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Your 3-Step Plan To Own the Holidays in 2022

Your 3-Step Plan To Own the Holidays in 2022

Think back to last year as the holidays were approaching. By October, it felt like there was so much time before you had to seriously consider gift-buying and feast-planning. Then, before you knew it, Halloween was upon you… and wham! Thanksgiving was just a few weeks away. Suddenly, it was 3 a.m. on Christmas morning and you were still frantically taping bows on gifts, red-eyed and emotional. Our 2022 Holiday Planner & Gift Tracker will help you break that cycle, get a jump on your to-do list, and trade in crunch time for chill time.

As busy moms know all too well, come September, life, school and work churn and the weeks pile up quickly. By doing a little at a time each month, now through the end of the holiday season, you can check off your list, score the best deals, and, most important – build in time to spend with your family and friends. And, yes, we know – planning ahead is easier said than done. But, a recent study commissioned by Zulily shows that planners feel less stress than procrastinators when it comes to tackling tasks and to-dos. So, consider this planner your personal assistant, here to keep you one step ahead of the season.

Gift shopping tips

Step 1: Track Your Holiday Gift-Buying and Expenses

For those of us who create all kinds of calendars, planners, Excel spreadsheets and/or Google docs galore to help organize our lives, here’s another great checklist for your collection! As you start your holiday shopping, use this handy gifting spreadsheet. Add everyone on your list and enter important details, including their wishes, sizes, allergies, dislikes and preferences. You can track costs by keeping a running tally of what you’re spending, align expenses with your budget, and even note when gifts are expected to arrive. Make that list and check it twice!

Download Zulily’s Free Gift List & Tracker

Download our free, editable Excel file

Holiday Gifts Wrapped
Personalized Holiday Stocking with the letter A for Anne

Step 2: Check Off Your To-Do List with Zulily’s 2022 Holiday Planner & Checklist

Family photos for holiday cards? Oh yeah, gotta schedule that. Want to order something special and out-of-the-box for the kids’ holiday outfits? And let’s not forget matching PJs! Stay ahead of the upcoming holidays and seasonal events with this month-by-month schedule that will help you stay calm and ready. You’ll know when to take action to avoid the dreaded last-minute shopping, late-night wrapping, inevitable stress, frustration and sheer exhaustion that shouldn’t be part of any celebration.

Pro-Tip: Holiday Budget Hack

With current inflation rates, every penny counts this year, especially if you’re watching your budget. To help avoid a dip in your cash flow around the holidays, set up a separate holiday account at your bank now (especially if your bank offers free checking) and start an auto-transfer for each pay period or month. For example, if you set aside $50 a month starting January 1, by December 15, you will have accrued $600 for gifts, holiday cards, décor or whatever you want to spend it on. Also, consider Zulily’s Smart-pay option, which lets you pay in installments, or apply for a Zulily credit card.

Step 3: Schedule Time for Fun Stuff

Alongside all the errands, chores and to-dos, be sure to schedule something fun, whether it’s new or old traditions that are meaningful to your family – like baking cookies, creating a special dish or going to see a holiday show or local light display. You’ve got this, and we’ve got you. Happy planning!


Print out and use this comprehensive planning checklist as a seasonal guide – or feel free to cut and paste it into your own format, re-arranging, adding or removing whatever works for your household and your family’s personal holiday traditions. Now, let’s get organized!


▢  Download and start filling out our helpful Holiday Gift List & Tracker to begin your holiday shopping.

▢  Check out all the great early holiday sales going on. Insider tips:

▢  Shop for holiday outfits for your kids and yourself.

▢  Order matching PJs for the whole family, including pets (to enjoy when lounging at home during family time or for your inevitably adorable upcoming holiday photo shoot.)

▢  Start planning Halloween costumes, treats and decorations. Especially if you’re into DIY or will be hosting a haunted house.


▢  Request holiday gift wish lists from friends and family and fill out our Holiday Gift List & Tracker. Add in teachers, hairstylists and other service providers to estimate what you plan on spending. Don’t forget your beloved pets!

▢  Make lists of non-gift items needed for all your upcoming holiday celebrations.

▢  Order/shop for Halloween costumes, candy, treats, lights and decorations.

▢  Jump on great deals when you can for all the upcoming celebrations and events. Keep shopping — but pace yourself in order to stick to your budget.

