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November and December are the most festive months of the year, with the celebration of a wide variety of holidays, from Thanksgiving to Hanukkah to Christmas. It can also be one of the most stressful times of the year as we struggle to balance large family meals, gift buying, holiday travel and a never-ending stream of get-togethers. With a few small moves you can make your holiday season less stressful, more festive and perhaps the most joyous one yet.

On the 1st day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

a can in the crowded pantry.

Before the holidays even get here, take some time to declutter your pantry. Get rid of expired foods, put like-items together and take an inventory of baking supplies you might need to restock in order to make your famous gingerbread men.

On the 2nd day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

two lists to-do.

If you are overwhelmed with everything you have to do over the next few weeks, make a list. Write down everything you can think of that has to be accomplished. Keep this list as your master holiday to-do list but also make smaller, daily to-do lists. Experts say having seven items on your daily list is optimal for success. Using an app like Gifster or Santa’s Bag can help keep your holiday gift list in check.

On the 3rd day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

three dozen cookies.

Get a jump on your Christmas cookie baking. Most cookies – and some cookie dough – can be frozen for up to two months. Start baking now to beat the rush.

On the 4th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

four gift receipts.

Keep an envelope in your purse or your car for all the receipts from your holiday purchases. This will give you one central location for post-Christmas returns for when you need to find the receipt for your daughter’s skirt that didn’t fit. Have a second envelope for any store coupons you need to take shopping with you. Use an app like RetailMeNot for electronic coupons you can use right from your phone.

On the 5th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

five golden ribbons.

Gather all of your holiday wrapping supplies (ribbons, wrapping paper, tissue paper, scissors and tape) into one central location, preferably where you will do your wrapping. This makes it easy to pull out (and put away) your supplies if you need to wrap a gift quickly.

How to remain organized this Christmas

On the 6th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

six meals-a-cooking.

In the midst of the big holiday festivities, our families still need to eat regular meals during the week. Spend a little time planning your dinners in advance. Make a list of 10-12 meals that are easy and well liked, and then pencil those meals onto your calendar. Use your crockpot for easy cooking and cleanup, and consider making meals like casseroles that can be frozen ahead of time and defrosted and cooked when you need them.

On the 7th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

seven stores for shopping.

Before going out on a big shopping trip, do a little planning. Make a list of the stores and shopping centers you want to visit, then create a plan of how you will visit those stores. Try to do it without backtracking to save time and headache. If at all possible, avoid shopping at peak times like on the weekends and in the evenings.

On the 8th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

eight gifts not cluttering.

We all have too much stuff! Consider giving a clutter-free gift this year. Ideas include a family membership to a local aquarium, a gift card to a favorite coffee spot, a gift certificate for a mani/pedi, digitizing a loved one’s favorite old pictures and even a special card telling the recipient what you love about them.

On the 9th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

nine parties partying.

The holiday season revolves around parties, concerts and get-togethers. If it is all too much for you, gracefully decline attending the events that don’t fill your heart with joy. Be sure you enter all events on your calendar to avoid embarrassing mix-ups. Having one central family calendar can help keep everyone on the same page this season and throughout the year.

On the 10th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

ten ornaments hanging.

When storing your holiday decorations, use sturdy plastic tubs instead of cardboard boxes to keep out pests and moisture. Keep like items together. For example, one tub can be for your nutcracker collection and another for your snowmen. You can also store items by the room that they decorate. Be sure to clearly label your containers with a description of the contents.

On the 11th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

eleven cards for sending.

Do you still send physical Christmas cards through snail mail? Go pick up your holiday-themed stamps now before the rush. Update your mailing list as you receive cards during the season. If you are just too busy or stressed to get your cards done before Christmas, consider sending New Year’s cards instead.

On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

twelve things for thanking.

As we get ready for the holidays, let’s think about why we celebrate this time of the year. It’s not really about gifts, parties and traveling. It’s about giving thanks for our many blessings, celebrating the wonderful miracles of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, and anticipating the coming of a brand New Year full of possibilities. Try to keep this in your heart and mind this season to help keep things in perspective.

About the Author

Andi Willis

Andi Willis is a Professional Organizer, Certified Personal Photo Organizer, author and video host. Passionate about helping people organize their homes and preserve their precious photos, Andi can be found at

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