How to Plan Your Holiday Season

When the holidays approach, life gets busy. There’s so much to do, and so much we want to do. It’s a flurry of decorating, baking, shopping, wrapping .. The chaos that comes with the holidays can take the fun right out of the holiday season. It can be overwhelming! But if you plan your holiday, it can make for a lot less stress.

With planning, your holidays can be a lot smoother.

You can relax and even enjoy the season. All it takes is a little bit of thinking ahead to reduce the holiday-related stress. Here are 5 tips to help you plan for the holidays.

First, start with a list.

What is on your to-do list for the holidays? Write all the event, task and tradition you want to do to celebrate the holiday seasons. From the kids’ pageants to Christmas dinner with the grandparents, from work parties to putting up the Christmas tree, make sure you put every single thing on your list.

Pro Tip: Add events that you missed this year that you’d like to go to. Keep lists from year to year, and plan ahead for next year!

After your holiday brain-dump, organize and expand your tasks. If you want to decorate the house, list all the areas that you want to decorate. Create a baking list of all the cookies, squares, pies, or other treats you want to bake. Then make another list for the extra ingredients you need, especially the ones you only use during the holidays.

Gift lists and card lists are common lists to make this time of year. If you’ve ever been caught out by receiving a gift from someone you hadn’t gotten a gift for, this is your saving grace. Besides your close family and friends, include your child’s music teacher or sports coach, if they’ve been teaching your child for a long time. What about the neighbour that has plowed your sidewalk all last winter? Is there a gift exchange at work or for your children’s extracurriculars?

Pro tip: keep the card lists from year to year, to save time. Just update with names and addresses, instead of rewriting. 

And you might also want to list out the events and dates you want to attend, as they are planned and confirmed. Finally, check your supplies from last year’s holidays, and make a list of anything you’ve run out of or want to refresh.

Next, create a calendar.

Create or print out a blank monthly calendar for the next couple of months. Then go thru your list of events, and add on those special dates that you already know, such as parades you want to attend, concerts or festivals.

Then, call those family members who plan holiday events and confirm the dates and locations. Check with friends about get-togethers, and pull up your church or work calendars for their party dates. And don’t forget any craft sales or markets you want to add.

Finally, plan when you’ll do your shopping trips, sleigh rides or a Christmas tree farm.

Pro tip: match them up with paydays!

Now make your life easier and plan your holiday. Pencil in days that you want to do your family traditions. When do you want to spend time baking with the kids, or decorating the house? When will you put up the tree or go caroling?

If you set aside the time for these special activities, you won’t feel rushed. Maybe you’ve always wanted to build gingerbread houses with your little ones. Put that day on the calendar. Need some time away from the kids to wrap presents? Plan for it, and arrange the babysitter or time at Grandma’s now.

Pro tip: send some money along with Grandma or the babysitter and have your kids go shopping for mom and dad!

Then, plan your menus

Holiday seasons bring special meals! The turkey, the pies, the yummy salads — the smells and tastes of the season are almost as memorable as the sights. So plan out your menus for these meals and make sure nothing gets forgotten. How many dinners are you hosting? How many do you just need to bring something to share? Make a list of what you want to cook.

With your dinner menus, you can write out grocery lists. This means you can cut down on the trips to the crazy grocery store. (Because you know shopping during the holidays is insane!)

Pro Tip: make ahead food for potlucks and family dinners that you are invited to, and freeze. On the day, thaw and heat before you go. 

Finally, budget for the holidays

With all these lists now made, you can easily plan your budget. You can plan for Christmas expenses, instead of overspending, and feeling stressed about bills later. With shopping lists, you’ll be able to stick to your budget instead of impulse shopping, and manage both your time and your cashflow.

On your gift list, you can determine how much you want to spend on each person. On your events list, you can put the cost of the tickets or gas money, and even decide which activities are in your budget this year. Your menus and shopping lists could be marked with approximate amounts, and then you can watch for sales. And your calendar will help you manage your budget as well, by letting you match up your shopping and trips to your paychecks better.

Pro Tip: get in the habit of Christmas shopping or saving all year round. It saves you time and money! 

Turn Holiday Stress into Holiday Bliss

The holidays can often be stressful, especially for us moms. We seem to have the bulk of the preparations, the shopping and the cooking and baking on us. With a little bit of planning, and a few lists, we can relax, knowing that nothing is forgotten. And maybe this year, we’ll even have more of the fun!

Need help with Holiday Planning?

Grab my holiday planner to help with all your planning needs. Includes blank lists, menus and budget worksheets, for all the special holiday activities!

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