▢  Start thinking about making travel reservations and arrangements:

    • Flights/trains/cruises
    • Shuttles/buses
    • Hotels/accommodations
    • Car rental/reserved airport parking
    • Secure weather-appropriate outerwear
    • Get your luggage out
    • Create a travel packing list & agenda

▢  Plan out this year’s holiday card:

    • Shop around for card options or develop a plan to make your own
    • Create or update your list of recipients (for email and/or mail).
    • Buy holiday stamps. (There are lots of great options, but order early to get the best selection.)
    • Schedule haircuts and salon visits.
    • Set up pet grooming, if applicable.
    • Pick out outfits.
    • Arrange for and take your holiday family photo for this year’s card.
    • Look up crafty ideas and unique ways to decorate and personalize your card.
    • Pro tips: Buy “forever” stamps so they can be used next year. And, if it’s your first year sending out cards as a couple or a family, refer to your wedding guest or contact lists.


▢  Get those holiday light extension cords and hangers set up. (You’re going to use them through January – or even later!)

▢  Reserve tickets and save dates to attend holiday spectaculars, attractions, festivals & cultural events:

    • The Nutcracker ballet
    • A Christmas Carol play
    • Other holiday musicals and plays
    • Winterfests
    • German Christmas Villages
    • Parades
    • Holiday concerts and caroling
    • Gingerbread house displays
    • Department store and city center window displays
    • Pictures with Santa
    • Christmas tree and grand Menorah lightings
    • Church, Temple or Mosque services and gatherings
    • Crèche display tours
    • Seasonal fundraisers and volunteer opportunities
    • Free neighborhood light displays
    • Ticketed light displays (Zoo lights, light shows, etc.)
    • New Year’s Eve fireworks and celebrations

▢  Explore recipes, create menus and plan holiday meals (be sure to consider guests’ allergies, sensitivities and preferences):

    • Halloween
    • Thanksgiving
    • Christmas Eve
    • Christmas breakfast/brunch
    • Christmas dinner
    • Hanukkah
    • Kwanzaa
    • New Year’s Eve dinner
    • New Year’s Day brunch

▢  Make sure your cookware is ready and in good shape for upcoming holiday meals (e.g., roasting pans, deep fryers, electric knives, platters, Bundt molds, etc.)

▢  Order personalized/monogrammed items:

    • Linens & towels
    • Serve ware
    • Gift baskets
    • Custom T-shirts
    • Novelty items

▢ Check supply and order:

    • Bakeware, cookware and serve ware
    • Straws, picks, cocktail napkins, etc.
    • Napkins and napkin rings
    • Placeholder and setting name cards
    • Decorations (and crafting items to DIY)
    • Decoration hangers & hooks
    • Lights/replacement bulbs
    • Stockings
    • Tree stand(s)
    • Centerpieces
    • Candles (e.g., new Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and/or Advent candles)
    • Wrapping paper, boxes & bags
    • Ribbons & decorations
    • Tape & scissors or paper cutters
    • Gift tags, labels, stickers, stamps & ink
    • Firewood, kindling and fire starters
    • Batteries

Oct. 7–17: Milad un Nabi & Eid-e-Milad Islamic holidays celebrating The Prophet’s Birthday

Oct. 23–27: Celebrate colorful Diwali!

▢ Set up Secret Santa and White Elephant exchanges.

▢ Verify/request vacation days from work and/or school.

▢ If you’ll be having guests staying at your home over the holidays, prepare guest rooms or spare/air beds and make sure you have enough bedding, pillows, towels, etc.

▢ Make appointments at hair salons and schedule facials, mani/pedis, etc. for the holidays.

▢ Order or print out holiday cards early, to get the best deals.

Oct. 31: Enjoy a fun and spooky Halloween!

▢ Use up Halloween candy to make and decorate graham-cracker haunted houses or send extra to our troops


Green holiday ornaments stored in a red zippered cloth bag


▢  Nov. 1: All Saints’ Day

▢  Nov. 2: Día de Los Muertos/Day of the Dead & All Souls’ Day

▢  Early November – order ingredients for holiday feasts and potlucks:

    • Hard-to-find or specific holiday recipe ingredients/components
    • Appetizers/antipasti/charcuterie
    • Entrees
    • Sides
    • Garnishes (for food & bev)
    • Desserts
    • Baked goods
    • Beverages (wine/spirits/mixers/non-alcoholic)
    • Candy/décors (chocolate, candy canes, mints, decorations for gingerbread houses/villages, etc.)

