With the holiday season swiftly approaching, it’s time to approach our Christmas preparations with thoughtful planning and peace of mind.
In this Complete Planning Guide, I’ve outlined every step for you, so there’s no need to make your own list. With this guide, you can confidently tackle each task, knowing that every preparation has been considered and laid out for you.
You’ll get a week-by-week Christmas checklist of holiday tasks four weeks before Christmas. Get helpful tips to save time and get it done so you can savor the season.
Ready to navigate the festive season with ease? Great! Let’s dive in.
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. That means that, at no extra cost to you, I may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more about it on my disclaimer page.
When should I start prepping for Christmas?
When it comes to the Christmas holidays, timing is important. You want to prep as early as possible. In my opinion, four weeks is the sweet spot. Prep too early, and you might overdo it (especially your budget) and realize the extra work wasn’t worth it. Prep too late, and you’ll be pulling your hair out.
If four weeks seems early to you, trust me, it will save your sanity if you get started now.
Starting now means you’ll be sipping cocoa by the fire with everything wrapped up (literally), while everyone else is scrambling.
Let’s make a list (and check it twice) to ensure you’re the queen of calm this season.
How to Plan Christmas
Planning for Christmas shouldn’t feel like you’re sledding uphill. So grab your planners or mine (you can get it here) and let’s get prepared and ready for Christmas.
Week by week, I’ll lay out what to get done. I’ll tackle the trimmings, gifts, feasts, and more with time to spare for what truly matters – those merry moments with your loved ones.
By breaking it down into weekly wins, you’ll be jingling all the way to a perfectly planned Christmas.
I know what you’re thinking, “How am I going to do all of this?” You are not. You are not going to do each and every task on your own. A happy and stress-free mom delegates, and you will do just that.
Keep in mind every family is different, so if anything on the list doesn’t apply to you, feel free to change it so it does.
You got this! Remember, your family is a team, you can’t make it work without teamwork!
Here’s your week-by-week plan.
4 Weeks before Christmas
Planning and Organization
- Create a budget. Determine how much you can comfortably spend on gifts, decorations, and other holiday expenses. Set limits for each category to avoid overspending. I have a great All-in-One Holiday Planning spreadsheet that does exactly this. Plan, budget, and track everything this holiday. Get it here.
- Break down all the holiday tasks you need to complete into smaller, more manageable steps. This will make the preparations less overwhelming and help you stay on track. Don’t have the mental energy? Here’s a fast, easy, and free tool to break down tasks into microtasks for better manageability.
- Plan your meals: Plan your holiday meals in advance and make a grocery list to avoid last-minute rushes. Consider preparing some dishes in advance that can be frozen or reheated later. Plan to Eat and eMeals are great options for meal planning.
- Forward event information: If you are planning a Christmas party, send all the necessary details for the event, like the location, the time of arrival, and the expected attire. For fast delivery, send invitations and other communications digitally.
- Get a Christmas tree or take it out of storage: No need to decorate it yet if you don’t have the time. You can plan for this the following week.
- Arrange for a family photo: If you want a professional holiday photo, now is the time to book.
- Create a shared calendar with your family to keep track of holiday events, deadlines, and commitments. This will help everyone stay on the same page and avoid conflicts. My recommendations for shared calendar: Google Calendar for its simplicity, and Todoist for its clean layout and customizations.
- Set a budget for each gift recipient to avoid overspending. Consider making homemade gifts or giving experiences instead of material items.
- Schedule time for yourself. Take breaks throughout the holiday season to recharge and avoid burnout. Schedule some time for relaxation and activities that bring you joy.
Time Savers: 4 Weeks before Christmas
1. Digital cards and invites are popular for a good reason. You can get all the variety you can handle without having to get in your car, drive to the store, browse, wait in a long lineup, and then drive back home. That’s a lot of time to get cards, even if you are doing other shopping, it still takes up a lot of time.
Digital cards will save you all that time and they are still thoughtful. You’ll save on postage too and don’t have to worry about your cards getting lost in the mail. If you prefer snail mail, check your postal service holiday schedule to make sure your mail arrives on time.
2. Use easy gift-wrapping solutions. Use gift bags, boxes, or baskets instead of wrapping paper. This will save you time and hassle, plus you can reuse them for future occasions. Don’t forget gift wrapping services or delegate them to a family member who loves to wrap gifts.
3. Use a meal prep app or meal kit service to build your Christmas menu. Apps like eMeals and Plan to Eat have features that help you easily find recipes, create a shopping list, connect with grocery delivery services, and make customizations according to your family’s preferences and needs.
