How Couples Can Get Organized for Christmas

How Couples Can Get Organized for Christmas


By Carrie Lowrance

The Christmas season will soon be upon us, and we will be up to our elbows in commitments, baking, shopping, cooking, etc. Christmas is the most stressful time of the year for people, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We still have a few weeks before Thanksgiving; now is the time to get organized. Take a weekend or two, sit down with your spouse to plan, and then tackle what needs to be gone through together. You will have everything organized and know what you need, where you are going, and when in no time.

The “B” Word

Before you sit down and organize or plan anything, make a budget for your holiday season. Take a quick glance and factor in the elements below that apply to your situation. Most people groan at this thought, but you will thank yourself in the long run. A budget will keep you from overspending and overstressing.


Couple and friends decorating for hosting Christmas party dinner

Work Parties: Write when your work Christmas parties are and what time.

Parties with Friends: Most people attend at least 2-3 Christmas parties at a friend’s house. Write those down.

Christmas Dinners: Many families host different dinners at different times, so make sure your dinner at Grandma and Grandpa Jones doesn’t overlap with dinner at Grandma and Grandpa Seagroves and that you are off from work (if applicable) to attend.

Date Nights: Just because the holidays are here does not mean you neglect date nights with your spouse. Plan those nights ahead of time and decide what you will do, even if it’s just staying in and ordering Chinese and watching a movie.

School Parties: Write all the school parties your children will have and their time. This way, you will know where you are going and on what day.

School Pageants: Chances are, you may have one or two school pageants to go to; write the date and time and add them to the list.

If you are lucky enough to work a job where you shut down for a week or two during the holidays, add that to the calendar and decide who will be responsible for getting the kids ready for school or taking them to daycare and picking them up.

School Break: Write when school break is for each of your children. Also, if you have little ones in daycare, double-check when they will be open. I’ve worked at daycares that are open right until Christmas Eve but close early that day and for ones that close down the week of and after Christmas.

Once you have all these things written, add them to your phone and your spouse’s phone so everyone knows what’s happening. You could also buy a dry-erase calendar board to put on the refrigerator and add your schedule to that. This way, if something changes, it’s easy to wipe off and change.


Happy family at christmas girl putting star on christmas tree

Christmas Tree: Look at your Christmas tree and see what kind of shape it’s in. Then, decide if it needs to be replaced.

Christmas Tree Lights: Plug in your Christmas tree lights and see if any of them need to be replaced.

Ornaments: Go through your ornaments and see if you have ones that are broken or tarnished and need replacing. If you have ones you don’t use anymore, you can donate them to someone else to use. Also, ensure you have enough hooks on hand to hang them with.

Outdoor Lights: Look at your outdoor lights for thinning or frayed wires that may need replacing.

Outdoor Decorations: Double check your outdoor decorations and make sure they don’t need any replacing either, things like molded plastic decorations and inflatables.


Senior couple happy laughing cooking together for Thanksgiving in kitchen

Plan your menu-Sit down and plan your menu. When I say this, I’m talking for the entire month. Look at your busiest evenings and plan something simple like soup and sandwiches or something in the crock or Instapot. This will help cut down on getting take out several nights in a row.

However, if you need to get take out a night or two, it’s okay if it makes it easier. We get subs the night before Thanksgiving because we have been cooking all day and prepping food for the big day.

Set a Budget: It’s easy for food prices to get out of sight, especially during the holidays. Sit down with your spouse and set a food budget over the holiday season. This should include regular groceries, extra special holiday treats, trays you will take to parties, and candy for the kids’ stockings.

Decide How Groceries Are Going to Be Handled: These days, grocery delivery is a dream come true for most people. However, depending on your area, you can decide what’s right for you. Is it easier to get groceries delivered, or would dropping by on the way home to pick them up be easier? Take some time to weigh convenience versus cost.

Plan for the “Run Out Ofs”: It never fails; we always run out of something. Bread, milk, eggs, butter, you name it. Set aside a certain amount of cash for the “out of” so you will have money to pick up those pesky essentials that always disappear like magic.

Baking Supplies: I love to bake and keep a close eye on my baking supplies this time of year. Go through your cabinets and make sure you have enough of all your baking essentials. We think of things like flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and cocoa.

