Get organized for the holiday season with Christmas planning tips

26 Days to Christmas! Check Your Progress

It's the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and December's on the way.  With the turn of a calendar page, the season is upon us--and for most of us, our time is our scarcest holiday resource.

Today is the perfect time to check your progress! Sit down with the family calendar and evaluate where you are with holiday preparations.

How is gift-buying progressing? Are you nearly there ... or barely there? Make time to complete gift buying in the coming days.

How is holiday baking coming along? Will you need to pare down the list or oursource the goodies? What about crafts projects or handmade gifts? If they're not completed, it's time to tuck the UFOs away for another year.

Does the schedule include time for family and self-care? Block out a few afternoons or evenings for renewal--you'll head off last-minute frazzles and family meltdowns.

Ready or not, here it comes: the holiday season! Are you ready?

38 Days to Christmas! Check Bags And Containers

What's a holiday cook's best friend? Disposable food storage containers--and their convenient cousins, zipper food storage bags.

In the holiday kitchen, disposable containers hold baked goods for giving, keep leftovers in order and line up for mise-en-place duty during holiday cooking sessions. Lightweight and inexpensive, they nest neatly and travel well to new homes. Best of all, holiday themes and colors make a simple cookie gift more festive.

Take a moment today to check stocks of food storage containers and zipper bags. Need more? Add them to the shopping list and be on the lookout for holiday-themed containers at sale prices in coming weeks.

43 Days to Christmas! Plan Holiday Baking

Attitudes to holiday baking fall into two general categories: you love it, or you hate it. Whether you're dreaming of the Christmas bakefest as early as July, or dreading it as the season approaches, you need a plan.

A written holiday baking plan makes sense--and cents--of holiday baking chores. Knowing what you'll bake, how much you'll bake, and when you'll bake keeps the budget in line, and helps foster a realistic view of that scarcest of holiday commodities: your time.

Finally, if you bake for kitchen gifts, a written plan can track gifts completed, frozen or sent. Rolling pins ready?

Time for a baking plan: Holiday Baking Planner

49 Days to Christmas! Order Stamps and Shipping Supplies

Long lines at the post office are a true holiday hazard. Shorten your time in line by buying stamps while shopping at the supermarket, or ordering them by mail from the postal service.

For simplest shipping, use the USPS Print & Ship online service to buy and print mailing labels and arrange package pickup at your door.  Best, order free flat-rate mailing boxes directly from the United States Postal Service ... and did I mention that the boxes are free?

This year, USPS offers holiday-themed boxes, a sweet touch for a happy time. Order now and put the postal service to work ... for you!

Order Stamps and Mailing Supplies from the US Postal Service

51 Days to Christmas! Start a Christmas Card List

To send season's greetings--and not lose track of family, friends or your sanity--it's time to begin a Christmas card list. Whether you'll send Christmas cards, holiday letters, or transmit season's greetings by e-mail, starting early saves last-minute holiday stress.

Whether you print a Christmas card list or generate your list via computer power, start checking your list now. Tracking cards sent and received will bring a breath of blessed calm during the height of the holiday season.  Use the direct link below, or check the Christmas printables library to print Christmas planning pages.

Printable Christmas Card List

56 Days to Christmas: Recycle Mailing Boxes

With the holiday mailing season on the horizon, give Mother Earth a Christmas gift, too: reuse mailing containers and supplies.

Recycling packing materials makes holiday sense—and cents! As catalog orders are delivered, stockpile mailing boxes and use them for your own gift mailings.

Be sure to remove or cover older mailing labels; a permanent black marking pen makes it easy to obliterate shipping bar codes.

At the warehouse store, keep an eye out for sturdy boxes suitable for mailing, and repurpose them after you’ve used them to tote purchases home.

A "peanut" tip: it's easy to recycle styrofoam packing materials if you dump them into a drawstring plastic garbage bag. Close the drawstring for storage. When you're ready to pack your own boxes, snip wedge off a bottom corner of the bag. Pour your peanuts out the hole, then clip the corner closed with a potato chip bag clip. Neat solution!

57 Days to Christmas! Set Up a Wrap and Mail Center

Repeat after me: "This year, I won't be wrapping gifts at midnight on Christmas Eve!"

If there's a single most-underestimated holiday chore, it's gift wrapping. Supplies lie scattered throughout the house, while space and privacy are hard to come by. Translation: late-night Christmas Eve wrapping sessions.

Not this year! We're going to lick the wrapping problem at the outset, by setting up a wrap and mail activity center. With workspace, tools and supplies at hand, it’s easy to wrap as you go—and enjoy the task, without grump, grumble or hurry.

It's A Wrap:  Set Up A Gift Wrap And Mail Center

59 Days to Christmas! Inventory Holiday Video

Christmas movie night has become a cherished tradition in many families. Cuddling down together with popcorn and hot chocolate provides a needed stress break in a hectic season--and it's just plain fun, too. What's your family's favorite holiday film?

Today, make an inventory of holiday videos. Review CDs, downloads and streaming queue, and check the condition of the family film library. Rent or replace lost or damaged items, and add any new contenders to the online queue or shopping list. 


61 Days to Christmas! Gather Holiday Music

Holiday music: it can range from silly to sublime, but it sets the tone for a memorable season. What's the state of your family's holiday music library?

Whether you're hot for Handel or get down with the Little Drummer Boy, make a quick check of holiday music media. Gather up the Christmas CDs or set up a new folder in music apps for holiday music.

Add any new "gotta-have" tunes to the shopping list, or add them to gift lists--and sing in the season with holiday music!