November is officially the time for me to start thinking about Christmas. It’s always hard, especially with kids, work, study, family. My cure for the stress and worry is the simple checklist. Keep a list of things you need to buy, the budget you have for each person, and notes of what you bought them last year (this is why you keep the list on your computer, so you can see last year’s list too). I use an Excel spreadsheet with the following columns: Name, Interests, Ideas/requests, Budget, Actual Gift, Amount spent.

I hear people say, “Oh, but I only buy for my brother and parents and nephew.” And if you’ve cut back on your gift-giving, more power to you. But have you considered the gift you usually give to your children’s teacher? The Kris Kringle at your workplace? The six-pack you give the guy next-door who got your mail while you were away? If you think of everyone who gets something and put it all on a spreadsheet you’ll be sure not to forget anyone and you can budget for it much better, too.

The other way I try to rein in my anxiety at this time is to watch my calendar. Obviously I have an e-calendar like everyone, but also there’s a hard copy on the fridge for anyone in the family to look at day-by-day. Spending a few minutes each week keeping this up to date will also help you have a realistic idea of how much time you have. And you might consider saying “no” to one or two things to ensure your weekends are balanced.

A checklist for the annual family holiday to the beach is another end-of-year organising tip. I write a list of everything each person in the family should pack for our holiday, which also helps empower my children to pack by themselves (and ensures they don’t forget underwear, because that will be my problem if they do, being the one who will have to take them to the supermarket to buy some emergency supplies). I also keep this year-to-year, because when we get back each year I go over it and adjust it as needed. Did we need a snorkel set but forget it? I’ll add that when we get home. Or maybe I need to remember that I should pack Trivial Pursuit, or that I missed my pillow. Things I’ll forget over the course of 12 months.

We’ll have more Christmas and holiday tips and hacks coming up over the next couple of months. Good luck with your organising!