Don’t forget different baking chips, flavorings, cupcake liners, wax paper, parchment paper, cake decorations, shortening, lard, or other unusual things you may need. For example, the potato chips for the potato chip cookies you want to make or the maraschino cherries for the cherry almond cookies.

Plan for Parties: If you are hosting a party, take time to decide what you want to have and research approximately how much it will cost. Going to a party? Decide on what you want to take and research the cost of ordering a pre-done tray vs. making your own. Sometimes, there is a significant price difference, and sometimes there isn’t.


senior couple looking at laptop planning finances

Set a Gift Budget: Sit down and set a budget for gifts, including gifts you buy for Toys for Tots or the Salvation Army Angel Tree, for nieces and nephews, etc. Keep in mind that everyone’s budget is different, and there is no right or wrong answer to this. Do what you can and remember the true meaning of the season.

Plan Out What Everyone Is Getting: If you have kids, plan out what each child will get. As for each other, set a budget that each of you can spend so you can surprise each other later. To make things easier, maybe limit three gifts per child.

Account for Giving: Plan for any giving you want to do and factor that into your holiday budget.

How and Where Are Gifts Going to Be Delivered: If someone is home all day to watch for deliveries, great. However, if you have kids that like to snoop or have a lot of porch pirating going on, you may opt to have your gifts sent to an Amazon locker or to the store for pickup or even to a relative who lives close by and is always home to get deliveries right away.

Plan for Wrapping Essentials: Nothing is worse than running out of wrapping paper, boxes, bags, gift cards, or scotch tape. Make sure you take stock of what you have and need to buy, but don’t pay a ton of money for it. I like to go to The Dollar Tree to get my Christmas wrapping supplies because they have a great variety and are friendly to my budget.

Also, don’t forget to account for those odd-shaped gifts you may need a jumbo bag for or a gift basket that may need a cellophane gift basket bag to finish it.

Christmas Cards or No Cards: If you love sending Christmas cards, make a list of recipients and then look and see what you have on hand and if you need to buy more. Another alternative to getting past expensive postage is by sending e-cards to those you love.

Add Dates On the Calendar for Ordering Gifts: Make sure you know when the absolute last day is for ordering gifts to be delivered for Christmas from your favorite stores, and add it to your calendar.


Look for Deals: Start looking early for deals on travel if you are going home for the holidays.

Book Your Tickets: Book your tickets when you find a great deal.

Booking the Rental Car: Make sure you have a rental car booked.

Booking a Hotel: Shop around and make sure you book hotel reservations early.

Policies: Double check policies on baggage, ticket refunds, cancellations, rental car insurance, room bookings, check-in/check-out policies, etc.

Packing List: Sit down and make a detailed list of what everyone needs to pack before holiday travel, then print it off and give each person their list. Except for kids under ten, let your older kids and teenagers pack their own bags.

Plan for Fees/Extras: Don’t forget to add in things like parking fees at the airport, if you need to eat a meal at the airport, snacks and drinks, etc.


Woman calculating Christmas costs

Plan for “Emergencies”: Sometimes, with the holidays come emergencies. A flat tire, the dog or cat ate x and has to go to the ER, a slip on the ice, or a fall down the stairs. It happens.

Plan by setting aside some extra money to cover co-pays or a new tire, and have a plan in place on how you will handle things. As for your pets, have several layers of financial protection. I am no stranger to pet emergencies after having a cat with chronic kidney failure and a cat with diabetes, and trust me; I wish I knew about pet insurance then.

This time around, I have a savings account for our new cat. We also have insurance, an account with Pap, and a care credit card. This gives me peace of mind that it will be okay if something happens.

Also, know where the nearest person and pet ER are to your house. It’s easy to forget things when you are worked up. Keep a list of numbers by the refrigerator and on your phone.

Don’t Forget a Babysitter: Look over your calendar and see when you will need a babysitter and book accordingly.

Book a Pet Sitter: If you are leaving your fur babies for the holidays, book a sitter early.

Hire a House Sitter: Make sure you contact someone you trust early to watch your house while you are gone for the holidays.

There are lots of things to think about with the holidays coming up, but if you plan and plan early, you are bound to have less stress and more joy this holiday season.


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