Find out what they have to offer in these posts:
3 Weeks before Christmas
Shopping and Gift-Giving
- Start your gift shopping: Utilize online shopping or off-peak hours to avoid crowded stores and long lines. Take advantage of online reviews and comparison websites to make informed decisions and save time.Use camelcamelcamel for deals on Amazon or compare prices on BrickSeek.
- Wrap gifts: As you purchase gifts, start wrapping them to avoid a last-minute rush. Involve your family members in the wrapping process to make it a fun and shared activity. There are other ways to wrap gifts other than with paper rolls, there’s gift boxes, gift bags and reusable gift fabric or Furoshiki, that save time and look amazing.
- Send out holiday cards: Choose cards or digital greetings that reflect your family’s personality. Address and mail your cards to ensure they arrive before the holidays. If you want to save time and send beautiful and thoughtful cards, Greenvelope has it.
- Buy and gift Advent calendars: This is a common holiday tradition for many families but if it’s not yours, swap it for one you and your family follow.
- Buy your turkey or ham: So you’re not out of luck getting one last-minute, plan to purchase one this week.
- If you have the space, consider a gift closet or gift drawer where you can keep sale and end-of-year clearance items to store for unexpected occasions or last-minute needs.
- Don’t forget e-gifts or e-cards. They are convenient and deliver instantly. Many of these can be purchased using rewards points, so if you have any points or rewards online, you can save some money and send gifts fast.
- Online marketplaces that sell both new, and used items and handmade items can help you find unique gifts and save money.
Time Savers: 3 Weeks before Christmas
1. Getting the shopping done. Get to the finish line for your Christmas shopping online. Amazon, Walmart and Target all offer fast, free, and even same-day delivery. Take advantage of these services and the convenience of online shopping when you are a busy mom juggling a million things.
2. Complete your Christmas Day menu planning. Make final decisions on meals and any baking easily with eMeals or Plan to Eat to save time, plan, shop, and deliver in one place. If time is really tight, consider meal kits to lighten the load, like Gobble.
3. Make some freezer-friendly meals that you can reheat on busy days. Use a slow cooker, an instant pot, or a casserole dish to make large batches of soups, stews, curries, lasagnas, or casseroles. You can also freeze some cooked meats, vegetables, grains, or sauces that you can mix and match later.
3. Check the Christmas lights and replace any bulbs that are not working. Use a light tester or a multimeter to identify and fix the faulty bulbs. You can also use some zip ties, clips, or hooks to secure your lights and prevent them from tangling or falling off. Delegate this task to your spouse.
4. Create a delegate task list for the two weeks leading up to Christmas. Assign tasks for family members for cleaning, cooking, baking, last-minute decor, gift shopping, and wrapping.
2 Weeks before Christmas
Decorating and Festivities
- Decorate your home: Bring out your decorations and put up the Christmas tree if you haven’t already. Involve your family members in the decorating process to make it a festive and enjoyable occasion. Simplify your Christmas decor with these stylish and cozy tricks. To achieve that holiday warm glow at home, use fairy lights, candles (no-flame options too), or lanterns. Add natural elements to create a rustic feel using garlands, wreaths, or pine cones. Add texture with pillows, blankets, or rugs.
- Plan holiday activities: Look for local events, shows, or activities that you can enjoy with your family. Consider visiting Christmas markets, attending holiday concerts, or participating in community events.
- Bake holiday treats: Bake some traditional Christmas cookies or other treats to share with your family and friends. Involve your children in the baking process to create fun memories. If you’re not a fan of baking or just don’t have the time to bake, there are many markets with local bakers selling their homemade baked goods. A market stroll with the family while enjoying holiday treats sounds like a great idea!
- Delegate decorating tasks to different family members to make the process more fun and efficient. Involve children in age-appropriate activities, such as hanging ornaments or decorating gingerbread cookies.
- Consider simple decor if you are short on time. Hygge-style holidays are a great way to go if you want to enjoy the coziness of the holidays without the fuss.
- Create a master holiday activities list you can refer to when you’re looking to do a festive activity together as a family. Take into consideration your time and budget.
Time Savers: 2 Weeks before Christmas
1. Start deep cleaning of your house. Mark on your calendar or chore list members responsible for cleaning which rooms, etc. If you are really short on time and have the budget for it, hire a professional cleaner. This can be a one-time deep clean two or one week before Christmas, so you can have some peace of mind and not have to worry about drowning in cleaning.
