10 Time Management Tips for the Holidays: Save Time While Having Fun!

Written by Domantas Vanagas

November 4, 2021

There are presents to be bought, big meals to cook, and plenty of people to get together with. It can be stressful to have so many responsibilities, so staying organized is the best approach. Here are 10 tips on managing your time for a stress-free holiday season


Save Time With Holiday To-Dos 

It can be hard to keep track of everything that you need to get done. You don’t want to worry about forgetting about something important, especially during the holidays. Here are some tips for an easy time management strategy: the to-do list.


1. Make a Checklist

Start to make your list by writing down everything that needs to get done from the beginning of the season to the end of it.

woman writing in her notebook

Also include things that need to be done ahead of time and things that you’ll need to do on the day of a holiday celebration.

If you’re worried you’re forgetting something or want some inspiration, here is a thorough holiday checklist that you can look through.


2. Note the Deadlines

Now that you have a checklist, look through it and see which items have specific deadlines.

When do all of your holiday cards have to be sent? If you don’t like last-minute shopping, when is the last day for buying presents?

Mark these dates down on a calendar or put them into a personal planner.


3. Split Up Your List

If you’re looking at your calendar and checklist and getting overwhelmed, don’t worry. To split up your list, organize it into what can be done at any time during the month, then the week, and what needs to be done today. This breaks up your list into manageable pieces and helps you get things done efficiently.

Here’s an example of some holiday to-do’s that have already been divided up:


  • Go ice skating
  • Go to the holiday market
  • Visit extended family


  • Watch holiday movie with family
  • Mail holiday cards
  • Get decorations out of storage
  • Decorate tree


  • Buy groceries for the week
  • Go to the tree lighting ceremony
  • Wrap presents


Cooking for the Holidays 

Homecooked meals are an important part of many people’s holiday traditions. They are a labor of love, and all the effort that goes into cooking requires some planning ahead of time.

various spices in teaspoons

Here are some ways to organize to make sure your meals make it to the table on time:


4. Plan Out Your Meals

You probably know what you’re going to be making for your holiday meal, but what about the rest of the meals in the season?

It’s easy when you’re busy to forget about cooking dinner. By the time you have to decide what you’re going to eat, you’re exhausted. This tiredness around dinnertime can be a result of decision fatigue. Decision fatigue comes from all of the small choices in your day adding up and leaving you drained. All of this applies 10X if you are a mom trying to manage everything. Read these time management tips we prepared for moms, and get prepared!

When you meal plan, you avoid this by making the choices in advance. To get started, get out your calendar and pick what you want to eat each day. Then make a grocery list of all the ingredients you need to make each recipe, and you’re set.


5. Prepare Ahead of Time 

Leaving everything until the last minute only creates stress. Part of the stress is knowing that you’re putting something off, and part of it comes later when you don’t know how you’ll get it all done in time. 

To take the pressure off, prepare parts of your meals before it is time to cook them. If you aren’t busy in the mornings, use that time to assemble dinner, put it in the fridge, and then all that’s left to do is cook it in the evening. You can do the same in the evenings to prepare for the next day.

You can also use this tip to prepare for your holiday feast. By chopping vegetables or preparing desserts ahead of time, you lighten your workload on what is sure to be a busy day.


6. Stay in Your Comfort Zone

You don’t have to reinvent your holiday dinner for your loved ones to enjoy it. It’s likely that they would prefer old favorites to new, fancier dishes. You can save time this way too.

Cooking recipes you’ve cooked before means that you know how long they take, and how to prioritize each step. You can experiment another night, but for now, save yourself the stress of trying a new recipe.

It’s perfectly fine to make something you make every year – that’s why they call it a holiday tradition! 


Enjoy the Process

The holidays are meant to be a time of joy. It’s important that you get a chance to enjoy the season, even if you have lots to do.

If you are struggling with balancing getting things done and having a good time, here are some tips for you:


7. Ask for Help

It feels great to accomplish tasks all by yourself, but if it starts to feel overwhelming, don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

Sharing your workload means that you can focus on things that can only be done by you, or on tasks that you enjoy doing. Look at when you have to choose between items on your to-do list – like cleaning the house or wrapping presents. Can your kids tidy the house while you wrap? With the time you save, you could spend quality time together.


8. Have a Backup Plan

Even though you have put lots of effort into planning, something unexpected can always happen. Without making a backup plan beforehand, you spend unnecessary time figuring out what to do.

If you’re upset, this can take even longer. This doesn’t mean you have to make a detailed plan for everything you’re doing, just focus on the items on your list that you know would be difficult to deal with if something went wrong.  


9. Make Time for Fun

Once you’ve carefully scheduled your time, it can be hard to let that planning go when an opportunity for fun comes along. To keep you from worrying about choosing between work and play, make having a good time a part of your agenda.

Find a day of the week where your schedule is open, and make that a ‘fun day.’ This can be your day for baking treats, going to holiday markets, seeing family, and all the other activities that make the holidays special. By picking a day of the week, you know to organize your time during the week so you are free to enjoy yourself. 


10. Don’t Stress About Perfection 

Trying to make the holidays special is great, but trying to make them perfect will only lead to wasted time. Instead of spending hours obsessing over which new decorations would look best in your house, pull out the decorations you already have.

If you’re scrolling through your social media feed and thinking that everyone is having the perfect holiday season, it’s time to put down your phone.

If you’re worrying about whether or not you’re making the holidays perfect, it takes time that could be used to get up and do something.

It doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing, what matters is being with your loved ones and enjoying your time together. While you plan and manage your time this holiday season, remember that all you only need to do your best, not the best.

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