Inside: Is stress eating away at your holiday cheer? Follow these simple and straightforward holiday organizing tips for a stress-free Christmas this year. This post contains affiliate links. Read our disclosure here.

When was the last time you can remember having a stress-free Christmas? 10, 15, 20 years ago?

With deadlines to meet and expectations to exceed, the holidays have gone from relaxing and enjoyable family-oriented time to chaos quicker than you can say “noel”. 

Do you want to simplify Christmas and bring it back to what it’s really all about? 

It’s possible.

By implementing these simple holiday organizing tips you’ll be well on your way to a stress-free Christmas and everything checked off your to-do list with weeks to spare.

Here’s the catch:

You can’t just start today and expect this Christmas to be totally stress-free. The thing is, it takes intentional planning. In other words, having an organized Christmas starts one year before Christmas.

A big part of determining how your holidays will turn out is how you prepare a year prior.

But, if you’re here, 5 days before Christmas desperately yearning for a way to take a load off your shoulders – don’t worry, I’ve split the following holiday organizing tips up into two categories:

Before Christmas organizing tips

And, after Christmas organizing tips

This way, you can get yourself organized and put together before Christmas this year, and you can organize everything after Christmas this year so that next year is a walk in the park.

Let’s jump in.

Before Christmas Organizing Tips

1. Plan the Menu

One of the biggest pre-Christmas stressors? The meal.

Taking some time before Christmas to plan what you’re making, who’s coming, and the ingredients you need are equally vital in preparing to have an organized holiday season.

Creating your Christmas menu doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply take a piece of paper or grab your holiday planner and write down everything you will be making – right down to the gravy and dumplings.

Take into account whether you’re hosting (or attending) a potluck. In that case, you will need to make substantially less than if you are making the whole meal yourself.

Don’t forget about dessert. 

After you’ve written down what you’re making, you’ll need to make a new list to write down what you need to make those meals.

Read every recipe and start jotting down a shopping list. 

Chances are, it’s going to be a big one. To help distribute the cost rather than having it all in a lump-sum, start buying non-perishable items months before Christmas.

If you like to be more organized than a blank piece of paper, using a holiday planner will allow you to keep everything in one place without worry of losing an important piece of information.

This way, you’ll have the meal, the ingredients, and everything else Christmas-related written down in one place instead of on numerous pieces of paper.

Bonus tip: If you’re feeding extended family, ask everyone to bring a side dish or dessert. This will lighten your load and help keep costs lower. Plus, then everyone gets to try each family’s best dishes.

Still struggling to think of delicious meal ideas? Sign up for Eat at Home Meal Plans to get a plethora of meals, recipes, and corresponding grocery lists sent to your inbox every month.

2. Pick Names

If you come from a large family, picking names helps keep costs lower. Rather than everyone buying everyone a gift, each person buys just one person a gift. This allows the gifts to be more personal and allows you to spend a bit more money on the gift since you’re just buying one.

3. Plan Gifts

Start making lists, in your handy-dandy holiday planner, of gift ideas for each person you’re buying gifts for.

Starting this early in the year will help you gather a plethora of ideas so you’re not left high-and-dry and shopping last-minute come Christmastime. 

Anytime the person you’re buying a gift for mentions that they like something, would like to have something, or makes any other hints about stuff they like, write it down in your gift planner. 

When Christmas comes around, you’ll be so glad you did. 

Instead of scratching your head trying to think of 15 different gifts to get 15 different people, you’ll be able to flip through your gift planner and see dozens of ideas already there.

Related: The Best Planners for Moms Who Want to be Organized

4. Schedule Cards

Mark down on your calendar when you need to have Christmas cards sent out by, then dedicate a few days prior to that date for gathering addresses, addressing envelopes, and filling out cards.

Don’t forget to buy stamps!

5. Use What’s There

Before heading to the store and dropping hundreds of dollars on decorations, wrapping paper, and Christmas cards, take stock of what you already have at home.

Maybe you didn’t use up all of your Christmas cards last year. Maybe you’ve got a stash of wrapping paper just waiting to be used.

Perhaps, you’ve even got enough leftover decorations to get by without buying any this year.

Using what you have, first, will keep the amount of stuff in your house down and will substantially lower costs.

After you’ve taken stock of what you have, make a precise shopping list of what you still need – this will stop overspending that happens when you go to the store not knowing what you need, so you opt to get it all.

6. Prepare for Guests

Even if you don’t plan on hosting anyone over the holidays, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. 

You won’t regret having a guest room that’s ready for guests and extra towels set out when you hear family members happen to be in town with nowhere to stay.

Clean and tidy the guest bedroom and place out extra bath towels.

Next, grab a stylish caddy – something like this would be perfect – to keep TP stocked up and avoid causing your guests the embarrassment of running out of the essentials.

7. Display Christmas Cards

If year after year the Christmas cards that get given to you end up in a heaping pile near the front entrance, grab a Christmas card display to keep them up and out of the way, and allow your guests to feel special when they drop by and see their card displayed.

(Don’t worry, you can still get rid of them right after Christmas – but this way they’re out of the way and adding to your Christmas decor rather than collecting dust and getting crumpled.)

If the Christmas card display isn’t your style and you like to keep your cards long-term, you can also put them together in a scrapbook or punch holes in the corner of the cards and use a book ring for storage.

Don’t like the paper clutter but want to keep a memory of the card? Take a photo of each card and store it on a lightweight USB stick to look back at whenever you want. This way, you can get rid of the cards guilt-free.

