13 Valuable Ways to Start Getting Organized for the Holidays

Let’s start getting organized for the holidays with 13 of the best tips and tricks to help you have a stress-free holiday season with your family and friends. You don’t want to find yourself overwhelmed and stressed in the chaos of last minute holiday preparations! You want to be healthy and happy to enjoy the holidays without feeling overwhelmed!

Taking the time to declutter, reorganize, clean and sort, and set up your environment in a manner that makes you SMILE is also essential to a balanced life.

As we roll into the busiest time of the calendar year – September, October, November, December – it’s more important than ever to stay healthy, practice good self-care habits, plan your schedule carefully, avoid stress and overwhelm, and be mindful of your time. 

Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are huge holidays that often require lots of planning and preparation.  For many of you, these special occasions may also include travel plans, visiting with family, shopping and new clothes, seasonal home decorating (and redecorating), and so much more. 

This article is not just how to get organized for Christmas. Halloween and Thanksgiving can be busy times, as well. So this article covers 13 valuable ways to help you get organized for ALL of the end-of-year holidays!

This is also the time of year when people get sick more frequently because of weather changes, fatigue and stress, and the flu (not to mention Covid-19).  No one has time for that stuff!  So let’s stay healthy by getting organized and planning well.

Let’s look at 13 ways you can start getting organized for the holidays, so you are not overwhelmed and stressed (and potentially sick) throughout the season!  

fall pumpkins apples corn and berries with a reminder to simplify as you are getting organized for the holidays

Let’s Start Getting Organized for the Holidays

Don’t let anyone tell you when it’s okay to start getting organized for the holidays. We have Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas back-to-back in three months!  For your own peace of mind, you should start anytime you are ready to get organized and prepared.  The earlier the better.

In fact, organization and preparation will allow you to enjoy each holiday more yourself.  You will be able to enjoy spending time with friends and family and appreciate all the seasonal excitement much more.

So let’s start getting organized for the holidays now rather than later!

getting organized for the holidays with scissors a list wrapping paper gift bags labels tissue paper ribbon tape a pen all laying on a table

Establish Priorities

There are so many activities that take place during these holiday seasons.  It will be essential that you establish priorities instead of attempt to do everything. You cannot possibly do them all.

In addition to traditional activities and gatherings with friends and family, there will be school activities, community activities, church events, and other special events such as weddings.

Make a list of activities and events that you may consider and determine in advance which ones you and your family will enjoy doing, and which ones you are obligated to do.  At this point, you can also consider clothing for your family.  Maybe you can all wear the same outfits to a few events instead of needing to shop for new clothes for each one.  Save some time.

Be sure to communicate with your family about which activities you’ll be doing so there are no misunderstandings and drama down the road. Ask everyone which activities they want to do and consider all perspectives.

Make sure everyone in your family understands the importance of self-care during this busy season.  Schedule down time and be sure everyone is getting plenty of rest.  Don’t let illness and fatigue ruin the holidays for everyone. 

Related Article: Practical Tips for Finding Calm in the Chaos

a pumpkin painted with a silly jack-o-lantern face for Halloween

Stay Present and Mindful

Mindfulness is a good practice for every day of the year, but it is especially helpful during stressful or chaotic times. As you prepare for the holidays, don’t let the chaos overwhelm you to the point that you forget to be present and mindful.

Stay present in each moment. Don’t think about the days ahead and don’t think about problems from the past. It’s won’t help you or anyone around you at this moment.

Focus on the moment. If you are shopping for Halloween costumes with the children, stay focused on them. Don’t let your mind wander off to how you are going to get the house cleaned for family by Thanksgiving.

This will be a very important technique for keeping your mind calm, remembering to practice self-care, and controlling the feeling of overwhelm during the holidays.

Be sure to practice presence and mindfulness at all times to preserve your health and well-being. It also helps you be more productive and happy, as well as less grumpy and stressed.

This article, 12 Benefits of Mindfulness: Mind, Body, and Soul, will help you understand all the benefits of mindfulness, especially during busy or chaotic times.

a December journal and pen with hot chocolate in a red mug that says be bright and red letters saying enjoy the season

Don’t Overdo Traditions

Traditions are amazing and fun, but don’t allow yourself to get caught up in so many traditions that everyone is exhausted and miserable.

