What to Pack for a Holiday Overnight

Many of our holidays have been spent on the road, and packing for these adventures is no small feat. It isn’t enough to just pack an overnight bag for the family. You also have to cram in what feels like a million wrapped presents, without messing up the perfect wrapping. Then once everything’s in the car, you realize you forgot to leave room for the three containers of cookies you baked. Of course.

In our car, space is always at a premium, so trips feel like a life-size game of Tetris … except the pieces never quite fit together, at least not without a fight. But after years of practice, I’ve gotten pretty good at this game. Here are my best holiday packing tips.

Embrace Minimalism

If your holiday overnight includes shared potluck dishes and gifts for exchanging, request that everyone in the family pack as light as possible. One outfit, one pair of pajamas, undergarments and socks, and a few must-have toiletries should be more than enough to get everyone through the night. Share suitcases to save space in the car. Rolling up clothes tightly can also help you save space in the suitcase itself.

Transport Gifts the Easy Way

I’ve found the best way to pack gifts is using laundry baskets. Not only are they lightweight and easy to carry from the car, but also perfectly refillable, making it a breeze to take home the gifts you receive.

We also try to minimize the packing materials as much as possible, discarding boxes and tissue paper so we can fit as much as we can into those baskets. Breaking down these materials also cuts down on the boxes you have to deal with when you get home!

Don’t Forget the Small Stuff

Make sure you have your camera, phone and chargers to capture all those magical holiday moments … and meltdowns. If your kiddos sleep with a blanket or stuffed animal, double, triple and quadruple check that you packed it. One year we forgot our daughter’s beloved bunny, and no one got much sleep that night.

Make Sure Santa Shows Up

Pack gifts from Santa discreetly in trash bags, and go ahead and assemble whatever you can. When the kids open the gifts, you won’t have to fuss with assembly, and they can get right to playing. If the kids have special traditions like letters, milk and cookies, or setting out reindeer food, bring those items with you too.

No matter where you spend the holidays, I hope these tips help make your travels merry and bright!

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