8. Shop Online

If you find yourself needing to do some last-minute shopping, skip the stores and shop online.

Stores have a way of drawing you in and making you spend more money than you originally planned to spend with their flashy sale signs.

Skip the rush, save your sanity and save a few extra pennies by shopping online. If you’re worried about getting the gifts on time, sign up for a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime (which you can do here) and get the complimentary 2-day shipping on most items.

9. Wrapping Station

Keep all your gift wrapping supplies in one place to eliminate a mess of wrapping paper clippings, tape, and ribbon being left everywhere in your house.

You can easily get your own wrapping station with this tool – it has everything you’ll need to keep all your wrapping supplies together in one place and easy to use. For a more affordable option, this under-the-bed wrapping station works great.

10. Prioritize

Sometimes, life gets in the way.

And that’s when it’s good to have a plan. If it comes down to it, would you rather bake that extra batch of Christmas cookies or get your holiday cards sent out on time?

Bring your neighbors a plate of Christmas goodies or go shopping for last-minute gifts?

Prioritize your tasks in the case that something disrupts your organized system.

Now that we’ve gone over what you can do before Christmas to have an organized holiday, here’s what to do after Christmas to prepare yourself for next year.

After Christmas Organizing Tips

11. Organize Papers

After opening gifts, it’s important to file all warranties, manuals, and important receipts away so they don’t get thrown out with the wrapping paper.

Don’t worry about doing this right away, but be sure to pile these important papers somewhere safe where they won’t get thrown out. Then, within the next day or two, take an hour to fill out online warranty forms and file these papers away somewhere that they won’t get wrecked – or lost.

This is the small portable file box we use. It keeps all our important papers organized and out of the way and I know exactly where they are when I need them.

12. Reuse Gift Bags

Keep one large gift bag open, then flatten and place any smaller gift bags inside the bigger bag. This way you can reuse the bags for future Christmasses and they will be stored neatly, and be easy to get at.

If you want to go all out, you can even keep any tissue paper, ribbons, and unused gift tags that aren’t ripped up. 

Fold it neatly and tuck it away with the gift bags.

13. Christmas Decoration Organization & Storage

If your decorations seem to have a way of tangling up and gluing themselves onto one another, these are some Christmas decoration storage ideas that you need.

When storing your Christmas decor, it’s important to use products that actually work well. 

Not things that you tell yourself work “good enough”, but then every year when you go to unpack the boxes you’re scoffing under your breath and hating every moment of it.

14. Invest in Storage Solutions That Work Well

That work well are the key words in this sentence. 

Here are the top three Christmas decoration storage containers on the market:

  1. Lineco Archival Divided Ornament Storage
  2. 64 Ornament Storage Box with adjustable compartments
  3. Foldable Storage Chest with compartments

15. Get Creative With Ornaments

If you’re opting for a cheaper version of decoration storage, get creative by using things like egg cartons to store smaller ornaments.

Egg cartons keep your eggs safe from cracking and they will do just the same for your Christmas ornaments – plus, most ornaments will fit seamlessly in the cartons.

Other methods of storage include wrapping ornaments in tissue paper and placing them in shoe boxes or clear plastic containers. 

For glass or fragile ornaments, grab an Archival ornament storage box, throw some tissue paper in the bottom of the compartments and your ornaments will be safe until next year.

You can also place ornaments in disposable styrofoam or plastic cups and stack the cups in boxes to keep everything from becoming one jumbled mess. 

Store non-breakable ornaments in plastic baggies, separated either by color and style or by the area they get used in (then label the baggies) to keep them organized.

Pack decorations and ornaments in containers, baggies, or boxes by the area they get used in.

  • Pack the Christmas tree decor in one box, the entryway decor in another, the kitchen decor in another, etc. Then, label each box with the area it gets used in.

Use labels to keep all your Christmas decorations organized. Grab an inexpensive label maker and label each box, bag, and bin that has your Christmas decor in it.

Recommended: Handheld Label Maker to mark your boxes and containers.

16. Need-it-First Box

If you have some Christmas decorations that you always pull out weeks before the rest of your decor, pack all those decorations together in one box to save time rummaging through multiple boxes to find those specific items.

17. Use Christmas Linens for Fragile Ornaments

Wrapping fragile ornaments and decor in your Christmas linens will ensure they stay safe from banging against each other and breaking, and it works great since you’ll take both the linens and decor out at the same time.

18. Christmas Lights

Wrap your strands of Christmas lights around pieces of cardboard or around empty wrapping paper tubes, tucking the ends into the tubes, to keep the cords from tangling. 

You can also label different strings of lights with where you use them to avoid confusion next year.

  • Be sure to test each strand of lights before putting them away in storage. Replace any burnt out bulbs and toss any strands of lights that don’t work.

Related: How to Have a Stress-Free Christmas in 5 Steps

The Best Holiday Organizing Tips: Conclusion

Keeping Christmas simple and using organizing methods to free up time for you to enjoy the season with your family is key.

  • Plan the menu well in advance
  • Dedicate a day for sending out Christmas cards
  • Make gift wish lists for each person you’ll be buying for
  • Use what you already have before going shopping
  • Prepare your house for surprise guests
  • Dedicate a wrapping station like this one to keep gifts organized and wrapping paper clippings absent
  • Focus on proper organizing after Christmas methods to prepare yourself for next year

What are Your Best Christmas Organizing Tips?

Did we miss your favorite holiday organizing tip? We’d love to hear from you, share your best Christmas organizing tip with us in a comment below!