5 Tips to Help You Stay Organized During the Holidays

The holidays are a very busy time of the year, as you know. From having to juggle family schedules, to special events, to preparing for the festivities, the additional tasks and responsibilities can be overwhelming, and exhausting.

In order to help you be prepared and plan for the holidays, I’m providing you with two checklists:

  1. In each of the following categories, identify what you truly deem as important and what you should focus on: decorations, food, activities, gifts, and feelings.
  2. Holiday Planner

The most important recommendation that I can make as you head into the holidays is truly comes down to knowing what really matters to you and your family, what are your priorities, and what experiences do you want to create with your loved ones. The solution to being and staying organized lies within the perimeters of these questions.

Here are some things to consider as you prepare to have a holiday experience with less stress and overwhelm, and more connection, peace and time with loved ones:

1. Decorations

a. Most precious pieces – let go of the others: Some of the pieces you have are the ones you love the most. Put those out first and should the other pieces not fit the vision you want for your holiday experience, put them away (or better yet, donate them now before the holidays so others may have them as their most precious pieces this holiday season).
b. Traditions – honour them. Talk about them. We all have holiday traditions that are very important to us. Honour them by living them while letting go of other traditions that no longer suit your holiday experience as circumstances and times have changed.
c. Legacy pieces – which pieces are they? Do you have pieces that were handed down to you, or that you want to leave for your loved ones? Put those in places that you will see every day as a reminder of how important they are. And talk about them. Share the story about these pieces so that your family members know the history and why it’s so important to you.
d. Less is more – not everything has to be out. Do not clutter your home with too many decorations. In this case, and in most cases, less is more. Go back to the experience you want to create (remember  – less stress and overwhelm too) and if what you have is too much, do not put those pieces out. Put them away or let them go.

2. Food

a. Plan your menu in advance. What experience do you want to create around the table with your loved ones? Plan your menu well in advance and begin your holiday purchases while watching the flyers or pick up items when it’s most convenient for you. This could mean shopping the grocery stores during quieter hours when there are less people and more time to enjoy the experience.
b. Pot luck is ok during the holidays. It’s a-ok to invite family and have them bring their favourite dish to your holiday dinner. The meal preparation does not have to fall exclusively on your shoulders. And if a loved one is hosting the meal, bring an accompaniment to assist in the meal preparation. Be cognizant that meal preparation is one of the biggest responsibilities that can lead to exhaustion and overwhelm. Be there for each other and start a new tradition of a pot luck dinner if it now time to do so.
c. Group baking together or online – use Zoom or Skype. At Women Living Fully, we host online events while we are in our own kitchens, logged into our private Zoom room, and we bake our holiday favourites together. We have a recipe exchange and together, we bake our holiday treats in a social and fun way, without leaving our homes. You can use this platform and idea to bridge the miles between you and your loved ones and friends, and host a baking event or a cooking event together.
d. Food prep before the event – what can you pre-cook or pre-chop before the day of the gathering? What can you make well in advance and freeze so that you have less food prep to do on the day of the family gathering?

3. Activities

a. Schedule them on a family calendar: Use a main calendar for all holiday activities (use this idea throughout the year) to ensure you know what events are coming up and what you will need to do in preparation for the events.
b. Plan in advance – which are most important? You do not have to say yes to every invitation. Again, come back to your priorities of what you want for this holiday season and be true to what is most important to you.
c. Set limits and budget: Limit the number of holiday activities you and your family have to avoid stress and holiday burnout. Be cognizant of your budget and  limit the amount you will spend as well.

4. Gifts

a. Gift wrapping station: Have all of your gift wrapping items in one location, in one storage container. You can purchase a long bin that can slip under a bed which houses your wrapping paper, ribbon, bows, gift tags, scissors and tape. Makes it easy to find and easy to store.
b. Christmas Gift List which includes: (see downloadable list below)
i. Name, item ideas, budget, purchased, wrapped
ii. Include receipts with the gift list (put it in a clear page holder)
c. Stay within budget: Money doesn’t buy love. Don’t go into debt to prove to someone that you love them. Give a meaningful gift that comes from your heart while staying within your budget.

5. Feelings: Overwhelm, Grief & Loss, Loneliness

a. Honour your feelings: It may be a challenging time for you or someone that you know. Honour your feelings and allow them to honour theirs too. This is not a time to shut down, suppress or numb what you are going through. Be honest with your feelings and honour them for they are real, and they are there because you have loved, and still love, so deeply.
b. Do not isolate: Do not say no to everything and isolate yourself. It is a time to be with others to reminisce, celebrate and love together. Choose to be with those who will support you and understand how you are feeling.
c. Visit in smaller blocks of time: Do not feel compelled to stay for an entire afternoon and evening. If you are feeling down, visit for a few hours, or stay for dinner, and politely excuse yourself after a set limit of time. It’s ok to be present with those you love and leave after a limited amount of time to take care of you.
d. Use technology (Zoom or Skype): If you are not feeling up to driving, use Zoom or Skype to connect with your family and friends. Participate virtually and enjoy being together.
e. Talk about deceased loved ones: This is important. Set the table and leave a place for them, should you wish. Talk about them and remember them, even if it hurts and people cry. It’s healthy to cry and it helps to move through grief when we honour those who have lost by talking about them and remembering them.
f. Cry and let your feelings out: Even if it’s in private or in front of others, let it out. It’s ok to feel and let your feelings come through.
g. Avoid or walkaway from drama: If tension builds up and drama begins to occur, walk away. Leave the room. You do not have to subject yourself to drama and
have it drag you down. Remember your priorities for your holiday experience. Stay true to you and say no to drama and negativity this holiday season.

Take care of you and what you deem is most important. Set boundaries and and stay true to the priorities that you set as you head into the holidays.

In order to assist you further, here is a downloadable version of this post, along with a Christmas Gift List that you can print to track your gift giving this holiday season.



Download: Organized for the Holidays Planner




Have questions? Need additional help? Reach out to me. I’d love to hear from you. If you have additional suggestions that may help others, share in the comments below.

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