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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Mayfield, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

Making a list and checking it twice

Updated: Sep 11, 2023

Santa Claus making the nice and naughty list

“Making a list and checking it twice...”

That familiar song lyric can apply not only to Santa at this time of year but to all of us.

Do the holidays stress you out? If so, you are not alone. Surveys show that about two-thirds of Americans report their stress level as very or somewhat elevated during the holidays.(1) Another study found 31% of us describe our holidays as “frantic.”(2) That makes me sad – how about you?

Planning and preparation can be keys to a stress-free holiday.

It occurred to me that holiday preparations could benefit from the advice found in Chapter 33 of Communicating Nutrition: The Authoritative Guide, which is titled “Attention to Logistical Details Promotes Successful Communication.”

Let’s rewrite that title with a holiday theme by substituting any of the following phrases for communication: Attention to logistical details promotes successful _______...

  • holiday shopping

  • meal preparation and baking

  • decorating

  • gift wrapping

  • party hosting

  • holiday visits…

You get the idea – planning ahead can promote a stress-less, if not stress-free, holiday.

Logistical planning refers to “the handling of the details of an operation.” (Merriam-Webster) Advance planning has multiple benefits. It can prevent problems, it can improve the experience for everyone involved, and can allow you to focus on the reason for your activity.

Tips and strategies for making holiday plans

The chapter lists the following tips and strategies for successful logistical planning. As you read the list, consider the tasks and events you are responsible for during the holidays. Which suggestions on this list can help you accomplish your tasks in a more efficient and joyful manner?

  1. Create a master plan with tasks, deadlines, and who is responsible or involved. Put dates on your calendar. If your calendar is too full, cut something out!

  2. Make necessary arrangements regarding places, dates, times, etc.

  3. Coordinate with others involved. Delegate and share responsibilities.

  4. Prepare and procure supplies. In the context of the holidays, this includes food, decorations, and presents. Simplify menus, gift lists, and other purchases to prevent overspending, a major contributor to holiday stress.

  5. Keep good records: gift lists, correspondence, receipts, etc.

  6. Communicate with others in a timely way.

  7. Confirm all arrangements.

  8. Meet deadlines. Don’t wait until the last minute.

  9. Have a backup plan for “disasters.”

  10. Above all - maintain a positive attitude.

Procrastination and a lack of planning can spell disaster but advance preparations can help you meet your obligations while maintaining your health and your sanity.

Plan mindfully and savor the season.

This season of the year should be a time of celebration, generosity, and joy. As you make your holiday plans, keep your expectations realistic and prioritize what is most meaningful to you. Just because you can plan something doesn’t mean you need to.

Build plenty of time into your schedule for sleep, fitness, leisurely meals, and personal breaks – reading a book, taking a hot bath, listening to music, or watching your favorite movie. If too many events and obligations prevent a healthy balance, take something off your calendar.

One of the best reasons for applying logistical planning to your holiday preparations is to make it clear just how full your calendar is, allowing you the opportunity to decide ahead of time what deserves to stay and what can be removed. Plan mindfully so you can savor the season!

"Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax."

~ Abraham Lincoln

  1. “Holiday Stress and the Brain” at

  2. Study by US Highbush Blueberry Council, reported in NY Post Dec 21, 2017

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