How to Stay Organized This Holiday Season

The holidays are the most stressful time of the year for a lot of people.  Buying gifts, staying on budget, traveling, parties, and family events make this time of year crazy. Staying organized will help you combat some of the crazy and help you stay sane.

how to stay organized this holiday season

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Organize Your Gift List

Keeping a list of who you need to buy for and what you would like to get them will keep you on budget. It also makes shopping tons easier. You don’t go grocery shopping without a list, so why is Christmas shopping so much different? If your plan includes wandering through the stores until you see something you like, chances are you are going to spend a lot of extra time and money, and still find yourself unhappy with your gift choices.

If you are having a hard time finding the perfect gift for someone, check out this post all about finding gifts for the hard to buy for.

To organize your gift list, start with who. Make a list of the people you would like to buy for, then assign a budget for each person. Once you have established those two things, you can pop over to Amazon and start your shopping.

Plan Holiday Travel Early

Traveling around the holiday is super stressful. Traffic is awful, lines are long, and tempers are short. We are all in a hurry to get where we are going, and none of us are going to get there fast.

If you are planning on driving to your holiday destination, there are a few things you can do to make travel a bit easier.

  • Leave early in the morning. The early bird gets the worm, or in this case, a much emptier highway.
  • Let kids travel in PJ’s. To avoid wrestling children into real clothes at 5 am, let them travel in their pj’s. Pack the car, grab the kids and throw them in the car. They can change later in the day once they have joined the world.
  • Leave plenty of extra time. Chances are you won’t be going anywhere fast. Leave plenty of extra time to get where you need to be.
  • Have patience. And lots of it. You know it will be mayhem, getting upset about it won’t change anything. So listen to some holiday music, catch up on your favorite podcast, or try a book on tape. If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can listen to many books for free. Certainly a bonus at holiday time!

If you are flying to your destination a lot of the same things apply. Kids in PJ’s, a ton of patience, and leaving plenty of time before your flight are all good suggestions for holiday plane travel.  If you aren’t a frequent flyer, make sure you know the TSA rules for what can and can’t be brought through security.

Another tip I learned the hard way: Bring snacks with you, but no liquid. Prices at airport kiosks are sky high. I believe I paid $8 for a bottle of water and a small bag of Cheez-its and then I had to throw the water away before I went through the security checkpoint.  I begged the security guard, explaining I had just paid an outrageous sum of money for that bottle of water, but he was unmoved. Bring your snacks, buy your drinks once you get into the terminal.



Create a Menu for Holiday Meals

I am a big fan of meal planning for everyday life, but holiday meals are doubly important. We all know the stories of last minute runs to the grocery store for that one forgotten ingredient. Don’t be that guy.

Planning your menu not only keeps you from last minute emergencies, it also lets you plan for dietary needs for your guests. In my family, we have gluten-free folks (me!), diabetics, and my Dad is forever worrying about what he eats bothering his gout.  Planning my menu lets me make sure I have something everyone can eat. From the plain old picky eaters to those who are severely allergic to some foods.

Shhhh, this part is a secret! Planning your meal lets you purchase some things premade. Pies and hors-d’oeuvres are delicious even if they come from your local grocery store.  Stress less, buy a few things so you aren’t going crazy.

Stay Organized, Stay Sane!

Staying organized this holiday season will keep you from going quite so crazy. Create a gift list, plan your menu, and take a whole lot of patience with you if you are traveling this year.  Holidays are crazy, stay organized and stay sane.

Need a little help? Sign up for the monthly newsletter and get a free menu plan printable and a free gift list printable!




  1. Whitney

    October 31, 2017 at 12:43 pm

    Great post Michele! I just planned my holiday menu about 2 weeks ago. I agree, travel can be really congested during the holidays.

    1. Michele Cook

      October 31, 2017 at 3:35 pm

      Wow, you are really organized! Menu planning makes the holidays so much easier! Thanks so much for the kind words 🙂

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