Avoid Holiday Chaos With an 8-Week Organization Plan

Written by Sarah Giller Nelson of Less is More
Updated November 5, 2014
Christmas dishes.
Before you unpack special dishes, be sure to declutter your pantry to make room for the serving pieces and ingredients you’ll use for those holiday favorites.
Photo by Doug McSchooler

From mailing Christmas cards to having Thanksgiving guests, prepare for more fun and less holiday stress.

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Planning ahead and doing a little at a time will help you to more fully enjoy spending time with your friends and family this holiday season. This planning calendar can help with holiday home organization and make the days ahead easier.

Week of November 1

• Create a comprehensive to-do list and a family holiday calendar to manage regular and seasonal tasks. Schedule all of your tasks on the calendar so they are guaranteed to get done. Posting the calendar in a central place will help ensure that everyone in your household knows what is going on when.

Smart tip: Have the calendar handy when you open up invitations or check email so it’s easy to add the event to the calendar

• Brainstorm gift ideas, noting each person's interests, sizes and style. Start a running list on your phone so you have the list on hand when you find yourself in stores.

Smart tip: Save yourself some time by shopping at stores that offer gift-wrapping services. If you buy online, have the gifts wrapped and shipped directly to their recipients.

Week of November 8

• Design, buy or order holiday cards and stamps.

• Declutter the pantry by removing expired food and mismatched plastic food containers. Put away summer-specific gadgets. This reorganizing will help you to find space for the ingredients you'll need to prepare holiday meals and create space for special pans and platters.

Week of November 15

• Assemble or update the mailing list for your holiday cards.

• Prepare the guest room for Thanksgiving visitors. Spend some time in the room to see what it needs. Free up some drawer and closet space so visitors can store their belongings. Stock the bathroom with plenty of toiletries. A luggage rack and a spare key are always helpful.

Week of November 22

• Address and stamp envelopes, then divide the envelopes into three groups.

• Make space in the coat closet for guest outerwear. Add hangars and donate unwanted coats to a local coat drive.

Thanksgiving weekend

• Write and stuff cards for the first group on your mailing list.

Week of November 29

• Write and stuff cards for the second group.

• Set up holiday decorations and schedule a time to buy any additional items you need.

Week of December 6

• Write and stuff cards for the third group of recipients.

• Mail the cards.

Week of December 13

• Declutter toys so there is space for new ones. Donate toys in good condition to your local park or women’s shelter. Toss anything that is broken or missing parts.

• Get all of your shopping done this week.

Week of December 20

• Prepare the house and guest room for Christmas visitors.

A final thought

Make sure to leave some “white space” in your calendar so you have time to truly savor all that the season has to offer. Also, use our declutter labels and checklists to stay on schedule.

About this Experts Contributor: Sarah Giller Nelson is the owner of Less is More, a Chicago professional organizing company inspired by a passion for beauty and order. Less is More has been organizing the homes of busy families since 2010. For more organizing tips and inspiration, visit their website or follow them on Pinterest.

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