Stay organized and prepared for every holiday with this super helpful guide. Your holiday organization starts here.
Every single holiday and season change requires a lot of planning, preparation, and organization. Instead of feeling like you are lost in a sea of events and to-do lists, follow this guide. You will learn how to prepare for every holiday, have less stress, and have the tools necessary for ultimate holiday organization.
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Some holidays are more stressful and busier than others. The time between Thanksgiving and New Years seems to be the craziest time of all.
How do you stay organized during the holidays when you just want to scream? You need some preparation and tools to get you through every holiday that comes up.
Being organized is about more than just pretty boxes with labels. It’s about saving time – no more rummaging through piles or dealing with chaos. It’s also about saving money. When you are prepared and organized, you aren’t overspending on things you already have, just because you can’t find it.
While each holiday presents its own set of needs, there are a few things you can do to prepare for every single one. This holiday organization guide will give you all the tools you need so you are prepared for every holiday.
The Busiest Holidays Of the Year
This holiday organization guide will be especially helpful for the busiest holidays of the year. Some holidays are pretty simple. They don’t involve a lot of travel or party planning.
These are the busiest holidays of the year, the ones that this guide will help you with the most:
- New Year’s Eve and Day
- Independence Day
- Memorial & Labor Day
How to Plan Food for the Holidays – Menu Planning Tips
Of all of the things you’ll plan for each holiday, making a menu can be the most stressful. But let’s look at a few things that will make menu planning a lot easier.
Create A Holiday Menu Binder
Creating a holiday menu binder will save you so much time every year. You can create one menu for each holiday, and then reuse that same menu every year.
If you have time, you can sit down and pre-plan the entire year’s worth of holidays all at once.
Or, you can also just plan the menu for the current holiday and then store it in the binder for next year.
Here is what to keep in your holiday menu binder:
- Holiday Name – Create a tab for every holiday that requires a meal plan. Then, within each tab, include:
- Menu – Including the main course, sides, and any allergies.
- Shopping List – this can be a blank one that you fill in or you can create a shopping list once, keep a master copy in your binder, and copy it every year.
- Notes – Anything you learned from the previous year’s menu
Make Shopping Less Stressful
One of the most stressful things about planning a menu is the shopping. But there are a few things you can do to minimize this stress and avoid the long lines at the store.
- Shop during off-peak times – Try to shop in the morning when most people are at work.
- Travel to smaller towns nearby – Often the smaller towns will have less crowds, and much less stress.
- Use grocery delivery – If you live in a metro area, look into things like Insta Cart. Ask your grocery store if they offer delivery. Some stores let you order online, and they will put the groceries in your car when you arrive.
Keep The Menu Simple
You will have a lot less stress if you keep the menu simple. Maybe only try one extravagant dish instead of all of them.
Other ways to keep it simple include using shortcuts (like pre-made foods), or only preparing 3 side dishes instead of 6.
Menu Plan in Blocks, Not All At Once
This is a personal preference. But if you are short on time, split up the menu-planning responsibilities into sections and accomplish them one at a time, instead of all at once.
Here are the simple steps to creating a holiday menu:
- Plan the meal type – Grilling, Pot Luck, Buffet, Family Meal
- Establish the main course – Ham, Turkey, Burgers
- Create a few side dishes – Include a salad, veggie, and some starchy sides
- Get a head count – How many are you going to cook for?
- Ask about allergies – Make sure you prepare for anyone that might have food allergies or sensitivities.
- Write the shopping list – put a heading for each dish you are going to make, so you don’t leave out any important ingredients.
- Schedule the cooking time – Put when you are going to make the meal on your calendar so you are prepared.
Holiday Decorations Storage
Whether you are trying to store cornucopias for Thanksgiving, plastic skulls for Halloween, or garland and lights for Christmas, there are a lot of home decorations you have to store. The last thing you want is to end up just throwing your decorations in the basement with no organization.
Tubs with Lids and Labels
Dedicate a tub – or more if you need – for each holiday. Don’t overstuff the tubs or plastic bins. If you store them with lids, they will be easier to stack.
Check prices right about the end of Christmas. Tubs with lids tend to go on sale right about that time.
Always label the tubs. This will make them easier to find when you need something.
How to Store Wreaths
The best way to store wreaths is to figure how you can hang them up. Either find space in a
Anna Moseley has a super easy tutorial for how to store wreaths. Follow her tutorial and you’ll be able to hang up your wreaths and find them at every holiday or season change.
How to Organize Small Decor
Trying to gather up loose small items in the bottom of big tubs is a huge waste of time. So how do you store and organize small items?
