So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

So you’ve spent a small fortune on Amazon. And, if you’re extra brave, you may have even elbowed your way through Black Friday or ventured into Target on a weekend (shiver).

But let’s say you’re done or nearly done with holiday shopping. Those fresh new toys and gadgets, novelty socks and matching PJs are tucked away at the back of your closet or, if you’re like me, you’re just driving around with them in the back of your SUV (the lazy mom’s hiding spot).

Now the wrapping extravaganza begins.

To help maintain that last bit of your sanity during this hectic time of year, behold the tired mom’s guide to wrapping gifts.

1. Bring candy
Grab a box of candy canes or gold-wrapped coins. Or better yet, Lindt chocolate balls or those fancy Ghirardelli squares.

These are must-have supplies on your gift-wrapping venture. You will tell your family that these will be “flair” you know, to give the Pinterest-worthy packages a little pizazz. And, hey, one or two uncrushed candy canes might even make it atop some pretty little box. (I said might.)

In reality, you will devour most of these. But that’s OK. You need to keep that blood sugar up to get through this seasonal chore.

2. Entertainment required
To prevent you from dying of boredom and also to keep the children far, far away (especially if you’ve followed rule number one), you’ll need some entertainment.

A slightly raunchy but hilarious audiobook might do the trick. The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish comes to mind. But if you REALLY want to keep your family away from gift snooping and trying to edge in on your candy, put on It’s a Wonderful Life or The Sound of Music. Most importantly, recite the lines verbatim and sing with gusto. (Dirty Dancing, Grease or The Princess Bride are excellent alternatives.)

3. Lose track of what you’re wrapping
Wrap two sweater boxes.

Then lose all sense of what you’re doing, while you’re sniffling over George Bailey telling Mary, “I don’t want any plastics, I don’t want any ground floors, and I don’t want to get married . . .”

When you look down, you’ll have no idea which wrapped sweater box is for which of your offspring.

Don’t bother unwrapping. That would defeat this whole exercise.

Your odds aren’t so bad.

And what kid actually wants clothes for Christmas anyway? Just blame Santa for the poor gift choice, as well as the size mix-up if the odds aren’t in your favor.

4. Try my mom’s old trick, if you dare
My mom had this trick for keeping track of which presents were in which wrapped boxes: she wrote it, lightly in pencil, on the back of the little to/from tag.

Barbie. Qbert game. Sweater. Walkman. (This was the ‘80s, people.)

Of course, Mom’s trick only works if you have the old-school gift tags, not so much the sticky kind.

She would often pick out one goodie for us to open on Christmas Eve, which—amazingly!—was the dress we would wear to our family party and midnight mass on that very night.

However, if your kid figures out the trick, it’s a real bummer. It took my sister and me an embarrassingly long time to catch onto this, but after that, snooping was as easy as peaking at the back of the gift tags.

We didn’t even need to shake our perfectly wrapped packages to figure out what they were. Oh look, Sis, another sweater.

5. Run out of seasonal wrapping paper
As you make it through the pile of presents, you’ll probably run out of that cute penguins-in-mittens paper, and even the reindeer-in-mittens and slightly creepy snowmen.

But who wants to buy more holiday-themed paper when you know most of it won’t get used, at least for another year? And are going to be able to find that half-roll from last year when you need it 12 months into the future? Are you really going to brave the bitter cold and hellish crowds for festive paper your kids won’t even notice?

Nope. No way.

So it’s time to get creative. Wedding paper isn’t bad. It’s usually shiny and kind of plain. And, hey, you can dress up wedding bells with a red bow and voila! Christmas bells!

If you’re really desperate, you can cut up some brown paper bags for a rustic look and dazzle it up with some fancy bow action. Or tin foil is nice and shiny. Or do like my Grandma and pull out the comic section of the Sunday paper. If you get the newspaper. Which you probably don’t.

6. Throw the rest in gift bags and call it a day
Just be glad you got the awful shopping part done and reward yourself by shoving what’s left in bags with tissue paper. And if you run out of actual gift bags, heck, any ol’ bag can be a gift bag if you put it under a lit-up Christmas tree.

7. Celebrate your accomplishment
Once you’ve completed holiday wrapping duty for the year, fueled by chocolate balls and Dirty Dancing, celebrate your accomplishment. It’s time to book a massage, take a bubble bath or put some Baileys in your coffee, you earned it!

Now you just need to make it through the seasonal cooking, traveling, parties, work functions and school events. Cheers!

Jacqueline Miller

When not worrying about her teenagers, Jacqueline Miller is writing about them. Her recent work appears in Parents.com, HuffPost and The Christian Science Monitor. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

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