Consider some changes to your traditions so you have an opportunity to create new traditions. How about a Family Pajama Day the day after Thanksgiving instead of climbing out of bed to go shopping on Black Friday?

Say NO to that neighborhood holiday gathering that you dread every year. Instead, plan a Family Game Night at home.  You’ll likely be able to get into bed earlier and things won’t be so chaotic.

Exhaustion takes away from festivities anyway, especially with children.  So careful planning and decision-making will allow everyone to enjoy the traditions you choose to do.

Family traditions are the hardest to break, I know.  But nowadays, people are becoming more understanding of boundaries and choices. 

If you need to break a tradition with family members, be sure to communicate clearly why you are making this decision for your family.  And do so without fear, regret, or lengthy justifications.  You have to do what’s best for you and your little family.  Everyone should respect that. 

Make Changes in Gift Giving

If you’re like me, every year you wonder whether you should continue to buy gifts for ALL the people on your usual list. As lives change and people grow apart, it could be easy to make changes in the people with whom you exchange gifts.

But it certainly isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Make this year the year that you make changes in your gift list. Consider whether you need to continue to give gifts to ALL the cousins, and now their spouses and children. Or, consider whether you need to give gifts to ALL your nieces and nephews who are off in college now.

Consider whether you can begin the tradition of family gift exchanges rather than gifts for every individual. Or maybe you and your girlfriends can plan a special get-together rather than gift exchange.

It is very stressful to shop, wrap, label, and find time to get together to exchange gifts. Then, there is the clean-up process that can be stressful, too.

Plus, at some point in life, people just don’t really need anything else. Gift ideas become more difficult! I mean, how many figurines do you need? Or how many gift certificates to Kohls do you really need? I’m sure you get the point.

Every year, it becomes more difficult to find the “perfect” present for each person on your list. Is it really worth the stress? Make a list of people you usually buy presents for and review each one carefully, asking yourself if it’s really necessary to keep exchanging gifts with that person.

a woman is getting organized for the holidays by putting wrapped gifts under the tree

Simplify Holiday Meals

I did something years ago that saved me loads of time and stress on both Thanksgiving and Christmas. I simplified the holiday meal.

Once my parents got older, I began to have holiday meals at my house. We used to do linen table cloths, extra tables spread all through the house so everyone could eat at the table, special holiday china, enough deserts for everyone in the country so each guest could choose their favorite, and enough food for an Army. This occurred for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

It was absolutely exhausting. The preparation process and subsequent clean-up took several days. And on the actually holiday, I was exhausted and usually ended up in tears at some point during the day. And it always seemed like there were last minute tasks that needed to be done!

Planning also became much more complicated as children got older and they wanted to spend some time with significant others on holidays. Then we ran into problems with scheduling a time when everyone could be together. Someone always felt left out, or ended up eating cold food, or got mad because we couldn’t accommodate them.

So I simplified. I began to make casseroles that could be heated easily for whenever anyone arrived and was ready to eat. I could make them in advance and put them in the fridge easily. There was no gravy to spill or mashed potatoes to keep from getting sticky because the bowl sat too long.

I stopped trying to have 3-4 meats, 6-7 veggies, 3 starches, and multiple breads just because that’s what my mother and grandmothers served on the holidays. Life is not as simple as it used to be. It is unrealistic to think you can prepare meals like this anymore.

Consider simplifying your holiday meals so you can sit with your family and enjoy the day, too! Start thinking about what you can serve that will be easier. Start working on your grocery lists for each meal and shop a little at a time. Keep products grouped together for each meal in your pantry. You can even label them to keep them organized!

Keep Decorations Simple

Unless you have a deep desire to participate in the neighborhood holiday decorating contest, consider simplifying your outdoor yard decor for each season. Simple decorations can be just as joyful as the most complex decorations.

The same applies to decorating inside your home for each holiday. You and your guests will enjoy spending time together even if you cut back on your holiday decorations by 50%. I promise. I’ve done it!

a multi-generational family sharing a simple Thanksgiving dinner of turkey and sides

Also, with some planning, you should be able to use some of the same decorations during September, October, and November – only changing out a few specific items. For example, you can use apple-scented candles and apple centerpieces in September; jack-o-lantern centerpieces and candy corn candles in October; and cornucopia centerpieces and pumpkin pie scents in November. All while keeping simple Fall decorations out through the whole season.

