The Complete Christmas Checklist for an Organized Holiday Season
Preparing for Christmas early is a savvy way of avoiding stress and chaos in the December holiday frenzy. It can be difficult to know exactly when you should start preparing and in what order you should complete tasks. If you are feeling stressed, spend a few minutes reading through these tips on how to beat holiday stress to put you back on the right track. Make the 2021 holiday season your most organized Christmas yet by planning ahead with this Christmas Preparation Checklist. Print the list and make Christmas preparations simple!
Start your planning now!
- Set a Budget: The first step for Christmas planning 2021 is to make a holiday budget that you can commit to. When planning your budget, consider the prices of gifts, holiday cards, decorations, travel, and Christmas Day and Christmas Eve meals. Looking at prices online is an easy way of gauging how much everything will cost.
- Create a Gift List: Start thinking about gifts early in your Christmas prep. Make a list of everyone you want to purchase gifts for, and then brainstorm ideas for each person. Planning your gifts ahead will help ensure that you have enough gifts for every person. Thinking about gifts far in advance is also important in case you need to buy something early, such as tickets to a popular play or game. Need some ideas? The check out some of our favorite gift ideas for the season!
- Schedule the Family Photoshoot: Do you want to use a family photo for your holiday card, but don’t have any recent ones? Find a time to get everyone together to take a family picture. There are many wonderful local photographers booking holiday sessions now or try your hand at taking your own.
The week ending November 6th
- Create a Holiday Calendar: Piece together a thorough Holiday Calendar like this one from Living Well which includes budget and grocery pages. Be sure to list out any family dinners, school recitals, and work parties so you can have a good understanding of what days will be free to accomplish some of your important planning tasks.
- Order Online Gifts: Get ahead of the game and begin ordering presents that must be purchased online by consulting the Christmas prep list you made in the earlier steps of this holiday organizer. They may take a long time to arrive, so the sooner you order, the better.
- Start Planning Your Christmas Card: Have you recently gotten married, had a baby, or moved into a new home? If so, you might want to select a Christmas card that announces that milestone. Consider what kind of Christmas card you want. Whether you want something simple and minimalist, modern and edgy, cute and funny, elegant and classy, or vintage and luxurious, there will be a card for you. Many online printers offer discounts for ordering early. Some of our favorites include Minted (promo code MERRY21) and Simply to Impress (promo code J2LIQF) but order soon!
The week ending November 13th
- Finalize Christmas Day Plans: Decide who among your family/friends is going to host Christmas. If you’re not hosting, prepare for Christmas by buying a ticket as soon as possible if travel is required to get to your host. Make any other travel arrangements you’ll need as well, like booking a pet sitter. If you are hosting, start planning the guest list. If there’s any chance guests will be staying in your home, plan where they’ll stay, and see if you need to do anything else to accommodate them.
- Create Your Christmas Card List: Begin making a list of who you want to send your Christmas cards to. Family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, service providers, emergency personnel. Maybe consider going further to include people who are living alone, your favorite local merchants, nursing homes, and US soldiers. Some online printers offer address printing to make mailing your Christmas cards much less time consuming. Organize your recipient addresses in a handy spreadsheet.
The week ending November 20th
- Audit Your Christmas Decorations/Supplies: The last thing you want is to be short on wrapping paper in the middle of wrapping gifts. And be on the lookout for a special Arrow & Bow Wrapping Pop-Up! You may be planning to shop on Black Friday or Cyber Monday after Thanksgiving. If so, check your stowed away boxes to see what Christmas supplies you already have from last year. Write down everything you need. You might also want to pick something up just for fun, such as holiday-themed napkins.
- Order Your Holiday Cards: After you’ve taken your photos and perfected your Christmas card design, it’s time to place your order. Beat the post office crowds by purchasing stamps now and have them on hand when you are ready to assemble your cards.
The week ending November 27th
- Buy a Christmas Tree: Turn this into a fun family event by going on an excursion to pick the tree as a group. Then, decorate the tree with your friends and family, using your old ornaments as well as any new ones you may have purchased.
- Shop Black Friday & Cyber Monday Sales: Once the Thanksgiving meal hangover has subsided, be sure to take advantage of the great sales that many companies launch during the following days to purchase gifts for your friends and family. Be mindful of your budget and keep your gift lists on hand. In addition to gifts and holiday supplies, you may consider buying other things like Christmas decorations, gingerbread house-making kits, or advent calendars. It’s always a good idea to buy some additional gifts to have on hand. It never hurts to have an extra bottle of wine or a box of chocolates to give to someone who unexpectedly shows up. And don't forget the batteries!
- Put Gifts in the Mail: Once you have all of your purchases, mail gifts especially to friends and family who live abroad, as it might take a long time to send.
- Communicate Christmas Party Details: If you are the host of the Christmas festivities this year, give your guests a plan. Include when they should arrive, what they should wear, and what they should bring. The sooner you communicate this to your guests, the sooner you’ll know if anyone has to arrive late, change plans, or cancel. Knowing this information will help you plan for your holiday get-together appropriately.
The week ending December 4th
- Distribute Advent Calendars: Passing out the advent calendars on the first day of December is a great way to start the official Christmas countdown for 2021. It gets everyone into the holiday spirit, especially because it’ll last every day until Christmas. You may have other holiday traditions like Elf on the Shelf or reading your children a different Christmas story every night to start as well.
