Inside: Do the holidays bring on colossal amounts of stress? Learn how to have an organized Christmas and banish holiday stress today by following these simple and actionable steps. This post contains affiliate links. Read our disclosure here.
Did you spend most of the last Christmas season seriously stressed out?
The holiday season is full of beautiful traditions and happy memories, but it can also bring on unnecessary amounts of strain.
From baking delicious treats to choosing and wrapping gifts, the buildup to the holidays is easily one of my favorite times of the year.
Yet, for busy moms and homemakers, it can also get very demanding.
But there is a better way:
Take the time to get organized for Christmas now, and enjoy a peaceful and serene holiday this year.
With these five simple steps to an organized Christmas, you will finally cut down holiday stress and still get everything done on time.
How to Have an Organized Christmas
Step 1: Use a Holiday Planner
Planners make organization a breeze, taking the stress out of keeping an organized holiday season.
A Christmas organizer will help you stay on top of everything that needs to be done to prepare for the holidays while allowing you to get things done in a timely matter, freeing up more of your time to spend enjoying the season and everything that comes with it.
Here’s how to choose and use a good holiday planner that will take a load off your shoulders, instead of adding more:
What Christmas Planner Should I Use?
When choosing a Christmas planner, there are three main factors to consider:
- Add Christmas organization to your regular planner or calendar
- Get a dedicated Christmas planner
- Use an empty notebook or binder with printables
Having a planner that you use and love can truly benefit your life.
A holiday planner helps you keep track of Christmas prep, activities, and budgets all in the same place.
One of the best holiday planners available is this one by Kathi Lipp. It’s inexpensive, practical, and beautifully designed.
If you prefer digital planners, the Christmas Planner Pro app is free, and it keeps gift-giving organized while helping you stay on-budget.
Finally, for the ultimate budget-friendly Christmas planner, you can use an empty notebook or a binder to make your own holiday planner. There are countless free or inexpensive printables online that adjust to your specific planner needs.
For your organized Christmas, choose a planner option you’ll actually use – whether that’s DIY, digital, or a bullet journal.
How to Make a DIY Holiday Planner
If you choose to DIY your holiday planner, here are the most important sections to include:
– Budget & Expenses
It’s so easy to overspend during the holidays. The average American spends over $1000 during the holiday.
Budgeting can help you tackle gifts, decorations, and activities without breaking the bank.
Start by deciding how much you can spend and allocate an amount to each category. The essential Christmas spending categories usually include:
- Holiday food & treats
- Travel expenses (gas or plane tickets) if you’re going away.
- Christmas decorations
- Party outfits
Different families will have different categories. Spend some time thinking about last Christmas and what you had to spend on. Maybe you don’t travel during the holiday season, but you do host friends and family.
Allocate finances realistically, not according to what you want to spend.
Always include a miscellaneous expenses category in your holiday spending budget for those last-minute and unexpected expenses that could otherwise catch you by surprise.
Doing this prevents overspending and after-holiday debt.
– Holiday Activities
Write down any parties, school activities, church gatherings, local traditions, etc. This way, you don’t need to wrack your brain trying not to forget important appointments.
Think about what you need to prepare and when you should get started. This is an essential part of Christmas organization, and it ensures you’ll be able to enjoy all holiday prep and activities.
Double-check with school, in case your child forgot to mention a project or a play. It’s no fun trying to sew a nativity play outfit last minute.
By marking activities on the calendar, they won’t sneak up on you, and you’ll get to fully enjoy them with your loved ones.
– Christmas Gift Lists
Make a list of family and friends that you want to buy a gift for.
Planning gifts well in advance will give you time to think about what they might like and shop around for the best offer. Plus, you get to avoid hectic pre-holiday shopping.
Try to set a budget for each person and stick to it.
Even if you’re not a master DIYer, you can consider homemade gifts or treats for some people on the list. Baking a big batch of delicious cookies is a great way to tackle neighbors, colleagues, and other acquaintances.