▢  Have your kids write letters to Santa and “send” them to the North Pole.

▢  Find a holiday giving opportunity (like a Giving Tree) and purchase gifts to donate to families in need.

▢  Nov. 6: Daylight Savings Time ends (enjoy the glorious extra time to sleep!)

▢  Order flowers and arrangements for centerpieces and tablescapes.

▢  Create a cleaning schedule:

    • Yard/landscaping
    • Porch/entry
    • Living room/den
    • Kitchen/dining area
    • Bedrooms
    • Bathrooms
    • Windows/mirrors
    • Dusting/vacuuming
    • Laundry/ironing

▢ Dig out your holiday towels, tablecloths, runners, cloth napkins and napkin rings, tableware and other fancy items.

▢  Get out the “good” fine china, crystal, decorative containers, stemware, bowls, etc.

▢  Polish silver or other metallic serving ware and silverware.

▢  Nov. 22: Prepare to defrost or brine the turkey or make any dishes you’ll be taking to a potluck, community center, church or shelter.

▢  Nov. 23: Get the family and house ready for Thanksgiving celebrations.

▢  Nov. 24: Thanksgiving – connect with family and friends and/or volunteer to serve a meal.

▢  Last call for gift wish list items:

    • Check on sizes, interests/hobbies, preferences, allergies, etc. for everyone on your list(s).
    • Don’t forget stocking stuffers!
    • Finalize a list of your service providers (teachers, beauticians, delivery drivers, sanitation collectors, etc.)
    • Get holiday decorations and lights out of storage.

▢  Go find (or cut down) a Christmas tree or take your faux tree out of storage. (Watch this to get into the holiday spirit.)

▢  Put up and decorate your tree. (Don’t forget to baby- and pet-proof as needed and maintain/water it, if it’s real.)

▢  Hang holiday lights outside. Pro tip: Solar string lights can be hung almost anywhere.

▢  Set up other indoor/outdoor decorations:

    • Wreaths & garlands
    • Holiday village or train displays
    • Candles (flameless or old-school)
    • Runners & tablecloths
    • Window frost & tinsel
    • Mistletoe
    • Make home-made/DIY decorations and other holiday crafts:
    • Paper snowflakes (such a fun kid activity!)
    • Wreaths: eucalyptus, evergreen boughs, pinecones, dried berry branches, etc.
    • Garlands: popcorn or cranberry, etc.)
    • Hang up stockings.
    • Set up an Advent calendar and Advent wreath.
    • Naughty or nice? Start getting creative about this year’s Elf on a Shelf.

▢  Order gifts!!

    • Nov. 25: Shop Black Friday selections
    • Nov. 28: Grab Cyber Monday deals

▢  Nov. 29: Giving Tuesday – share with those less fortunate.

▢  Gather up and verify current contact info for sending cards and gift-giving.

▢  Send holiday cards between now and Dec. 10 to ensure they’ll arrive by the holidays.

▢  Prep for New Year’s:

    • Outfits
    • Decorations
    • Food & bev menu or make reservations
    • Space/table/chair rentals
    • Set up some self-care for after the holidays (massage, day off, housecleaning service, spa day, getaway, etc.)

▢ Set reminder to send out holiday gifts, invites & cards (before the first week of December!)

Holiday Decor on Mantle with Tis The Season Letterboard


Dec. 1: National Christmas Lights Day

▢ Order/purchase any remaining gifts

    • Pro tip: It never hurts to have a few extra gifts wrapped and ready, just in case. Perhaps a selection of candles, soaps, scarves, gloves, belts, wallets, delicacies, etc.

▢ Schedule “Wrapping Wednesdays”

    • Every Wednesday, set up a gift-wrapping station in your living room, pop in a holiday movie (we suggest Elf, Die Hard or A Christmas Story) and grab a bottle of wine or apple cider to get wrapping — and get ahead of the game.

▢ Make time for outdoor fun

    • Neighborhood walks/hikes
    • Build a snowperson
    • Snowball “fights”
    • Ice skating
    • Sledding
    • Skiing/snowboarding
    • X-country/snowshoeing
    • Holiday-themed train rides
    • 5K and fun runs/walks
    • Holiday ship sails/tours
    • Bonfires
    • Polar plunges

▢ Get ready for New Year’s!