Don’t be afraid of taking shortcuts, especially if you’re maxed out on time. Use pre-made dough, cake mixes, cookie cutters, and even already-made baked goods.
You can still have an enjoyable and memorable holiday even if you don’t bake all the goodies. You are taking the time to carefully plan and organize; there’s no shame in taking shortcuts once in a while to save your sanity.
3. If traveling, confirm your plans and check your pack list. Use an online travel planner to manage your flights, hotels, car rentals, and other activities. It’s also a good idea to check the weather, traffic, and any restrictions for your destination.
1 Week before Christmas
Final Touches and Celebration
- Prepare holiday meals: Prepare your planned holiday meals or finish any remaining dishes. Take stock of what you have in your kitchen and pantry so you have all the necessary ingredients and utensils.
- Wrap any remaining gifts or send out e-gifts. Finish wrapping any gifts with easy wrap options like gift bags and boxes. Check your gift list to make sure you didn’t miss anyone, send out fast gift options like e-gifts and e-cards.
- Hang the Christmas stockings: It’s tradition to hang them on a fireplace mantel but you can hang them anywhere.
- Wrap up any remaining tasks and take some time for yourself to relax and de-stress. Listen to your favorite holiday music, take a warm bath, or read a book. This is the time to enjoy quality time with family and recharge your batteries.
- Take a break. Don’t be tempted to go beyond what you’ve already planned because you feel the pressure to make the holidays even more magical. You’ve already done enough (even if you think you haven’t), now’s the time to enjoy time with your loved ones. Curl up with some hot cocoa, a classic holiday movie and relax.
Time Savers: 1 Week Before Christmas
1. Defrost your frozen baked goods and arrange them on platters or in tins. Use a microwave, an oven, or a toaster oven to thaw and warm them up if needed. To add a little extra something and save time, use some store-bought frosting, whipped cream, or fruit for extra flavor and color.
2. Finish up your last-minute Christmas decorations with ornaments, lights, and cozy textures. If you are running behind and don’t have a tree yet, you can use a pre-lit artificial tree. Alternatively, you can get creative with a make shift tree using materials around your home. Some ideas are a hanging ornamental tree, or a wall mounted tree (paper, lights, or ornaments), This can be a good project for your kids.
3. Do your final grocery shopping and buy any fresh ingredients you need for your Christmas meals. Don’t forget your apps and delivery services. You can also use coupons, discounts, or cashback offers to save some money. Rakuten is a great source for deals, you can find more here.
4. Make space in your fridge and freezer for holiday leftovers and have plenty of storage containers to accommodate them. If you have too much and not enough space, consider packing up leftovers and extra baked goods in Christmas tins and give them away to friends and family.
The Christmas Countdown
The week of Christmas
1. Prepare your home for holiday messes. Have ready trash bins and bags for kitchen,dining and gift packaging and wrap. Make sure to check holiday garbage and recycle pickup so you don’t have festering garbage for days.
2. Review your checklist: To make sure your home is ready, whether it be for guests or for you and your family, review your holiday planning checklist.
3. Manage stress for better time management and enjoyment of the holidays. The closer you get to Christmas, emotions rise, the good and the bad. Figure out ways to manage the chaos. Keeping the holiday simple and planned out can relieve a lot of stress. Stick to your routines as best as you can, delegate and outsource where possible and don’t forget to take time for yourself to decompress. The holidays can get a bit chaotic, mentally prepare and plan for downtime.
4. Enjoy the festivities: You and your family worked hard to plan and organize for an amazing holiday season. It’s time to slow down and savor this time with your loved ones. Review your master holiday activities list and begin enjoying all the holiday fun.
Have your camera ready and your batteries charged To capture all the exciting moments. It’s a good idea to have some new batteries ready for various uses like new toys, and gadgets received for Christmas.
Write your Thank You emails and cards and have them ready for sending after Christmas.
Time Savers: The Week of Christmas
By this time, you’ve gotten most, if not all, done and ready. Amazing job! If you feel like you’re missing something, read 45 Commonly Forgotten Tasks in Preparation for Christmas for things you might miss during all the excitement.
Phew, you made it! Now it’s time to relax.
As you’re wrapping up your Christmas prep, remember that the goal isn’t just to survive the season. Keep it simple, and make sure what you choose aligns with your values.
With this guide, you’re now armed to take on the holiday with grace and a plan that would make Santa’s elves proud.
So, go ahead and rock around that Christmas tree, knowing you’ve got the best gift of all—the gift of time. From my heart to yours, have a joyful and fabulously organized Christmas!