10 Simple Things You Can Start Planning Now For A Stress-Free Holiday Season

You can avoid stress during the holidays by setting realistic expectations and planning ahead now!

Stress Management Techniques For How To Keep Calm During The Holidays unsplash / Alisa Anton

I know, it’s still October. However, the truth is that the holidays are right around the corner, and the thought of that can be a bit stressful. 

After Halloween, holidays like Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas quickly follow. But using these stress management techniques, you can start your holiday preparations now to keep calm during the holidays.

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Halloween is not officially a holiday, but to me, it feels like Halloween marks the beginning of the holiday season.

I recommend beginning your planning now so that you set aside time to make sure you have everything you need to get rid of stress and have a fun holiday season with your family.

Here are 10 important items you should start planning and purchasing now in order to give yourself a calm, happy holiday!

1. Plan your holiday meals and grocery list ahead of time.

Plan these meals in advance and make different shopping lists. One for perishable ingredients and the other for dry ingredients.


Buy the dry ingredients ahead of time or if they go on sale.

If you have a separate freezer you can make some things ahead and freeze them.

Can you order parts of the meal from a bakery or grocery store? If you can, remember to schedule a time to pick up these items.

2. Make your gift list and plan a budget.

What is your gift-giving budget? Who are you giving to?

Remember to include gifts or tips for your regular hairdresser, any delivery people or service people.

Do you have to mail the gifts? When do they have to get to the post office to get to the person on time?

Plot those dates into your calendar. Get a couple of hostess gifts so that you have them on hand if you’re invited to a party.


3. Gather or purchase your gift supplies.

Look through your gift wrap supplies. Do you have enough tape, wrapping paper, and ribbon? How about decorations?

Now is the time to get those supplies.

4. Send out holiday cards.

Are you creating a photo card? Do you have the picture? When can you take the picture, if you don’t have one?

Otherwise, put buying cards on your shopping list.

Do you have the addresses you need? Do you write a personal message on each card? Start early to avoid stress.

Giving cards is not meant to be a stressful activity, but it becomes one when you’re rushing to get it done.

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5. Are you hosting or attending any holiday parties?

Do you want to give a holiday party? If so, pick a date and send out invitations well in advance so the people you invite can mark their calendars. Then plan your menu.

Can you delegate parts of the menu to your friends? Often people will ask, "What can I bring?" If you’ve planned your menu you can ask for specific items.

This will help you out and make your friends feel helpful. A win/win for everyone!

6. Prepare for holiday events.

Think about the special holiday events that happen in your town or city.

Decide which ones you want to attend. Mark your calendar.

Do you need to buy tickets to attend? If you have children or grandchildren, do you want to take them to see Santa at the mall? Do you need an appointment?


7. Make time for and schedule personal appointments now.

Hairdressers, nail technicians, and many other personal situations may end up getting slammed during the holidays.

Make your hair appointment or any other personal appointments well in advance so you get the day and time you want.

8. Plan out any outfits or costumes.

Look at your holiday or party clothes. Do you want to get anything cleaned or fixed? Do you want to get an accessory or two to update your holiday wear?


9. Prepare your decorations.

I like to put up holiday decorations the day after Thanksgiving. This way I can donate out any decorations that I know I don’t want anymore, but which are still in good enough shape for someone else to use.

Some people put up their holiday lights and decorations as soon as the Halloween decorations come down. Do what works for you.

10. Don't forget to make time to relax!

You will enjoy the holidays more if you take time for yourself. Get exercise, set realistic expectations, and breathe.

The holidays are meant to be a time to gather with friends and family. A time to share meals and experiences. You can get caught up in the flurry of activities. Think about setting realistic expectations. Do as much or as little as you want.


As you go about planning for the upcoming holidays remember spending time and making memories with those you love are things to treasure.

Don't be afraid to reach out to a professional if you need help organizing or planning!

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Diane N. Quintana is a certified professional organizer, ICD master trainer, and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC, based in Atlanta, Georgia. Diane teaches busy people how to become organized and provides them with strategies and solutions for maintaining order in their lives.