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Organizing Tips for the Holidays: Expert advice from 53 bloggers

How do you stay organized at Christmas time? A huge list of tips and tricks for keeping your family and your life organized during the holidays. " From planners to schedules to decorating to activities - it's all here! I could spend a LONG time on this one post!

I have such a treat for you today! I asked some of my blogging friends for some advice. 53 of them responded!

These women (and one man) are so organized – I am inspired to redouble my own efforts at an organized Christmas season.

What is your best tip for staying organized during the holidays?

1. Jennifer Rudd of The Halfway Homemaker

I use my phone as my personal holiday assistant. I keep a google doc spreadsheet with my holiday budget, and how much I have allocated for each person and how much I have spent so far. I also have a few memos – one for things I need to buy for decorating and cooking, and one for presents I need to buy. I also list any coupons I have on a third memo so I can make sure I am saving as much as possible. And of course, I use my google calendar to keep track of any events, shipping deadlines, days set aside for baking and preparing gifts, etc. I always have my phone on me, so I don’t have an excuse to go crazy at a store with no clear purpose.

2. Kristia of Family Balance Sheet

We keep a December calendar posted on the refrigerator with all of our family events. December is super busy with not only holiday activities, but school events and swim meets too. This helps our kids keep track of what’s coming up and what they have to look forward to. It also serves as their count down to Christmas instead of them asking me every 5 minutes, “how many more days to Christmas?”

3. Hilary of Pulling Curls

Put the important things first, make sure you schedule in the things you REALLY want to do with family and friends, and let the other things fall where they may.

4. Manuela Williams of A Cultivated Nest

I like to write out a timeline of everything that needs to be done and everything I want to do and keep that in my home management binder. What I need to buy for special meals, presents, activities, parties, decorating, when to start baking. All the things that need to be done so I can cross them off as I do them.

5. Tara of We Got Real

My best tip for staying organized during the holidays is to keep the holidays simple. Fewer gifts, learning to say no to excessive commitments, and cutting down on the parties will naturally help you stay more organized because there is less to actually do. For the absolute necessities, I keep a large dry erase calendar in my kitchen. Everything gets put on the calendar to make sure we are all on the same page. Daily commitments, meal plans, and a running to-do list are all in one central location.

6. Alina Joy Dubois of Good Old Days Farm

While the idea of a holiday table set with beautiful, sparkling china is warm and inviting… the reality is that meal clean up is a lot of work. If you have a large family or a lot of guests dinner clean up can be time-consuming and overwhelming! Feel free to use paper plates! The reality is that years from now people won’t have fond memories of your beautiful china on your table but they will remember the time spent together as a family… and using paper plates will allow you to spend time enjoying your family rather than washing up in the kitchen.

7. Becky Kopitzke of Time Out with Becky Kopitzke

For me, organization is all about focus! This year, I’ve chosen just two goals for my holiday season: (1) to celebrate Jesus, and (2) to make memories with my husband and children. Any tasks that do not directly relate to those two goals get chopped from our to-do list. The cookie exchange with friends – gone. Sending 100 Christmas cards – we’re still debating.

Ultimately, saying “no” to one thing means opening up time and resources to say “yes” to something else — something that directly meets our two key goals. It’s darn near counter cultural, but wow does it ever help us keep our spirits high and our schedule organized!

8. Becky Heinemann of Milo & Oats

My best tip for keeping the holidays organized is to PLAN AHEAD! My idea of a good time is curling up with a notebook, calendar, and a pen for some planning time. Seriously, it is so helpful. I plan out family activities, gifts to buy, any special menus needed, etc. I try to keep things simple! So make yourself a cup of hot cocoa and spend a few minutes planning your holiday. You will be happy you did!

9. Bethany Herwegh of The Glamorous Housewife

I know I get overwhelmed when I feel like I have to do everything that comes with the holidays, so each year I set a few goals early and use them when I get overwhelmed. For example, if my holiday goals are to have a gorgeous tree and presents purchased, wrapped, and shipped by December 15th, I don’t make myself crazy by adding things to my list that take away from my targets. By picking a few main objectives to focus on I don’t feel like I have to do it all!

