Create A Holiday Planner

posted by Andrea | 08/5/2010

I know, it’s only August, but it’s never too early to start looking ahead towards the upcoming holiday season. OK, well maybe it is a little early…but the Fall always seems to fly by so quickly, I usually wish I had started earlier. So learn from my mistakes and start now!

One organizing tool that has worked wonders {and saved my sanity} is a holiday planner. A holiday planner could be as simple as a binder filled with paper, or it could be as creative as the one you see below {by Doresa over at Heart of a Lamb}

Photo by: Heart of a Lamb

So Why Should You Create and Use a Holiday Planner?

The holiday season inevitably brings a ton of stress and exhaustion. There is so much to coordinate, organize, and prepare. Even the most even-keeled personality can let their perfectionist tendencies out of the cage {I’m not speaking from experience or anything!} Use your Holiday Planner to simplify the next few months by organizing all your holiday information in one place — ready to go when you need it.

Step 1: Assemble Your Supplies

You  will need…

  • A binder – Look for a sturdy one with pockets. (I often use a small 3-ring binder)
  • Tabbed Dividers – Choose heavy-duty dividers with pockets to help them last as long as possible. I would start with 10 dividers, and add more if needed
  • Decorative elements – These are not necessary, but it can be fun to let your creative juices flow

Step 2: Create Category Sections

Here are the categories I have found useful. Feel free to expand and/or alter my list.

Budgets – This might be your least favorite section, but it’s probably the most important. Take time (right now or very soon) to put some serious thought into what your holiday budget will be. Remember to include any charitable donations, gifts, food, clothes, travel expenses, etc. Each of the following sections should have a specific budget…keep it visible and stick to it as much as possible.

Calendar(s) – Keep calendars near the front of your binder as you will refer to them often.

Christmas Card Lists – I have a small address book for Christmas cards so I keep this book in my Holiday Planner. You could also save time by creating a list on your computer and printing labels each year.

Cleaning – I can almost guarantee you will have guests over at some point during the holiday season…which means you’ll probably want your house to be presentable. Take some time to set up deep cleaning (carpets, upholstery, etc) and if you find yourself in a mad-rush to clean up, check out my speed-cleaning tips.

Food – Food is such an important part of the holiday season for me, so I separate my menus for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s , etc. and keep them all in this section. I also keep any recipes for homemade gifts in this section. Check out my collection of recipes.

Gifts – Write down gift ideas for friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, and anyone else you plan to make or purchase a gift for. I’ve also gotten in the habit of writing down exactly what I buy each person every year. This helps assure that I won’t give anyone something 2 times in a row…or re-gift something they gave me {wait, I don’t do that!}

Print and use this gift inventory for even more organization!

Parties and Entertaining – Include information on any entertaining you will do during the hoiday season. Use my meal planning organizers to plan your food in advance. This way, you’ll know exactly what ingredients you need to stock up on and you can purchase them on sale.

Receipts — I keep all my holiday receipts until the season is over. Stores are so finicky about their return policies so it’s just a good habit to get in to. I will often write the name of the person on the receipt for their gift. This helps when I’m looking to return a specific item or if I want to include the gift receipt with the gift.

Shopping – Keep all your shopping lists here as reminders for next year’s holiday season. Examples:

  • Gifts
  • Decorations
  • Entertaining/Food
  • Home Improvement
  • Clothes

Traditions – I’m not overly sentimental, but I do appreciate traditions. They are a special part of the holiday season for me and my family, so I keep track of them in my notebook. Some of our traditions are decorating our house the day after Thanksgiving, making holiday cookies, specific holiday parties with family and friends, and wrapping presents. Tracking these activities can help you schedule and plan what is most important to your family during the holiday season.

Travel – This is the busiest time of year for travel so it’s essential to be organized. Keep all your travel information, directions, and packing lists in this section. Remember to write down phone numbers, confirmation numbers and any other important information you might need.

Step 3: Enjoy the Holidays because you are so organized and prepared!


Filed under: FamilyHolidays

Leave a comment


  1. Andrea


    Thanks Shelley — I too am a sucker for cute notebooks! Enjoy making your holiday planner!!


  2. Faye


    Wow this is a great resource…thanks for the great tips. your website is amazing!


  3. Bearzfriend


    Organized Christmas has all the forms you need to make holiday planners. I have been a member there forever and they help me get organized every year.