Reuse small containers like baby food jars, mason jars, or bubble gum containers. Find anything that can close and keep your items together.
Use shoeboxes and bubble wrap to store breakable small objects like snow globes and vases.
More Holiday Storage Solutions
There is a lot more to store than just home decorations. Some holidays have costumes and festive clothes, others have dishes and games.
Here are some holiday storage solutions for the rarely-used holiday items that only come out about once a year.
How to Store Gift Wrapping Supplies
Organizing gift wrapping supplies like gift wrap, tape, bags and tissue paper, can all be a huge headache. There are so many things involved in wrapping Christmas gifts, and it is really helpful to create a gift wrapping station to keep it all contained.
Use the Clutter Keeper Deluxe Hanging Gift Wrap Storage Organizer to easily sort and store every single supply you use. It has multiple sections perfect for every item you’ll need.
Hanging up your gift wrapping supplies really streamlines everything. It keeps it sorted while freeing up surface space. Plus, you can easily see and grab everything you need the minute you need it.
Here are some ideas of what to store in the Hanging Gift Wrap Storage Organizer:
- Gift Wrap Tubes
- Gift Bags
- Gift Tags
- Tissue Paper
- Gift boxes (can be store flat)
How to Store Seasonal Dishes
Every holiday has the chance to use those fun dishes – the ones with pumpkins, or bright spring colors, or deep reds and greens. To store seasonal dishes, you need a system that cares for their fragility.
The best way to store fragile dishes is in a cabinet. Investing in a quality china cabinet will extend the life of your dishes.
If you need to store it in a box, choose an extra-sturdy one with firm sides and a lockable lid. Make sure you are minimizing the chance of accidentally dropping it.
Seasonal serving platters can be stored on top of your tall kitchen cabinets. Be sure to cover them with a towel to prevent dust from forming on them.
How to Organize Holiday Games
Do you own board games or other games that you only play at certain holidays? Keep them in their own box. If you want to extend the life of your games, take them out of their box. Store the pieces in a zipped pouch with the instructions and label the back of the game board so you know which is which.
How to Store and Organize Costumes and Holiday Clothes
First, understand why you are keeping old costumes and holiday clothes. Will they be usable next year? If not, donate them or throw them away.
If you are keeping costumes to be reused by the next child, store them in a garment bag and either hang them up or lay them flat in a shallow box.
How to Organize Your Holiday Budget
Part of keeping yourself organized through every holiday, is keeping your spending under control too. That’s why a budget is so important. Here are some ideas that will help you organize your budget during the holidays.
If you are techy, use a budget app to keep track of your spending. There are some fantastic apps out there that are super easy to use. Some of the most popular ones include You Need A Budget and Mint.
Decide how much you have available to spend and stay within that budget.
Use A Printable Budget
If you prefer to make a temporary budget on paper, you can always just use a pen and paper.
In fact, Frugal Fanatic has a free blank printable budget worksheet you can print. It has places for income and lots of spaces for expenses to make it really easy to plan and track.
Allow for Surprise Expenses
Life isn’t perfect. So as you are planning and budgeting, always plan extra money for those surprise expenses. (Like if Cousin Eddy came over with his dog!)
Holiday Travel Organization
Traveling during the holidays can be as stressful as a bunch of McAllisters in an airport. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Kevin’s family didn’t have smartphones.
Use A Trip Planner
The easiest way to organize your holiday travel is to use a trip planning app or website.
One of the trip planning websites and apps is TripIt. You just create an account, then send every confirmation email to TripIt. All your tickets, rental bookings, and hotel stays are saved in your account. It will create an easy-to-follow itinerary and even send you reminders.
Set Reminders & Use A Note App
If you would rather do it yourself, use a note app – like Notes in iPhone or Evernote for all devices. Create a folder for your upcoming trip. Here, you can store confirmation numbers, pick up times, and anything else you need for your trip.
Always set reminders or alarms for each thing you’ll be doing – such as boarding times or reservations.
How to Organize Your Life During the Holidays
Why do the holidays bring out the crazy in all of us? It’s true, they do. But you don’t have to lose your mind when things get really busy.
Here are some ideas to help you organize your life during the holidays. The biggest tip, though, goes for all types of organizing. Know how much room you have and don’t overfill. This includes your schedule, your budget, and your life.
Create A Holiday Command Center
If you haven’t created a command center before, the holidays are the perfect time to start. This is a visual place where you can keep track of schedules and tasks.
