My Holiday “TO DO” List

When it’s time to begin planning for Thanksgiving and Christmas, especially the meals and decor, I love to pour myself a fresh cup of coffee and get comfortable with a stack of my favorite books and magazines for inspiration.

My favorite holiday book right now is “The Christmas Book” by Hallmark.  It’s chalk full of ideas for entertaining, gift-giving and decorating, with beautiful, glossy photographs.
Here’s a peek inside.
But after a few hours/days with my books, I start to get so many ideas and have so many things I want to do, that I can start to feel a little overwhelmed.  I feel like there is so much to do, from the meal-planning and grocery shopping, to the decorating and shopping, on top of all the regular duties of work, household chores, and parenting.  And don’t we always say we want to RELAX and ENJOY the holidays?

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One way I help myself calm down is by creating a holiday “to do” list.  I seriously think I would be lost without it!  And I create it EARLY in the season.  Like two weeks before Thanksgiving!

When I start to feel like my brain is going to explode from trying to remember and calendar and schedule too many things, I do a big ole’ “brain dump” onto a fresh, clean notebook.  A new (preferably pretty) notebook is somehow key to helping me feel better:)  Getting these thoughts out of my head and onto the paper is critical to my well-being.  Afterwards, I feel like I can relax because the “mental chatter” is now on the page and I don’t have to worry about forgetting something.


The next step is to break things up into manageable categories.  For example, I wrote out what I needed to do to complete our Thanksgiving table.  (Sometimes someone in our house likes to add to my lists, but it just makes me smile, seeing those little scribbles.)  I’ll also create categories like: Thanksgiving menu, Christmas decor ideas, Christmas projects, Gift lists, etc.


As for the Thanksgiving menu,  I write out list of things that looked good, then narrow it down to what I’m going to make, and create a grocery list.  I like to use the pre-printed “Real Simple” Grocery Lists for my shopping list.  I’ve got mine started.

Aside from the grocery store, I like to prepare a list of all the things I need to buy from places like Hobby Lobby, Michaels, Target, or WalMart for decor, projects and gifts so that I’m not constantly back-tracking it 100 times because I should have picked up the items while I was there.

Obviously, these lists evolve and change, but since our time is precious, I like to accomplish as much as I can while I’m out.

I literally pull out the calendar so I can see how many days we have to accomplish what needs to be done.  And seriously, do not kill yourself with your calendar.  We need to have days with little to nothing on the agenda so we can just chill and be lazy.

My November calendar looks something like this:

Are you a list person too?  Any tips you’d like to share for how you juggle and keep track of everything during the holidays?



  1. November 16, 2011 / 2:36 pm

    I think we were separated at birth. hahahaha
    I'm a list maker under normal circumstances, but the holidays brings it on full force. Tis the season of lists, lists and more lists. I've got gift idea lists, purchased gift lists, dessert lists, decorating lists, and then your regular 'ol holiday to-do lists.
    PLUS, I just gutted my daughter's bedroom yesterday in preparation of moving my son in with her. Once the shared room is done (wow that list is long), his old room will turn into a nursery for the baby that will be here the first of February. I woke up this morning wondering what in the world I was thinking starting these projects the week before Thanksgiving! So yes, lists definitely keep this mama sane!

  2. November 16, 2011 / 2:40 pm

    you are just amazinig with that organization skill. Just looking at those magazines must be exciting and fun.

  3. November 16, 2011 / 2:54 pm

    I love lists! It's something I always mention in interviews.

  4. November 16, 2011 / 3:00 pm

    i LIVE by lists!!! i use project girl's lists for anything and everything…keeping up with diet/workouts, shopping lists, to-do lists, birthdays, etc–typical type-a person over here 😉

  5. November 16, 2011 / 3:30 pm

    I make a list for EVERYTHING!! How do people get through the day without a list? 🙂 My husband said he was talking with other guys the other day about their wives and their lists. haha I started my Christmas lists a couple of weeks ago – menus, gifts, decorating, christmas cards. I love seeing it all organized! Thanks for sharing your process with us. That holiday book is gorgeous by the way!

  6. November 16, 2011 / 5:08 pm

    I LOOOVE lists! My hubby makes fun of me and my "hard copies." It just makes me feel better…I have branched out and downloaded a couple of iPhone organization apps but it's just not the same 🙂

    Have a great week!

  7. Maria
    November 16, 2011 / 5:41 pm

    I love lists! I've learned to keep a menu/list of Thanksgiving/Christmas foods in my cookbook. It makes things much easier if you plan on cooking the same or favorite foods year after year.
    I also take a notebook with looseleaf paper and add my Christmas lists (presents,decorations,catalog orders etc.)
    Happy holiday planning!

