So, you want to enjoy Christmas this year, right? Me too. So I've finally decided that I need a plan to conquer the holiday season. Enter The 12 days of Christmas Planning!
You guys know I'm a planning nut and a Christmas fanatic…so I'm honestly surprised I made it 7 years into blogging without writing this one. ? By taking an hour a day to really plan out an intentional holiday season, we're going to enjoy the remainder of our Christmas so much more! Now, I'm not saying you're going to be doing every bit of legwork that Christmas requires in the next 12 days, but at least you'll have a game plan for what's required by the time you're done with this list. And, added bonus…if you start this today, you can be finished with your planning by December 1st!
Here's the idea: Check one item off of this list for the next 12 days (scroll to the bottom of this post for a printable version). Some might take more time than others, but all of these can realistically be done by dedicating an hour a day to the cause.
Let's get going!
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Day 1: Declutter. This one is fairly simple, but can be a little time-consuming. My favorite rule for decluttering is The Timer Rule: for each room in your home, set a timer for 10 minutes, and declutter until the timer goes off. If you think you're through and the timer hasn't sounded yet, you're not through! ? Find something else that can be done in that room (because there is always something else that can be done).
Now, depending on the number of rooms in your home, that can take a little bit. If you're short on time, you might want to consider grouping rooms together and decluttering all rooms in a zone (great grouping of zones here) for 15 minutes each. That way, you can at least have a good chunk of your home decluttered in an hour! But of course, if you have more time, do it…homes get so cluttered this time of the year, and it's nice to start with a clean slate if possible.
Day 2: Freshen the house. Now, if you're a Journey to Cleaner, this one shouldn't take long at all…if you haven't given your home as much TLC lately, it might take longer. You're not really doing a deep cleaning with this one (I like to save those for Spring and Fall…this time of the year is too busy), but just sprucing up a little bit.
A few things I like to do:
- Change sheets/comforters in each room (even guest rooms that haven't had anyone lately): having fresh sheets on a bed when you're visiting someone is so nice!
- Vacuum all carpet and upholstered furniture (getting under furniture if possible).
- Change air fresheners (Christmas scents are always fun – this brand is my all-time favorite!).
- Dust all surfaces, frames, light fixtures, fans, blinds, etc. (basically anything that can get dusty).
- Clean out playroom (This is a great time to throw away broken toys and donate used toys that still have life left in them)! I've got more info about organizing a playroom over at this post.
Now, don't forget that this has to be maintained throughout the season! I've got a whole cleaning system for this if you need a little help.
Day 3: Put out decorations. Now the fun part! ? Since you're now starting with a clean slate of a home, you can really enjoy your Christmas decorations.
This is a good time to think about…
- …storing fall/Thanksgiving decorations until next year.
- …making sure you have proper storage boxes for your Christmas decorations once you put them back in storage. (These, these, and these are great.)
- …what wrapping paper you'll use this year, if you coordinate with your decorations (I love the selection at Hobby Lobby this time of the year – they have colors for most any scheme you could imagine!)
- …what items you might need to replace before next year.
Day 4: Make little details shine. I've visited many beautiful homes during the holidays, but for me, the little details the hosts left throughout the home were really what made a lasting impression with me.
A few things I like to do before we have holiday (or any) guests:
- Throw out old magazines…make sure there are new, current ones throughout the house.
- Put a small gift in guest room. Our local chamber of commerce has the cutest little Mississippi-shaped cookie cutters and local cookies that are available for purchase. Something like this makes a perfect, lasting impression!
- Put on holiday-themed music.
- Make sure gifts guests have given in the past are displayed and/or used.
- Put out dishes of candy throughout the house.
- Make sure you have a good supply of essential toiletries and food.
Day 5: Plan gifts. For me, this is another fun one! Now I'm not saying you have to do all of your shopping in one day, but I think planning out gifts before you ever start shopping can go a long way.
