This year we've been doing school right up until yesterday, so there really hasn't been days off before Christmas. We are doing our dinner today, as we aren't a stickler for it being on the exact day and we (I) feel it would be easier to have Christmas dinner on Saturday rather than Sunday.
Because of all this, we haven't had days for baking. A couple of weeks ago, I started asking all the kids what cookies they wanted to make for Christmas. Each one had a choice, even the little four-year old we babysit picked. We didn't ask the four-month old though, wonder what he would have picked. :)
Our tradition is to take an evening and make cookies. When the children are ages 3 to 13, that doesn't work too well as everyone needs a lot of hands on, except the 12 and 13 year old. So we've modified it so that our cookie baking is over the course of time rather than all in one evening. I took one child aside from the play of the day and we made cookies, or rather they made the batter with me and then came back when the cookies were baked. Consequently, baking was less stressful for me.
As far as decorating goes we did it all in one afternoon. I made a bunch of colors of icing and then took them two at a time to decorate the cookies. I made sure that they were paired up well, an older with a younger child, so that the mess would be minimal. But then, I let them have at it and do whatever they desired. Not beautiful cookies, but we had a lesson in colors and they had fun.
Now for Christmas dinner, I made a list of all the dishes we would be having and starting with my 13 year old, let them choose which dish they would like to help with. Turns out each of them gets two dishes. So quite a few of them finished theirs yesterday, but the ham etc still has to be done, so I will have little people in my kitchen all morning.
My desire is eventually to have fun all together in the kitchen on these big cooking days, but with so many little ones it's not possible for everyone to be in the kitchen at the same time, plus it's super small, so for now, we have help in a controlled and manageable way.
Merry Christmas, everyone! I pray that you are finding ways to make your Christmas fun as opposed to stressful.