The holiday countdown is officially on, which means you’ll be screaming “Happy New Year” in no time. Getting organized early saves you from the holiday madness and keeps you stress free enough to actually sit back and enjoy the season.

Use this checklist to get organized, on the double.

Last week of November
  1. Buy your holiday cards and stamps and organize addresses.
  2. Create a list of everyone you’re thinking of ‘gifting’ and jot down some ideas.
  3. Ask friends and relatives to give you clues for gift ideas or set up an online wishlist.
  4. Buy new batteries for your camera.
  5. Major shopping days like Black Friday are your chance to stock up on gifts early, so get shopping.
  6. If you plan a Christmas or New Year’s Eve party, stock up on bulk items like toilet paper, paper towels and plastic containers for leftovers.
  7. Start collecting ideas for your Christmas or New Year’s Eve party outfit.

First Week of December

  1. Mail out your holiday cards.
  2. Create a space for storing gifts and assemble your gift-wrapping essentials nearby. We’re talking scissors, gift-wrap, boxes, and gift bags.
  3. There’ll be lots of returns and exchanges so designate a box to throw in all your gift receipts.
  4. Start looking for menu ideas for your party, to include cakes and cookies and start assembling early.
  5. Restock your cabinet to include that brown liquor you know your uncles like.
  6. Unpack your holiday decorations and replace any damaged ornaments.

Second Week of December

  1. Finalize travel arrangements: flights, car rentals, check-in, and pickup times.
  2. Restock on soaps and hand towels for the bathroom for your home if you’re expecting guests.
  3. Order your turkey or ham from your butcher or deli if you’re cooking this year.
  4. Start organizing babysitting early so you’re not stuck calling around at the last minute.
  5. Mail gifts to out of town friends and family late this week.

Third Week of December

  1. Finalize your shopping, especially from online retailers who might start hiking shipping fees.
  2. Give your house a thorough cleaning, focusing particularly on the bathroom and kitchen, the two rooms your guests will most likely frequent the most.
  3. Take inventory of your dishes, utensils, and glasses and restock where necessary.
  4. Make sure all your baking goods are in order. Make sure all gifts are wrapped and ready to be presented.

Christmas Week

  1. Haircuts, mani/pedi’s or braiding should be done early in the week to avoid getting stuck at the salon on Christmas Eve.
  2. Start cooking your broth and side dishes early this week and freeze them.
  3. Lay out your dishes and serving platters.
  4. Wash and iron your table linen and napkins and straighten out placemats and napkin holders.
  5. Put your Christmas outfit together.
  6. Place gifts under the tree or start giving them to the intended recipients.
  7. If you’re hosting: Set the adult and kids table and make room in the hallway closet for coats.
  8. At your dinner, make sure to delegate. Ask a cousin to take care of the music, or your sister to handle all the coats.
After Christmas
  1. Use gift cards immediately or chances are you’ll forget about them.
  2. Start finalizing your New Year’s Eve plans to avoid last minute party flops.

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