I love the holidays and spending time with my family but dread all the extra work that goes along with the season: sending cards, hosting parties, buying presents, attending parties. It’s not that I don’t like doing those things.  I really do.  It’s just that I would like some extra time to fit it into my already busy schedule. 

This year, I’ve figured out how to get it all done in 5 easy steps using a holiday planning sheet.  I've listed the steps below along with descriptions and included my holiday plan in case you want to see a finished plan.  I've also added some ideas to overcome things that might get in your way of completing your to dos.  Give it a try and have a wonderful holiday season.

1. Set an intention

Identify what will make this year's holiday season great for you and your family.  If you know what's important to you, you'll be able to make decisions that will make the holidays more enjoyable. Write it down at the top of the planning sheet and read it often.

2. Make a To Do List

List the things you need to do this holiday season in the 1st column of the planning sheet.  Don’t overthink, just write them down.

3. Prioritize

Circle the items on your To-Do List that align with your intention.  These are the things that are really important to you and will make your holidays happy.

4. Delegate

Who says you’re the one that has to do it all?  Is there someone else who could take on some of the items on your To-Do List? Of course, you still need to check in to make sure they’re done, but that certainly won’t take as much time as doing it yourself. Write down who you will ask to do certain tasks in the 2nd column of the planning sheet and make sure you give them a due date.

5. Schedule

The only way to find out if it can all be done is to schedule time for your To-Dos. Determine when each item on your To-Do list needs to be completed and write that date in the 3rd column of your planning sheet.

Then, make a realistic guess as to how long things will take and put them on your calendar with a start and stop time. Start with the circled items on your To-Do list and then fit the others in.  One word of warning, however.  Don’t overschedule! You need to have some down-time and some extra time in case something important comes up. You may decide to cross off some of your To-Dos because they are not worth your time.  They might be nice to do but not that important.

A note about calendars:  If you don’t already use one, I suggest you start. It doesn’t matter what type of calendar it is, paper or electronic, but it should be one that everyone in your family has access to. I use the Cozi electronic family calendar that allows me to have all family events listed in one place and everyone can view it on their own devices. It's a great timesaver!

So now you have a plan, 

but sometimes things just don’t go the way they’re supposed to.


Time Traps are things that get in the way and include interruptions, digital distractions, and the inability to say no. If time traps get in your way, plan for ways to get back on track or avoid them altogether. 

Here’s a strategy that I use. It’s called labeling and it’s great for interruptions and distractions. I label what I am working on as NOW and label everything else as NOT NOW.  So, when I catch myself being pulled from what I should be doing, I label it as NOT NOW and go back to what I am doing NOW

As for saying yes to everyone who asks for a favor, you just need to say no instead. And you can be nice about it. Here are some ideas:

 If your child asks you for a ride to a friends house, say  I would love to as soon as I'm finished with . . . and you could even add, Would you like to help me so that I finish sooner?

If someone asks you to watch their child, say I’m not sure. I need to check my calendar. Can I let you know later? or, I’m sorry I can’t and then stop talking. You don’t owe an explanation about why you can’t do someone a favor

Please let me know how the planning sheet works for you and any other ways you have been able to get everything done this holiday season.