Several years ago, I began to decorate outside with basic Fall decorations such as corn stalks, hay bales, pumpkins, gourds, and different colored chrysanthemums as early as mid-September. Those decorations stayed up until we changed them to Christmas decorations.

However, along with these basic Fall decorations, I would add an appropriate garden flag, a large flag, a doormat, and a front door wreath that matched the seasons – Autumn, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. Those were all super easy for me to change while leaving all the other decorations in place.

For Christmas, we stopped putting lights on our trees because it was so time-consuming. Instead, we decorated with light-up characters outside in the yard and on our front porch. Plus, we used spotlights. We collected several light-up animals and characters over 2-3 years once we realized how much time we saved. Now our outside is decorated for Christmas in one afternoon.

Spend some time making plans how to simplify and organize your home decorations (inside and outside) so you can get this job done in no time each year! Organize holiday decorations in storage areas together, separated into Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas areas.

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Break Up With Perfection

Friends and family are not going to care whether they are eating on fine china or paper plates. If you don’t have time to unpack and wash the fine china, it will be okay.

Guests are going to enjoy any decorations you have on display. You don’t need to have a Martha Stewart-style home.

Your children are going to be moody and fussy sometimes, even during the holiday seasons. It’s okay. Take care of your children and know that it’s okay if you leave something else undone. The world is not going to come to an end.

In other words, break up with perfection and breathe in the meaning of each season. Once I stopped trying to make everything perfect during the holidays, I was able to enjoy them with family and friends much better.

Give it a try!

Create A Wrapping Station

You can start creating a wrapping station now for gift wrapping. As you purchase gifts, wrap them and cross them off your list.

You’ll need scissors, writing tools, to/from labels, tape, wrapping paper, boxes and gift bags, ribbon and bows, tissue paper, Post-It Notes… and what else? Did I forget anything?

Have all your supplies together in one place so you don’t have to go looking for tools and supplies every time you want to wrap those gifts you bring home. In fact, there are many kinds of gift wrap organizers available nowadays that hold most all of your supplies. Look for one that will meet your specific needs!

Finally, create a space in your home to put all the wrapped presents so they are together when it’s time to put them under the tree.

a woman with blonde hair wraps Christmas gifts

Keep Halloween Costumes Together

One of the easiest (and smartest) organizational tips I’ve ever developed is keeping ALL parts of Halloween costumes in one place, in a garment bag in a closet.

My children wanted to play with pieces and try on costumes ALL THE TIME. They were so excited! Plus, there were often several parties and events where they wore their costumes prior to Halloween night. So I was constantly losing pieces!

It got to the point that I could not keep track of everything. Especially if they had more than one costume.

Therefore, I bought garment bags to put EVERYTHING in and those garment bags hung in closets where little hands could not reach them.

Since you have to buy Halloween costumes early if you want to get the most popular ones, they may be hanging around your house for a while. Eventually, I made a rule that we aren’t going to touch the costumes until the first event!

And I took those garment bags everywhere with me to keep pieces in as the children decided they didn’t want to wear the gloves anymore, or the hat was hot, or they didn’t want to carry the princess wand anymore. I’m sure you know the feeling!

Getting Organized for the Holidays 7

Make Lists and More Lists (And Check Them Twice!)

Be sure to develop an organization and preparation list for each holiday. You will want to have everything written down and handy so you can manage your time efficiently and effectively.

Your lists should include decorations that you plan to use, any new decorations that you plan to purchase (so you can watch for sales), food that you plan to serve, events that you plan to attend, scheduled self-care times, and supplies you will need. You’ll also need lists for party invitations and holiday cards you need to send.

Of course, you’ll also want to keep a Christmas List of gifts you need to purchase! Don’t forget to start early so you aren’t out among the crowds as the big day approaches!

Ultimately, be sure to check-off each Holiday To Do List task as you complete it because it will help you feel accomplished and empowered.

oranges a pine branch and a candle with a list that says Thanksgiving Dinner Menu
Christmas tree ornaments and a pine branch with a Christmas To-Do List and a pen

Declutter and Donate

Use these months to declutter your home and donate items that you no longer need or use.

