How to Get Organized by Using a Christmas Master Checklist

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How can you keep things simple, meaningful, and intentional during the holiday season? By making a detailed plan and sticking to it using the Christmas Master Checklist!!

How can you keep things simple, meaningful, and intentional during the holiday season? By making a detailed plan and sticking to it using the Christmas Master Checklist!!

The Christmas Master Checklist

Thanks to Valerie for sending us this wonderful guest post!

Every year, I put together a planning list called a Christmas Master List. Keeping track of all the details that make up a beautiful Christmas season helps me stay on track and helps my family celebrate the holidays in a way that works best for us. It also promotes frugality and prevents unnecessary spending.

A Christmas Master List can be a simple file on your computer or an actual planner that you carry around with you. The important thing is that you plan every aspect of how you want your family to enjoy the holidays using the opinions and ideas of everyone in your family. I like to keep my planning list on my computer. That way, I can edit it when needed and refer to it each day. I also can go back to past years to see what I did. Knowing what gifts I gave in years past helps me plan for the current year.

Creating your Christmas Master Checklist

Start your Christmas Master List early. It’s definitely a plus to be able to plan gifts and activities ahead of time while you are not hurried or stressed. Let the whole family help decide what concerts, events, parties, and other activities your family will participate in during the Christmas season. The best way to do this is to hold a family meeting. Divide up projects, tasks, and errands with all family members.

Keep Your Christmas Master List a secret. This list is for your eyes only. You will have many secrets on this list. You must name your list something uninteresting, like “vegetable recipes” or “spare vacuum parts,” so family members can’t find your CML on your computer.

Divide your Chrismas Master list into categories. I divide my CML into the following categories: Concerts, Parties, Meaningful Activities, Neighbor Gifts, Greeting Cards, Goodies, and Gifts. Your CML can be one file on your computer with all categories on the same file or a folder with different files for each of the categories.

Each category has its own section where I list the details, timetables, and goals. Money spent can also be listed if you so desire. All items need to be highlighted in bold until accomplished. Once I accomplish a task, I take off the bold and leave it in regular type. That way, when I skim my list, I see the boldfaced items first, and I know right away what still needs to be done.

It’s very satisfying to look at my list on Christmas Eve and see no bold type left.

Category Ideas for Your Christmas Checklist


  • Decide together as a family which concerts you will be attending.
  • Purchase tickets ahead of time.
  • Place items on the calendar.
  • Include school concerts on the calendar with call times and costume requirements.
  • Sync all family calendars, and invite grandparents and others.
  • Include all details on your CML.


  • Place all the parties on the calendar early.
  • Include any school parties and what items need to be sent.
  • Discuss which family members will attend.
  • Include preparation plans for gifts, dates, and food plans for preparing on your CML.
  • Record any other details that are important.

Meaningful Activities

This includes activities such as Christmas Tree and Home Decorating, Family Movie Night, Singing Carols, etc.

  • Discuss ideas early, preferably in November.
  • Place dates on your calendar, and sync with all family members.
  • Make sure dates, times, and equipment for activities are recorded on your CML.

Neighbor Gifts:

This section could also include coworkers and teachers if you’ll be giving gifts or treats to those people.

  • Record how many neighbors you will be gifting.
  • Make or buy gift tags or cards.
  • Plan what you will be purchasing or making.
  • Record the amounts you will be spending on ingredients or gifts.
  • Record dates you will be making, purchasing, and delivering gifts.
  • Record family members who will be helping along with the tasks they will be doing.

Greeting Cards:

  • Plan early what type of cards you will make or purchase.
  • Write down dates for designing or purchasing.
  • Record dates for addressing, labels, and stamping.
  • Plan what dates cards will be mailed.
  • Record which family members will do what tasks.

Goodies for the Family and Holiday Guests:

  • Decide which treats you will make.
  • Make a schedule and calendar dates of when each treat will be made.
  • If freezing items, record when you put them in the freezer and when you will take them out.
  • Record where all other items are stored and how they will be used.
  • Delegate making this task to others or plan family activities around this task.
  • If giving treats as gifts, decide what to package them in and record the cost.

Gifts for Extended Family:

  • Plan what you will give each person and stick to your plan.
  • Write down the name of each person with the gift right next to it.
  • Keep track of where you purchased each gift, and keep all receipts.
  • Try to make or purchase some meaningful gifts.
  • Record when you will wrap and mail gifts.
  • Keep things simple and inexpensive, perhaps give one special item to the whole family.
  • Get these gifts done early.
  • Track and record where gifts are located at every point in the process.

Gifts for Immediate Family Members:

  • List each family member along with the gifts you want to give them.
  • Keep spending fairly equal among children.
  • Schedule purchasing dates, times, and prices.
  • Schedule times for making and preparing gifts.
  • Schedule wrapping sessions and dates for mailing gifts if needed.
  • Save time by giving similar or themed items to everyone and buying all at once.
  • Track and record the gifts and where they are located at every point in the process.
  • Record when tasks are done.
  • Make sure you use bold type so you can see what needs to be done.

Stocking Stuffers:

  • Record stocking stuffer gifts ideas and dates for purchase.
  • Purchase items early, use regular grocery shopping trips and other shopping trips to do this.
  • Record in detail what you have purchased.
  • Place all items in gallon-size plastic zip lock bags with the name of the recipient on it.
  • Keep all gallon size bags together in one special hiding place.
  • Have this done very early so that all Santa has to do on Christmas Eve is grab the bags and
    transfer items to each person’s stocking (This makes for a less stressful Christmas Eve).

Service Projects:

  • Brainstorm, plan, and schedule ahead of time.
  • Involve as many family members as possible.
  • Delegate tasks utilizing family member talents.
  • Let all participants know dates and times and keep communication open.

Prepare for Company and /or Holiday Cleaning:

I like to set aside certain days just for cleaning. If you have company coming to eat a meal, celebrate, or stay in your home over the holidays, you know how important it is to have a clean house. Make a list of the items you would like to get done and type them in bold until those chores are done. Solicit lots of help!

  • List the items that need to be done.
  • Plan dates and times, and put items on your calendar.
  • Do things like carpet cleaning and other deep cleaning tasks early.
  • Keep up routine cleaning tasks like dishes and sweeping religiously.
  • Solicit lots of help by making assignments to family members.
  • Offer children the opportunity to clean and earn money for gifts.
  • Follow up often.

Meal Planning:

  • Plan menus early and in detail.
  • Plan centerpieces, plates, serving plates, utensils, napkins, and tablecloths early.
  • Take inventory of what you already have before buying new items.
  • Delegate and give out food assignments, and record these.
  • Have children help set the table and do the dishes.
  • Purchase non-perishable foods early.

Keeping detailed records, regularly reviewing those records, and frequently communicating with family members will help you have a frugal and meaningful Christmas season. Best wishes for a memorable holiday season!

Valerie Jamison is the mother of five boys. She has to force herself to be efficient and organized to get through the holidays because it doesn’t come naturally. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications with an emphasis in Journalism. She loves to hike, read and write. She has worked part-time from her home doing various part-time side jobs, but her real dream is to establish a successful freelance writing career.

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This Christmas Master Checklist was originally posted on Little House Living in November 2021. It has been updated as of November 2023.

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