– Holiday Menu & Baking
Christmas treats are one of my favorite parts of the celebration, and I love taking the time to make them at home.
But, I do like to have meals and treats already planned out. This way, I can set aside enough time, play some Christmas tunes, and enjoy the process.
If you’re hosting a holiday party, menu planning is essential for having an organized Christmas.
Start by considering the number of guests and any dietary restrictions or preferences they might have. Will they bring anything to the party? Take that into account.
For your meal planning, try and stick to familiar recipes. This will give you peace-of-mind that the food will turn out delicious.
Recommended: Struggling to think of delicious meal ideas? Try the Eat at Home Meal Plans, the meal planner that is tried and true.
Then, make a shopping list and buy everything you need. No more last-minute runs to the supermarket because you ran out of an ingredient.
Finally, set aside enough time for cooking. Can you prep some of the food the day before? Do that to save time and reduce stress.
– Decorating Plan
Do you buy decorations every year?
Planning out your decorations can save both money and time. If you start planning early, you can:
- Take inventory of what you already have (and can reuse)
- Come up with a color scheme/decoration plan and have enough time to find everything you need
- Set aside enough time to buy a Christmas tree (and make a family activity out of it)
If you’re going to need help for some decorations (e.g., your husband to hang up Christmas lights,) planning ensures everybody can find the time in their schedule to lend a hand.
– Holiday Card-Sending
Sending out Christmas cards is a lovely tradition. But, since logistics are involved, planning card-sending is essential for an organized Christmas. In your journal, note down:
- Who you’ll be sending cards to, making sure to jot down their address
- What cards will you be sending? If you’re getting custom cards, place your order around Thanksgiving (ideally a couple of weeks before)
- When will you be mailing them? To make sure the card arrives on time, send it out 2-3 weeks before Christmas day
Step 2: Prepare Your Home for an Organized Christmas
Now that you know what needs to get done, it’s time to start physically preparing for the holiday season.
– Clean & Organize Your Space
Before you put up decorations, make sure your house is neat and clean. Otherwise, the décor will only add to the mess.
I like to deep clean one room per day (following this method), this way I don’t get overwhelmed.
You can also set aside an entire day for cleaning and organizing. But, make sure you go in with a plan; otherwise, you risk getting tired and frustrated (and this is precisely what we’re trying to avoid).
Don’t know how to get started? Find my expert cleaning guide here!
When you’re cleaning, also set aside space for gift storage. The perfect location is spacious enough and out-of-reach for children and pets.
At the same time, don’t bury the presents deep into your closet, try to keep them accessible so you can easily bring them out on Christmas.
– Decorate Your Home
Once your house is clean, it’s time for decorations.
You can either do this in stages or all at once. Hopefully, using a planner has helped you figure out when to do it, and you’ve already brought out or bought the décor.
I personally love putting up the Christmas tree, so I try to plan it as a family tradition. You can do the same with your house decorations.
But, if you have children, you know they might get tired/fussy at one point. Limit the decorating time to an afternoon or have a few cookie and milk breaks to keep everyone happy.
– Prepare for Houseguests
If you are hosting a party or having people stay overnight, take the time to prepare beforehand, and you’ll enjoy a much more organized Christmas.
When you’ve tackled all the chores before they arrive, you get to spend quality time with your guests, rather than worrying if the guest bathroom has been cleaned.
Essential holiday organizing tips for party guests:
- Make space in the foyer and add extra hooks/a storage bench for their coats and shoes (purchasing an affordable shoe rack to pull out during the holidays isn’t a bad idea)
- Place extra seating like stools and chairs. Even if you’re not hosting a sit-down meal, it’s still important that everybody has a spot to sit if they get tired
- Create a child-friendly space so guests of all ages can enjoy their time
For overnight guests, make sure you also:
- Clean up and declutter your guest room.
- Wash and de-wrinkle the sheets (if you don’t like ironing sheets, try the Downy wrinkle spray.)
- Put out fresh towels and have toiletries on hand.