- Put up Decorations: Time to unbox those ornaments, lights, yard decorations, tinsel, and everything else you use to make your homestead look like a winter wonderland! You may want to skim through our collection of possible Christmas mantle themes. This is such a magical part of Christmas preparations, and it’s always more fun when the whole family gets involved!
- Enjoy Some Christmas Activities: Do holiday-themed activities with your kids to ease their Christmas excitement, such as making gingerbread houses or planning Christmas-themed photos for the big day! Take a look at some popular Christmas activities for children and adults.
- Mail Your Christmas Cards: By now you’ve probably received your Christmas cards in the mail, and it’s time to send them. If you use Minted’s Free Recipient Address service, all you have to do is stuff your cards and mail them. Otherwise, make sure to make an envelope for every person on your list before putting the cards in the mail.
The week ending December 11th
- Plan Your Christmas Eve & Christmas Day Menus: As part of your Christmas planning 2021, make sure to accommodate for the dietary restrictions of everyone you’ll be serving. Consider what dishes your family members like and dislike. When you’re finished, run the tentative menu by one or two people to see if they have any suggestions before finalizing it. After doing this, make a cooking timeline. Which items can you cook a few days in advance and freeze, and which must wait until the day of?
- Share Hanukkah Blessings: This year, Hanukkah begins on Thursday, December 10th. Wish anyone you know who celebrates the holiday a Happy Hanukkah.
- Order Special Food Items: Some stores require you to order a fresh turkey or ham up to 10 days in advance. If you want to cook one of those things, check with your local grocery store to see how and when you can place this order, and note it on your holiday planning checklist.
- Display the Holiday Cards You Receive: Once you start receiving other people’s holiday cards, make a card display out of them!
The week ending December 18th
- Go On the Final Big Grocery Run: Go grocery shopping at the end of this week or the beginning of the next one -- and don’t forget to take your Christmas to-do list with you! You’ll want to buy your perishable groceries about 3 to 4 days in advance. While you’re at the grocery store, take off some of your stress by buying pre-made treats – like unfrosted gingerbread cookies – that can be frozen until Christmas.
- Hang the Stockings: Put up a stocking for everyone in your home. If you don’t have a fireplace, crafting a faux mantel from cardboard boxes can be a festive part of Christmas prep for the kids.
- Wrap Your Gifts: This item on the Christmas to-do list always takes longer than you anticipate. This is a seemingly easy task, but you’ll be glad you didn’t wait until Christmas Eve when you check it off your holiday planning checklist early.
- Make a Christmas Playlist: Let everyone in the family contribute their favorite holiday tunes to the playlist, and keep it playing in your house. Check our Facebook Page for some of our favorites!
- Turn on the Christmas Movies and light a fire: As you approach the end of your Christmas countdown, have a Christmas movie marathon! Christmas movies are jolly, family-friendly, and are great for setting the holiday mood. Crackling fires are aesthetically pleasing, warm, and will fill your home with a Christmas smell.
- Charge Your Camera and/or Video Camera: Make sure you don’t miss documenting any of the memorable holiday events.
- Complete Any Christmas Eve Traditions: If you don’t have any, start a new one! For example, have each child in the family sign their name with the year on the back of a new ornament and then hang it on the Christmas tree. Or consider adding some holiday traditions from around the world to your Christmas 2021 plans.
- Leave Out Cookies and Milk: Santa is going to be hungry! And don't forget his reindeer!
- Track Santa’s Whereabouts: Find an online Santa tracker for the children to watch throughout the night for that all-important Christmas countdown.
- Display the Presents: Sneakily put all of the gifts under the tree after the children have gone to sleep.
- Make Christmas Drinks: After waking up, make some drinks that remind you of Christmas, such as hot chocolate or peppermint mochas.
- Open Presents: This should be hard to forget!
- Take Notes: Remind everyone to make a list of what they received for Christmas 2021 and from whom so that they can write thank you notes.
After many weeks of following this Christmas preparation checklist, you will have successfully finished your most organized Christmas ever. Before you start your resolutions for the New Year, don’t forget about these last few things.
- Enjoy all of the leftovers to minimize food waste.
- This year, Kwanzaa begins on Sunday, December 26. Give holiday wishes to anyone you know who celebrates.
- Now that your children have many new gifts, help them pick out a few things they’ve outgrown. After helping them, pick out a few things for yourself that you no longer need, and donate all of these items to charity.
- Carefully put away all of your Christmas decorations and unused wrapping paper or supplies to save for next year.
- Recycle wrapping paper that was torn apart. You can also save and reuse gift bags for next year.
- Dispose of your Christmas tree.
- What should you do with all of the beautiful Christmas cards you’ve received from your friends and family? Are you tight on storage space, but can’t bear to throw them away? One option is to make crafts out of the Christmas cards. You can make them into bookmarks, gift tags, or even ornaments for next year.
Whether you’re having an intimate Christmas gathering or a huge Christmas party, this Christmas countdown checklist will ensure that you remember everything you need for a successful holiday season. Although the end of the year can feel rushed and stressful, staying organized and sticking to this list will make the months go by as smoothly as possible. Don’t forget to have fun with your Christmas activities and enjoy being around the people you love as the most important part of preparing for Christmas 2021!
Holiday Stress and Ways to Combat It, minted.com, Oct. 2021