  8. November 16, 2011 / 6:51 pm

    Great tips! Definitely makes things seem more manageable if you break it down that way! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Lili
    November 16, 2011 / 1:27 pm

    great schedule tips! altho, were going out of town for the holidays, its still helps to get organized for holiday decorating and gift buying!

  10. November 16, 2011 / 7:34 pm

    Great tips! My plan will never be as well organized but I'm going to make an attempt!

  11. November 16, 2011 / 8:02 pm

    I love love love lists! I am glad someone else is already starting to organize Christmas! I made my Christmas planner a couple of weeks ago, and can't wait to get started after Thanksgiving on all of it! Love your blog… so precious

  12. Amanda
    November 16, 2011 / 2:28 pm

    im not worthy, im not worthy- your organized ninja skills amaze me girl!!! And that book looks awesome!

    p.s. your lamp shipped- I'll let you know when I get it- we'll have to meet up for coffee soon 😉

  13. Courtney {a thoughtful place}
    November 16, 2011 / 3:51 pm

    I am so impressed my dear. I need to get used to a calendar more. I make lists like nobody's business . . . but drop the ball when it comes to using a calendar. I am not proud of that. You have inspired me.

  14. natasha {schue love}
    November 16, 2011 / 4:30 pm

    Love how organized you are…you put me to shame!

  15. Andrea
    November 16, 2011 / 7:24 pm

    You're so organized! I LOVE IT!! way to go!

  16. Traci
    November 16, 2011 / 7:45 pm

    I'm definitely a list person. I just recently got an Erin Condren planner & I love it for this purpose. I have everything in it so I know all my lists are in one place!!

  17. Michaela
    November 16, 2011 / 8:32 pm

    Such great tips for an organized holiday season! I'm a big list maker also (:

  18. November 17, 2011 / 3:41 am

    How do you have time to do so much? By the end of the season my to-do list will likely show more items put off than crossed off!

  19. Cassie {Hi Sugarplum!}
    November 16, 2011 / 10:22 pm

    I need to know about this lunch with James and Jimmy!! 🙂

    I keep a monthly calendar for the blog, and pencil in projects on the days I want to post them. That way I always know what projects I need to finish up and photo. Things fill up quickly when doing that!

    Love all your organization!

  20. Allison
    November 17, 2011 / 3:18 am

    I admire your organization, Megan! Great tips! I am a list person myself….I could not manage without. I do need work in the calendar department. Good for you for staying on track.

  21. Nicolette @ Momnivore's Dilemma
    November 17, 2011 / 4:25 am

    it must be us 30ish somethings, b/c we came about when chandlers were the means of organizing ourselves.

    I am a Apple-addict, but still need to physically write down lists.

    Love the calendar idea! You would have made a excellent teacher with your mad organizing skills. I'm sure your cases as a lawyer look the same…

  22. November 17, 2011 / 2:38 pm

    I love love love lists! I have them on my phone, calendar, paper lists, on white boards in my office, I am a little list obsessed. 🙂 but they keep me feeling like I've got things under control.

    Thanks for sharing all your organizational skills, I really enjoy reading about them and picking up some new tips… keep them coming!

  23. Chassity (Look Linger Love)
    November 17, 2011 / 1:47 pm

    You are SO on top of this! My organization skills are lacking, clearly 😉

  24. November 17, 2011 / 8:00 pm

    I just bought a little binder for my holiday things (lists, calendar, coupons)…need to organize it this weekend! (yes, I'm a little behind). Did you create your own printables?

  25. November 18, 2011 / 8:33 am

    Love this post! And I, too, love the "real simple" collection at Target. Organizing makes me so happy! Someone (maybe you?) should post some "Holiday To Do List" printables. Love your blog! xo

  26. November 18, 2011 / 12:41 pm

    I make lists all the time, because like you said – it gets the mental chatter to calm down. You're going to be super organized this holiday, at least compared to me! Hopefully I can snag a few quiet minutes around Thanksgiving to get planning like this.

  27. November 18, 2011 / 4:11 pm

    I am all about lists. I'm working on my planner today, make sure I have all those holiday items down. Thanks for the inspiration!

  28. November 19, 2011 / 11:01 pm

    Great tips! I'm also obsessed with lists — so much so I've dedicated my blog to it!

    Maybe we can collaborate at some point. Thanks for all these wonderful ideas for the holidays…the craziest time of the year and where lists come in handy the most! 🙂

  29. November 22, 2011 / 6:34 am

    Wow, wow, wow. You are so organized! That's great because now you'll get to really ENJOY the holiday! Good for you!

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