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The Ultimate Holiday Planner, complete with tips and holiday checklist, for relaxed and organized holidays. Free Holiday Planning Checklist and bunches of tips for your most organized and relaxed Thanksgiving and Christmas ever! Week by week suggestions of what to tackle so that come the week of Thanksgiving and Christmas, you are all set to just relax and enjoy the festivities.

Shockingly, it is the beginning of November which means we are the downhill turn for all the quality time with family and friends, great food, excitement and potential stress related to the upcoming holidays.

So, let’s talk about what we can do now, in small increments, to be able to enjoy all the holidays have to offer and reduce the exhaustion that we would otherwise feel when the big days roll around.

I have found that the best way to avoid stress and enjoy a relaxed holiday is to get some planning and preparations done early. And as much as I use my phone for grocery lists and appointments, I find a printable planner works best for keeping me organized.  You can access this Printable Holiday Checklist in the Subscriber Benefits Library or click on one of the buttons at the bottom of this post and I’ll send it right to your inbox. I have 2 versions of this Holiday Planner; one is already filled in with suggested activities for the next 7 weeks, with extra space for your additions and the other is completely blank…ready for you to fill in with all of your activities.

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Preparations to do The First Week of November:

Our first priorities this month will be Thanksgiving Preparations, but we can also toss in a few Christmas Preparation tasks as well.

  • Now is the time to wrap your head first around what you will be serving for Thanksgiving. (there is space on the planners to do this) For many of us, this will be easy as we serve the same traditional dishes every year. However, for some of us, there will be some modest changes to that menu. Jot down in your Holiday Planner what your menu will look like, where you will find the recipes and start a grocery list of what will be needed for that sumptuous Thanksgiving feast. If you need some ideas, I’ve queried some of my talented foodie friends for their favorite Thanksgiving dishes.
  • At the same time, noodle what your table will look like. (there is space on the planners to do this) Do your linens need to be washed? Do you need some flowers for your centerpiece? If you are hosting a large group, do you have all the dinnerware and silverware you need? This post might serve as a prompt for some of these preparations.
  • Make note of your Christmas gift budget in total and by person. After years of using an excel spreadsheet to manage my gift budget, I have just started to use the Christmas Gift List app…but I think it is just available for Android. The Christmas List seems to be a popular app for Apple. I’ll report back on my thoughts about the app after I have used it for a while.
  • Start thinking of the gifts you hope to give. I am forever seeking gifts that will be useful and appreciated! Given my neverending desire to scale back and declutter, I am loath to add to someone else’s clutter! Make sure you are thinking about hostess gift ideas as well…we all have holiday parties that we will be attending!
  • If you will be making gifts to give, go ahead and plan than out. What will you make? Do you need some supplies? Need some ideas?
  • Make sure you have enough time to get your indoor and outdoor plants together for your holiday decorations. I plant my amaryllis bulbs around the first week in November to allow them enough time to grow and bloom for Christmas.

Holiday Preparations for the Second Week of November:

We are going to get a lot done this week for both Thanksgiving and Christmas and you will be so glad that you got these preparations started.

  • What food can you make ahead for Thanksgiving? (there is space on the planners to do this) This Turkey Stock is my go-to for the very best gravy. I have called my local groceries and the turkey drumsticks I need will be in next week. And this Winter Cranberry Conserve is sitting in my pantry ready for its big day.
  • Plan your Baking Schedule. This Holiday Baking Plan for Christmas cookies and treats will help you decide what you will bake and when you need it.blank
  • If you are baking Fruitcakes this year, go ahead and get that started so that your flavors have time to meld.
  • Will you be entertaining over the next 2 months? If so, go ahead and plan those events. When? Where? Menu? (there is space on the planners to do this)
  • If you are planning to switch up your holiday decor this year, now is the time to figure that out. (there is space on the planners to do this  Do you need to purchase anything? Make anything?
  • Along the same lines. If there is holiday decor you will not be using anymore, now is a great time to sell it on eBay or Facebook Marketplace or donate it to Goodwill or the ReStore. Your church may also know of families that may need some Christmas cheer.
  • Check your Gift Wrap Stash. Do you need more wrapping paper, ribbon, tape, gift tags, etc? 
  • And along the same lines, it is not too late to organize your gift wrap. This DIY Wrapping Paper Organizer Cart is truly one of my favorite organization projects.Wrapping Paper Organizer Cart

What To Do the Third Week of November to Help you Have Relaxed Holidays

Thanksgiving is next week, but we’ve been diligent about our holiday preparations, so we are not the least bit stressed! In fact, we are soaking up all the fun of this time of the year.

  • You’ve got your list of Food Gifts that you want to make, now is a great time to get in the kitchen and start to make some of those food gifts and chip away at that list.
  • Clean your home in anticipation of Thanksgiving and (if you are like me) Christmas decorating next week.
  • Pull out your Baking Schedule and get some of those treats made. We like to have a few Christmas treat when we start decorating the day after Thanksgiving.Recipe for Glazed Crisp Ginger Molasses Cookies and links to 6 more Holiday and Christmas Cookie Recipes, just in time to plan your baking!
  • Get those gifts that need to be mailed at the beginning of December.
  • Purchase as much of your Thanksgiving meal as is practical, leaving those perishables to be purchased next week.

What Preparations to do the Fourth Week of November

With Thanksgiving falling during the fourth week this year, it’s a good time to :


Holiday Preparations for the First Week of December

With Thanksgiving in the rearview mirror, it’s time to buckle down and prepare for Christmas.

  • Mail out-of-town gifts
  • Bake Christmas cookiesblank
  • Purchase and Wrap Giftsblank
  • Plan Christmas Eve and Christmas Day meals (there is space on the planners to do this!). I have some brunch and breakfast recipes for Christmas if you are interested.

Holiday Preparations for Second Week of December

Our Christmas Preparations continue this week…

  • Purchase and Wrap Gifts
  • Purchase your yearly ornaments. If you are like us, we are each given a special Christmas ornament from my mom every year. If this is your tradition as well, make sure you have purchased those ornaments. We use these Ornament Gift Bags to wrap them.
  • Do you have a puzzle going over the holiday? If so, do you need a new one?
  • Plan your Christmas tableblank

Christmas Preparations for the Third Week of December

Finish purchasing and wrapping gifts

Copper Gift Wrapping with Glitter Initial Tags
Copper Gift Wrapping with Glitter Initial Tags

What to do the Fourth Week of December:

  • Soak up this time with your family and friends!

Phew, that was a lot! But in bite-sized pieces, we will really be prepared come the weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas. As much as I think I thought of everything, I am sure I missed something. What did I miss? Please chime in with your suggestions so that I can add them.

So, grab your Holiday Checklist in the Subscriber Benefits Library or click one of the following buttons and I’ll send it right to your inbox!

Button to have pre-filled holiday planner sent to your email inbox

If you want the Holiday Planner with pre-filled with suggested tasks, click this button:

Click this button to have blank holiday planner sent to your inbox

If you’d like the outline of the Holiday Planner, but want to fill in all your own tasks, then click this button:

pin showing Ultimate Holiday Planner, Turkey Stock, food gifts and wrapped packages

Bookmark this page or pin the following image to refer back to this Ultimate Holiday Planner in the future.


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Until next time…



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