Last-minute planning tips to save your holidays

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“Is it December already?”

Many of you are undoubtedly thinking some version of this time-honored question, which reflects a general unpreparedness for the oncoming holiday madness.

It stands to reason, of course, because the winter holiday season is one of the few times each year where activities in your personal life step up and overshadow your already busy work life. It’s a perfect storm of priorities, so it’s no wonder life feels hectic. Regain control of your holiday planning with these last-minute planning tips:

– Set your priorities: Now more than ever it is crucial that you spend 15 minutes each day planning your day, reviewing yesterday’s progress, and prioritizing your day ahead. You still have time to get things done — plan it out!

– Make lists: De-clutter your brain of all the details, minutia, and loose ends. Make a list for each holiday-related project that requires attention. Things to do, stuff to buy, food to bake, packages to mail – all of it. Once you’ve written it all down you can then decide what to do first, and what to skip.

– Consolidate: Still shopping? Maximize your time. Create a game plan that allows you to take care of several people on your list from the same store. Get creative.

Go online: Going to the crowded malls this time of year can be a time-killer and will offer limited return on each minute spent. Choose a few major sites such as, or check and see if some of your local retailers have Web stores.

– Stock-up: Plan extra gifts for those just-in-case moments. Stock up on items like ornaments or candles for that teacher or neighbor on your list you might have forgotten about. Also, remember to buy a few bottles of wine for those last-minute drop-ins that always occur. Items you don’t use can be returned after the holidays.

– Work as a team: If you’re scrambling to get caught up, then you’ll have to enlist some help. Put your family and friends on task. Kids love decorating for the holidays. Assign them a project. Throwing a party? Delegate a few errands to friends.

– Simplify: For the sake of sanity you might have to let go of some of your grandiose plans. Handmade gifts for your entire extended family may have sounded like a great idea, but it may be too much work. Now is the time to sacrifice what you want to do for what you *need* to do.

– Plan for next year: It sounds like adding busy work, but keeping a running holiday journal is your best bet for future-proofing your holidays. Each day, track the steps you’ve taken and the ones not yet done. Next year, you’ll have a running dialog of what to do, and what not to do. When you’re done, store it with the envelope full of return address labels from holiday cards you received.

– Use your pockets: This advice goes along the lines of setting your party table early in the day so it’s not a concern when things get hectic. Have small pockets of time? Take these moments to do tasks on your list that aren’t priorities, but will be in the future. Each day, wrap a few presents, write a few cards.

How do you keep your holiday planning under control? Please comment below

Jeff Doubek Day-Timer Spokesperson Jeff Doubek can be reached at

2 thoughts on “Last-minute planning tips to save your holidays

  1. This is excellent advice. The prioritizing helps quite a bit when there is a plethora of things to do piling up. I have never thought of keeping a Christmas journal to save for the next year so I can do better. I think what I’ll do is keep my “to do” lists from December and then save it in a plastic ziploc insert for December of next year with personal advice. That way when December rolls around next year, I’ll have my own personal “coach” advice from last year handy!

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