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7 Steps to Get Organized For the Holidays

There is no question that if you do a bit of planning and make a list (and check it twice), you will be more organized (and less stressed) for the holidays. Take the time to follow these seven steps to have a happy and relaxing holiday season.

There is no question that we have now entered the beginning of the busy holiday season. As the leaves fall off the trees and the pumpkins get thrown away, we start gearing up for the busiest time of the year. There are so many things that we need to do to get that Christmas day ‘perfect’ that we sometimes don’t know where to start. There is no need to panic because with a little bit of planning and some pre-emptive work, I can help you get organized for the holidays in just seven easy steps.

1. Mark your calendar: Decide what events you are going to attend: Christmas concert, cookie exchange, family gathering, company parties, travel time and days off. Get your calendar out NOW and pencil in EVERYTHING. Sync your calendar to your spouse so they know where to be when. This will let you know when you need a quick meal or you have to bring something to an event.

2. Stock the freezer: Set aside one day to cook a bunch of meals for the next six weeks. Yes, really. Plan on being able to take something out of the freezer and make a meal of it. You can add fresh salads and vegetables to keep it all healthy. Think pasta sauces, casseroles, burgers and soups. Doubling and tripling recipes will make this all that much easier. This will save you time by NOT having to go to the grocery store.

3. Make a list and check it twice: This means actually writing down who you are giving gifts to and what they may need. If you’re really organized, you would have started last spring but for now, keep a list of people’s sizes (for clothing), favourite colour, music, beverage or sports team. These simple reminders, and an idea of what you want to get them, will help with the budget and with unnecessary– and expensive– last-minute shopping.

4. Inventory your decorations: Gather your entire holiday decor and go through it. Donate what you don’t want to put out, discard broken bulbs, ornaments or lights that don’t work anymore. Purchase any outdoor lights or ornaments.

5. Delegate: Source out what you don’t want to do. Yes, pay for a cleaning lady to come in and do a one-time clean before all your guest come in for the holidays, order flower arrangements for your mother-in-law and hire a teenager to bake you the 14 dozen cookies you need for the cookie exchange. You are not a SUPER human... delegate.

6. Gift cards are your friend: Many of us have teacher, bus driver, babysitter or others that we give gifts to because we want to thank them for their service. Go to your local coffee shop (Tim Hortons, Second Cup and Starbucks) and get a dozen gift cards. You’ll have them on hand (with a Christmas card, of course) and you can tick that task off your list. Any that you don’t use? Treat yourself for being so darn organized!

7. Stock the bar: Go to the liquor store early. There is nothing worse than going to the liquor store during the holidays. You know that you’ll likely be bringing a bottle of wine or some nifty craft beers to the dinner party or family get-together, so stock up. Don’t forget those that don’t drink. Ensure that you have mocktails, pop, juice, sparkling or still water available for them too. Get those staples out of the way early.

Margarita Ibbott is a Blogger, traveller, professional organizer and social media evangelist. She tells stories on DownshiftingPRO - Your Family, Your Home, Your Life about her family, her travels and her organizing clients. As a professional organizer, she works with families, individuals and small business owners to help them create order in their lives.