The holidays are a crazy exciting time for children. They are wound up enough with anticipation of the holidays, but then throw changes in schedules on top of that and you are doomed for a meltdown, oh and the kids are too.
I love to bring the holiday excitement into the lives of my children, but at the same time I still want them to behave, sleep, eat well and well... be happy. How do I do this? I keep them in routine. We do a lot of art projects. I dvr the Christmas shows instead of letting them stay up to watch them. We read Christmas stories. We limit the extra stuff during the week.
The weekends are always the time for busyness during the whole year, so going to a tree lighting ceremony, driving around to see Christmas trees, and those kind of thing occur here on the weekends.
We try to keep Christmas simple at home. The boys get gifts from Santa, oh and Santa doesn't wrap gifts here (o: Well not yet anyway. So there is no wait until all the gifts are open to enjoy. The get enough wrapped gifts from the relatives. We don't overdo with gifts either. We try to get one big gift for each child each year and then pick up other gifts we feel they will enjoy.
So if you want to keep your kids on a more even keel this holiday season... keep them in their routine and don't forget to get to bed on time. See if that helps you from having to used the empty threat of no gifts from Santa. This is something I've never said to my boys. I don't use empty promises or threats with them so if I don't actually plan on having them get coal then I won't say it.