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Making a List and Checking It Twice

This time of year, when you’re trying to juggle 20 balls while walking on a tight rope, it’s easy to forget something. We thought we’d provide a helping hand by putting together some holiday checklists of things you might want to do. Hopefully our lists will help you have a less stressful holiday season without so much of a chance of realizing at the last minute you’ve missed an important detail or tradition.

Around your home

  • Decorations put up inside (includes switching out guest hand towels in bathrooms, special soaps, and candles)
  • Decorations put up outside (be sure to check your supply of salt or deicing products)
  • Map out menus and grocery shopping lists completed for any special meals and/or parties you will be hosting.
  • Schedule extra house cleaning sessions with a cleaning service early in the month (you’re not the only one who’s getting ready for holiday entertaining)
  • Find a holiday music playlist you like on Pandora. Listen all day or just be ready for when you have guests over–crank up those computer speakers or stream Pandora to your TV using devices such as Roku. (If you don’t use Pandora already, it’s free to create an account and you will fall in love with the flexibility of creating and listening to your own music.)
General tasks
  • Gift list made and complete (yes, this does mean all of the gifts have been bought).
  • Hostess gifts purchased (and you might want to have one or two extra gifts on hand in case someone stops by and brings you a gift and you have nothing to give in return).
  • Gifts wrapped, labeled, and sorted (gifts for under your tree, gifts to take to friends, gifts for other family members, etc.–sort them all out now and put the gifts that won’t be under your tree into tote bags so you can grab them on your way out the door).
  • Gifts which need to be mailed are “in the post” and on their way. (Holiday USPS mailing schedule here)
  • Invitations mailed to any parties you plan on hosting.
  • RSVP to any party you’ve been invited to attend.
  • Holiday cards:
    • purchased
    • signed
    • labeled
    • mailed
  • Tickets purchased and calendar scheduled for any special holiday concerts, plays, or events you want to attend.
  • Decide now who you’re going to tip this holiday season–write out the thank you cards, insert the tip, and tuck them in your purse. When you need them, they’ll be right at hand.
  • Set aside some time to do the things you love–maybe it’s baking cookies, making candy, or sitting by the fire. Just make sure you have time for whatever brings you joy.
Are YOU ready?
  • Have you made appointments to get your nails done before special days?
  • Have you made appointment to get your hair done before special days?
  • Schedule a massage (or TWO) during your busiest week this month. You’ll thank yourself later for the treat.
  • Do you have outfits picked out for parties and/or events? There’s nothing worse than remembering the day of that your favorite dress needs to be dry cleaned or has a big spot and needs to be replaced.
If you have kids
  • Schedule your photos with Santa–cut out the middle man, the mall madness and the lines. Look online to find where you can get your kids treasured photo with Santa and then swoop in and get it done! It’s all about planning and timing.
  • Before they can get that photo taken, though, they’ve got to be looking their best. Are holiday outfits purchased? Try them on and make sure they fit.
  • Take care of hair appointments now before the month gets busier.
  • Book camps and sitters for the upcoming Winter Break. Bored kids equal frazzled Mom–a little pre-planning here goes a long way.
  • Schedule sitters early in the month for important dates.
Holiday travel
  • If traveling by car, be sure to pack some extra blankets in your trunk, plus enough food and water to tide you over for any possible road or weather problems.
  • Remember to take care of your pets while your gone by scheduling a pet sitter or arrange for boarding at a kennel.
  • If you hate flying with luggage, send it separate by using a luggage shipping service such as Luggage Free.

See something critical left off of these lists? Share with us, please.

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To Do or Not to Do: 3 Online Task-Managers to Try

To-do lists: They help us stay organized and remember important things in our own life and in the lives of friends and family.

Creating paper lists can be helpful, but then what happens when you lose that crucial piece of paper? This has happened to us so frequently we’ve decided there must be a better solution out there. We did some digging around and decided to share what we found.

We’re going to look at online to-do lists that also have companion mobile apps. Being constantly on the move means the one thing we’ll hopefully not forget when leaving home is our phone. (Don’t you feel so out of sorts when you do forget it?)

Ta-da Lists is perhaps the simplest program available. It’s a program that can create to do lists and nothing more. It has little check boxes that you check off when a task is completed (such a satisfying thing!). You can create multiple lists and you can share them with friends. We thought this would be a good thing for planning a party or event with a friend – this way you won’t end up with lots of plates and napkins but no cake on the big day.  Ta-da Lists is free and has a mobile app for the iPhone.

Remember the Milk has lots of features and because you can access this from any smart phone, it’s probably more universal. One feature we really liked is adding to your task list directly from your phone or any computer. All you need to do is send yourself an email and it will automatically be added to your list.

You can also organize your tasks by location. Quickly map out the most efficient way to get all of your errands done and get on to more fun things! If you like to include notes with your to do items, this application allows you to do that as well.  Finally, if you have things you want to have on your to do list every week or every month, you can set any task up to repeat as often as you’d like.

 What we liked about Toodledo is the ability to prioritize tasks and include goals. How you create your lists and how they look is determined by you – it’s very flexible and customizable. Like Ta-da,  you can share your list with others for things you’re working on together with  your friends or family members. You can access your lists on your iPhone, Android, or Blackberry cell phone. Using Toodledo is free.

There are many many more choices available. We’ve tried to limit the list to ones with a proven track record and ease of use.

How do you organize your tasks? Do you use a program we haven’t listed above? Please share your thoughts and comments with us.