Try these 10 tried and true tips to help you add more joy into your holidays.

It is easy to forget the importance and magic of the holiday season when you get overwhelmed by all the holiday activities that need to get done. Keep in mind YOU are in control of how you spend your time and with a bit of planning and organizing, you can make the most of the time with your family. 

Remember, it’s okay to let go of “perfection” this holiday season. There is a famous quote we all need to live by: “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Next year, no one will remember that you didn’t have a lavish center piece or that you served a few less appetizers, but they will remember the memories you created of spending time with your loved ones.

Below are 10 tips to help you add more joy into your holidays with a few simple tried and true organizing tips.

1. Pick Your Priorities

The holidays are kind of like a trip to Disney World; it’s impossible to see all the rides and attractions. Call a family meeting and ask each person what their two favorite holiday activities are. Schedule them into a family calendar so you can enjoy the activities you treasure most rather than trying and do everything and become exhausted, cranky and worn down. Also add to the family calendar any mandatory gatherings, such as family parties, holiday school concerts or church pageants.

2. Sort Through Toys & Outgrown Coats 

Before your home explodes with new toys and gifts, take the time to purge unwanted, outgrown, or ignored toys to make room for the new additions that will be given at your family gathering. Consider donating toys to a center like Goodwill or local shelter. Non-profit groups may even do a local pick-up at your home for bulky items.

3. De-Clutter Before Adding Your Holiday Decorations

This is a great time to purge, donate and give your home a good cleaning before you add a layer of festive decorations. Adding decorations to a messy house can be challenge and you’ll regret not taking the time for a proper cleaning. You don’t need to do it alone – have a marathon 2-hour cleaning party with all family members. Your decorations will stand out much more when they’re not competing with household clutter.

4. Don’t Forget Healthy Everyday Activities

It’s easy to get focused on the holiday activities like shopping, socializing, holiday concerts, decorating and baking, but make sure you take the time to take care of your usual everyday activities like sleep, working out, eating nutritious meals, and even some occasional down time.  Tired adults and kids tend to produce meltdowns, rather than treasured memories.

5. Purge as You Unpack Holiday Decorations

As you unpack your decorations and find ones that may need to be replaced or fixed, consider tossing or donating them, so you have room for new additions. Old, dirty, and damaged decorations use up space that could be reserved for new additions and dull the shine of your other holiday decor. 

6. Consider ‘Less is More’ with Holiday Giving

It can be exhausting to find the perfect present for everyone on your list. Consider minimizing gift exchanges to a family gift exchange versus individual gifts or even just to the children under a certain age. In my family, we put all the names of the nieces and nephews in a bag and each family selects names based on the number of their children; so, for example I have 3 children, so I pull 3 names rather than getting gifts for 12 nieces or nephews. The adults all do a fun holiday activity rather than exchanging a physical gift. At the office, consider participating in Secret Santa, so you only have to purchase one office gift versus bringing in a bag full of individual items.

7. Set Up a Holiday Wrapping Area

Set up a wrapping area somewhere in your home; if you’re limited for space, a Rubbermaid bin will do. Gather all your supplies including gift bags, wrapping paper, tags, ribbons, tape, and scissors. Try wrapping gifts as you purchase them, so you can minimize the wrapping overload of tackling a big pile of presents. (This also helps to keep gifts secret from spying eyes anxious for a sneak peek.) If you’re exchanging gifts with people of different faiths, consider choosing paper in gold or silver that would be appropriate for Christmas or Hanukkah.

8. If You Want a Specific Gift, Make a List

Tell your spouse/significant other and other gift giving family members exactly what you want.  If you’re particularly picky (my Type A readers, you know who you are) buy it yourself and give it to them to wrap. Also, don’t forget to stock up on batteries – there’s always at least one gift that requires batteries to operate, so stock up on the standard sizes: A, AA, B, C, and D.

9. Don’t Overreact to Meltdowns

The holidays can be a tough time for many people especially if they have work stress, or had a recent loss of a loved one. Many people get overwhelmed and can have an emotional outburst (not just reserved for the little ones). Try and have compassion and empathy and remember that they’re not trying to ruin your holiday, but the holiday stress may have gotten the best of them.

10. Festive Holiday Containers Control the Clutter

The holidays also mean additional paper clutter and stuff seemingly everywhere. Arm your kitchen counter with a container that has a cover so that you can temporary store the clutter when unexpected guests come knocking at your door.


Getting organized allows you the ability to focus on the true meaning of the season. The holidays may mean a lot of different things to different families, depending on their individual beliefs. No matter what your faith is, by taking the time to get organized ahead of time it will allow you to truly appreciate the magic of the season and reflect on all your family’s many blessings.



About Kristin MacLaughlin

Mom of three, fosters rescued dogs, and is helping to drive the conversation about digital parenting as VP of Consumer Marketing for Zift.

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