Holiday Planning: Making Your List and Checking It Twice

Holiday Planning: Making Your List and Checking It Twice
Barbara Danza

Ho ho—holidays already? Check your calendar, they’re right around the corner.

Now is a great time to begin thinking about the details of your holiday plans. Or at least, to begin thinking about them.

The first thing you’re probably going to need to do is make a list, right? I spoke to list-making expert and author of “Listful Living, A List-Making Journey to a Less Stressed You” Paula Rizzo about her advice for holiday planning.

Here’s what she said.

The Epoch Times: The holidays are a busy time, and waiting until the last minute to prepare can often lead to stress and anxiety. How do you recommend we begin to wrap our heads around the holiday season?
Paula Rizzo: I always start thinking about the holidays early. That’s the key. Don’t let them sneak up on you. For instance, I make a list in August of everyone I need to buy gifts for during the holiday season. Then, throughout the year, I leave myself notes and ideas for gifts those people would really enjoy. That way I’m not overwhelmed when it comes time to shop. I already have ideas.

I like to keep ideas in my Evernote notebook throughout the year for times just like this when I can’t think of what to get. In that folder, I keep ideas that I’ve found and notes on what people have told me through the year that they would like or need.

You can do the same thing if you’re hosting the holidays or traveling. Think in advance so you can add to your list throughout the year instead of cramming everything at the last minute.

The Epoch Times: In what ways do you use lists during the holiday season?
Ms. Rizzo: The gift list is one that you should start early as I mentioned. But also if you send holiday cards, that’s a list you should be making in advance as well. I have a document that I update every year with everyone’s addresses. Then I can refer back to it each year and know exactly who I need to send cards to this year.

I pride myself on being able to say no and not commit to every social event or gathering. It’s taken time to perfect the skill and it’s something I talk a lot about in “Listful Living: A List-Making Journey to a Less Stressed You.”

It’s difficult to do this over the holidays. It seems like everyone and anyone is inviting you to some holiday mixer! Take the time to pencil in the people you really want to see first. Then, you can be more decisive when other invites come in. If you really want to be there, do it. If you don’t, then kindly pass. It’s important to be realistic with yourself and what you can and want to do.

The Epoch Times: What is the most important aspect of the holidays to intentionally organize?
Ms. Rizzo: Travel! If you’re traveling for the holidays, it’s important to get that planning out of the way early so you’re not overextended.

Chart out the days you'll need to get to your destination in advance. I always like to leave an extra day of peace when I return from a trip. It’s a good way to ease back into your regular routine. Traveling is stressful even if you do it all the time. And if you’re doing it around the holidays, so is everyone else! Set yourself up for success. Maybe you can leave a few days earlier to beat the crowds and the added anxiety.

When it comes to packing for a holiday trip, I also start in advance. Think through what gifts can be shipped ahead of time so you’re not lugging endless bags through airport security. When you pack for a trip, it’s a great idea to only bring what you need. Map out every outfit you‘ll wear and then stick to that list. No need to overpack, and you’ll want to leave some extra room for your gifts, too!

The Epoch Times: How can we avoid overwhelm during the holidays?
Ms. Rizzo: You should also be making a list of ways to keep yourself rejuvenated and refreshed during the holidays. Many people get self-care very wrong because they think it has to be a week-long vacation or a $300 massage. There are small things you can do throughout the day to give yourself a boost. But like everything else, if you don’t plan for it, it doesn’t happen. Make a list of the things that make you happy. For me, it’s drinking a cup of tea, reading a chapter in a novel, or going on (what I call in my book) a virtual vacation.
The Epoch Times: There will always be those of us who wait until the last minute. How would you recommend the procrastinators tackle the holidays?
Ms. Rizzo: I’m a huge procrastinator myself. And I’ve found through the years that setting deadlines and working backward helps. Take a look at your calendar early in the year and set mini-deadlines for yourself. Put those tasks in your calendar and this will make you more accountable and help you get more done.
The Epoch Times: What final advice do you have for us as we approach the holiday season?
Ms. Rizzo: Remember that you don’t have to do everything yourself. Ask for help. A lot of the pressure that we feel is self-inflicted. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.
Barbara Danza is a contributing editor covering family and lifestyle topics. Her articles focus on homeschooling, family travel, entrepreneurship, and personal development. She contributes children’s book reviews to the weekly booklist and is the editor of “Just For Kids,” the newspaper’s print-only page for children. Her website is
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