Staying organized during the holiday season is something that we all need and want.
The holiday season is a magical time. However, we often forget to enjoy it while cooking and baking, shopping for presents, entertaining, wrapping gifts, and decorating.
If you want to enjoy this holiday season to the fullest you need to stay organized and plan ahead of time. It will help you set your priorities and decide on the most important things you need to focus on.
Here are 7 simple steps that will help you stay organized during this holiday season. Some of these steps are simple and do not take many actions on your part. But they will affect how you will feel about the holiday season and how successful it was!
1. Start planning early and create your holiday itinerary.
Many of us do not have time to plan too far ahead of the holidays. But I have noticed that if I start planning early, my holidays are less stressful.
To avoid the pressure of last-minute tasks, I would recommend creating your holiday itinerary for the whole family and filling in your November and December calendars with the final dates. Share your calendar with your family so everyone is on the same page.
Here is a checklist of the holiday itinerary you will want to have on your calendar:
- Holiday parties
- Family gatherings
- Family activities
- Local events and festivals
- Family photos
- Holiday card signing days
- Gift shopping days
- Baking days
- Meal planning
- Cooking days
- Gift wrapping days
- Travel days
- Your work schedule and days off from work
2. Make your food plan.
When it comes to holiday planning, your food is key!
First, you need to know what to buy. And without a thoughtful food plan, you might end up buying too much or running out of the important ingredient when there are no shops open. It happened to me a few times!
A simple plan is all you need to start your holiday food shopping.
At the beginning of the holiday season plan what you want to cook and bake and when. Write down your list of baking and cooking favorites on a piece of paper. Do not forget to include recipes or where to find them. Then schedule your food shopping and baking time on the calendar.
3. Prepare your home for the holidays.
Cleaning and decluttering
The more I can do to remove clutter and clean my home before the holidays, the better off I feel later.
Usually, we do deep cleaning – I call it “fall cleaning”- at the end of October. We deep clean our home by washing the windows, cleaning the bathrooms, dusting the light fixtures, and decluttering the basement and closets.
I do this because when we have a holiday party, I do not want to feel overwhelmed with cleaning when preparing for a holiday meal or decorating our house.
4. Buy gifts for friends and family.
Holiday gift ideas
I love the holiday season, but every year I am overwhelmed with gift-giving. But I really do love buying gifts for my family and friends, and I am trying to stay organized before I start shopping.
The first step in organizing your holiday shopping is to make a list of every person you plan to buy a gift. The next step is to set an overall budget for holiday gifts. Then, you have to figure out how much money you can spend on each gift. It does not have to be a lot, but you must stick to your budget.
I like to use the Notes app on my phone to create a list of gifts. The best part of capturing gift ideas on your phone is that most of us always have our phones with us when shopping. When it is time to start your holiday shopping, simply open your list to refer to, and you are good to go.
Holiday gifts shopping
When it comes to buying gifts, the best advice is to make sure that you can afford those gifts. Do not go into debt buying holiday gifts. Only spend what you have in your account.
Each holiday shopping season is unique. This year with high inflation and soaring prices on everything, it will be hard to afford too many gifts.
It is better to start gift shopping early, even though it is just a few dollars a week or one gift per paycheck. The worse feeling, we can give to ourselves during the holidays is rushing at the last minute.
If you want to cut down on shopping, consider alternatives such as homemade gifts or gift exchanges.
Homemade gifts do not need to be fancy or sophisticated because they show your loved one that you care through your time and attention. There are many different ways to make holiday gifts, and you do not need to be very crafty.
Look at Pinterest for homemade gift ideas.
Also, if you are planning to buy a few gifts on Etsy then try to avoid ordering your gifts in December because it is not going to arrive in a week.
Give the small-shop owner time to create your personalized item, to package and deliver it through the rush holidays mailing system.
Be selective on holiday gift deals.
Do not fall for all those holiday gift deals.
Many of these big deals you find during big sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday are not actually deals at all. I personally do not like to get into this holiday deal bonanza and prefer to start shopping early.
Even though we see thousands of deals during the holiday season, it does not mean they are all worth shopping for.
Be selective. Create a list of things you are hoping to purchase and make sure to do your research on what you will be buying. To save money, check and compare prices online before setting foot in a store. The goal should be to buy the best product at the best price.
5. Organize your gift-wrapping supplies.
Take a quick inventory of your gift-wrapping supplies – wrapping paper, gift tags and bags, ribbons, bows, etc. Decide what you can reuse and what you need to buy. Make a list and shop for those supplies the next time you run errands.
Try to purchase holiday gift-wrapping supplies really early, so it is easy to cross those things off your holiday to-do list early.
6. Finalize your holiday cards and invitations.
Writing and mailing holiday cards can be time-consuming chore, especially if you like to write a special note inside each card.
Hence, get a head start on holiday cards and invitations early. You do not have to wait for the holidays to order your holiday cards. Design and print them now so you do not need to worry about them later. Keep your card list in a simple spreadsheet and write your cards over a few days to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
In addition to the cards themselves, you will also want to complete the list of addresses to send your holiday cards and invitations. Use the mailing list from the last year if you had one. Start updating the old list with the new address of people who have moved or create a new list.
7. Decide on hosting a holiday party.
If you are a guest at the Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner party, you probably do not need to set aside a great deal of money for hosting. But if you are the host, the holiday celebration needs to be carefully planned.
When people plan their holiday expenses, sometimes they forget to include the cost of feeding a large group of people vs. a small party.
Grocery shopping list:
There are many ways to organize and manage your grocery shopping list and meal planning.
You can have your grocery list on a piece of paper or your phone. I prefer to do it on my phone because the paper lists get lost easily. But it does not matter if it is on paper or your phone app, just write all your food plans down in one place. With the list ready you will be able to start grocery shopping and food preparation when the time comes.
When it comes to the holiday hosting your food is key!
As I mentioned before, try to plan your meals in advance to avoid the stress of last-minute cooking and baking without a clear idea of what you will be serving.
And when it comes to the holiday menu, it does not have to be complicated.
I have a list of things to consider when planning my menu:
- What kind of party am I hosting – formal or casual?
- How many appetizers to serve and what kind? I like to have at least one traditional appetizer and then get creative with a few others. My new favorite is a holiday charcuterie board if I do not want to deal with many different appetizers:
- What kind of cocktails to serve with appetizers?
- Think about the color and texture of food. Perhaps, I can serve something creamy such as ‘potatoes au gratin’ and something crunchy such as ‘arugula salad’. I usually look to the season for the colors.
- Look at the dinner recipes from the previous years and cook one dish that everyone enjoyed eating. I will have peace of mind knowing that at least one dish will be a success.
- What kind of wine to serve with food? Red or white or both?
- What should we have for dessert? Should I make one or ask if someone wants to bring a cake?
The key to enjoying stress-free holidays is proper planning.
Do not underestimate a simple plan to help you deal with this crazy time of the year when everything tends to happen at once. And ask your family and friends to help with different tasks. Holiday planning and preparations should not fall on one person’s shoulders.
Do not be afraid to ask for help from family and friends or delegate holiday- related tasks! It should be a collective effort with everyone helping out!
How do you stay organized during the holidays?
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