Follow This Holiday Season 2021 Planning Checklist So You Can Actually Enjoy Yourself For Once

If you want to enjoy the holidays, you need a holiday checklist.

holiday checklist MagicalKrew / Shutterstock

The holidays are here. Tis the season when we all scurry around cleaning, decorating, baking, cooking meals, buying presents, wrapping and sending them, putting together toys for the tots, and writing cards.

Is it actually possible to enjoy this time of year and all it has to offer? I say that it is! When you have a holiday season 2021 planning checklist in hand, it's possible to finish all the work AND enjoy the holiday season.


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Making a holiday season 2021 planning checklist

Everyone’s checklist will be different. Each of us has traditions we want to honor as well as events to attend. Before you decide to create your list take a few minutes to imagine what your perfect holiday looks and feels like.


Close your eyes and sit with this vision. Next, have a family meeting and ask the members of your family what's important to them during this holiday season. What are the rituals and traditions they love? Are there any that the family doesn't want to do anymore? If so, remove them quickly from your list of things to do.

A guide to making your own holiday checklist

Holiday meals.

Get out your calendar. Are there any special holiday meals you're preparing? Are you bringing part of a meal (a side dish or a dessert) to someone else’s home? Schedule time to prepare them in your calendar.

Next, make a list of all the non-perishable ingredients you can buy now. Look in your pantry first to make sure you don’t already have what you need. The news has warned us that some items, like spices, may be in short supply.

Make a separate list of all the perishable ingredients and schedule time to shop for them.


Doing this ensures that you aren’t running around at the last minute trying to find certain ingredients.

Holiday gifts.

No matter what holiday you celebrate, there may be gifts involved. Save yourself time and reduce stress by deciding who you'll give them to and how much you're spending on them. 

Stick to your budget. Gift-giving should feel good. You don’t have to spend extra dollars to give a thoughtful gift. Remember you can also give a gift of your time and talent.

Create a holiday checklist for gifts with the name of the person, how much you are spending, and the type of gift you want to give. Include a field for wrapping and either sending or delivering the gift.


I like to wrap and tag presents as I buy them because that lets me wrap a little at a time and reduces my stress level overall.

If you are sending gifts, get them in the mail early to avoid expensive postage fees and to get them to the person before the holiday.

Remember to buy a few host presents in case you are invited to a party. Have a few extra holiday gifts bags and tissue paper just for this purpose.

Holiday cards.

Do you send out holiday cards? Now's the time to either buy or create your card. If you like to include a picture of your family, schedule time to take that photo or find a reasonably current picture to use.

If you mail your cards via the USPS, get them in the mail early. They've warned us that mail is taking longer to deliver. If you send your card via email, decide when you want to do that and then add it to your calendar.


Holiday clothes.

Do you like to dress up or down for the holidays? I was at the mall recently and saw matching holiday pajamas for the entire family for sale. Is this something your family would wear?

Maybe you want to buy a special outfit for a holiday party this year — think something sparkly for New Year’s Eve?

Take a tour through your closet now to determine what you may need this holiday season. Remember to look at shoes and accessories. Shopping now means you will have choices. Avoid shopping at the last minute. There will be fewer choices and many more shoppers.

A holiday checklist for fashion will determine whether you even need to buy anything extra at all. 


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Holiday decorating.

Think about how much decorating you want to do. If you're going away for the holidays you may want to decorate minimally.

Schedule time for decorating. It doesn’t have to happen overnight. You may decide to take a couple of days or more to get it all done. Remember, you're doing this in addition to the things you regularly do.

If there are decorations that you don’t want anymore, donate them right away. People are looking for decorations. If the items are broken, toss or recycle them.

Put your usual non-holiday décor away in the boxes you use to store your decorations so that your home doesn’t look cluttered.


The more you can prepare and do over time, the less rushed and stressed you'll feel on the actual holiday itself. Use the time in advance to strategize and organize so the things remaining are minimal.

The goal is to be able to relax and enjoy this season. Make yourself a holiday season 2021 planning checklist so that you can avoid feeling rushed or stressed and can embrace all this holiday season has to offer.

Here’s a holiday checklist template that you can personalize for your own use:

Holiday Meals

Which ones are you making?

What can you make in advance?

Make a non-perishable list of ingredients.

Make a list of perishable ingredients.

Holiday Gifts


Who are you giving to?

What is your budget?

Is it wrapped?

Do you have to mail it, or can you deliver it yourself?

Holiday Cards

Are you sending them by mail or email?


Do you have a picture or are you creating your own card?

Holiday Clothes

What are you wearing for the holidays?

Remember shoes and accessories.

Holiday Decorating

What are you decorating?

When are you going to do that?

Check out the infographic above for a shareable version of this holiday season 2021 planning checklist template. 

This may not be everything you need to make your own holiday checklist, but hopefully it's a great place to start. Make sure to have the most fun possible this holiday season by creating a checklist that works for you. 

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Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer®, a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC and co-owner of Release●Repurpose●Reorganize, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia. Contact Diane for help creating your own holiday checklist.