The Ultimate Christmas Checklist

Christmas is the absolute best time of year! That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it! Everywhere you go, the atmosphere is festive and full of cheer but, let’s face it, the Holiday Season can also be a bit stressful. There is so much to remember, so much to do, and people to see.

Keep anxiety and stress OUT of your Christmas with The Ultimate Christmas Checklist!

Christmas Checklist Printable

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Family Pictures

It’s always a joy to receive a Christmas card with family pictures! There are three things to think about when planning your family pictures:

Where will you have your picture taken?

  • A picture studio. This is the formal and often more expensive way of doing family pictures. I’ll admit, we did formal pictures for a few years before deciding we didn’t need to send out high quality family photographs that would be thrown away after the holidays. Still, it’s nice to have professional family pictures!
  • Use a picture from a vacation. If you have family photos from a vacation or family fun times, this is a great option!
  • Candid shots you take of the kids. Take those kiddos outside, where the light is in your favor, and snap away!

Who will take the picture?

  • If you’re going the studio route, ask around for recommendations.
  • A stranger on vacation!
  • You! If you are looking for a family picture on the frugal side, get together with another family in a location with great backdrops and trade off or use a timer and take them yourself! I just have to say, I love the pictures I took of the kids a few years ago. Sure, there were lots of fails but there were also some terrific wins!

What will you wear?

  • Check out these tips from ‘Click it Up A Notch’ on 11 Tips for What to Wear in Family Photos.
  • It isn’t necessary to go out and buy new outfits for the entire family. Often, you can assemble outfits right from your own closets!

Truth be told, your Christmas card recipients don’t care how fancy your pictures are. They just want to see your shining faces! For fun, check out these hilarious picture captions from ‘It’s Like They Know Us‘. It might give you a new perspective on family photographs!

November is the perfect time for family pictures!

Put Lights on the House

There’s nothing that proclaims festive more than Christmas lights on your home! The first year in our home, we couldn’t figure out how people had lights that fit their home so perfectly. Then, we found out you can purchase light strings by the foot. Wow!

Light strings by the foot can usually be found at specialty hardware stores. For us here, in the Pacific Northwest, McClendon’s is the place to go.

  • Measure the roof lines where you want lights.
  • Go to your specialty hardware store to purchase the lengths desired. Oh, there will be choices!
  • Determine if you want C9 or C7 (refers to bulb size) light strings.
  • Light strings come in different colors too (white, green). What matches your roofline the best? You want your light strings to blend in as if the light bulbs are poking out of nowhereland.
  • Light strings can be purchased with bulb sockets at 6 or 12 inches apart.
  • Purchase boxes of of C9 or C7 bulbs in the colors you like.
  • Determine the light hooks you will need.
  • Be careful on that ladder!

We have used our light strings for over 10 years now, replacing bulbs as needed and changing up colors for fun! We feel it was a good investment!

Let me tell ya, there is something to be said about the Griswold way of putting lights up too. The eclectic look can serve us very well!

Typically, we put lights up the weekend after Thanksgiving.


Once those lights are up on the house, you’ll be itching to get the tree up too! It’s a super easy process for us as we have a fake, pre-lit tree that we pull out every year. We have accumulated a few decorations over the years but really don’t worry about getting too crazy.

  • Put up tree and decorate.
  • Hang those stockings!
  • Other decorations. (We still have decorations the kids made in Kindergarten!)
  • Christmas Cards? If you’re sending Christmas cards, you are probably receiving them too. Tape them to the inside of your front door for a fun decoration!

Write A Christmas Letter

Don’t you just love catching up with friends and family you haven’t seen in a while? The Christmas letter is the perfect way to get all caught up!

  • Write a Christmas Letter highlighting events of the year.
  • Have each family member write their own little highlight column. If they are too young to write their own, write a column in their words!

We started with a Christmas Letter on 8-1/2 x 11 paper before sizing it just right to attach to the back of our photo cards from Costco. We print them on cardstock and attach with photo tape (but a glue stick would probably work just fine).

Update: We now print our Christmas Letter, right at home!

How To Write A Christmas Letter with a Christmas Newsletter sample.

Mail Christmas Cards

Whether you send traditional cards or create your own picture collage, it will be much appreciated by the recipients!

  • Costco is very reasonable for printing collage Christmas cards. They have templates to fill in your pictures or you can design your own and insert it into a blank template.
  • Make your own. Are you a stamping or scrapbooking queen? Design a card!
  • Purchase a box set.

Hand write, print labels, or print directly on the envelope. Just get those cards in the mail the first week of December! Whew! Time to move on!

If you think ahead a little on this one and purchase stamps well in advance, you will save yourself time in line at the post office!

Make A Gift List

Make a list and check it twice!

List each person you would like to purchase a gift for. (This list can get out of control pretty quick. Decide who you want to show extra appreciation to and, remember, it can be something super simple!)

  • Family Members
  • Friends
  • Co-Workers
  • Teachers
  • The Mail Carrier
  • The Milk Man
  • The Newspaper Guy
  • Anyone who serves you throughout the year that you would like to show appreciation for.

Next, list a gift idea next to the recipients’ name.

You can even leave space for the amount actually spent.

Check out our Christmas Gift List printable!

Is your list too long? Check out the Dirty Santa game we play with family. It will shorten that list up pronto!

