Sanity-Saver: Mom’s Pre-Holiday Checklist!

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Photo: Megan Weaver

As I have thought many times throughout my eight years of motherhood: I never realized how much my mom did for our family growing up until I had children, especially around the holidays! There is so much coordinating, gift-buying, and planning to do all in a condensed amount of time. So I’ve come up with a checklist of some things to do now to avoid holiday meltdowns (by you!) later on.

-Book hair appointments. 

Priorities, right?! Stylists fill up fast during the holidays and there is nothing worse than going to a holiday party with roots! (Okay, there is, but that’s something I would say to my husband if I forgot to book my pre-holiday hair appointment!) Plus, if you feel good about yourself, everything rolls off your back more easily, don’t you think?. On that note, go ahead and schedule cuts for your children, too.

-Buy shoes! 

A lot of moms shop for their children’s Christmas clothes months in advance, but then panic in the middle of December when they realized they forgot about their shoes! Buy those now to avoid an errand (or two or three!) in terrible traffic later.

-Give neighbor/friend gifts shortly after Thanksgiving.

So many gifts are supposed to be enjoyed all season long, so why wait to give them? Bonus: early gift-giving will get more “to-dos” checked off your list!  Some ideas: Christmas-scented candles, cider paired with cinnamon sticks, homemade hot chocolate mix, or advent calendars/devotionals. Last year I made my homemade yeast rolls for neighbors to freeze and included instructions on how to reheat when they needed them for holiday gatherings.

-Decide what traditions you want to start or continue this year. 

I loving writing about family traditions on my blog, but I always preface them by saying: choose one or two and really enjoy them. Because they are supposed to be fun and meaningful – not stressful! (Thinking of the friend who had three different elaborate Advent calendars going one year….) Honestly, if you’re only real tradition is reading Luke 2 as a family on Christmas Eve or making pecan pie with grandmother, those memories will probably be just as sweet to your children down the road as some of those time-consuming Pinterest-y traditions we try to accomplish!

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-Plan out family outings and service projects. 

My husband and I usually splurge on one family Christmas activity each year. Whether it is a carriage ride through Highland Park, the Nutcracker, or Gaylord Ice, I’ve learned it’s best to book now to make sure you get the day/time that works best for your family. (Tip: peruse the Dallas Moms Blog Holiday Activities Guide for more ideas!) 

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Our girls love to get dressed up and go downtown on Christmas Eve.

-Coordinate with extended family about holiday gatherings and gifts. 

As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned it’s not worth it to try to see four different families on Christmas day. I’ve learned to say, “I know you’ll understand, but we can’t do that this year, but this is what we can  do…”. Talk to your mother and mother-in-law now about expectations for the holidays to avoid hurt feelings later. Also, determine the gift-giving protocol: is your extended family exchanging gifts, doing a white elephant, or just giving gifts to the children? Make sure everyone is on the same page!  

-Budget for the unexpected. 

Many of us try to plan or budget for Christmas gifts and charitable giving, but there are often last-minute calls for donations and gifts. Whether it’s a group gift for your your child’s coach, canned goods to school drives, or the neighborhood Boy Scout troops selling popcorn for a cause, reduce stress by having the following things on hand:

  • A 3-pack of Target or Starbucks gift cards.
  • A stocked pantry – good for both donations and for when we have that random December ice storm!
  • At least two extra gift candles wrapped and ready to go by your front door for when a friend stops by unannounced and bearing a gift. 
  • A few $10 or $20 bills stashed away is always a wise mom move! 
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My children’s teacher gifts last year. Photo: Megan Weaver

-Buy whatever gifts you can early. 

I used to scoff at my friends who told me they finished their gift-buying in October. While I don’t go to that extreme, I now see the beauty in that kind of preparation: it allows families (and particularly moms!) to savor the holidays a bit more. As gift blogger I’ve learned that the best deals on the hottest gifts occur earlier in the season. 

Have any tips to add? Share below!



  1. This is an awesome list of items that you can do earlier and help to eleviate some of the holiday stress. Thanks very much!


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