While most of us love the holiday season, we can easily do without the crowds, the commercialism, and the associated pressures. While we have some of these items listed in our Monthly Maintenance Checklists, we designed the following Holiday Checklist specifically to help you organize your life during the holiday season and help reduce some of the associated stress.
- If your planning on travelling this Holiday Season, start planning & researching your travel itinerary and book your flights and accommodations as early as possible
- Check your vehicles and make sure that any small problems are taken care of. (additional vehicle maintenance tips located in the Monthly Checklist – bottom section)
- It is time for a major house cleaning while the weather is still relatively warm and eliminate one worry for those that have family coming in for the holiday’s. (additional cleaning tips located in the Monthly Checklist – bottom section)
- It is time to toss all your spices, herbs, and yeast bought last year and replace. Most cooks only consider spices good for a period of 6 months, but we will simply go with a yearly replacement schedule
- Are you hosting a Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s or any other special party? It is time to start planning it out, so you are not rushed
- Check your linens, glassware, dishes and silverware – purchase or lock in a rental if you need more
- Place an advance order for your meat and other specialty items that you may require now
- If you’re into seasonal baking, stock up and buy your baking supplies: flour, sugar, and fresh baking soda
Late October, Early November
- If you are traveling for the holidays, make sure you have started to finalize your travel plans; if you are driving make sure the vehicle has been tuned up, oil changed, & antifreeze levels and conditions have been checked
- Start working on your gift giving lists, Holiday card lists, check up on your gift wrap, and shipping materials you have on hand / need
- Set a Realistic Budget and write it down along with where the money is allocated
- Post a Master Calendar with all the Holiday Events on it, where it is visible and able to be updated by all family members (make sure you add some down time for yourself)
- Finish off your Menu Planning for each specific meal and get together at your place, or what you may be bringing to others
- For the wine connoisseurs – select your holiday wines (including the ones that will be given as gifts) and purchase by the case to help save money
- Inventory your pantry, refrigerator and freezer – make a comprehensive shopping list of necessities needed through the New Year. If you can buy everything upfront with the exception of perishable products (i.e. dairy, fresh meat, fruits and vegetables) you will save yourself a lot of aggravation.
- While trying out a new recipe is great, you should try it out before hand – not on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
- Order party trays and specialty foods at least two weeks in advance.
- Prepare as much in advance as you can, then freeze it if possible.
- If you are planning on eating out, or having the meals catered – make sure you lock in the reservations as early as possible, if you wait too long you might be enjoying TV dinners or scrambling like mad.
- Time to de-clutter your house; get it ready for your guests, give you room for your decorations, etc…
Gift & Holiday Card Specific
- Using your gift-giving list, you created earlier, start shopping as soon as possible.
- DO NOT forget the batteries…
- While most places offer their best specials after Thanksgiving, is the money you might save worth all the time and hassle? This year many retailers have already dropped their prices to the Post Thanksgiving Holiday levels – so the anticipated savings may not be there this year.
- I generally try to have all the gifts purchased during the first week of December as waiting to the end generally equates to less choices and more money spent.
- Holiday Cards – using your mailing list created above
- Thanksgiving cards are best mailed out 5 to 10 days before the Holiday
- Christmas cards should be mailed out around the 5th of December, but no later than five mailing days before Christmas.
- Shipping Gifts – confirm with UPS, FedEx or USPS on deadline’s for shipping packages
- For friends and family living or serving overseas, packages should be mailed out generally no later than Thanksgiving week
- Unless you like to pay higher shipping costs and / or standing in long lines, the earlier you ship your packages the better – I try to make sure mine are shipped no later than 10 days before Christmas
- After de-cluttering your house, pull down your ornaments and decorations from the attic
- Lay out your decorations, test your lights, and come up with your vision
- Make a shopping list of replacement parts or additional decorations required
- Thanksgiving decorations generally are put up any time after Halloween & taken down just before installing the Christmas decorations
- Christmas Decorations and lighting are generally installed on Thanksgiving weekend – Ten Tips to safely and quickly install Christmas Lights
- Buy and put up Christmas tree during the first 2 weeks in December (don’t forget to keep it well watered)
- If planning to videotape events, make sure you have plenty of batteries, spare tapes or memory sticks.
- Creating mini-checklist of tasks, menus, and entertainments for each specific event may help you lose that “Honey, did we…” feelings.
- Tidy your house up, maybe a quick dusting and mini de-cluttering.
- Aim to finish a full half hour before you expect guests to arrive. Take a deep breath, enjoy a cup of eggnog, and relax.
- First off – congratulations, you survived and while everything probably was not perfect, hopefully most everyone enjoyed the time together.
- Take a few minutes and review what worked and what didn’t. Make notes for next year’s holidays to make life a little bit easier.
- Take down your Christmas tree and recycle it as soon as possible.
- Throw out broken or damaged ornaments. Sort decorations and keep only what you love for next year. Give the rest away.
- Christmas lights generally should be taken the first weekend after New Years, tested, and stored.
- Stock up on greeting cards, wrapping paper, ribbons, ornaments, and other decorations to replace what was used this year. Most places are probably cleaning out unused stock and if it works for your plans, you can save a ton of money.
- Pack up and store all your holiday decorations and wrapping supplies together in the same location so you can find them easier next year.