A week-by-week plan for staying ahead of Holiday chaos

The holidays have a tendency of sneaking up on you, don’t they? Before Halloween is even over, most of us already start to feel the crush of impending holiday chaos. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a guide to keep you one step ahead with your holiday to do’s? We thought so too, which is why we’ve created a week by week plan to get you from now through the end of December without losing your mind.

So if you’d rather not be left on Christmas Eve running from store to store in a panicked frenzy because you don’t have enough sugar, or forgot to get your mother in law a present in the rush of holiday activities, read on.

This Week: Design Your Holiday Cards & Organize Addresses.

There’s one thing you don’t want lingering on your list come Black Friday, and that is “holiday cards.” Take the time this week to pick out your card, get your photos in order (or take a family photo this weekend if you haven’t already), and prepare the list of who will receive a card. I’m using Tiny Prints this year – I love their designs and how easy it is to customize your own photo card. If you use a digital contact manager, like Mac’s Address Book, you can create a group titled “holiday card” and drag and drop contacts from your master list to that group. In Outlook, you can create a new “holiday card” category for contacts and then go through each contact and assign them to that category. In addition, if you are traveling to visit friends and family, make sure your tickets are purchased by the end of this week.

Week of November 7: Set Your Budgets & Make Your Lists.

It’s very easy to get caught up in the spending spree that the end of the year often turns into. You don’t want to start out the New Year in debt though. Use this week to figure out a number in your head that you absolutely will not go over. This number will cover the cost of food, presents, travel, decorations, and everything else that comes along with the holiday season. Then use these three free Hoilday budget printables from us to help you organize your gift-buying so you stick to your budget. Additionally, write and address at least 5 cards a night this week. By the end of the week, you’ll have 35 done!

Week of November 14: Plan the Menus.

If you plan on hosting a holiday event at your house, whether it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner or some other holiday gathering, now is the time to plan the menu. Think about the drinks, appetizers, main course, and desserts you’d like to have, and try to keep it simple. Two great resources for clipping recipe ideas online and organizing those ideas are the free notes program, Evernote and the free virtual pinboard, Pinterest. Your goal for the week is to have a complete menu selected by Friday. By the end of the weekend, print out all the recipes you need for the big day and store them in a plastic sleeve in a kitchen drawer, and make your shopping list. Don’t forget to keep up your five-a-night holiday card habit too.

Week of November 21: Get a Sparkle On.

One of the most stressful parts of having company over can end up being how clean (or not clean) your house is for your guests. Create a “gratitude centerpiece” by having family members fill out these Thanksgiving printables and hanging them on branches in a vase. On Monday and Tuesday, concentrate on getting everything in order in stages. On Wednesday figure out when each dish needs to be cooked, and if something can be prepared in advance. You might even want to get a jump-start on your Christmas or Hanukkah preparations by doubling any recipes that can be frozen. Enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with your loved ones.

Week of November 28: Get Your Gifts in Order.

Armed with your printed gift list, hit the Internet and get your shopping out of the way on Cyber Monday (starting here at GetButtonedUp.com). Send back any RSVP’s you’ve been putting off taking care of, and send your own holiday cards/invitations out. Then enjoy the time you have before the rush starts again, and treat yourself to at least one day of relaxation for a job well done.

Week of December 5: Deck the Halls.

Drag out those storage bins and start unpacking those decorations! It’s time to untangle those lights, trim the tree, and dust off those holiday cd’s. and playlists Also, if you have any gifts to buy that you haven’t already ordered online, this would be the week to do it. Ditto if you have gifts to ship.

Week of December 12: Set Up a Wrapping Station.

Clear off a flat working space, like the dining room table and organize scissors, paper, tape, and if you use them, gift tags, on the surface. Wrap a few presents every evening this week. If you don’t have wrapping paper, use a green alternative like newspaper, cloth bags, or put children’s artwork to good use.

Week of December 19: Seek Peace.


You are ready. It’s easy to get caught up in the rush, so slow down and enjoy your loved ones before the season is over.