Our post about family command centers will give you some ideas. All you need for a useful command center is a blank wall, calendar, a place to hold notes and lists, and a pen or marker. Things can get as creative or as simple as you choose.
The holiday command center should have the following features:
- Tasks to accomplish – keep your to-do list visible and mark off things you get done
- Calendar with deadlines – mark party dates and volunteer activities
- Things that need mailed – keep a spot for anything that needs put in the mailbox so you don’t forget.
Planner Ideas and Tips
Some people adore paper planners. Whether you call it a planner, agenda, or date book, these things can save your sanity.
Keep track of upcoming parties, deadlines, and other things you agreed to do. You can also prevent yourself from being double booked or accepting too many things if you can see what you’ve already agreed to do.
Best Apps for To-Do Lists and Reminders
There are a lot of apps that send push notifications and reminders. This is super helpful so you can just set up your list and let the phone remind you. It frees up your brain to focus on other things.
These are the highest-rated productivity apps for both iOS and Android:
How to Say NO
By far, the best way to stay organized during the holidays is to only take on as much as you can handle. This is much easier said than done. But it is so important to say no to things so you can take care of yourself.
First, set your own limits. Before the holidays even start, decide how much time you have and don’t volunteer or accept more responsibilities than what can fit in your day.
Next, be firm. Tell people, “I’m sorry, I really don’t have time.” Stick with it.
Finally, if you must accept something else, let another thing go. Don’t juggle more than you can handle.
How to Prepare for Every Major Holiday
Whether you are trying to prepare for Easter, Independence Day, or Christmas, there are a few ways to prepare that will save your sanity and your time.
When to Start Preparing
When you start preparing for the upcoming holiday depends on how much you’ll have going on. If you know that Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years are always chaotic, prepare for them a month or more ahead of time.
It is never too early to start preparing. The worst thing you can do is wait until the last minute.
Buy Holiday Decor On Sale the Day After
Save money on holiday supplies and decorations by buying it the week after the holiday. When you stock up on supplies for next year, keep them in a well-labeled and sturdy box.
How to Organize Your Gift List
Organize your gift list either on your computer or on a paper. Choose a way that is most comfortable for you.
If you want to keep track of gifts on your computer, use a spreadsheet program. There are lots of free gift list spreadsheet templates that you can download.
If you prefer to hand write your list tracking, use this printable gift list. This is a simple one – you just write down who you are buying for, where you bought it, and whether it is wrapped.
How to Clean Up After Every Holiday
Cleaning up after each holiday is incredibly important. It is at this time that you have the opportunity to throw away anything that is broken or give away anything you didn’t use.
Here is how to clean up after every holiday:
- Throw things away – Anything that is broken, missing pieces, or falling apart – it all needs to go in the trash.
- Donate – Before you begin putting things away, look at your holiday box. What is in there that you didn’t use this year? Give it away. Only keep what you use.
- Put everything away gently – prevent your decorations and other things from breaking in the boxes.
- Deep clean your home – this is when you sweep, mop, and make the rooms look like new.
Who Can Help – How to Delegate Holiday Tasks
While trying to do everything yourself might seem like it is saving you time and money, in the end you could get more accomplished if you delegated.
Look at your list and decide who can help you. What on that list can you let go of?
What Chores Kids Can Do
The first place you should look for help is your kids. If they already have chores that they help out with, offer holiday preparations as bonus chores.
There are lots of chores kids can do to help prepare for and clean up after the holidays.
- Cleaning the floors
- Creating labels for boxes
- Sorting boxes
- Taking out the trash
Hired Help That Is Worth The Money
Hiring help for holiday prep and clean up is worth the money. It will free up your time so you can focus on yourself and your family. Plus, these services are professional, with experience that can help you solve your organization problems.
1. Professional Organizers
A professional organizer will come to your house and help you sort and organize all your things. This is significant. With the help of a professional organizer, you will find more space and see with fresh eyes some of the habits that are causing you to be disorganized.
2. House Cleaners
Some people hire house cleaners for certain times of year when they really don’t have time or energy to mop, dust, and wash windows. Hiring house cleaners alleviates so much stress.
3. Meal Delivery
These days meal delivery means so much more than takeout. Now you can order all the ingredients and instructions for healthy meals, right to your door. Some companies even deliver complete meals, all pre-made.
Give yourself a break and search for ways you can outsource some of your duties.
The holidays are a crazy time for everyone. But if you glean a few nuggets of truth from this guide, understand that with a bit of holiday organization tools, you can conquer every holiday problem.
More Holiday Organization Help
This guide is very thorough. But if you want more holiday ideas and tips, here are some more useful articles.