Making Three Lists and Checking Them A Lot

Break your seasonal to-do list into three master lists to ensure a smooth and joyous holiday.

Save time and focus this holiday season. ADDitude Magazine

Get out your Daytimer or Palm Pilot. Block out time to shop, cook, or just plain have fun.

For those of you who are impulsive and/or disorganized, making a "Holiday To-Do List" early is a must. Deciding what to put on it (and what NOT to put on it) however can be confusing. There are activities to schedule, parties to attend, gifts to buy and greetings to send. I suggest you break your holiday agenda down into three master lists.

List # 1: Activities

Don't wait until the last minute to plan the activities you choose to leave on your list. Plan them now. Get out your Daytimer or Palm Pilot. Block out time to shop, cook, or just plain have fun. Buy tickets for events early. Write out cards early and have them all ready to go by a cutoff date. Past that date, let it go and don't worry about it. It just plain didn't get done and that is all there is to it. Move on to other things and don't crowd the rest of your holiday schedule by trying to squeeze it in still.

Following are some suggestions of what your list might include. Be sure to add your own.

  • synagogue/church activities
  • card sending
  • gift giving/wrapping/mailing
  • party hosting/attending
  • family fun: caroling, sleigh rides, skating, skiing, etc.
  • viewing special holiday displays or lights
  • volunteer work and/or holiday donation
  • food shopping/menus
  • tree and indoor/outdoor decorating
  • pictures with Santa
  • romantic time with partner
  • holiday movies/theater/concerts
  • holiday cleaning
  • family and/or friend get-togethers
  • holiday baking/cooking

List #2: Gift Giving Budget

Making a gift giving list and deciding a spending limit for each person on the list is a lifesaver (and money-saver) for anyone, but especially those of us prone to last-minute shopping.

First, decide what your overall budget is for gifts and cards this season (see our sample below). Then write down the names of family and friends that you usually see over the holidays and exchange gifts with. On the list, put a few blanks for those last minute gifts you really did forget about, with an amount to spend on each that is within your budget - and stick to that number!

Sample Gift Budget (Total: $500.00)

  • Recipient: Spouse
  • Maximum: $150
  • Recipient: Mom
  • Maximum: $30
  • Recipient: Dad
  • Maximum: $30
  • Recipient: Sister or Husband
  • Maximum: $30
  • Recipient: Brother and Wife
  • Maximum: $30
  • Recipient: Nieces and Nephews (up $10 each)
  • Maximum: $50
  • Recipient: Grandma Smith
  • Maximum: $30
  • Recipient: Grandma and Grandpa Jones
  • Maximum: $30
  • Recipient: Best Friend and Husband
  • Maximum: $30
  • Recipient: Friends (up $10 each)
  • Maximum: $30
  • Recipient: Cards and Miscellaneous
  • Maximum: $30

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