Cut Down On Christmas Organization By 80%

Please welcome my guest today, Chloe Wilson from Get Set Organize.  I love this post and I think you’ll find it very helpful for simplifying the holidays.

here, but this article is about an alternative strategy – one I’ve been enjoying for the past few years.

It works on the 80-20 Pareto principle: 80% of your family’s Christmas enjoyment probably comes from 20% of your efforts.

You might have heard of this rule before. I try to use it to focus on the ‘important stuff’ when I’m working but a few years ago I decided to try it when planning for Christmas too.

It was like a breath of fresh air. A weight was lifted.

In a nutshell you cross off 80% of the tasks on your Christmas checklist.

Whether your Christmas organization plan is written down somewhere or buzzing around in your head, it will probably comprise of tasks in the following areas: Cards & Gifts, Menu Planning & Baking and Home Décor & Cleaning.

Now it’s best to keep a few tasks in each category to ensure your Christmas is balanced, but basically for every 5 tasks or every 5 people within a task, choose the most important one and cross out the other 4.

Brutal isn’t it? But it can be done with the benefits of either slashing your $$$ spend and/or your time spend during this pre-Christmas season without losing any of the enjoyment. Here are some ideas of what I mean:


Cut down the number of cards you send by 80%. Just send cards to people who live far away. Explain your new strategy to friends and family you see regularly so that they don’t feel forgotten. They will probably follow your lead!

Cut down the number of personal notes and Christmas letters you send with cards by 80%. If your cards are pre-printed with your name, just leave it at that other than for special friends and family members that you don’t see very often.

Alternatively avoid the whole Christmas card sending thing altogether. Set up a free blog and post your Christmas wishes, news and family photos there. Then send an explanatory e-mail to your Christmas card list with the blog’s link.


Cross off all the adults from your gift list (or just leave those that really matter). Explain to friends and family that you would like to keep this Christmas as ‘gifts for kids only’. Most will be more than happy and who couldn’t do with spending a bit less this year?

If you can’t bear for the adults in your life to be gift-less, consider making them something as a token gesture rather than wasting money on something they don’t want and don’t need. Think baked goods, jams, pickles, chutneys, photo collages or my favorite, homemade vouchers. If you can get your kids involved, all the better. Then the task is not just another chore, but fun family time.

If you don’t have the time or inclination to bake or be crafty, consider charitable gifts that will change lives. Sites like allow you to buy a gift of things like a bike for a midwife in a developing country, a malaria net for a whole family or 50 bowls of rice for hungry children in Africa. You buy the gift in the name of your recipient and they receive a card telling them about the good deed. This is a quick and simple task to perform online.

Buy your remaining gifts online. You will save 80% of the time you would otherwise spend travelling to the shopping mall and standing in queues. You will probably buy less too.

Remember the fewer gifts you buy, the less you spend, the less time you spend shopping, the less time you spend wrapping and the less time you spend organizing storage for all the new ‘stuff’ after Christmas.

Menu Planning & Baking

Cross off 80% of those special meals you hosted last year. Inviting friends and family for drinks and nibbles is perfectly acceptable.

Say no to hosting big parties. Invite only 20% off the guests from last year and hold a more intimate affair.

Cross off 80% of the brunches, starters, side dishes and extras you had last Christmas. No-one will go hungry and you’ll have fewer leftovers to label and store.

Cut down your holiday baking to 20% of what you did last year. Ask your family what they can’t do without (perhaps one item per family member) and stop there. Or only cook what you enjoy – not those fiddly recipes that take hours and make a right mess.

Spend less time in the kitchen and more with your family.

Home Décor & Cleaning

Only decorate the main living room in your home this year. Forget about having decorations everywhere, especially outside. Get the tree and one box of decorations out and let the kids test out their creativity. Remember it has to be fun, not perfect.

Don’t buy decorations if yours are in need of replacement. Make them with your kids. There are plenty of ideas online and again you are turning a chore into quality time.

Avoid any home improvement type tasks at this time of year. Guests should be coming to see you, not your house. Share out the remaining mundane cleaning duties. YOU don’t have to do it all. Aim for 20% of what you did last year by assigning talks to other family members.

Enjoy A Stress Free Run Up To The Holidays

Christmas is not about becoming stressed out or going into debt to buy presents or decorations or to entertain friends and family. Get your red pen out and start crossing off those tasks. Even if you can’t make the 80% cut, try something. As the weight lifts the Christmas cheer will come rolling in!

Chloe Wilson shares simple steps that work when organizing your home on her blog Get Set Organize. She is searching for an easier way to make organizing tasks fit into a daily routine, otherwise filled with work and family life. If you have any ideas, she would love to hear them!

Filed under: Guest Bloggers, Holidays


10 Responses to Cut Down On Christmas Organization By 80%

  1. 1
    Judee @ Gluten Free A-Z says

    These are really good ideas and makes time to spend time with family and friends. Great post

  2. 2
    Living the Balanced Life says

    Great ideas! The 80/20 principle really is true, so why not get rid of the 80%? The other thought is that by getting rid of some these tasks that you don’t particularly enjoy, like sending out cards, you will then have time to spend doing some of the things you truly do love. Things like making homemade gifts, or baking goodies for friends and families!
    Do the holidays throw you off balance?

  3. 3
    Lisa B says

    I love most of these ideas and really appreciate all of the inspiration, BUT I have to give a big thumbs down to doing a Christmas blog post in lieu of traditional Christmas cards. Christmas is the one time of the year that many of my friends and family receive something other than an email from me. I think the personal touch still matters!

  4. 4
    Erin @ Small and Simple Things says

    Thank you for giving me permission to do just what I want and not feel obligated to do whatever “they” want me to do. I especially like the thought of gifts just for the kids.

    I quit sending cards many, many years ago. We write a Christmas letter and take a picture and send it as a pdf family newsletter in an email . I love that no one has to wonder – should I throw this photo away? What should I do with this card?

  5. 5
    Eileen @ Space Matters says

    I will have to try the 80/20 principle this year! It’s a great idea for gifts. Feeling obligated to give gifts usually just means money is wasted and the receiver has something else to get rid of (or worst case scenario, more clutter!).

    Thanks Laura!

  6. 6
    Claire @ Claire K Creations says

    That is fantastic advice.

    I’ve started doing that a little bit with everything. If I’m planning on cooking or baking I only choose really simple recipes that I won’t dread making and the same with decorations and set up etc. Why make things complicated if you don’t have to?

  7. 7
    Kim M says

    Truth be told I think I kind of enjoy the other 80% too!

  8. 8
    Kaz in Oz says

    1 tree in Lounge room – check. Goes up December 1.
    No entertaining – friends for lunch after church on Christmas Day then 5 hour drive to my parents for family lunch on boxing day – check.
    Presents for kids (and my parents) – check. Hubby and I have started the bike shopping for our 2 this week. Only 4 other kids to buy for.
    No menu planning or baking since we wont be here – check.
    Christmas cards I am actually sending some this year with a family newsletter since we moved away from our hometown this year and so much has happened! These will go out the first week of December.
    I am so not stressing as it will also be our summer holiday and I want to relax.

  9. 9
    Becky says

    I think you just described my life. It could be the generation I’m from, but I already don’t do cards (maybe will do those photo ones when i have kids), shop online for gifts (only for my husband and immediate family), never bake (ever), and don’t decorate except for the tree (with my husband).


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