First, I like to make an overall budget for Christmas gifts. Then, you'll be able to divide by person as needed. Don't forget to buy gifts for teachers, postmen, and other service workers! If you have kids, go on and think about what you want to get (if anything) for classmate presents. I also like to have one or two extra gifts on hand, just in case I forget someone.
And y'all know I can't plan anything without a cute printable for it. ?You can click the image below to download your copy of my holiday gift tracker!
If you're in need of some inspiration, you can check out my collection over 300 stocking stuffer ideas!
Day 6: Think of 3 special memory-makers. I feel like parents absolutely kill themselves sometimes trying to make each second of Christmas season special for kids. Guys, let me tell you: it isn't possible. And chances are, even if it was, your kids won't remember most of it anyway.
Instead, I prefer to think of a few really special things we can do as a family each year that will make a lasting memory for kids.
I've got a few of my favorites for babies and smaller kids over at this post (and an update to that one is coming very soon…stay tuned!).
Day 7: Plan out food for special occasions. For the most part, you probably already know what holiday parties and get-togethers where you'll need to bring a dish or appetizer. I like to go on and plan out those parties with a calendar at the beginning of the season, listing ingredients you'll need (to make it easy to just add those supplies to your grocery list each week).
I also like to have one or two shelf-stable appetizers on hand, like party nuts or candy. A couple of frozen appetizers are really handy too!
For a little inspiration, my recipes section is full of ideas!
Day 8: Make sure Christmas supplies are stocked. If you haven't already thought about all of the holiday supplies you'll need, now is the time! Make sure you have plenty of wrapping supplies (wrapping paper, tape, gift tags, bows, ribbon, etc.).
Having a few bags of Christmas candy around is always nice. I like to keep a few craft staples (glue, paint, buttons, pipe cleaner, ribbon) around for those Christmas crafts that always seem to creep up. And, if your family does Elf on the Shelf, having all of your supplies for his/her mischief planned helps so much!
Day 9: Order Christmas cards, make Christmas card list, and buy supplies. I've talked about Christmas card planning over on this post for this year…I'm ordering our cards this week! For the list, I have a Christmas card list saved in my Minted account that can be used from year to year. I update it as I find out that friends have moved. Once it's time to send out Christmas cards, all I have to do is check over the addresses and Minted prints them on my envelopes for free…so easy!
Besides the obvious Christmas cards and envelopes, I also like to make sure we have enough stamps and return address labels on hand. I can't wait to buy one of these cute return address stamps once we're in our Forever Home next year. And my favorite pens are perfect for Christmas cards!
Day 10: Make a family calendar of December events. If you don't normally keep a family calendar, this is the time to start! It is so true: as kids get older, the family's schedule gets crazier and crazier. Once you start introducing school activities into the mix it can get really difficult to keep everyone on the same page.
So, of course, I had to have a printable for this too. Click the image below to download your holiday 2016 calendar!
Day 11: Inventory and wrap gifts that are already purchased. Since you're past the Black Friday shopping rush by this point, it's a good time to go on and see what you've purchased and what's left to buy. If you're like us, you buy as you see items throughout the year. Sometimes it can be so easy to forget one or two of those gifts!
Check all of your gift hiding spots, pull out the gifts that you've purchased, and wrap those to go under the tree. It'll make that Christmas tree you put up on Day 3 look a little less bare and you'll knock out one of those Christmas tasks that can sometimes be a little tedious! You're also less likely to buy needless gifts if you inventory in advance.
Day 12: Think of 3 things to do for others this holiday season. I think one of those most important things to remember about the holiday season is that it isn't all about the rushing around and gift-giving. By being intentional about planning out things you can do for others, you're so much more likely to follow through with it.
I've listed a few of my favorite ways to give back during the holiday season over at this post. Go on and put it on your calendar…make an appointment to volunteer if needed. Most importantly, don't get too overwhelmed with the silly, mundane tasks that come with the holiday season that you forget what's important!
Now go forth and plan, friends! May you have the most organized, intentional Christmas yet.
You can grab a printable checklist for my 12 Days of Christmas planning by clicking the image below!