10. Stacey Freeman of Posh In Progress

I’m a new mom to a two year old and a 10 month old and I work full-time, so finding time to do anything extra is a challenge. Instead of
letting the holidays stress me out, writing lists and keeping an organized calendar is the only way I get things done. I keep my schedule organized using Google calendar so my phone tells me where I’m supposed to be. I write a lot of lists to make sure I’m checking off my to-dos.

We bought super inexpensive whiteboards at Home Depot. Each Friday, after work, I write my must-do list for the weekend ahead. As I complete a task, I literally write a line through it on the whiteboard. This gives me a sense of accomplishment and I can see my progress.

11. Tanya Fierro of My Fruitful Home

I use a plain red or green lined notebook. I make a list of all the people I need to buy for with ideas of what they may like and price limits. I also list stocking stuffer ideas for my kids and any dessert or cookies I’d like to make during the holidays.

12. Jenny of Women with Intention

Each year we make a bucket list to determine our priorities and get everything on the calendar. This way we are able to do the things we love and know when we need to say no! It saves us from being overbooked and stressed out!

13. Shelly Olson of Frugal Family Home

We stay organized around our house by having a plan. Without a plan nothing would get done around here. I plan what I’ll be purchasing, making and baking to give as gifts. I even have a set day every year to put up the Christmas decorations and take them down. It’s not a fancy plan, just a list written down on paper.

We also have a family calendar we put all the things we want to do in the month of December on. Then once it’s full, something has to go, before another item to be added. Having the calendar helps to make sure we get to do the things that are most important to us as a family.

14. Ann Smith of Ann’s Entitled Life

My best tip is to hire a cleaning service. Seriously. It forces you to pick up so the cleaning ladies can actually clean.

15. Lisa Sokolowski of Drugstore Divas

With Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and random deals all holiday season long, it’s really easy to lose track of what you’ve already purchased — causing you to overbuy and overspend. The easiest way to stay organized is to create a Google Doc. List everyone you need to shop for and, each time you purchase a gift, add it to the list. Since you can also access Google Drive from your phone, you can have this list handy when you’re out shopping. If you see something you want to buy, double check your list to make sure you need to buy it.

You can even password protect your documents in Google Drive, so you don’t have to worry about little eyes snooping and trying to figure out what Santa bought them (you still can’t password protect the attic, though, so make sure you hide those presents good!)

16. Mary Moseley of Be PhotoWise

Get Those Photos onto the Computer!

Of course, the most important step in saving (and organizing) your digital photos is to transfer the photos from your camera or camera phone (remember to save those photos, as well!) to your computer. But this is where the real photo organizers separate themselves from the masses.

How often do you transfer your photos?

Some followers suggest after every event, others upload once a month. But it seems that everyone agrees it is best to upload regularly – perhaps the first week of each month – to make sure you are saving those great shots on your camera.

17. Teresa Mears of Living on the Cheap

You can’t beat the old-school paper list. I like to use the four corners of a sheet on a legal pad, so I can organize to-dos into different categories.

Shop for gifts all year for family and friends, and buy things as you see them.

Identify the experiences and traditions that provide joy for you and your family and focus on those. Don’t force yourself to get involved with obligatory “gifts” and other parts of the holiday that only stress and no joy. If your family’s traditions aren’t working for you, suggest a change.

18. Jayleen Zotti of How Do The Jones Do It?

Christmas is my favorite time of year! It can also quickly become the most stressful time of year. In order to stay organized and keep my sanity, I make a list of things to do. Somehow, list making calms me down. The biggest key to a stress-free Christmas is taking it one. step. at. a. time. Before you know it, you will see you’ve climbed a lot of steps!

19. Meeghan Mousaw of Mrs. Karle’s Sight and Sound Reading

To keep the holidays organized, I like to prepare as much ahead of time as I can. I create dishes that taste good when made a few days ahead of time. Then when the time comes, I can just enjoy time with others instead of worrying about cooking or preparing anything.

20. Katie of The Green Homemaker

My best tips for keeping the holidays organized is to keep things minimal and simple! Don’t take on too much and keep outings and gifts to a minimum if you can. Only do what you can handle in whatever season of life you are in aNd that will really help you stay organized.

21. Carrie Lindsey of Carrie Elle

Budget!! A simple spreadsheet or handwritten list can really help keep your costs under control. It’s no fun to finish the Christmas season broke…a budget can really help you keep your spending on track.