Decluttering and donating will give you more space for decorating and making a gift wrapping area; it will create more space for gifts that are coming in and need to be wrapped, as well as gifts that you receive; declutter your kitchen so you can prepare for all the extra baking you’ll be doing and the guests you’ll be hosting.

Clean out the children’s’ closets so they have room for Christmas gifts; reorganize and clean-out your mudroom and hall closet so you have room for all the winter clothes that will need a place to hang-out as guests come and go.

Schedule Self-Care and Family Time

These last four months of the year tend to be very hectic and many of us tend to over-extend ourselves. I’ve mentioned family time and self-care previously, but it also needs a section all to itself because it is so important.

How many times have you ended up SICK on a holiday because you have over-extended yourself and not gotten enough rest? It has happened often with me.

If you start planning early for the holidays, and you commit to self-care and family time, your holidays will be much more pleasant and cozy. You will be able to make wonderful memories with family and friends rather than feel frustrated, overwhelmed, and exhausted.

Related Article: I Get Overwhelmed Easily – What Do I Do?

So actually schedule down time for your family – an afternoon where you do nothing but hang out together. Go to a park and take a walk together. Play board games together. Laugh and enjoy each other rather than let chaos take over. Just spend quality time together!

a parent and child sitting in a dark room look at a beautiful Christmas tree after getting organized for the holidays and relaxing together

Additionally, schedule time for self-care practices. It can be a massage or a facial. Or something as simple as an afternoon sitting on your chaise lounge reading a book. Whatever you enjoy that gives you time to relax and rest so you can better deal with the chaos and craziness that comes with Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

Make self-care and family time a priority!

Related Article: How to Bring More Cozy Into Your Life

Organize Your Home

One of the best ways to get organized for the holidays is to get your home organized so you can focus on preparations and tasks for the holidays. Although, this is easier for some than others. (It’s NOT easy for me, although I’m working on it!)

I am not going to go into detail here about how to organize your home (that’s a whole separate article for the experts). But I would like to share some information about some great home organization shows on Netflix just in case you haven’t heard of them!

These shows may help you get some ideas about organizing your home while also providing you with some peaceful, quiet time.

Organization Show on Netflix

I recently came across a great organizing show on Netflix! I’m borderline addicted! In fact, there are actually several shows on Netflix that provide home organization ideas. So if you have access to Netflix, check these out!

Admittedly, I’m a reality TV junkie so I enjoy Get Organized with The Home Edit. It’s a show where expert home organizers Clea and Joanna help celebrities and everyday clients edit, categorize and contain their clutter to create stunning spaces. The series has included Reese Witherspoon, Khloe Kardashian, Kane Brown, and Eva Longoria.

Even though you may not have all the space that these celebrities have in their homes, you can get lots of creative storage tips and helpful ideas for home organization from these shows.

Tidying Up with Marie Kondo is another Netflix series about inspirational home makeovers. World-renowned tidying expert Marie Kondo helps clients clear out the clutter — and choose joy. She has a second show – Sparking Joy with Marie Kondo – in which she brings her joyful tidying tactics to people struggling to balance work and home life.

If you are seeking to get your home more organized, in addition to getting organized for the holidays, you may want to check out these shows.

a red and green bin labeled Christmas centerpiece showing how someone is getting organized for the holidays

Final Thoughts – Getting Organized for the Holidays

Don’t delay getting organized for the holidays! There are so many tips and strategies available to help you be prepared and able to enjoy all the holidays! Make it a priority to focus on preparation and self-care!

Need more ideas for getting organized for the holidays? I really like the ideas shared in Need Help Organizing for the Holidays? on the Blog at Dumpsters.com. Check it out!

You can find some free printable holiday planners at Tips, Tricks, and Printables to Help You Get Organized for the Holidays. Plus, it includes a wealth of other resources for getting your life organized!

Good luck! Stay healthy! And enjoy all the upcoming holidays!

Love to ALL! ~ Susan

P.S. Here’s one more article that will help you be less stressed during the holidays… check it out:

10 Simply Ways to Find Your Zen in the Chaos of Life.

13 Valuable Ways to Start Getting Organized for the Holidays – How Are You Going to Get Organized this Year?

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