Plan A Party!

Teenagers at a party with the words: Your Teen Wants To Party!

Last year the kids each had their own Christmas Party! Let me tell you, it was so much fun! From Ugly Christmas Sweaters, human snowmen, Dirty Santa, cookies, and The Celebrity Name Game, this Teenage Christmas Party is sure to be a hit! If you have teenagers (or friends that like to act like teenagers) check it out!

If your kids have anxiety, check out these ways to reduce holiday stress for kids so they can enjoy the parties you have planned!

Make Homemade Gifts

There may be people on your list you want to do something special for without spending a lot. Homemade gifts fit the bill nicely!

Just Poppin' By To Wish You A Merry Christmas Popcorn Gift
  • Just Poppin’ by to wish you a Merry Christmas – Print those words on card stock and use twine to hold in place on a package of microwave popcorn.
  • Snowman Soup – The Dollar Tree has some great Clear Glass Mugs that work fabulous! Just add a packet of hot chocolate, a few marshmallows in a little baggie, three Hershey’s chocolate kisses in Christmas colors, and a candy cane for stirring. Put it inside a clear goody bag and tie a pretty bow around the top for a great gift!
  • Flax Seed Heating Bag – These were a huge hit for family members one year. They are the gift that keeps on giving!
  • Hand Warmers – These are made much like the Flax Seed Heating Bags. Cut 5 inch fabric squares (use fleece or line with felt), sew all sides leaving an opening on one side for turning, fill with flax seed, sew closed, and wrap a pair up in pretty ribbon with an instruction card!
  • Baked goods – How about pumpkin bread or your favorite baked good item?

The possibilities are endless!


  • Watch your emails for special deals.
  • Check out all those ads.
  • Don’t be afraid of Black Friday – there are deals to be had!

Get the Black Friday Shopping List Printable here!

Wrap Gifts

You’ve bought the gifts and now you want to wrap them without adding to your gift budget?

  • Use what you have!
  • Reuse Gift Bags.
  • Paper left from last year?! Use it up!
  • Save the comics from the Sunday paper.
  • Get Creative! I have a roll of brown butcher paper that works great as Christmas wrap with a lovely ribbon!

Looking to add to your gift wrap selection?

  • Costco sells ribbon for a great price. When the gifts are unwrapped, roll up the ribbon and save it for next year!
  • Purchase a roll of wrapping paper from a discount store like Costco! (Can you tell I like Costco?)


What are your Family Christmas Traditions?

  • Elf on the Shelf
  • Driving around to look at lights
  • Purchasing a new ornament
  • Making Reindeer Food
  • Going to a Christmas Eve service
  • Caroling – If you are planning to go Christmas caroling, check out these Christmas caroling ideas.
  • Creating a Gingerbread House
  • Visiting Santa
  • Drinking Hot Chocolate
  • Writing letters to Santa
  • Reading the Nativity Story

One of our favorite Family Christmas Traditions is to let the kids pick out a new ornament from Hallmark. It’s always fun to unpack the ornaments from years past! It brings back lots of memories and also shows how much they have changed over the years. When they have their own homes, they will have acquired enough ornaments to give them a great start on decorating their own trees!

Mail Gifts

For family and friends that live far away. Mail those packages before December 10th so they arrive on time. I go back and forth on this one. I love to send gifts but every time we do, I promise they will all get gift cards the following year. It ain’t cheap mailing packages. If you have a gift under 13 oz it can be mailed first class and the cost will be minimal.


Don’t forget to stop and breathe! Have fun as you work your way through The Ultimate Christmas Checklist and enjoy the trip because that’s what it’s all about. Savor it and take every moment in!

We hope you’ve enjoyed this Ultimate Christmas Checklist! Don’t you just feel better when you have your to do’s down on paper?

Get Your Ultimate Christmas Checklist In The Christmas Planner!

It’s Time To Get Organized For Christmas!

The Christmas Planner is here to help you plan the BEST Christmas Yet!

It provides you with space to make lists, and check them twice, plan parties and projects, and create a schedule so you can enjoy your Christmas this year!

Want to fill out the fields, in the Christmas Planner, right on your computer? The Fillable Christmas Planner is also available!

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  1. This was an amazingly detailed list! Gifts under 13 ounces. Classic funny! πŸ˜€ I especially loved the idea of having your kids pick a Hallmark ornament every year so they have a great start for their own trees one day. That is extra sweet! πŸ™‚

  2. Oh I love Christmas so much! We take our own Christmas card photo every year at home using a tripod (which we actually found in the trash!). We stand in front of our Christmas tree with a reluctant Frugal Hound (usually wearing antlers) and set the camera to snap 5 photos in a row. We just keep snapping until we get a photo that works. Super cheap and yields a festive card :)!

  3. Great list!! I’m saving this for my own use, haha. We put up our tree last night and even though it’s early, I totally don’t care haha! Our tree is just too beautiful to only be displayed for less than a month. I won’t do the other decorations until after Thanksgiving – but I couldn’t help myself with the tree!

    Hope you are having a nice weekend!!

    1. Me too! Me Too! Lol! There’s just something about checking stuff off that list. I’m hoping to get started this weekend, although my son is a little disgruntled by the idea. He wants to wait until after Thanksgiving;0)

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