    • Send out New Year’s invites or schedule events and make reservations.
    • Hire a sitter.
    • Plan a night in/backup agenda.

▢ Dec. 6: St. Nicholas Day

    • Try a new European tradition (popular in the Netherlands and Germany) and follow the custom of putting shoes outside your door and waking up to small trinkets, toys, candies and fruits.

Dec. 10: Mail those holiday cards and last-minute gifts if you want them to arrive by December 25.

▢ Shop for all remaining holiday meal items (food & beverages).

▢ Order any last-minute digital Gift Cards – the perfect one-size-fits-all gift.

▢ Prep and bake:

    • Bake sweet and savory baked goods or freeze ahead.
    • Make gingerbread houses or villages.
    • Host a cookie-decorating party.

▢ Go on an expedition to see the lights in your neighborhood.

Dec 18–26: Set out the Menorah and candles to celebrate the 8 nights of Hanukkah!

Dec. 21: Winter Solstice

Dec. 22: Celebrate Chinese Winter Solstice

▢ Cook and prep whatever meal courses you can ahead of time.

▢ Put all the gifts under the tree.

▢ Set out outfits (make sure everything is clean and pressed).

▢ Find the toolbox (to help open boxes, put gifts together and insert batteries, etc.)

Dec. 23: Festivus (for the rest of us):

    • Polish the Festivus Pole.
    • Stretch for the Feats of Strength.
    • Prepare your List of Grievances.

Dec. 24: Christmas Eve!

    • Prep dinner & clean up.
    • Prep brunch or potluck items.
    • Set out cookies & milk for Santa.
    • Read The Night Before Christmas and get the kids to sleep (try some warm milk & honey or chamomile tea – for kids over 3).
    • Stuff the stockings.
    • Put out all remaining gifts.
    • Set the table.
    • Fill decorative containers with candy, nuts and other treats.
    • Make sure your cells phones and cameras are charged and ready.
    • Get some Zzzz’s.

Dec. 25: Christmas!

    • Light up that tree and open all the gifts while enjoying some hot cocoa or cider.
    • Be sure to recycle packaging.
    • Savor brunch.
    • Go caroling, sledding, or even to the movies.
    • Then, take a nap.
    • If you don’t celebrate, go out for or order Chinese food!

Dec. 26: Boxing Day (check out sales from the US to the UK)

Dec. 26 – January 1: Set out the Kinara and candles to celebrate Kwanzaa

▢ Send out thank-you cards or emails/texts (likely all we can expect of our kids these days) or make actual phone calls.

▢ Exchange or return items.

▢ Final prep for New Year’s:

    • Clean and decorate house or space (if hosting).
    • Finalize food and beverage or check on plans/reservations.
    • Inspect outfits.
    • Glam it up (or keep it cozy and mellow out at home).
    • Designate a driver or order a car/cab.

Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve!

    • Drink responsibly.
    • See the fireworks and watch the ball drop.
Family of four on blue couch in matching striped pajamas

January 2023

▢  Jan. 1: New Year’s Day – Sleep in, enjoy New Year traditions and make resolutions (that you can keep).

▢  Clean and put away all holiday cookware/bakeware.

▢  Indulge in some much-needed and deserved self-care.

▢  Jan. 6: Three Kings’ Day (the 12th Day of Christmas, or Feast of the Epiphany)

▢  Jan. 7: Orthodox Christmas

▢  Stock up on storage boxes and next year’s decorations on sale.

▢  Take down and pack up the tree (or dispose of it per your local guidelines).

▢  Put the ornaments and lights away.

▢  Collect and store all other indoor/outdoor holiday decorations. Or keep the lights up for a festive winter season.

▢  Make holiday/seasonal planning, scheduling and gifting notes and observations to refer to in future.

▢  Consider making plans for Valentine’s Day. (I know!!)

Whew—you got through it all. Now, order pizza, watch your show and get to bed early. Soon, it will be time to plan for next year.

About The Author

Natasha McClain

Natasha McClain, a marketing copywriter and editor for Zulily, has written for a wide variety of industries and has been published by Kitchenware News, Washington Travel & Life, Dining Out Magazine, Bastyr, Blue Nile, McCauley Sound and New York Press. She's originally an East coaster now living in Seattle.

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