How I Stay Organized and Sane During the Hectic Holiday Season

how to stay organized and sane during holiday seasonI don’t know about you, but I used to have a love-hate relationship with the holiday season. Sure, I always loved having all the family home and visiting with friends we don’t get to see often. But I hated it when our home was in an upheaval and there was all the shopping to do, parties to prepare for, and a whole house to decorate!

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A few years back I threw up my hands and started looking for help. That’s when I read a book on getting organized and making lists!  Now I am an obsessive list-maker and glad I am!  I actually start making my holiday list on the first day of fall each year!  I’ll bet that you could benefit from making a list, too!  Here are some of the things I include on mine each year.

Holiday Budget

I always set spending limits. By planning it out ahead of time, I know exactly what I have to spend. I also try to buy some things months ahead of time so all the expenses don’t hit in a single month!

Christmas Menu

This is a big one since we usually have lots of visitors each holiday. I always write down what I will serve.

What can I prepare ahead of time? When will I do the necessary shopping? Which family members can I get to help me in the kitchen?

Food Prep

I’ve found that lots of things can be made ahead of time. Things like holiday pies, cakes, and candy can be either made or purchased several days in advance. I actually schedule when I will prepare each dish!  That may seem a little anal, but no longer is my oven jammed with two different dishes requiring two different temperatures and two separate baking times!

Christmas Decorating

I plan the decorations out with my husband ahead of time. In fact, I pull the box down religiously on November 1 and go through all the decorations. This helps me weed out the broken ones and we plan together how we want the house decorated. Then we set a date to get it done!

Christmas Gifts

Each year I make out a list of who I will be buying gifts for — and how much I will spend! I can usually use last year’s list (I keep it on my hard drive) without making too many changes.

Having a list makes shopping easier since I am not making emotional decisions in the department store!

Planning The Christmas Shopping

I even plan out where to shop ahead of time. These days I do a lot of shopping online if I know exactly what I want. I also plan my trips to the mall in the hours when they are least busy.

Cleaning Schedule

With guests coming, it’s important to have the whole house cleaned and ready to go. I assign each family member a room and tell them when it is to be done.

Last year, however, my husband surprised me and hired a maid service to come in the day before our party and clean the house top to bottom.  What a sweetie!

My Time Line

Finally, I make sure my list has a timeline — complete with deadlines!  For instance, I set a date for all the shopping that has to be done. Then another date for when the wrapping is to be completed. The more things I can get done early in the month, the more time I have to get the last-minute things done.

Although it’s not exactly a list item, one of my top priorities is to get enough rest.  I know that when I don’t get enough sleep my stress level rises to WWOTW (wicked witch of the west) levels! So instead of being the last family to leave the party, we make sure we get home early enough to get a good night’s sleep.

It might sound a little crazy, but since I developed my lists I am able to get through the holiday season while keeping my sanity.  I refuse to work myself into a lather each holiday because of all the last-minute things that need to get done. Now I get things done ahead of time and solicit the help of each family member.

Why not try a list yourself?  Once you get the hang of it, you’ll find holidays are much easier to get through!


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