how to prepare yourself for the holidays – meal planning, holiday checklist, and more

It happens every year, yet somehow we’re never prepared. It’s holiday season. There are strings of lights tangled in every corner of the house, flour from your mishap-baking project covering the entire kitchen, smoke rises as the turkey burns to a dry lug in the oven, and half-wrapped presents lay concealed under your dirty laundry in the bedroom. Sound familiar?

It’s tough to survive the holidays. Especially if you’re balancing a job, family school – or like me balancing being a fashion blogger with another full time career. If life wasn’t pleasantly chaotic enough, someone decided to put Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, school registration, end-of-year reports, 4th quarter deadlines and your dog’s stomach flue all in the same few weeks. Not well planned. Not well planned at all. Thankfully, you can be.

I’ve found the key to surviving the holidays is all about three things: planning, organization, and maintaining a level of sanity with a healthy lifestyle.

It’s amazing the perspective you can have if you actually manage to get that early start for once. Here are some time management tips and planning ideas to help you not only survive the holidays, but possibly enjoy them as well.

Create a printable holiday checklist

First and foremost, if you want to stay organized, you’re going to have to know what’s all on your plate. Make a checklist. Preferably a printable holiday checklist that you can hang from your fridge, stick in you handbag, write in a notebook, and essentially keep it with you at all times. You can start by jotting things down in any random order. Once you’ve had some time to make sure nothing is missing, sort by your timeline so you know what needs to be accomplished, when. A holiday checklist not only keeps you organized and on track without missing important details, it will also give you a sense of accomplishment as you’re able to tick things off the list.

printable holiday checklist

photography:KRISTINA PETRICK & KUNDAN KUMAR | camera:CANNON 5D MARK III | holiday meals c/o:VEESTRO | memory foam hybrid mattress c/o:TOMORROW SLEEP (use code: DREAMS150for $150 off any $500 purchase (expires 12/31/17))


I find it helps to organize in three categories:

  • To-do
  • To-go
  • To-buy

For the to-do list, organize your priority task list like baking Christmas cookies, bathing the dog, picking your holiday outfits, and calling your mom. To-go should consist of your list of places you’re going to need to run to get everything you need. The toy store, Michaels, grocery store, and that specialty cheese place are a lot easy to tackle when you know every stop along the way. To-buy breaks down the specifics, and should be organized into your To go list, listing everything from groceries to those last minute gift ideas you need to pick up. Don’t forget to mark your deadlines so you don’t miss anything on your list!

Use a holiday menu planner

An important part of your to-do and to-buy lists are likely going to revolve around all of the Christmas goodies you plan to cook and consume. Don’t decide you’re making turkey at the last minute – those things stay frozen for days.

holiday menu planner

Use a holiday menu planner to plan out all of your meals (including those you plan to dine out). Once you have your menu planned, it will be easy to fill in your to-buy list with all your grocery essentials, and your to-go list with every restaurant you’ll be needed a take-out menu from. Don’t forget to include any school or office function potlucks or bakeoffs that you’ll need to pick up chocolate chips for.

Buy or make your holiday home decor early

I shouldn’t even have to say this, but for all of us procrastinators – buy or make your holiday home decor early. I know you don’t want to set up until after Thanksgiving. That’s fine. That doesn’t mean you can’t have it set aside somewhere out of the way, so you’re not trying to cram all of your to-dos in the last two weeks before Christmas.

Plan your outfits for what to wear during the holidays

Sounds petty, but this can be a real struggle. Plan your holiday outfits early so you’re not stuck in your closet as that Turkey continues to morph into jerky in the oven. I shove aside my “everyday” clothes and clear a space in my closet every year – then line up outfits for the family dinner, work party, cocktail hour, etc. so that when the time comes, I can slip them on and get out the door with one less thing to think about. Not sure what to wear for the holidays? Check out my holiday fashion guide for ideas on formal, casual and cocktail holiday wear.

holiday wardrobe planning

Find time to maintain a healthy lifestyle

Last but certainly not least. Make some time for yourself. Holidays are meant to be a time of celebration with family and friends, and there’s nothing enjoyable about being stressed to the roof through it all. Schedule some breaks, and say no to last-minute plans that take away “you time.”

Make an effort to maintain a healthy lifestyle through your eating and lifestyle habits. You don’t want to gain the holiday 10, but you also don’t want to miss out indulging on all the goodies everyone has gone overboard to prepare. Stay active, and don’t skip the gym to bake a pie. Just don’t. If you’re operating on a time pinch, keep some fast, healthy options within reach so you don’t end up reaching for that frozen pizza or another bag of ramen (guilty).

veestro holiday meal planning

I’ve been keeping a supply of Veestro meals in my freezer. Veestro prepares delicious, 100% plant based, organic meal packs that are preservative free and take only minutes to prepare. They have tons of meals to choose from, including gluten free options. Though I am not vegan, don’t let the plant-base scare you! Their herb crusted turk’y dinner (vegan turkey) is literally incredible and has been the only vegan meat substitute I’ve had ’til date that tastes just like (or better than) meat itself. If you want to try it, order it now! This meal is only available in their holiday selection through the end of December.

veestro turk'y holiday meal

If you had time to plan ahead, you can thaw them in your fridge the night before – or if you’re like me and selecting meals last minute, I’ve also enjoyed just as much going straight from fridge to stove / microwave depending on what’s being served. Veestro is not a meal prep plan, so the meals are already fully prepared (no cutting, chopping or mixing required). They’ve been a lifesaver to me over the holiday rush.

If you want to learn more, discover my 21 day Veestro challenge eating clean with their juice and meal pack combo!

Get a good night’s sleep (you’re going to need it)

Aside eating well to maintain a healthy holiday lifestyle, get a good night’s sleep. I recently got a new memory foam hybrid mattress in a box courtesy of Tomorrow, and I have to say, that pillow top is something else. You can read my review and watch the unboxing on the blog, and receive $150 off any $500 purchase with code: DREAMS15 (expires 12/31/17).

tomorrow sleep hybrid mattress

If you’re looking for the best hybrid mattress to help you get your holiday zzz’s, consider one thattakes into consideration your sleeping habits and the environment of your sleep. Also, load up on warm cider, plush blankets, good books and anything else that might help you unwind and absorb the full benefits of a good night’s sleep. You won’t be sorry. Plus you’re going to need to be rested if you hope to survive the holiday with or without these holiday planning tips. Here’s to your survival, and a holiday season filled with warm laughter and time to relax and enjoy the fun. Cheers.

get a good night's sleep

In accordance with the FTC regulations for Influencers, this is a sponsored post in collaboration with Tomorrow and Veestro. All thoughts, comments and musings are made of my own opinion and honest, personal experience with the products reviewed or mentioned. I hope you’ve found this post informational and inspiring!

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