Holiday Planning: 10 Things to Do (Before You Do Anything Else)

Stop! Before you string the lights, start your shopping, or hang a single ornament on the tree, take some time to organize your holiday tasks. Follow these simple steps to keep the holidays from devouring your home, your time, and your mind.

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  1. It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...


    The holidays are upon us—but seasonal clutter need not take over the house, says organizing expert and author Donna Smallin Kuper. Follow her simple steps to keep your home tidy (and you sane) from now until New Year's Day.

  2. Stow Your Everyday Decor


    Before putting up holiday decorations on shelves or fireplace mantels... put away everyday items like vases or picture frames to make room for seasonal accents and avoid a crowded look. You'll be amazed at how much easier it will be to string a garland on a mantel when you start with an uncluttered canvas.

  3. Pare Down Your Pantry


    Before food shopping for holiday gatherings... go through the refrigerator and pantry to see what you already have, figure out what you need, and clear out anything that's past its expiration date.

    Related: Recipe for Success—10 Easy Kitchen Storage Hacks

  4. The Gift of Giving


    Before making your wish lists... involve your family in a whole-house clean out to determine what you no longer need and what you can donate to take advantage of end-of-the-year tax write-offs.

  5. Hidden Storage


    Before you start buying gifts... designate an out-of-the-way spot to stash them, like on a closet shelf or under a guest room bed. Be stealthy—make sure the kids don't discover your hidden storage location while you're concealing the presents.

  6. Optimize Your Route


    Before you go shopping for gifts and supplies for entertaining... make a list of the things you need and then organize your stops to make best use of your time. Resist impulse buying and stick to what's on your list.

    Related:  Gift Guide for the DIY Dad

  7. Showcase Your Cards


    Before the holiday cards begin to arrive... plan a spot to display them, whether on the mantel or in a decorative holder. Check the return addresses on incoming cards against those in your address book to be certain you're up to date, then recycle the envelopes.

  8. Cart Away Cardboard


    Before you stow mail-order gifts that have arrived, open the boxes to be sure you received the correct items in good condition with all necessary accessories, then recycle the bulky packaging. Those boxes and containers could have a second—and third—life if repurposed.

  9. That's a Wrap


    Before you start wrapping gifts... create a wrapping station where everything you need is in one place—scissors, wrap, ribbon, tape, tags and a pen. Make storage bins from repurposed containers and use pegboard for wall organization.

  10. Postal Panache


    Before you send holiday cards or gifts... set up a free online account at, where you can order stamps and shipping supplies. Not only will you avoid long lines at the post office, you'll be able to order the exact size box you need instead of having to hoard old boxes and trying to make do with whatever sizes you happen to have lying around.

  11. Prioritize Your Activities


    Before you commit to holiday activities... decide which events are most important to you and your family and put them on your calendar first. Then you can schedule everything else around them. After noting the date and time, address, directions, and any other important details on your calendar, recycle invitations.


  12. More...

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