22. Bree Brandes-Courtney of Bree Talks

My best tip for staying organized during the holidays is to plan ahead and make lists! Writing things down keeps you organized, helps you remember and gives you such great satisfaction when you get to cross something off the list! Keep them short, but concise so that you’re not overwhelmed and recruit help when you can! Happy Holidays and Happy Planning!!

23. Aarn Farmer of Grocery Shop for FREE at The Mart

One thing my wife and I do to keep it organized and save money is to do most of our shopping online. We create a list of who we need to buy for and an idea of what they want or what we would like to get for them and create a budget we need to stick to. Then we just keep our eyes open for great deals or subscribe to a “Deal Alerts” site that will send you texts when what you want goes on sale anywhere.

As the packages come in, we write the name of the person it’s for on the box and stack them in the closet until it’s time to wrap them. About 10 days before Christmas, if there are still things we haven’t bought on our list, we usually just order them from Amazon. It makes shopping a million times easier than the old way of fighting crowds and weather in the stores!

24. Sarah Miller of Coddled Little Life

Ohhh, so many lists!! I make an Excel spreadsheet every year that keeps track of what we’re giving to everyone, how much it cost/will cost, and whether it’s been purchased yet. It also includes birthdays so I have a record of what we’ve given over the years.

I always make a list of what holiday baking I WANT to do, as well as what I’ve committed to do (and by when!). When I’m hosting anything, I make a list of any extra chores or tasks that need to be done beforehand — everything from last-minute cleaning the powder room to starting the slow cooker for my famous hot cocoa!

25. Mathew Cantagallo of Men Clean

The best way for keeping the holidays organized is thru delegation and task sharing! One mom or dad can not do it all, so the key is to divide and conquer – split the tasks up between Husband and Spouse. Delegate some things also to the kids (at least ones of age) such as cleaning up, prepping Christmas cards, tidying up house for guests, other chores etc.

Where most people go wrong during the holidays is counting on a “super mom” or “super dad” to cover all the bases independently – cook, clean, gifts, wrapping, entertaining, work events etc.. Being a “one-man-band” of sorts to handle all tasks and prep can be overwhelming and stressful.

26. Shari Lynne of Faith Filled Food for Moms

Make a list and do a little everyday.

27. Rosenda Valenzuela of Little Pink Casa

Take 5 min. to write a to do list the night before. This will keep you focused and prioritize what really matters.

28. Sharon Rowe of How To Get Organized At Home

Use a diary or calendar and plan.

29. JoDee Mason of A to Z for Moms Like Me

Keep it simple silly! (KISS) Our family does 3 gifts for Christmas, 1 want (from santa), 1 need (clothes), and 1 spiritual gift. Only having to worry about 3 gifts per child takes a LOT of the stress and chaos off of the Holidays and it’s easy to stay organized and know exactly what each child needs or has already.

I try to get the gifts bought and wrapped as soon as possible so that I can relax the rest of the month and focus on neighbor goodies, Christmas baking and other things. Plus the sooner all the gifts are wrapped the sooner we can put away all the wrapping supplies.

30. Lindsey T of Everyday Originals

My best tip for keeping the holidays organized is to not overcomplicate anything! We’re all busy, in all aspects of our lives, especially during the holidays. Utilize the many ways to simplify such as: online shopping, simple recipes, tried and true cooking (not the time to start experimenting in the kitchen!), uncomplicated gift wrap, etc.

By simplifying where you can you’ll find that you’re much more organized over all which results in a happier, more enjoyable holiday season!

31. Amiyrah Martin of 4 Hats and Frugal

My best tip for keeping the holidays organized is to ration and list. Keep a tangible list of the people you have to buy for with you at all times. So when you find a good deal on a gift while you are out and about, you can purchase and immediately cross that person off the list.

Ration out how many gifts you will buy for each person. I find that if we go over 2 gifts per friend or family member, we get frazzled and go over budget.

32. Erica of Raising Munchies

For me I try to keep it simple. I try to not take on more than I can handle or to overcommit myself. I find that the more I stretch myself, or our schedule, the more disorganized things get.

33. Lori Tullis of Frog’s Lilypad

Plan ahead and be prepared. Don’t wait until the last minute to work on things if they can be completed ahead of time.

34. Cara W. of Stylish+Geek Blog

It can be really crazy during the holidays with parties, shopping, school events, and home preparations. I really rely on our family shared online calendar. This way when a member of my family needs to schedule an event they can easily see if we have anything planned that day or if it’s open. I use it to jot down ‘Mom is busy with tasks’ so that my family knows my schedule too.

