A Holiday Plan that POPS!

Posted by on October 2, 2010

Do you ever feel like you’re slingshot at warp speed into the holidays after Halloween? Sometimes it seems like one minute we’re closing the door on the last trick-or-treater and the next minute we’re popping the cork for New Year’s, doesn’t it? And everything in between is a blur.

The first couple weeks of October are the ideal time to begin making plans for Halloween and beyond. This will take the speed and the stress out of the holiday equation, and make for more memorable and thoughtful times with family and friends.

An ideal plan – whether it’s for an entire holiday season, a home decorating project or a party – is one that POPS. It’s just 4 simple steps:

  • Plan
  • Organize
  • Prioritize
  • Schedule

Let’s look at this method on a macro level – the whole season – first. Then you can break it down into more manageable chunks for each particular holiday. The Ultimate Planning Guides for Thanksgiving and Christmas are both excellent for keeping track of meal planning, shopping lists, activities and gifts. Download them here.


What would you like to accomplish this holiday season? Take out a piece of paper and a pen and write down your goals for each holiday: Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas/Hanukkah. Or, better yet, download my Holiday Planning Guide worksheet. Here are some questions to get you started.

Budget: How much do you plan to spend on Halloween costumes, candy, entertaining and decorations? The Thanksgiving meal? Do you plan to travel? How much do you plan to spend on gifts for family and friends? Have you started setting money aside, or have you identified sources of extra income, such as a holiday bonus at work or those items you’ve been meaning to put on e-bay?

Decorations (outdoor): Do you want to decorate the house for Halloween/autumn? What outdoor decorations would you like to put up? Are you trimming the house with lights for Christmas?

Home décor: Are there summer accessories that need to be put away in favor of more autumnal tones? What Halloween accessories will you display this year? Will you follow a central theme?

Home projects: Is there a room in the house that needs attention (such as decluttering or redecorating) before holiday guests arrive? Are there smaller “honey do” projects that need to be tackled before the weather turns cold? What needs to be done? What is the budget?

Entertaining: Would you like to throw a Halloween party this year? For kids, adults or both? Are you hosting the Thanksgiving dinner? For how many? Is a holiday party in your future, such as a tree-trimming party, cookie exchange, or full-on Christmas dinner?


Once you know what you’d like to get done, it’s time to figure out where and how. (We’ll get to “when” in a moment.)Do you know where the Halloween decorations are? Where the china for special occasions is stored? What will you need to buy for home improvement projects and holiday meals? Do you have a safe zone to keep Christmas gifts as you purchase them? (Hint: Keep track of gift-giving on a guide such as my Ultimate Christmas Planning Guide.)

Get a 3-ring binder and make tabs for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas or Hanukkah, and any other topic that makes sense for your plans. Maybe you’ll want a section for home improvement or party planning. Keep your task lists, receipts, shopping lists and Ultimate Planning Guides in the binder.Personally, there have been times where I search for something – a document, my keys, a cookie tray I just know I have somewhere – for what seems like hours, getting more frustrated with each passing minute. But when you know what you need and where to find it, changing out seasonal accessories, setting the table for dinner or decorating the tree are all a snap. Take time now to assess how your seasonal items are stored and organized and if it’s an area that needs improvement, do it now.


Time for a reality check. No matter what the occasion or event – from getting ready for work in the morning to cleaning the house before your mom comes to visit, there are usually things that are left undone. And yet the world doesn’t end. Yes, we’d like to do everything on our lists, but sometimes it’s just not realistic. When you can learn to do the most impactful and important things first, and work your way down to the least important things – and then let them go if need be – everything in life will be more joyful and less stressful and frustrating.Look at your “plan” list. What on that list is the most important thing for each holiday? What is indispensable for your family’s celebration? What “makes” the holiday? Rank that #1 – that is the element that you will do first. And if nothing else gets done, you will have the keystone of your holiday in place. Then think what would be nice, but it’s not going to ruin the holiday. Maybe it’s carving pumpkins or putting holiday sheets on the beds. Rank that last – you’ll do it if you have the time and the energy.


This is perhaps the most important step aside from actually putting your plan into action. But without a written schedule, it is less likely that your plan will come to fruition.If creating special holiday experiences for your loved ones is important, then the tasks associated with those experiences are important, too. Just as important as an appointment with a client, or a hair appointment or a child’s doctor’s appointment. We write those down and block off the time and make the time. And so it is with holiday tasks. Get each task on your calendar – block off time and adhere to it just as you would a business schedule. Literally pick a day to purchase Halloween candy, trim the tree, order the turkey – whatever is on your plan. Start with your #1 priority for each holiday and work your way through the list, being realistic as to the time it will take to complete a task. While you’ve got your planner out and ready, be sure to schedule some down time as well – a pedicure or a massage will do wonders right around December 12.

So there you have it! Take some time to think about these questions now, put it all on paper, and you’ll have a holiday season that POPS!