Get organized for the holiday season with Christmas planning tips

95 Days to Christmas! Make a Master Gift List

Holiday gifts can amount to a substantial outlay of time, energy and money. Keep tabs on holiday giving with a Master Gift List: a single, central listing of holiday gifts and giving.

A Master Gift List is the go-to source to organize Christmas giving. Added to your Christmas planner, it'll record gift recipients and gift ideas, while you track costs, gift sources and a running budget tally.

Form is not important! Print a free master gift list and tuck it into your Christmas planner. Cyber-savvy? Tap a computer spreadsheet, or register with an online gift-list service to track Christmas gifts over the coming months.

Give your family the best gift of all--a debt-free Christmas--with a Master Gift List!

Master Gift List: A Holiday Shopper's Best Friend

96 Days to Christmas! Focus on Holiday Values

As we begin to think about the holiday season ahead, there's a crucial question to consider. What do you really want for Christmas?

Our ideas may differ in the details, but most of us want much the same thing: a seasonal celebration focused on faith, family and friends. We want the excitement of the season without the disruption that too often comes with it. We want to draw closer to those around us, not to be thrust apart by hectic schedules. We want to enjoy as well as prepare, and to keep the Christmas season in a manner that is joyous and spiritually centered.

How to tune into that holiday of your dreams? Take time today to focus on your family's holiday values.

This simple exercise--performed once privately, and a second time with family--will arm you against those forces that steal the joy from the season. Ready to focus on what the Christmas season is really about?

Before The Season: Focus on Holiday Values

97 Days to Christmas! Settle Into A Holiday Planning Center

In the weeks to come, planning for the Christmas season moves into high gear. To get into the seasonal swing in comfort, find a place in your home for an activity center devoted to Christmas planning.

Whether you choose a dedicated corner, chair or totable basket, make a home for Christmas planning materials--and the grace notes that inspire the holiday spirit. Having a comfortable, usable spot for Christmas organizing raises the spirits--and makes it easy to list, plan, decide and organize your family's celebration.

Get Organized! Create A Christmas Planning Center

98 Days to Christmas! Create a Holiday Budget

For many families, Christmas comes but once a year--then lingers on for months! Credit card bills arrive shortly after season’s end, not to be paid off until the following summer. Grocery budgets groan under the burden of holiday meals and baking supplies.

Nearly two-thirds of American families don't know the true cost of their own Christmas celebration--and if they did, they'd be shocked. That much ... for a single day?  Fight the seasonal spending spree with the financial tool of choice: a Christmas budget.

Using a written holiday budget to track Christmas spending brings a built-in reality check to seasonal decisions--and it can be fun to squeeze the most holiday joy out of the smallest expenditures! This year, take charge of holiday spending and give your family the best gift of all: a debt-free christmas.

Santa Savings: Make A Holiday Budget For A Debt-Free Christmas

99 Days to Christmas! Make A Christmas Planner

As we get ready for Christmas, we’ll be making lists (and checking them a lot more than twice!), holding discussions with spouses, children and parents, and drawing up a holiday budget.  

Too often, we record our plans piecemeal, consigning them to a confused clutter of scrawled envelopes, jotted notes and cryptic calendar entries—none of which make it to the shopping center with us when it’s time to buy gifts.

Organized people keep the results of their work in a central place!  Whether it's a simple lined notebook or a polished computer spreadsheet, your Christmas planner will be your guide and best friend as we prepare for Christmas day by day.

Click the link below to learn how to make a Christmas planner--your personal guide to relaxed and happy holidays:

Ready for Christmas:  Make a Christmas Planner

100 Days to Christmas! Set Up A Family Calendar

Key to keeping the stress out of the holiday season? Smart scheduling--and scheduling smart begins with the family calendar.

Family activities reach fever pitch during December, when every work, school and social group in existence insists on holding a holiday function. Even if you never rely on a family calendar the other eleven months of the year, a Christmas calendar is a must for an organized Christmas season.

Today, set aside time to print a holiday calendar for the remaining months of the year:

Simplify Your Holidays with a Christmas Calendar

101 Days to Christmas! Why Starting Early Makes Sense

Welcome to 101 Days to Christmas! This daily Web message is designed to help you prepare for the coming holiday season, one day at a time.

This year of all years, the holiday season will see substantial changes for many families.  Will we evolve our celebration to match our circumstances?  How will we reach for holiday joy in a world that faces serious challenges? 

I'm Cynthia Ewer, and I believe in the value of celebration, even during the darkest days.  That's why I've put aside my retirement to return this feature to the Web:  to help families find joy in the holidays. 

As we have since 2012, we'll spend the next 101 days breaking down Christmas planning into short, simple daily assignments.  Working one Christmas planning tip at a time, we'll get ready for the holiday season gradually, easily and as part of our seasonal fall celebration.

Working day by day, we'll get organized, set a holiday budget, and focus on gifts and giving. We'll tackle holiday cooking, get inspired to decorate, and round up favorite family traditions.

Along the way, we'll share recipes, decor inspirations and holiday celebration ideas for a fun, festive holiday season.  After the season, we'll observe the 12 Days of Christmas, then pack away the holiday for another year.

And we're getting an early start!  Why start planning for Christmas now? Here are six reasons why starting early makes sense:

Too Early to Think Christmas? Starting Now Makes Sense!