/ brooklyn

Put your toddler in charge of passing out the next gift.

Kids at this age love to help, especially in ways that make them feel older, and helping with the gifts is just the thing to do. Explain the rules for gift giving — who gets the next gift and where to choose from — and put them in charge. This will allow them to enjoy the fun in watching someone else receive and take their mind off their own gifts for a moment.

Image via Flickr/ JasonTromm

Just embrace the chaos!

This time of year is crazy, and when you're a toddler, the excitement can be too much to handle — and that's to be expected. Between the anticipation of new gifts, the business of guests, and the extra sugar they're probably consuming, just take a deep breath, sit back, and enjoy the happiness in your child's spirit. It won't last forever!

{ MORE: Positive Parenting Strategies for the Toddler Years }

What are some ways you keep your toddler entertained during gift opening? Share in the comments!

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4 Ways to Keep Your Toddler Entertained Before It’s Time to Open Gifts

Devan McGuinness is the founder of the online resource Unspoken Grief, which is dedicated to breaking the silence of perinatal grief for those directly and indirectly affected by miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death. Using her own experience of surviving 12 miscarriages, Devan has been actively supporting and encouraging others who are wading through the challenges associated with perinatal and neonatal loss. Winner of the 2012 Bloganthropy Award and named one of Babble's “25 bloggers wh ... More

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