Christmas Countdown Checklist

Stay on track this year with this handy one month plan.

Ready for Christmas?

Image(s) licensed by Ingram Publishing


The holiday season is fast approaching! Our already busy lives are about to get even busier as we try to create a picture-perfect holiday season. How do other families seem to manage it all without blinking an eye? And why can’t we pull off a stress-free holiday?

First, realize that picture-perfect holidays are created by the media, and most families can’t do it all. We need to let go of unrealistic goals. Not everyone is naturally organized or has the time to make everything from scratch.

There are two keys to surviving the holidays. First, come up with your own version of the holidays that fits with your family’s goals, budget, time and energy. Second, rely on the following timetable to stay organized and on track.

Start with a game plan

Ask your family what they want from the holiday season. You may be surprised at what your kids tell you! Don’t plan more than you can afford or have time to do. And don’t try to do it all yourself. Get the whole family involved and accept help from friends and family.

Re-invent traditions – just because your mom did it doesn’t mean you have to. Do what you love and leave the rest. Spend time with friends and family, encourage your kids to invite friends over, play games, go to a holiday movie, write letters to Santa, make Santa cookies, and create new, simple, holiday traditions.

Holiday Checklist

One month before

  • Make travel plans: Book tickets and hotel if required. Schedule your car for service. Mark travel days on your calendar.
  • Create a gift list: Create a master list of items, dividing into Make, Online/Catalog, and Stores and check off your purchases as you go.
  • Prepare for gift-wrapping: Gather everything you need and store it together in an easily-accessible place.
  • Send your Christmas cards: Set aside an evening and come prepared with a list of names. Get the kids to lick stamps and address envelopes.
  • Schedule babysitter and hair appointments. Don’t wait until everyone is booked.

Three weeks before

  • Create a menu: Plan your meals ahead of time 
and make a detailed grocery/shopping list, including perishables and non-perishables. Don’t forget Christmas crackers, napkins and candies.
  • Shop for non-perishables: This includes wine, beer or alcohol. Don’t wait til the lines are long!
  • Shop & wrap: Set aside some time for gift shopping each week. Wrap as you go. Take advantage of late nights and wrap while enjoying a holiday movie. Tip: Pay your teen to wrap gifts for you.
  • Donate toys: Have the kids go through their gently used toys and donate them to a local charity.
  • Print holiday recipes: Save yourself the stress of looking for a recipe at the last minute. Put recipes in a folder in the kitchen.
  • Decorate the house: And trim the tree too, so you can enjoy the festive feeling in your home.

Two weeks before

  • Plan a baking day: You’ll only have the mess to clean up once! Get the kids to help. Freeze until needed. Shortcut: Buy pre-made cookie dough or baked goods.
  • Finalize shopping: Avoid long last minute lineups by making final purchases this week.
  • Prepare for company: Turn up the holiday music and tag-team clean the house. Prepare a guest room with fresh sheets and pillows.

One week before

  • Finalize wrapping: Finish wrapping at least two days before Christmas to avoid a late Christmas Eve with a tape dispenser!
  • Cook ahead: Pre-cook dishes that can be frozen.
  • Shop for perishables: Pick up fresh fruits and vegetables a few days ahead of time.
  • Purchase your turkey: If frozen, allow enough time to thaw in the refrigerator. Shortcut: Prepare a cook-from-frozen pre-stuffed turkey.
  • Charge camera:  Clear memory cards or buy film.

Day before

  • Create a timeline: Create an ordered list of what needs to be done and when on Christmas Day, including visiting friends, preparing food, and using the oven for different dishes
  • Prep food: Clean and cut veggies, cook cranberries, cut cheese, chop ingredients and cook pies.
  • Set your table: If you’re having a sit-down dinner, set the table in advance.

Christmas Day

  • Use your timeline to keep your day organized. Today is all about relaxing and enjoying time with friends and family. Keep a piece of paper handy and jot down anything you may have forgotten so you can put it on the list for next year!

Author: 15 Minute Mom

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