We can’t really think of a bigger deal than baby’s first holiday, which ranks right up there with, well, the birth. But trust us, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the gifts and family and merrymaking only to find yourself–or more likely, your wee one–kind of exhausted. Possibly cranky.

There’s no crankiness allowed at the holidays, mamas! So here, we’ve put together some of our tips for you to help make your baby’s very first holiday an extra special one.

1. Know that you won’t be able to do it all. And that’s okay. Say it to yourself over and over. Between Christmas Eve dinner at Grandma’s house and Christmas Day breakfast at Aunt Susan’s and the visits with allllll the cousins, it’s really easy to get overwhelmed. In fact, we’re already feeling overwhelmed just about it. So take a deep breath and know your own limits. And if you have to cancel on something here and there, it’s okay. The baby will never know and everyone will understand.

2. Try to stick to your napping schedule, but don’t freak if you can’t. We know how important naps and bedtimes are for babies to their well-being and mood (we really do), especially if you’ve got a near one-year old. Try to schedule your visits, dinners, and activities around their schedule if you can. But if you’re out extra-late one night, you skip a nap to visit Santa, or wake them up to see some visiting carolers, know that your baby will survive. And mostly, you’ll be glad you did.

3. Pick holiday outfits that are stylish and comfortable. Let’s be clear: Your baby is cute naked, so anything you put them in will be adorable, but our advice is make it comfortable, no matter how nice the outfit. There’s no need for a mini-Santa costume, tie and vest, or pageant dress on a baby (unless it’s for a super fast photo opp). That’s why we’re loving the stylish offerings at Gap this year in particular, like their festive plaids that can be worn all season long.

babygap Plaid holiday outfits for baby | Cool Mom Picks

Love the plaid! Like the plaid dress and lined plaid onesie. At top: organic striped baby booties, photo-op ready!

Then again, don’t limit yourself to traditional holiday colors! Creams and whites, hey, even gray, like these lovely cable knits, are so versatile. A few red (or green) accessories, like tights, shoes, or a cute hat or hair bow, will make them holiday ready. Just don’t forget the bib. And stain remover stick. Heh.

knits at babyGap | cool mom picks
colorblock cable knit one-piece, raglan cable knit dress, cable peplum cardigan


4. Have back-ups on hand for those holiday outfits. When yyou’re dealing with babies you know to be prepared for all sorts of accidents–like that one time a baby we know spit up all over her fancy Christmas dress and ended up in a plain red onesie and mismatched leggings. (Wasn’t the end of the world, but her mom wasn’t thrilled.) As with any trip with the kiddo, grab a few extra items that are still holiday-inspired but that mix and match easily so you can do a quick change if you get an unexpected diaper surprise.

5. Make sure you’re in the photos too! It’s so easy to get stuck behind the camera, what with every single moment being absolutely perfect. Still, be sure to get a few of the whole family (use your auto-timer) or even grab a few selfies with the baby. But don’t stop there. In general, we’re big fans of candid, action photos as opposed to super posed shots that, by the way, can be nearly impossible to get “perfect” without tears–the baby’s and yours. Babies look just as wonderful crawling through piles of ribbons, trying to pull down the tree (eep), or passed out next to a heap of wrapping paper.

6. When it comes to gifts, less is more. It’s ridiculously easy for you and well-meaning relatives to go completely overboard with gifts, especially on the first holidays. Babies are fun to shop for, we get it! But keep in mind that your little one will never remember this day even one bit. Besides, she’ll be just as infatuated with the ribbon and cardboard boxes as with the toys inside. Probably more so. Consider one special toy, maybe a keepsake or two; and if the relatives can resist going overboard with the new baby, we suggest you ask them for a donation to the 529 college fund instead.

7. Enjoy it. It only happens once. This is such a special time, and in our minds, it should be about being with the people you love; not in the kitchen or behind a vacuum cleaner all day. If you find yourself feeling pulled in too many directions, pause for a minute (or a few hours) and just focus on your family. That sweet little baby of yours will be yelling for you to put together the 5000-piece LEGO set soon enough.

Thanks to the wonderful folks at babyGap for sponsoring this series and helping us celebrate the joy of early parenthood. To see more of their new collection of baby clothes and gifts, check out our favorite picks in our Baby Shower Gift Guide.