While fun, the holidays can also be inherently stressful! It’s a time when most of us have to juggle the usual stuff of daily life with a whole new set of “to-do’s“: increased social gatherings, decorating, gift shopping, etc. So today I’m sharing a few organization tips for a stress-free holiday. Use these proven techniques to start automating and simplifying your preparations. You’re sure to end up enjoying a more satisfying holiday season!
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Food & Entertaining Tips
For many of us, Thanksgiving marks the start of the holiday entertaining season! Now, I don’t know about you but we typically use a fairly set menu for holiday entertaining. At Thanksgiving, we always have turkey, stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce. I use one of two mashed potato recipes and one of two sweet potato recipes. Veggies and desserts get mixed up a bit each year. The same goes for Easter.
With that being the case, why not keep those recipes all together in one binder for entertaining? This makes both creating a shopping list and meal prep infinitely easier. All you need is in one spot! Feel free to use the cute and handy planning worksheets below to get your Thanksgiving prep off to a calm and organized start. Click the image to be taken to the download page.
TIP: After your meal makes some notes in your notebook. What does everyone love? What wasn’t a hit? Did something take a longer or shorter time to cook? Note it for next year. Same for portion sizes. Keep track of what makes too much versus what you could have used more of.
Tips for Decking the Halls
Whether your holiday decorations go up the day after Halloween (eek!), the day after Thanksgiving (appropriate) or a week before Christmas (Scrooge), it helps to have a plan. We currently use a “By Category” approach. Our categories include:
- Outside and Front Door
- Garlands and Wreaths
- Table Decor
- Small Miscellaneous Decorations
TIP: If you find a display layout you love, be sure to photographic and add it to your Holiday Planning notebook so that you don’t have to figure out how to re-invent it from year to year. For years, we could never remember if our garland on the staircase was wrapped or swagged. Finally a took a picture and now I know without a doubt that the length of garland we currently have is meant to be swagged. Time saved!
Another popular method for decking the halls is the room by room approach. Think:
- Outside and Front Door
- Living/Family Room
- Dining Room
- Any Bedrooms or Baths that you Decorate
- Misc/Anything Not Covered Above
Remember that binder I mentioned earlier? Well, it’s coming into play again. Keep your list of greeting card recipients here as well as a list of the people you get gifts for. Again, these lists typically don’t vary a whole lot from year to year so why re-invent it every time? Important people to consider include: family, friends, work contacts, service providers that you use around the home, office or personally, children’s teachers or coaches, etc.
For even more automation, turn to technology. I’ve got all of our addresses (and I mean EVERYONE) in an Excel spreadsheet with the ones we send Christmas cards to marked in a column. We add and remove just a few people every year. When the time comes, I sort the list to define the card recipients and then do a mail merge to print directly on our envelopes. Easy-peasy!
The same goes for gift ideas. Natty Guy and I both keep a running list of ideas on our phone (we’re big fans of Microsoft’s To-Do List and OneNote for things like this). Stop at your mom’s and see she needs a new robe? Write it down. Niece mentions how much she loves a local sportswear company? Note it. The same goes for clothing sizes, favorite colors, etc. And since these apps give you access from both your phone or PC, you’re covered whether at the mall or burning up the web!
Tips for Holiday Fun
The pressure to do everything with everyone can be immense over the holidays but it can also lead to some unhappiness. Therefore, it’s time to pick and choose.
- Make a holiday bucket list with everything you want to do on it. Include family activities, social activities, charitable activities and anything else that comes to mind. Armed with a prioritized list of what you most want to do will help when it comes time to start committing to things.
- Know your stamina and limits. Personally, I like to do one social activity per weekend and have the other weekend night to pursue a holiday activity for just the two of us. I also cap out at one weeknight event. Now, it doesn’t always work out this way, but that’s what I try to stick to when responding to invites and scheduling events!
- Don’t be afraid to say no. You simply can’t make everyone happy all the time. Look; if Megan Markle can turn down the Queen of England at Christmas, surely you can stand up to whoever is preventing you from having the type of holiday you want! It’s OK to choose yourself sometimes – especially during the holidays. And it’s better to say no and be happy than to say yes and be resentful.
Did you know that subscribers have exclusive access to a printable library with all kinds of fashion, lifestyle and travel printables to help make your life both SIMPLER and MORE SATISFYING? New to the collection is the Holiday & Entertaining Binder! In it, you will find:
- A Decorative Binder Cover (1 page)
- Thanksgiving Planning printable (my gift to YOU in today’s post)
- Christmas Planning printable (6 pages)
- Holiday Social Calendar printable (2 pages)
- Easter Planning printable (3 pages)
- A Generic Party Planning printable that you can use for an event that you typically host: a backyard BBQ, Valentine’s tea, whatever! (3 pages)
Who says you have to wait until January 1 to start getting more organized? Get yours HERE today!
4 thoughts on “Organization Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday Season”
Hi Betsy. It will be just Tim and I celebrating the holidays, together in our new home. Thanks so much for sharing these great organization tips for the holidays. They will help for buying gifts for loved ones who live far away. If we decide to send gifts from Amazon, again this year, I’ll be sure and click on your link.
Thanks so much, Christina! I hope you enjoy a wonderful first holiday in your new digs! So appreciate your thinking of me regarding the shopping links. I certainly don’t expect it of anyone but it’s always fantastic when someone decides to go that route! Thanks again and have a good weekend!
Nice that you are offering a planner. i definitely need to take pics of things I have done before because I usually forget.
Yes – it’s a game changer! We used to do a pretty extensive village setup and learned at that time the value of a photo for recreating a good/workable layout in tight spaces! Now do pics with other things as well. And gave up on the village – too much work! LOL