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Getting organized for the holidays

From September through the end of the year, you'll be shopping, cooking, traveling, gifting, entertaining and—oh-yeah—living your day-to-day life. You may have what feels like 1 million details to manage.

Does this sound familiar (and stressful)? Well, never fear. We're here to help you get organized. Try our checklist of tips to help you feel like you can get it all done!

Pre-Halloween planning

  • Who still needs a costume? Choose early—especially if you're making your own.
  • Carve your pumpkin about a week before Halloween. Rub petroleum jelly on the cut edges to help your creation last longer.
  • What would Halloween be without a night of It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown? You can check your local listings, or stream this classic and watch it on your own schedule.
  • Complicated costume makeup? Do a test run a few days before Halloween.
  • Buy treats to give out early enough to reduce stress, but not so early that you start to dig in. And have a plan in place for the ones you're about to receive.

Throwing the world's easiest holiday party

  • Make a guest list and get the word out at least 3 weeks in advance. Calendars fill up early this time of year.
  • Have a potluck to share the workload. Compile a list of who's bringing what and feel free to make assignments—many people find it easier to fulfill a request to "bring a vegetable dish" than just "bring something."
  • Make your own shopping list and buy non-perishables 2 weeks early.
  • With 1 week to go, follow up with anyone who hasn't responded to your invitation.
  • Two days before the party, clean up the parts of your home that people will be in.
  • The day before the party, buy produce and other fresh food. Prepare as much of the meal as possible, including setting the table, creating drink stations, arranging seating and putting up decorations.
  • The day of the party, finish cooking and enjoy!

Handling houseguests

  • Ask about food restrictions or allergies before meal planning and shopping. Think about a few options for meals that you can easily make.
  • Clean your house a day or two before guests arrive.
  • Stock the guests' bathroom with anything they'll need—shampoo, soap, towels, toilet paper, a toothbrush, etc.
  • Make room in a closet or dresser for their clothes.
  • Put an extra blanket or two on their bed, plus other touches—an alarm clock, your wifi password, something to read and flowers.

Streamlining gift shopping

  • Make a list of who you're buying for as early as possible. Don't forget teachers, the mailman, Secret Santa gifts or hostess gifts for parties you'll be attending.
  • Confirm correct addresses and phone numbers, if you're shopping online.
  • At the end of November—or sooner—start browsing online and in windows for inspiration.
  • Buy what you can online in early December, and buy the rest as soon as you can. Aim for mid-December to be done with all shopping, especially if gifts need to be shipped.

Traveling

  • Buy tickets and reserve cars 1 month before leaving.
  • If you're driving, take your car in for a checkup the week before leaving.
  • Whether you're staying with family or friends, or in a hotel, call a week before you arrive and let them know about any special dietary or diabetes care needs.
  • Don't forget to bring a small gift for your hosts!

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