Tips to Get Organized for the Holiday Season Using Tech You Already Own

So I know Halloween just happened, but for most of us the next two months will be filled with major holidays including Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. Whether you are hosting any holidays or parties or just attending them, it can get a bit hectic this time of the year. Because of that I thought I would offer up some ideas to help you get organized for the holiday season by using the technology and devices you already own.

Tips to Get Organized for the Holiday Season

  • Spreadsheets
    These wonderful tools, like Excel spreadsheets and others, are so amazing for staying organized in so many ways during the holiday season. Even better is that you do not have to create your own spreadsheets. There are tons of free templates you can download online from Microsoft, Google and other sources. I’m a Microsoft Office user myself so I just open up Excel and select new and then search the templates for what I need. Try searching terms like “christmas budget”, “christmas gift list”, “party list”, “thanksgiving”, “new years”, etc. to see what is already available. With a template you just open it up and fill in the data that you need. I have done this for years and years with my holiday shopping list and budget to help me stay organized with the gifts I buy, how much I spend on people, tracking my budget, and the like.
  • Smartphone Photos
    Take advantage of the camera on your smartphone to snap photos when you are at the store of items you are considering for gifts. Be sure to get a photo of the price as well. I actually do this all year long as I am planning different projects, but at the holiday season it is really handy in price comparison and to show other folks.
  • Screenshot “Photos”
    Just as with the smartphone photos, if you are shopping online be sure to take screenshot images of things you are considering along with bookmarking the item and/or adding them to a wishlist.
  • Printed Address Labels
    Do you have a big list of people that you send holiday cards to? Try importing your mailing list into Microsoft Word, or other document program, and creating printed mailing address labels with a few clicks of the mouse. This takes far less time than hand-addressing each card. I know some still prefer the personal touch of hand addressing, but I think most recipients don’t care how it was addressed but more the fact you were thinking of them to send a card. This is also a great way to create custom return address labels.
  • Call from Santa
    There are tons of apps in the various app stores that let you make and/or receive calls and texts from Santa Claus for the kids. Do a search in your favorite app store and try some of them out.
  • Calendar for Everything
    Be sure to add parties, events, family holiday time, and even non-holiday down time to your calendar that is synchronized to your phone, tablet, PC, and everyone else’s in your household. This way everyone knows the plans that are coming up and can plan accordingly. Many of us also have family that have to visit multiple places on holidays due to divorces and mixed families of all kinds. Keeping track of who is going to be where on your family calendar is very helpful.
  • Printed Gift Labels
    Use sticky label sheets to easily create printed gift labels for gifts. I’ve done it by just putting a holiday image on them and putting “TO:” and leaving blank and then “FROM: The Wright’s” and then filling the “to” part out as I wrap. However, if I am really organized and I know how many gifts I have for someone I will preprint the “to” line also. If you are making homemade crafts, especially food items, you can also use larger sticky labels to create custom labels that say what the item is, how to use, and who it is from. To give an extra special touch, once you print those labels if they can’t just be stuck on the item, cut out pieces of cardstock in a suitable color and use decorative trim scissors to do so, then apply printed label (that is smaller than cardstock) to the paper. Now punch a hole in the corner and use ribbon thru the whole and then attach to the gift.
  • Menu Planning and Food Shopping
    Food is such a huge part of the holiday season. Take advantage of your tech gear to create your menus as well as food shopping lists. You may only be cooking one meal later during the season, but if you plan it out now you can find those items that will hold on the shelf/fridge/freezer for many weeks on sale and buy a little at a time. This helps ease the cost to all of us also. Think about those menu items you can prepare and freeze in advance as well.
  • Hue Lighting
    I am such a huge fan of Philips Hue Lighting. They have both white and colored bulbs of all kinds. Set these up using the apps for display colors that match your holiday mood. These are meant for indoors, but by placing the Hue lighting in/near windows you can help add ambiance to your outdoor lighting as well. There are even great 3rd party apps like Hue Disco that let you have the Hue lights change colors and intensity based on the music playing at your holiday party.
  • Holiday Music Playlists
    This is easy and fun! Make playlists of music for all the holidays that you need. Music for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, etc. This is a great way to not only share music made for those holidays, but also include some of your other favorites to keep the party moving and fun.
  • Ideas Galore on Pinterest
    If you haven’t used Pinterest before I would strongly suggest you try it out if you want to find an unlimited amount of ideas for holiday food, games, drinks, decoration, and so much more. You can easily create your own Pinterest boards of saved items for future reference. I have a tons of Pinterest boards, check out my Thanksgiving Pinterest board, Christmas Pinterest Board and New Year’s Eve Party Pinterest board to get an idea.
  • Leftover Planning
    One of the best things about hosting a holiday event is that you get all the leftovers. Sure, you can just eat them cold or heat them up and eat as is, but there are so many great ideas online for using leftovers for entirely different meals. What I have found though is that I need to plan ahead for these concoctions so that I have the additional ingredients I need on hand after the event.
  • Fun & Games
    The internet is again a fabulous source of ideas for fun and games for any holiday event. We do a ton of games at Christmas in our family for the adults and the bulk of them we have found online. Plan ahead and find games you think your group will like, print out any needed items, save to your cloud for easy access from any device also.

Did any of these ideas hit home with you? What are others ways you use your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or computer to help you stay organized for the upcoming holidays?