35. Whitney Cornelison of Beauty in the Mess

With four children, a business, and a husband with a crazy work schedule, it takes work to stay organized during the holiday season. I have my handy dandy paper calendar so I can look at the month at one glance. In it we have scheduled family outings and get-togethers that align with our goals of being intentional with relationships and focusing on the true meaning of the Holidays.

36. Jennifer of At Home With Jen

I use Wunderlist (it’s a free app) that syncs with your desktop, phone, laptop and tablet. Anywhere I go I have my updated list with me!

37. Karen of The Saving Cents Mom

One thing that I do during the holidays to get organized is use a Present Checklist. I have a lot of family and friends to buy for so I first write all of their names down on the Present Checklist. As I buy or order their presents, I record the information including the name and price of the item.

I like to keep track of how much I spend so I stay within my budget and spend about the same amount on all of my nieces and nephews. Using a Present Checklist helps me to stay organized and on budget during the holidays.

38. Jessica Holmes of Candle in the Night

My best way to stay organized during the holidays is to keep it simple and not try to do EVERYTHING! If I sat down and made a list of everything I wanted to do, I’d go crazy trying to do it all. Instead, I take things one day at a time and don’t sweat it if something doesn’t get done. We decorated the two days after Thanksgiving. When we were mostly done, I stuck what was left back in the boxes and put them out of sight.

If I have time to go back and finish, I will, but if not, I’m not worrying about it. Same goes for activities. An overfull calendar is stressful, not fun. And it certainly doesn’t help you stay organized. Instead, look at a few days at a time. If you notice you’re going to have an open day, decide if you want to do something special. When you go through this season at a more relaxed pace, you’ll find that you enjoy it a lot more!

39. Melissa Ringstaff of A Virtuous Woman

Planning ahead and making lists really helps me to stay organized during the holidays. At the beginning of December I make lists – menus, lists of cookies and treats I want to make, lists of activities or traditions I want to include in our calendar, and shopping lists.

40. Christine Tolhurst of Saved By Grace

I stay organized by doing it the old fashioned way; by making lists. I also make sure I don’t overbook myself as well to avoid holiday burnout and from my organizational practices from unraveling. I also make sure to take plenty of time to rest and recover. Being tired and over-busy is a recipe for organizational disaster.

41. Leesha D. Chamberlain of Living Contentedly

My best tip for staying organized (and on budget) is making my list and checking it…multiple times! I make a gift list that includes everyone we need and want to shop for as well as our gift ideas, exact budget, and purchase date.

42. Erica Lynn Ryan of Girl, Organized

Lists, lots of lists. What presents to buy (who they are for, where to buy them, price etc.), what I need to bring to an upcoming party, and many more.

43. Alli March of Scattered Squirrel

This time of year can be really hectic and crazy busy. To make sure you’re not taking on too much use a planner and colour-code your to-dos by priority. Your MUST do items, such as attending those school Christmas concerts or buying the ingredients for your baking should be the most vivid so you don’t miss them. Then schedule the NEED to do items in another, and finally the WANT to do items in a third.

This way you don’t over commit yourself and have time to enjoy the spirit and festivities of the season. If it’s not a must, need or want, just kindly say no!

44. Barb Hoyer of A Life in Balance

My tip: discuss priorities with your spouse. Make sure you’re in agreement in case something new comes up. Also decide which priorities are non-negotiable.

Getting a Christmas tree might be non-negotiable while sending out a holiday card might be. Or you may decide to send the holiday card out after New Year’s if everyone in the family gets sick, and you don’t have time to do a mailing before Christmas.

45. Jennifer Pepito of Homeschooling For The Whole Family

My best tip for keeping the holiday organized is keeping it simple. For my seven children I typically buy something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read. I stow all the gifts in my closet as I purchase them and then have a few sessions of sorting and making sure my gift purchasing has stayed even among the children.

On December 23rd, I will spend several hours wrapping it all.

We also keep simple traditions. We read through the Jesse Tree every day, open a chocolate advent calendar and go to one or two Christmas performance depending on what tickets are on sale or what our friends or children are performing in. By keeping the focus of Christmas on time; time for cuddling by a fire reading stories together, or cutting and decorating sugar cookies, or even just watching a Christmas movie, we build sweet memories that will last a lifetime.

