Planning for the holidays should be fun for you and memorable for your family, agreed?
Here we go again!
Are you ready to jump on the Holiday Treadmill, working as hard as you can, to plan the perfect holiday season?
I understand how that feels because I have been jogging along on that treadmill for years!
We have hosted Thanksgiving and Christmas many many times, and even though it gets easier, I still want to make sure I don’t forget something important.
So, believe me, I know it doesn’t matter if you have planned big holidays for a long time or this is your first time, I get that it is a lot of work and can be super stressful
If you’re nodding you head, stay with me.
So what I have finally figured out is, if we are organized from the start, we don’t have to go through the holiday season feeling stressed and overwhelmed, praying that you make enough food, buy the right gifts, get cards sent out, plan for your family’s memories, and take care of yourself!
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Make This the Year of Less Stress, Being Organized, and Enjoying the Holidays
So think about all that needs to be done to be organized during the holidays. You can make a mental list or grab a piece of paper and brain dump anything that comes to mind.
Now ask yourself, what is your main goal? What I mean by that is when January 2nd comes around what would signal a successful holiday season for you?
What’s the payoff for all of your hard work?
For me, at the end of the day, if I know I’ve successfully created a memorable holiday for my family, especially the children, all the organizing and planning were worth it. Right?
Yes, holiday time is family time, and you should get to enjoy it too, without all the hustle and bustle that leads to stress and frustration.
Okay, my goal for you is that when you get into December, you feel well prepared, can kick back, and enjoy all the holiday cheer.
For that to happen, you need is an organized plan with a timeline, and detailed lists outlining everything that needs to be done.
Well, let me help you with that.
Your Digital Holiday Workbook
I admit I do try to do most organizing electronically if I can, mostly Apple Notes or Google Sheets.
There are lots of reasons to start planning electronically. The most important reason is you can make changes as you go and your plan is reusable year after year without having to start over.
So, I what I created is a Digital Holiday Planning Workbook using Google sheets.
The beauty of a digital holiday planner is that it can be used year after year instead of starting over with a combination of paper planners you have safely hidden away.
It’s time to take all your paper planners out of your drawers and throw them out when you feel confident using a digital holiday planner.
Let’s Start Planning with Your Digital Holiday Workbook
Truthfully, I have shared my recipes, holiday plans, gift lists with many good friends and co-workers over the years.
So I thought it might be helpful to share with you how I am using my Digital Workbook to:
- organize the holiday season
- stick to my timeline
- shop with confidence
- stay within my budget ( well close anyway)
- pamper myself when I feel like it
- and enjoy the things I love the most about Christmas.
Step One: You Need a Master Planning Checklist
First of all, you are going to find complete detailed directions on how to use the Digital Workbook.
Then moving on to the Master Planning Checklist planning, there is a detailed plan of what needs to be done each week through November and December.
On the Master Checklist, you will see I already have a lot done for you because like I said, I am not new to this holiday stuff, and I know what needs to happen in my house.
You don’t live in my house, so it’s important to remember the workbook is digital, you can delete or change what you don’t need or want.
Step Two: Fill in Your Monthly Calendars
Next, fill in your monthly calendars for November & December with everything you checked on the Master Planning Checklist.
Write down everything that is a priority for you and your family. Don’t forget to include important holiday events and maybe just sitting by the tree.
Tip: Make sure in November you buy the Advent Calendars you want, there are many more choices but here are a few favorites.
Step Three: Start A Budget Plan
There is nothing worse than shopping all holiday season, feeling pressured to buy things, and not knowing how much everything is costing
I say that because I have experienced it.
Plan for what you would like to spend on gifts, food, travel, literally everything.
With a detailed plan, you’ll have less stress during the holiday season and avoid being unpleasantly surprised in January.
Having a budget lets you see how much you spent, and who you spent it on even if you end up spending more than you intended. There are many hidden expenses that add up quickly.
To give you peace of mind and less stress, be sure to keep your keep the completed budget for planning NEXT year.
Step Four: Planning Your Gift List
The detailed Gift Planning Page will help you keep track of who you need to buy for, how much you are spending on everyone, are your packages wrapped, and more.
Gift Buying Tips
- Make a list for each person you want to buy for.
