A Professional Organizer’s Guide to Staying Stress-Free During the Holidays

By Chanel Dror

Editor’s note: Last year, Amy Vance of Eco Modern Concierge joined us to share her holiday gift-giving organizational tips. Believe it or not, her wisdom inspired me to actually get my act together a bit more this season, and as a result, I’m feeling — dare I say it — quite relaxed! She joins us again this year with more tricks of the trade that only a professional organizer would know…

From Amy: Staying stress-free during the holidays can be tough when it feels like you have 5 million things going on all at once. I’ll be the first to admit that I can get caught up in the chaos, focusing much of my attention on client needs, rather than my own. This year though, I am determined to enjoy the season rather than rushing around, non-stop. To really bring this plan to life, I’m sharing tips that will not only help you stay stress-free, but also keep you energized all season long!

featured image via bows and sequins

photo via west elm

Plan Ahead

Planning ahead is the key to staying organized and relaxed during the holidays. It can also save you time and money in the long run.

  • Create a master to do list of everything you need to do during the holiday season. Include things like gift shopping, sending out holiday cards, putting up decorations, etc.
  • Create a holiday calendar. Start with a blank calendar and write out all holiday-specific activities, vacations, volunteer commitments etc.
  • Meal prep for parties, and keep extra ingredients for staple dishes in the house, just in case you get invited to something last minute.
  • Have extra gifts on hand, just in case. If you don’t end up needing them, donate!

photo via strenghielm

Get Organized

This goes hand in hand with planning ahead, but can make all of the difference in keeping you sane.

  • Organize areas of your home you know will be getting a lot of use. This could be the kitchen and living room if you’re planning on hosting dinner parties, or guest bedrooms if you’re expecting over-night guests.
  • Purge the pantry and refrigerator of any unwanted or expired items. This frees up space and gives you open areas to store holiday goodies.
  • Create a budget to avoid overspending. Remember to take into account things such as food, donations, decorations etc.

photo via j. crew

Shop Smart

  • Shop during non-peak times. This is usually first thing in the morning when stores have just opened or a little later at night, when the crowds have died down.
  • Shop online and avoid stores altogether. Amazon Prime and Amazon Now are life savers in this department and will allow you to get most, if not all of your holiday shopping done without even leaving the house.
  • Scope out the deals. I’ve found the best deals in-store are usually between December 10th and December 18th, but keep an eye out for local ads and promotions!


photo via 100 layer cake

Create a Wrapping Plan

  • Enlist help and have others wrap for you. If you happen to find the wrapping process overwhelming, find someone who enjoys it. A headache to some, is therapeutic to others!
  • Keep all of your supplies handy and in one central area of your home. That may be a designated corner, or a separate room.
  • Wrap as you buy, instead of waiting to do it all at once.
  • Buy extras of things you know you’ll need such as tape, gift tags etc. This avoids unnecessary trips to crowded stores.

photo via new darlings

Ask for Help

If you have a million things on your plate, hiring help can be your saving grace. If you know there are certain things you don’t enjoy doing, outsource it.

  • Hire a concierge company, like my own, Eco Modern Concierge. These services exist to handle tasks that others don’t have time to do, or just don’t want to do. This can be anything from cleaning, to catering to shopping and wrapping gifts.
  • Utilize time-saving apps such as TaskRabbit, Instacart, and Favor.

photo via the pretty blog

Give Back

Aside from just being a great habit to get into, studies show that giving back and volunteering can also reduce your stress levels and make you an overall happier person.

  • Donate items you no longer need. Cleaning out your closets and following the 6-month rule can help you get rid of so many unnecessary items.
  • Sponsor a child or family for the season and help them get gifts they wouldn’t normally receive without your help.


photo via gal meets glam

Maintain a Flexible Routine

As I mentioned before, when the holidays roll around, we tend to let our own needs fall to the side. However, remembering to take time for ourselves while maintaining a flexible, yet healthy routine can make all the difference.

  • Prepare healthy meals and snacks. Since we all tend to indulge a little more around the holidays, preparing healthy meals in advance will not only make your life easier, but also make bouncing back after the holidays a breeze.
  • Take “me” time. Whether it’s by booking a massage, meditating, or going for a run. Keep doing things that are part of your normal routine to help keep you centered.

photo via poppy talk

Focus on What’s Important

  • Do what makes you happy. If you’ve been doing the same thing year after year, and each time it’s causing you stress, try something else! Don’t feel obligated to maintain traditions that cause you more anxiety than happiness.
  • Dedicate your time to the ones you love.
  • Make a list of the top 5 things you’ve always wanted to do during the holiday season and do them!
  • Say “no” more often. We tend to over commit and over schedule during the holidays, but remember it’s okay to say “no”. More often than not, others will understand.

photo via by tezza

Have Fun!

Relax and don’t overthink things. Not everything has to be done perfectly and it’s okay to just wing things from time to time! If you can try to go with the flow, I think you will enjoy the holiday season so much more.