- Clear space for their belongings, whether it’s a shelf, drawer, or rack.
- Display your wi-fi password and make sure plugs are accessible.
- Add decorations and treats.
Step 3: Christmas Cards
Last-minute card-sending is stressful and doesn’t leave you enough time to write a heartfelt holiday message. Use these simple holiday planning tips for effortless card-sending:
- Have your mailing list ready and complete with addresses.
- Order your custom-made cards a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving to avoid the rush.
- Set aside at least one afternoon to fill out the cards for everyone on your list.
- If you’re using old Christmas cards, start with them first. This way, they won’t spend years at the bottom of your card drawer.
- Mail the cards 2-3 weeks before Christmas day to make sure they arrive on time.
Writing Christmas wishes is a lovely family activity, too. If you want to involve your little ones, plan ahead to buy any supplies they might need. Then, make sure you have plenty of snacks on hand and enjoy your time together!
Step 4: Gifts
It’s the season to give. But, by planning gift-giving in advance, you can get your loved ones thoughtful presents without spending a fortune or last-minute stress-shopping.
Once you’ve made a list of people you’ll be gifting to, brainstorm ideas.
Your immediate family is usually the priority here. If you start thinking about gifts early, you can ‘snoop’ for what they might need.
When they mention something they’d like, you can take note, write it down in your holiday planner and have plenty of time to get it for them.
For your kids, you can schedule a ‘write to Santa’ day or see if they’ll be doing something similar at school. Once you know what they wished for, you can start shopping around for the best offer.
Buying some presents online allows you to save time and, occasionally, save money.
If you plan to online shop for Christmas gifts, be sure to check the shipping delays to see when the gifts will come. A rule of thumb is to usually order gifts at least 10 days in advance, though some places may take longer than that to ship orders.
Ordering with time to spare will allow the gift enough time to arrive so you can wrap it and stash it away without stressing over it.
Speaking of gift-wrapping, take inventory of the wrapping paper, bags, and boxes you already have on hand. Only go grab more after you’ve used up what you already have at home.
Step 5: Christmas Cooking & Baking
There is nothing like the smell of fresh cookies during the holiday season. When you plan your menu and recipes, you get to enjoy Christmas baking and maybe even get the kiddos involved.
Here are some of my favorite tips for organized Christmas baking:
- The earlier you start baking, the more recipes you can try
- Cookies last up to three months in the freezer if you put them in an airtight container
- You can store cookies in a jar for two weeks before they start drying out or losing flavor
- Have pre-made cookie dough (I like using homemade) on hand and pop it in the oven for impromptu guests.
If you start baking around mid-November and freezing your cookies, you can have enough to go around for everybody. And, Christmas cookies make a lovely gift for neighbors, your child’s teachers, or work colleagues.
Having an organized Christmas and holiday season isn’t just about preparation. Once the holidays are over, plan a few days to take down decorations, clean your home, and store your Christmas items.
For Christmas decoration storage:
- Make sure lights still work (check before you store them) and wrap around cardboard to prevent them from tangling
- Wrap ornaments in tissue paper and use boxes with dividers or even egg cartons to store them separately
- If you had a plastic Christmas tree, use saran wrap or duster sheets to wrap it fully. This way, it won’t get dusty, flat, or start shedding little plastic pieces
Storing all your Christmas decorations in one place will make it easy to find them next year.
Don’t Forget to Enjoy the Holiday
Having an organized Christmas is all about cutting down on the strain of planning and executing everything.
The holidays are a wonderful time of the year. It’s a shame to see moms and homemakers stressed out of their minds, instead of spending quality time with their loved ones.
So, whether you’re hosting a big family get-together or this is your first Christmas as a newlywed, try not to put so much pressure on yourself.
A little bit of planning goes a long way but remember that enjoying your Christmas and being present for every precious moment.
How to Have an Organized Christmas… Your Turn!
Did we miss anything? What are your favorite tips for keeping the holiday season organized and running smoothly? Share them in a comment below.