Setting Up a Holiday Planning Notebook

Calendars are vital to keeping the holidays organized.
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Why Have a Holiday Planning Notebook?

Use the notebook to hold and organize all of your holiday lists, travel reservations, receipts for gifts, gift lists, recipes, etc. They will all be in one place and ready to go when you need them.

What You Need To Set Up a Holiday Planning Notebook

A binder- Look for a thick and sturdy one with pockets on the inside covers. Some people like to choose a red or green binder, while others choose a binder with a clear pocket on the front and print their own label for their binder.

Dividers- Choose thick dividers with pockets to help them last as long as possible. The number of dividers will depend on your number of categories, but you'll need at least 10 to start with.

A pen- Choose one that has a festive theme so everyone knows that it is the "holiday notebook pen". Keep it located in the front pocket of the binder.

That's it, a three ring binder, some dividers with pockets, and a pen and you are ready to transform any holiday season into a precise organized event.

A Digital Planning Notebook?

If paper isn't your thing, try creating digital folders that can organize your info in a similar way.  You can create folders on the desktop of your computer, organize notes on a smart phone, or use a variety of applications and web based services like Drop Box, Evernote, or similar cloud based synching apps to organize your holiday plans. Whatever method you choose, make sure you have the option to organize information by category.

  The ability to access that information from multiple devices is also a huge benefit.

Sections of a Holiday Planning Notebook


Keep calendars near the front of your binder because you will refer to them all of the time. Be sure to transfer any information onto the calendar in your holiday planning notebook so that you won't double book your family during any events.

Christmas Card Lists

Consider using the computer to organize addresses. Keep lists of the people you send cards to from year to year. Make notations next to names, addresses, or family situations that have changed. Some people keep a copy of the previous year's card in the notebook to make sure they don't send the same one year after year.


Use this section of your notebook for plans regarding visits during the holiday season. You can keep travel arrangements, maps, directions and packing lists in this section. Jot down information about hotels you liked, or a note to remind you to bring your own pillows when you visit Aunt Marge. Keep information on visits from the previous few years to help you be more prepared for traveling issues.

Parties and Entertaining

Include information on any entertaining you will do during the holiday season. Guest lists, menus, activity information, and seating charts can be organized in this section of the notebook.

Menus and Recipes

Food is such an important part of the holiday season that I keep my menus in their own section. Menus for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s , and individual parties, can be stored here for easy retrieval. Make copies of all recipes and keep them here.

Don’t forget recipes for easy meals to make during the busy holiday months. You can also keep recipes for gift jars and mixes in this section of your notebook.


It's a good idea to keep all of your receipts during the holiday season. I usually notate any important information on the receipt if it isn't already printed, including a stores general return policies. Inevitably something breaks, doesn't fit, or doesn't work properly. Having the receipts ready to go prevents money wasted.

Gift Ideas and Gift Lists

Write down gift ideas for friends, family, and acquaintances. It's a good idea to keep gift lifts to prevent regifting a present to the original giver or giving someone the same gift card 4 years in a row.

Cleaning Schedules

Use this section to organize the work that needs to be done on the house during the holiday season.

Print off the 15 Minute Cleanups for maintenance cleaning ideas and deep cleaning ideas for more intense cleaning needs. Also keep a list of small repairs and fix ups your home may need. It might also be helpful to include copies of your regular cleaning schedules.


This section can help you organize the traditions that your family relies on. For instance if you go caroling, look at Christmas Lights, make cookies together, etc. Whatever traditions and important parts of the holidays your family participates in should be in this section of your notebook. This mapping out of the important activities can help you schedule and plan what is most special to your family during the holiday season.

Shopping Lists

Keep all of your shopping lists here for the next year’s holiday season. Try separate shopping lists for:
Home Improvement
Perishables by holiday
Non-perishables by holiday


While this may be the least favorite section of the holiday planning notebook, it's probably one of the most necessary. At the beginning of the holiday season, sketch out a reasonable budget based on your gift lists and ideas. Each section of your notebook may need it's own allotment of the budget. Keeping track of how much you plan to spend can help you know where to make cuts or add a few frills to your holiday spending.

With these sections of your holiday notebook, you'll be ready to tackle any holiday season.