Holiday Help: Planning and Preparation Tips

Here are some of my favorite tips to help you have a more organized holiday.

  • Holiday card list: Many families love to send an annual holiday card. Instead of going through your address book or saving envelope labels, create a list of recipients on your computer. The list can be a simple MS Excel spreadsheet of names and addresses. Alternatively, addresses can be input as a set of labels using the mail merge in MS Word. Keeping your card list electronically will save you time next year, and allows for easy edits in case someone’s address has changed.
  • Gift list: Creating a list of gift recipients can help you stay organized and avoid  the last minute gift rush. Pick a date each year, such as the day after Thanksgiving or December 1st as the time to start working on your gift list. In addition to names and gift ideas, you may want to include a budget item next to each recipient. Ideally, create your list as a spreadsheet so you can easily update it. You can also keep a rolling tally of how much you have spent. With an electronic list you will have the template from year to year, and can also keep a list of what you give each year; this avoids the situation of giving Uncle Kevin the same tie or CD each year.
  • Gift center: You bought the toy your child wanted when it was on sale in October, and a special gift for your mom during summer vacation, but where are they now? If you purchase gifts during the year, or can’t find gifts you know you bought, establish a dedicated “home” for gifts. Use a clear box, such as the Sterilite ClearView boxes as your gift center. Keep your gift center in a closet or attic, and each time you purchase a gift, add it to the box. When it’s time to think about holiday gifts, open the gift center and see what you have – you may discover that you already have gifts for several people on your list!
  • Wrapping center: Wrapping gifts involves many different supplies such as wrapping paper, tissue paper, bows, gift tags, tape, and scissors. Searching for these items or purchasing duplicates can waste time and money. Keep all needed supplies in a wrapping center – a box, bin, or wrapping paper holder, such as the Rubbermaid Wrap N’Craft. If you like to buy wrapping paper or bows on sale after the holidays, having a dedicated wrapping center can help you avoid purchasing three rolls of the same kind of paper, but not having any gift tags.
  • Holiday recipes: Many families like to make special recipes for the holidays. In my family it’s gingerbread cookies, spiced nuts, and fruitcake. To easily find your holiday recipes each year, keep them in a dedicated spot: a colored folder, special section of your recipe file, or in clear sheet protectors in a binder. Keep the recipes in a place that makes sense to you: with your regular cookbooks, or with your holiday decorations for example. If you also make special food gifts each year, keep these recipes together in a separate file. If you find a recipe for a candy or cookies in a magazine in September that you’d like to make, cut or print the recipe out and place it in your file. When you're ready to get cooking, you'll be all set.