Thanksgiving is behind us, and we all know what that means: Christmas is right around the corner.

And while the holidays are a time for happiness with a warm and fuzzy feeling in your heart, it’s also a time of stress, as a thousand things seem to pile on in just a few days: numerous Christmas parties, multiple presents to buy, meal prepping if you’re hosting and travel planning if you’re going away.
Social calendars get filled up very easily throughout December, and you can easily get caught up in the wave of madness without even realizing what hit you. So, how can you get organized? Here are a few tips to avoid going crazy ahead of Saint Nick’s arrival!

1. Plan presents ahead

Chances are you won’t see the perfect thing for each person until you’re at the store, but you can at least narrow down the possibilities by planning ahead. Make a master list of everyone you want to get a present to this year, and add things they like to each name, so you’re more likely to go to the stores or websites that sell the kind of items they’d enjoy the most.

2. Befriend a calendar

Whether you use an online tool or a good, old-fashioned planner, whip it out for real during December and set dates for each event so they don’t sneak up on you. Instead of having invitation cards all over the house, just add all your parties in one single place. Also take that time to set up days to go Christmas shopping, or at least the better part of it, to keep the last-minute gift-buying at a minimum.
If you’re traveling for the holidays, calendars are also great to make itineraries – as detailed as possible!

3. Think meals ahead

Playing host during the holidays? Get your Martha Stewart on long before Christmas day. In the week before your big dinner party, buy all the ingredients that don’t need to be fresh, and prep up as much as you can in advance without sacrificing taste. Get in touch with your guests ahead and make sure you’re working around issues like allergies and other dietary constraints.
The best hosts in the world have everything planned, while also leaving some room for the inevitable last-minute issues. Don’t plan so much you’ll forget how to have fun, though!

4. Make a budget

It’s too easy to go overboard during the holidays: you want to make the best out of December and also pamper your loved ones. Still, you don’t want to max out your credit cards and end up with a budgetary hangover come January, so set some goals when it comes to spending: prioritize. Maybe save those expensive presents to those closest to you, and don’t go necessarily over the top with coworkers: high price doesn’t always equal greatness, anyway!

5. Lists, lists, lists

In all, the key is this: make lists of everything. If you’re receiving family members at your home, be sure to make a list of everything you need to do around the house before your in-laws arrive. If you’re traveling, don’t forget to buy presents ahead and keep your travel dates in mind for any other social event.
Make lists for every single thing, and check them as you go along. Once you’re done, check them again item by item. It’ll keep you from going nuts in this joyous and stress-inducing time!