Having a baby will completely change the way you look at the holidays. There are a lot of things that will be much more fun than they were pre-baby, but also some things that will be a lot more work. You'll need to consider what your priorities are, so that baby's first Christmas is enjoyable, not exhausting.
- Buying a Christmas outfit. Dressing up your little one in an adorable Christmas outfit is something that many new parents look forward to. The best kind of Christmas outfit depends on the age of your baby. If you have a newborn, skip the frilly, ruffly little-girl dresses or three-piece matching outfits for little boys. All of those layers will just make diaper changes more difficult and will probably end up getting spit up on, anyway. Instead, look for a comfortable, warm (if you live in a cold climate) one-piece romper. There are many very cute styles for both girls and boys, and your baby will feel much better. If your baby is closer to a year old, you may want to think about a more formal outfit. Still, make sure it's comfortable, without any elastic that pinches or lace that could catch delicate fingernails.
- Pictures with Santa. Every new parent dreams of that first picture of their little one cooing at Santa Claus, complete with a storybook cottage in the background. Unfortunately, this usually doesn't happen. Unless your baby is very young and hasn't yet reached the stranger-anxiety phase, she'll most likely start screaming the moment she sees the big guy in the red suit. It's best to resign yourself to the fact that either you'll have to hold your baby while you have your picture taken next to Santa or you can have a picture of your baby screaming at Santa, instead of cooing.
- Holiday parties. This is one area of your life that was fun pre-baby, and will be a lot of work afterwards. You'll want to limit your holiday party attendance to the ones that are family-oriented. Make sure that your host understands you may need to leave early if the baby gets fussy. Of course, another option is to leave baby home with grandma and grandpa for a few hours. After all, you deserve an occasional night out now more than ever.
- Christmas gifts. As tempting as it is to head to the toy store and buy one of everything for your little darling, don't. She's not yet old enough to enjoy opening or receiving gifts. A baby's needs at this age are very simple -- food, clothing and love. Some appropriate gifts at this age are simple toys that are easy to manipulate, board books with vivid colors and lively language, and baby gear that allows her to see her world from a different view, such as a stroller, swing, or stationary entertainer. You may also want to get a Christmas ornament for your baby to commemorate this special occasion.
- Taking pictures. You'll want to take lots of pictures of your baby's first Christmas. If you have a digital camera, you can upload these pictures to the web, so that friends and relatives in every corner of the globe can witness this magical time. There are a few pointers to keep in mind when photographing little ones.
- Don't use a flash closer than three feet away from your baby because it's bad for her vision, and a bit frightening, too.
- Use your zoom to get up-close shots of your baby's reactions to those wonderful Christmas firsts, such as her first view of the Christmas tree, the first time she rips a piece of wrapping paper in half, and the first time she sees snow.
- Take plenty of shots. You can always edit out the duds later, but you can't re-capture a moment lost.
- What not to do. Don't overschedule yourself during the holidays with a new baby. When you are toting an infant, a diaper bag and the myriad other necessities of life with a baby, everything will take longer. Trying to do too much will exhaust you and your child, and everyone will be crabby! Decide what's most important and let the other things go until your baby's a bit older.
Also, don't assume that you can decorate for the holidays as you did before there was a baby in the house, especially if she's crawling. You'll need to make sure that electrical cords and breakable ornaments are out of reach, and that she's never left alone near a Christmas tree that could easily topple over onto her.
Celebrating your baby's first Christmas is a time that you will remember forever. Take time to slow down and savor this special occasion.