Organize Your Life: Holiday Planning with Spreadsheets

It would require careful planning and execution, but Marina always accomplished everything to which she put her mind. She made a lot of spreadsheets.
-Cristina Alger, author

| By Amelia Stolarz |

Whenever I begin a big project, I immediately open a Microsoft Excel Workbook.

Be it a new estate tax return or a large house party, it needs a spreadsheet. I opened one when each of my daughters got engaged, every time I’ve planned a vacation – anytime part of my life needed corralling – and certainly every Christmas.

Here are some ideas on how to organize your holiday to-do lists into spreadsheets.


  1. Gift Ideas: My first tab always is a Gift List. I list each person’s name in a column. To the left, I insert two narrow columns: one to check when “Done” and another to check when “Wrapped.” Each of those two columns uses a different color font to make it pop. After I complete purchasing gifts for each person, I use the Ctrl+5 key command to strike through. In the right columns, I’ll note when gifts are ordered online and when delivered. I buy a lot of gifts!
  2. Gift Shops: The next tab is Shopping Lists for Gifts. I’ll list all the places I want to go – online or in town – and then when I think of something I need from that store, I’ll enter it there so that I can consolidate trips.
  3. Party Menu: I use another tab to create my menu(s) for holiday entertaining.
  4. Grocery Shops: On the tab next to the Party Menu, I have a Shopping Lists-Food tab. I’ll list Publix, Trader Joe’s, Costco, etc. and enter the ingredients I need from each place in order to consolidate those trips, too.
  5. Party Plans: Next is a Party Planning sheet with guests, RSVPs, amount of paper goods to buy based on guest responses and other entertaining to-dos.

I use different colors on each tab to help them standout. Simply right click on the tab label and click Tab Color and choose a color. I find coloring the Tabs helps train the eye to move around the spreadsheet quickly.

Additionally, I like to use different color fonts for text within the spreadsheet to give a sense of organization.

Once you have your holiday spreadsheets perfected, you can easily make a copy for the next year.

Wishing you a Happy 2018. Stay organized!

If you found any of these tips particularly helpful or would like to share your ideas, let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Definition of Spreadsheet
or spread sheet
1 Accounting. a worksheet that is arranged in the manner of a mathematical matrix and contains a multicolumn analysis of related entries for easy reference on a single sheet.
2 Computers.
a. a type of software that offers the user a visual display of a simulated multicolumn worksheet and the means of using it especially for financial plans and budgets.
b. a single document created with this software.
Origin of spreadsheet Expand
spread + sheet1Source:

13239220_868867996558951_5623648985723637852_nAmelia Stolarz is a lifelong organizing guru, an avid gluten-free baker and a Certified Public Accountant.

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