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Hacking Your Way to a Chic + Organized Holiday | Part 1

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The Baer Minimalist Blog -- Tips, Tricks and Hacks on LIVING a more ORGANIZED + STYLIZED Life

Hacking Your Way to a Chic + Organized Holiday | Part 1

Maria Baer


Raise your hand if you are in charge of shopping for gifts each holiday season?

How about prepping the meals?

Planning out outfits for family photos? Not to mention scheduling them?

My guess is everyone has three hands raised, so we don’t even need to mention wrapping the gifts, booking flights for distant celebrations, hand addressing the holiday cards, decorating the house. I mean the list is LONG, and can certainly be a major stress during the most magical time of the year.

So when the Indiana Design Center reached out to see if I’d be open to sharing best practices and tips for a chic + organized holiday season, I jumped at the chance. I partnered with Caryn O’Sullivan, CEO of Drapery Street, and last Thursday we presented to a full house.

Caryn O’Sullivan, Drapery Street and Maria Baer, The Baer Minimalist | Photo Credit: Andrea Kleymeyer

Caryn O’Sullivan, Drapery Street and Maria Baer, The Baer Minimalist | Photo Credit: Andrea Kleymeyer

But I couldn’t leave you out of it, so without further ado, here are a few tried and true holiday hacks to add some joy back into your season.

Create a Holiday Checklist + Electronic Address Book

  • Create a checklist for events, travel, presents, photos and pampering appointments, etc. at the beginning of the season that you can refer to year after year. BONUS TIMESAVER TIP: Keep this electronically on your calendar or as a Post-It Note that be transferred from year to year on your paper agenda.

Treat yourself to some holiday goodies while you write up your holiday checklist.

Treat yourself to some holiday goodies while you write up your holiday checklist.

  • Create an Electronic Address Book that can be updated throughout the year as you receive notes and cards. BONUS TIMESAVER TIP: Spend a few extra dollars having your addresses printed on your envelopes through sites like Minted. Or plan to place your order on Black Friday for max savings!

  • If your photos don’t happen on time, send New Years card instead, or even Valentine’s Day cards for that matter. Don’t stress about getting cards out by a specific date or for taking a year off!

  • Save envelopes from cards you’ve received and take time to update your address list in January (after the holidays are over).

  • Once the holidays are over, pick a new card each night and say a special prayer or share stories about that family during dinner (before recycling the cards). This allows you to see the smiling faces of family and friends for a good chunk of the New Year.

  • Another post-holiday task is to note which traditions are meaningful to the family, and assess whether to continue others.

Hosting Events

  • PLANNING THE PARTY:

  • Gather serving platters a day or two prior and place them on your counter with labels of what dishes they’ll hold.

  • Secure caterers and other vendors as early in the season as possible to ensure your events are covered.

  • Consider inviting guests to contribute by having a Pot Luck dinner. This doesn’t let you off the hook though if you are the host. Make sure you are taking on the main course and drinks!

Don’t Forget to Label Your Serving Platters | Photo Credit: Char Cota

Don’t Forget to Label Your Serving Platters | Photo Credit: Char Cota

  • ENJOYING THE PARTY:

  • Always have an activity for the group to enjoy! Some ideas could include a gift exchange, a white elephant gift, saran wrap ball (great for the kids) or even something fun at each place setting, like party crackers or an ornament.

  • Set the atmosphere by having a fire going, lighting some candles and selecting a pre-made Spotify/Pandora playlist.

Serving Platters with Flair | Photo Credit: Char Cota

Serving Platters with Flair | Photo Credit: Char Cota

  • CLEANING UP THE PARTY:

  • Make sure the dishwasher is empty prior to the party beginning.

  • Turn the tunes up, and let people help clean if they offer. But don’t sequester yourself in the kitchen and do the dishes unless others are joining you.

  • Make sure to have a post-party assessment of what worked and what you’d consider changing for next year (include things like start time, what guests brought, etc).

Attending Events

  • Take an hour to look at your calendar for November/December. Think through your needs for each event, including outfits, securing a babysitter, choosing a hostess gift and determining what you are contributing and take a little bit of time to pull a plan together.

  • Have a small selection hostess gifts on hand – I love consumable gifts, re: champagne, macarons, candles, stationary.

Grab + Go Hostess Gifts | Photo Credit: Char Cota

Grab + Go Hostess Gifts | Photo Credit: Char Cota

  • Reply as soon as you get the invitation. This way, the invite doesn’t get lost on your desk or in your inbox.

  • Just as important, own your yes. RSVP to party invitations and if you reply Yes, Go!

  • If you see someone standing alone, invite them to join your group. Empathy and looking out for others is the chicest of all holiday traditions. Here are some excellent conversation starters:
    1. How do you know the host(s)? 
    2. Where are you from originally? 
    3.  What’s your favorite ____________?   
    4. Do you have any special holiday traditions?  
    5. What’s your best Christmas memory ever? 

  • Don’t overschedule yourselves – it can be challenging, especially with so many great ideas on Pinterest, but don’t feel the need to do it all this time of year.

  • There is something incredibly special about a movie night at home or a small dinner party!

Next week, we’ll be back with ideas for Experiential + Consumable Gifts, Holiday Decorating and Holiday Decor Storage.

Until then, I challenge you to put together your own holiday checklist for the season ahead!


The Baer Minimalist helps busy families create ORGANIZED + STYLIZED spaces and events throughout Indianapolis. 

To keep up to date with all of the tips, tricks and inspiration doled out, subscribe to our newsletter, The Minimal-List, here

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