- When you hear about a good gift idea at work, write it down!
- How much do you want to spend on gifts for everyone on your list? Add it to your budget
- What are things your family may want that they won’t splurge on for themselves?
- Encourage family members to create a Wishlist on Amazon.
I can’t tell you how much I LOVE this!
- If there is a Wishlist made for your grandchildren, even better. In all honesty, it is too hard to know what to buy each age group if they don’t live close.
- Be ready for exchanges and parties with co-workers and friends.
- Have a few things on hand like candles, gourmet chocolate, tree ornament, etc for the person who surprises you with an unexpected gift
Step Five: Shop! Get Ready for Black Friday & Cyber Monday
Don’t you just love getting the ads from the Thanksgiving newspaper and going through them while eating pumpkin pie with cool whip!
Black Friday Doorbuster Tip!
Do you avoid Black Friday Shopping because you have so many pages to carry or can’t make trips to your car?
Tip: When you are going to shop retail on Black Friday, go to a store like Macy’s and head for the luggage doorbusters.
Buy a set and use the two largest suitcases to put your packages all day!
My daughter and I have done this for years, and I can’t even begin to tell you how awesome this works!
If you hate shopping retail on Black Friday, obviously don’t go!!!!
If you would rather stay in bed with the sheets over your head instead of fighting the crowds in the stores, that is perfectly fine!
Honestly, my idea of a slice of heaven is staying in pajamas and shopping on Amazon on Black Friday.
A plus to this for me is texting deals with my kids, who are doing the same thing from their own couches. That is true “family time”.
Don’t ignore Cyber Monday. It has become the biggest shopping day of the season, and you don’t want to be left out.
The problem for many people on Cyber Monday is that they have jobs, and have to wait to get home to start shopping.
At least that is the expectation.
You do need to wonder how much work is getting done, right? Oh well.
No doubt, you will want to buy as many gifts as possible on these two special shopping days.
So get out the Shopping Page in your planner, do your homework, and write down what you will be looking for.
Whatever you do, don’t miss the “lightning deals”!
It might be true that I end up buying things for myself along the way.
Tip: One of the surprise sales on Cyber Monday last year was, I bought matching pajamas for each couple and their children, and we all wore them, Christmas Eve. Lots of fun.
Step Six. Christmas Card Planning
I’m sure you already know Christmas cards are a lot of work and can really get expensive.
Be sure to use the Holiday Greeting Card page.
Do you need addresses?
Don’t forget to stamps.
Are you a person that likes to write a holiday letter? – If you don’t have it done early, do it now.
Step 7: Holiday Menu Planning
If there was ever a time during the year to make detailed grocery lists, this is it!
Truth be told, when I start my menus in November, they are in draft form.
When I look at Pinterest and hear what friends are cooking, I’ll probably change my menus.
You might want to try new recipes around the holidays, I do too.
However, I bet you agree, there are some traditional foods that just better show up on the table!
Be realistic about how much you can bake and cook during the holidays.
Don’t volunteer for more than you can comfortably handle.
Start baking early and throw those cookies into the freezer for a few weeks- they’ll be fine.
I know this sounds like holiday blasphemy, but when in a pinch, you may consider store-bought cookies?
Impulse shopping can be crippling to a budget. It’s best to stick to your list as much as possible!
Step 8: Plan for Holiday Traditions & Events
Make a list of special events with dates and prices. If there is a special event that sells out each year like A Christmas Carol or Rudolph, buy your tickets!
If it turns out later, you can’t go, you could sell the tickets or gift them to someone.
In our family, we have a tradition of seeing A Christmas Carol every year and it is money well spent. Don’t forget to add your special events to your budget!
During the month of December, I set up a table with a holiday jigsaw puzzle for family and friends to work on together. It has been enjoyed by family members of ALL ages and so now it has moved to one of the top activities on our list.
Are You Ready?
Don’t be afraid to start planning your holiday with a Digital Workbook,
I’ll wager you will pretty proud of yourself when you pull it off!
WAIT! Don’t leave Empty-Handed! Grab this FREE PARTY PLANNER to plan the perfect Holiday Appetizer Party including recipe links to Appetizers and Festive Holiday Drinks.