Updated: Mar 3
Do you remember the year it happened? The year that Christmas went from being fun and magical to stressful and overwhelming? Or did it come on gradually? Do you still feel this way or have you figured out ways to be prepared enough for the Christmas season that you can enjoy it now? Christmas doesn't have to be a happy and special time ONLY for kids, with a stressed-out parent struggling to make it through. I'm hoping that these 7 tips for taking the chaos out of Christmas will bring back the magic for YOU, so you can enjoy this special time with your loved ones.
Stress-Free Christmas Tips
Tip #1: Plan Your December Well
Set aside time to PLAN. And when I say plan, I don't just mean filling in your calendar, I mean writing down your hopes and intentions for the season. Look at the big picture. What do you want your next month to look like and feel like? There's only so much you can do in one month. If you don't want it to feel crazy and chaotic, be intentional about which things you schedule. If you love the hustle and bustle, ALL the traditions, and all the fun…schedule away (but remember, you still only have 1 month). Write down your intentions and your priorities and use them as a guide as you fill in the rest.
Tip #2: Make Lists
Start a Christmas notebook. There are special Christmas planners out there, but I prefer a small and separate notebook that I can customize. Here are some of the lists I like to track in my notebook:
I write a list of each person I need a gift for, what gift I am going to get and track when I have purchased and wrapped it. This list includes ideas for neighbor and teacher gifts, our annual white elephant gift exchange, favorite things parties, etc. Every person/event I need to shop for (minus my kids and husband).
I write a separate list for each child and husband: I keep a list of each gift purchased, if it is from my husband and myself or from the big guy, and mark when it has been wrapped
Stockings list: I find it much easier to collect little fun gifts for my 5-year-old daughter than my 13-year-old son, so keeping track of what I have for each person helps
Yearly traditions I want to make sure we schedule
Ideas from the family that we use to make our bucket list (Thanksgiving weekend we have a family meeting and everyone shares what they want to do to celebrate Christmas that year. We also choose a family to serve and do the 12 days of Christmas for.)
Gatherings I want to plan (I love to do a cookie exchange with close friends)
Tasks that need to get done: ordering/mailing Christmas cards, decorating, etc. These are the less fun items that don't make it on the bucket list. Things that need to get done, but are mostly just 'mom tasks'
Seasonal meals and treats I want to prepare (we have a lot of these...like a ridiculous number). Planning when we are going to make caramels, sugar cookies, almond cake, ginger bars, cranberry tea, frog-eye salad, and ginger molasses cookies is a high priority on our list.
Tip #3: Make a Calendar
Keep a calendar for all to see. There are so many events in December and having everyone aware of what fun things are coming up is not only fun but important. Calendars are so easy to find and print for free. I found some festive ones for the month of December here.
Tip #4: Do a Bucketlist
Write a bucket list that everyone can see. Celebrate the little things. Schedule each item on your calendar so you know your expectations are realistic. Write everything down! Driving around to see Christmas lights and shopping for sibling gifts go on our list. It helps us to recognize all the fun special things we get to do. As you add each thing to your bucket list and calendar, check-in with your intentions and priorities and make sure the things you are choosing are things that align with your hopes for the month. Find the customizable bucket list I use here.
Tip #5: Make a Wrapping Station
Designate a wrapping station. Gather all the supplies needed and keep them together. Make sure it's somewhere you can watch a Hallmark Christmas movie. Last year I chose a theme for my wrapping: "brown paper packages tied up with strings," using this wrapping paper and a variety of festive ribbons and strings.
Tip #6: Take Notes of What Happened
For a less chaotic Christmas NEXT YEAR: record in the notes section of your phone any thoughts on what went extra well or not well this year. It's easy to forget when so many of the things we do around the holidays are done just once a year. Maybe you didn't get reservations early enough for your favorite holiday play. Maybe you didn't buy a big enough roast for your Christmas dinner. I have found the notes that I've made each year extremely helpful and I refer to them each November as planning the holidays.
Tip #7: Take Pictures of Decorations
Take pictures of your decor before taking it down. Next year it will be so nice to reference your pics when decorating.
How do you prioritize during the holidays? I would love to hear your life hacks on how you navigate this busy time of year.
We are going to share all our best Christmas decor organizing tips soon so stay tuned!!
Jen is the founder of Reset Your Nest, a Professional Home Organizing business in Salt Lake City, Utah. She loves creating order and systems out of chaos. Her specialty is finding a way to continue the aesthetic of any home to every cupboard and drawer. She shares her tips and tricks on Instagram @reset_your_nest.