Are you dreading the holidays? Feeling behind before you even begin preparations? Wish you could hibernate until the season’s over? You’re not alone.

According to the publication Vital Stats, 60% of Americans feel they do not have enough time to get everything done. Are you one of them? Relax. The holidays do not have to frazzle you. Implementing a few organizing techniques can do wonders to alleviate much of the stress associated with this time of year.

First, imagine what your ideal holiday would be like. Determine your goals for this holiday season and keep them in the forefront of your mind. Everything you do should be weighed against these goals. Choose only to pursue what will nurture your image of a wonderful holiday.

Next, make a list of the three most important activities you want to share with your family during the holidays. Once you’ve decided your goals and the activities you can’t live without this year, you are under no obligation to accept any other invitation you may receive. Keep it simple so you’ll have time for what you’ve decided is absolutely important.

With this preliminary organizing complete, you are now ready to create your To Do lists. If you are remembering that image of your perfect holiday, then these lists should be pared down versions of what you may have done in the past. Be realistic about what can be done and what you can afford.

Now that your lists are complete, you’re ready for action. When shopping for gifts or other holiday necessities, plan your trip to avoid any unnecessary backtracking. Picture your errand destinations in your mind and map out your trip accordingly. Write this plan down. Traffic this time of year is bad enough without having to go back across town because you forgot something.

To establish further order among the hustle and bustle, enlist the help of all members of your family. Children can help with wrapping presents, household chores, putting stamps on envelopes, decorating, and some baking. Spouses can do some of the shopping as well as any other tasks needed to get things done. With everyone pitching in you will not feel alone and will definitely get more done. Besides, it’ll be more fun and memorable when everyone shares in the preparations.

Having a determined game plan reflecting your ideals for an enjoyable holiday will enable you to keep the stress level down. Be true to your convictions, budget, time constraints, and that picture perfect holiday image you’ve created. Choose what has to be done. Make lists to accomplish these tasks. Map out shopping routes. Involve the whole family.

Next year, repeat all of the above, only don’t wait until the last minute. Decide what worked well with this new plan of yours and what didn’t. Make the necessary adjustments and your next holiday will be even more organized.

Nancy McGarity, Canal Fulton, Ohio, USAnancy@realsolutionsforliving.com Learn more about organizing for home and family. Nancy J. McGarity–Organizing Specialist and owner of Real Solutions For Living, a residential organizing service. Go to www.realsolutionsforliving.com today for your FREE 25 Secrets of Clutter Prevention.