Done by December One: Checklist

In October, I made a pledge to be Done by December One for all my holiday preparations.  Then we experienced a hurricane and a Nor’easter.  The Husband and I then took a great trip to Oklahoma.

Now it is November 16.  And I am not ready for the holidays!  I am going to power through the next two weeks and I will be DONE BY DECEMBER ONE.

Here is the key to this process.  Don’t Panic!  When you start to feel overwhelmed, just say to yourself, “don’t panic!” For some reason, it always makes me giggle and puts me back in the mood to just get it done.

To achieve this goal really only takes two things: a little planning and a great deal of determination to stick to my plan!

Ready to get started?  Here we go!

Here is my plan for the next two weeks:

Saturday the 17th:


  • Christmas decor inventory

  • Purchase Christmas cards, wrapping paper, and stamps

Sunday the 18th:


  • Address Christmas cards

  • Clean house

Wednesday the 21st evening:


  • Set up tree and lights

  • Determine guest list and menu for holiday party

Thursday the 22nd (THANKSGIVING):


  • Finalize holiday decorations

  • Finalize gift idea list

Friday the 23rd:


  • Order gifts online – Two weeks ago, I posted about shopping local on the web featuring NYC boutiques with great websites.  I will be adding other great small businesses to that list next week.

  • Finalize holiday calendar and wardrobe

Saturday the 24th:


  • BEDLAM Football makes it a bye day for Holiday Preparations

Sunday the 25th:


  • Organize tip money and fill out cards – stash cards somewhere safe until distribution in mid-Dec

  • Review gift list and set aside time during the week for remaining in-store gift purchases.

Monday the 26th & Tuesday the 27th evening:


  • Purchase any in-store gifts

Wednesday the 28th evening:


  • Turn up the holiday tunes and wrap those presents!

Thursday the 29th:


  • Get packages ready for shipping.  I give everyone a heads up that I am shipping them Christmas gifts.  This will be the first year ever that I haven’t paid for express shipping to make sure the gifts arrived on time.

Friday the 30th:


  • Pour a glass of wine. Sit in front of tree.  Listen to holiday music.  Pat myself on the back.

Here is how I built this plan!

Get a notebook and your favorite pen.  You are going to need this for the next two weeks, so I picked a small notebook that fits in my purse.


–  Review your calendar from December 2010 and December 2011.  Make a list of all the parties you attended that you believe may occur again this year.  Office parties, holiday parties, school parties, Hanukkah parties, Christmas Eve, New Years Eve, etc.

– Don’t forget to add if you throw your own party or have an annual family dinner.  If you already know the dates to these parties, add them to your December 2012 calendar.

– Do you have any other holiday traditions making gingerbread houses, caroling, etc?  Add those to your list, pick a date for those events and stick to it!


–  Now, start a new list.  This list is your gift list.  List any relatives and friends you will be purchasing a gift for.

–  Go back to your party list.  Which of those parties require you to take a gift? A hostess gift, teachers gifts, a white elephant gift, a gift to exchange, a thank you gift, etc.  Write every gift requirement down on your gift list.  Don’t worry, I will be posting ideas for all these situations in the next week.

–  Tips?  In NYC, holiday tipping is customary – which is the polite way to say you better do it.  We tip our building super, our UPS delivery guy, and our dry cleaner.  Yes, our dry cleaner – she is the nicest person in the neighborhood, first to make me feel welcome, and always greets me by name with a smile – so I give her a card and a holiday tip.  I add these individuals to the bottom of the gift list.


–  Yesterday, I ordered garland and a tree that will be delivered next week.  I would suggest you take out your calendar and pick a date to put up your decorations.  Do it now, block your calendar, and stick to it.

–  Nothing is more annoying than starting to decorate your home for the holidays and realizing you don’t have enough lights, ornament hooks, candles, wrapping paper, etc.  I suggest you pour yourself a glass of wine, pull those decorating boxes out and get an inventory of what you have and what you need.  I can’t find my ornament hooks.  Must buy them immediately.

–  Next is correspondence.  I have all my 2011 Holiday addresses stored in Evernote.  I have reviewed the list and sent friends an email for updates.  I also added Christmas cards to the gift list.

–  Check the cocktails and snacks inventory.  If you are lucky, people will randomly stop by during the season.  And even if they don’t, you will want to spend evenings in December at home in the quiet and will want treats.  If you are hosting a party, determine a rough number of guests and decide your menu.  The more details you can plan now, the more fun you can have then!


–  Now, head back over to your party list.  What are you going to wear to all these great parties?  Don’t leave this up to the last-minute – just decide now and stick to it!  Check out your closet.  Do you have a dress/outfit you can recycle this year?   I wore a dress to a holiday party in 2010 and wore it again in 2011 to a NYE party.  Again, don’t stress about this – I will be posting great holiday dress selections next week.


So, now you have two lists.  One list of activities (which soon will be concrete dates in your calendar) and one list of gifts/items to purchase.  The Husband and I completed these two lists in about a half an hour over dinner.

Whew.  Looks like a lot to do in the next two weeks.  Lots to do, but completely manageable.  I know I won’t be able to just sit back and relax in December, but instead of stressing out when plans change, I will be able to be calm, available, and totally in the holiday spirit!

What are you stressing about this holiday season?  Let me know in the comments or drop me an email.  I would love to help!

See more Done by December One and Christmas Ideas here!