My children will not remember elaborate decorations or even piles of presents, but merry times together, along with a few special presents, will stand out in their minds forever.

46. The Rockin’ Housewife of The Rockin’ Housewife

Our holidays are extremely busy. Not only do we host both Thanksgiving and Christmas, we have three birthdays, and an anniversary, in between.

For me, finding a way to stay organized, was the only way to keep my sanity.

My first step is to print out blank calendars for November and December. I typically sit down right away and fill in my “plan”, in pencil. Start with the big events, and then start penciling in the tasks leading up to the event.

I plan my baking days, my food prep days, and my deadline for stuffing their little stockings. I try to make sure that almost everything is done before the day of the event. This takes away the stress, and allows me to actually enjoy that day.

My final tip is to start early. Nothing causes chaos and unorganization, more than rushing things. Give yourself time to prep, prepare and clean up. This will ultimately save you time, in the long run.

47. Kim Rowley of Kim’s Shopping Blog

I’m a pen and paper list gal. I have a daily dated planner that I keep track of all appointments, etc. Each month has a “Notes” section where I have several lists. One is list each of person I need to buy for along with items on their wish list that I can cross out and note when bought. I also make a list of groceries I need to buy for baking Christmas cookies and candy. And my favorite list is scratch off when done is a cleaning list!

48. Michelle Varga of Dishes and Dust Bunnies

I find that the best way for me to stay organized during the Holidays is to create a spreadsheet in where I can keep track of the budget and gift lists all in one place. I use OneDrive to store the file so I can access it on my phone while I’m doing my shopping. This makes it much easier to keep track of everything!

49. Melissa George of A Polished Habitat

My best tip is to WRITE IT DOWN. Get a small notepad for your purse and use it for all of your various lists. Make separate pages for gift ideas, to do’s, grocery lists, party dates, and anything else you need to remember. We even keep a running list of what we’ve spent on gifts to keep us aware of the budget. Having everything in one notebook keeps us organized, and more importantly, sane!

50. Nicole Brooks of Little Blog on the Homestead

Stay calm! Make a list of what you have to do and cross it off one at a time, stick to your budget and remember that no matter what does or does not get done the holidays are all about family and togetherness and as long as you’ve got that you’re fine!!

51. Brooke Buttitta of Diary of a Determined Momma

It might be the millennial in me, but my smart phone is my secret weapon for holiday organization. I use Google docs to keep my shopping lists and schedules in order for this time of year. That way I can take it with me, from the computer to my phone, while I’m out shopping and visiting with family

52. Lena of What Mommy Does

To keep my holidays organized, I always use printables. Writing everything down helps me get my to-do list out of my head and on a piece of paper where I can mark off items as they are completed. For instance, I will print out a Christmas menu planner, write down all the meals I plan to make while family is visiting, then write out a shopping list for those meals. I also use printables to plan, budget, and shop for Christmas gifts. I like using a template that keeps track of gift recipients, gift ideas, estimated cost, actual cost, and whether or not the item has been wrapped and mailed. This way no one’s gift slips through the cracks!

53. Lisa Joy Thompson of Simplified Saving

What’s your best tip for staying organized during the holidays? Use Google Documents to save all important info. You can access it from your computer and if you have the app on your phone, you can use it while you’re out and about too! I have 1 document with the names of all the people I’m shopping for, what’s been purchased, how much I spent, etc. I have another document with all the presents that have been wrapped and what’s in them. I number my packages 1-100 (or however many I have) and list what’s in the present and who it’s for in my google doc. It keeps my teens and my twins from opening the packages that are specifically for them. (I learned this the hard way). You can also create docs with grocery lists, party ideas, guest lists and more. The best part is that next year you can refer back to your lists so you don’t buy the same person the same gift or forget to invite people to your party! 🙂

Whew! That was a lot of great organizing advice!

Thank you so much to all the bloggers who participated. I hope you’ll go check out some new sites and find more helpful tips and tricks for being more organized at home.

Now it’s YOUR turn – how do you stay organized during the holidays?

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Welcome. I’m Sarah!

Sarah

I’m the creator of Decluttering School (formerly known as Early Bird Mom), lover of organized spaces, encourager to women and mom to four boys. Click here to read more!

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