Holiday Planning: A Focus on Family and Friends

#2 in the Holiday Planning guest series by Jennifer Tankersley

When you conjure mental images of past holidays, they are likely centered around family at the table, friends around a tree, or folks bundled up and gathered together for various celebrations.  Though we may spend a lot of time thinking about gifts, meals, and travel plans, it is our relationships to family and friends that truly make the holidays a special time of year. 

By starting your holiday planning early, you can be better prepared to take care of the details and then have the time to focus on what truly matters during the holidays.  Here are a few examples of the kinds of preparations to begin to consider: 


Holiday-window-shoppingAlthough gifts are supposed to be a selfless way to demonstrate your love and gratitude to another, they have become the single biggest stressor when it comes to the holidays. 

Not only is there so much pressure to find and afford the “perfect gift”, but the expectations of gift-giving are often unreasonable.  The first step to less stress at Christmas is to prepare your gift list. 

  • Gather your family around the table for a brainstorming session on how you can consider handmade gifts for family and friends. 
  • Start shopping online and through catalogs for ideas.  
  • Set budgetary limits. 
  • Give yourself a deadline well before Christmas to accomplish your gift-buying.


You may be tempted to just skip over this one, but how many people end up organizing gift wrap and wrapping gifts on Christmas Eve?  Taking inventory of your wrapping paper, gift bags, bows, ribbons, tape, and gift tags should be done as soon as possible.  Then schedule a gift-wrapping party with friends or plan to wrap present each week on a certain week night. 

Cards &/or Letters

The holidays are a great time for keeping in touch with family and friends, whether near or far.  The steps to accomplishing this in plenty of time is to sit down and plan out your needs; add cards, letters, or supplies (for making your own) to your shopping list; and schedule time with your family to write, fold, lick, stamp, and share in the fun.


Yes, there are expectations from family members.  Yes, there are traditions that must be carried out.  However, if we forget that the meaning of the holidays is to give, whether it be through some sacrifice of our time, our abilities, or our resources, we forego the happiness that is allowed for ourselves and others.  Brainstorm ways to give of yourself this holiday season.  It truly is better to give than to receive.

There are other ways to prepare for the holidays ahead of time.  Now is the time to be considering what can be done so that you can enjoy the holiday season to the fullest extent.  Join us as we talk about how to plan ahead for your holiday food, holiday festivities, and your holiday fortress in the next 3 weeks.

Jennifer Tankersley is the creator of which has hundreds of printable lists, checklists, and planning pages to put your world-and your holidays-in order.

She also writes, which gives a daily dose of inspiration and motivation to get you through the busy holiday season.

For More Organizing and Planning Tips for Busy Moms, also check out the Living Life at Home Podcast Interview with Jennifer Tanksersley.

Other Articles in this Holiday Planning Series:

Other Holiday Related Posts:

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