If you’re feeling like you are busting at the seams after Thanksgiving, if Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas shopping have overloaded you, if the hustle and bustle of the season have gotten you down, you are not alone. What is supposed to be a merry time spent in celebration with family and friends instead can become one of the most stressful times of the year. All of the shopping, decorating, baking, making Christmas cards and everything else that comes along with the holidays added upon your already busy schedule can quickly weigh you down.

There is a way to get through the holiday season with a little less stress and hopefully avoid a nervous breakdown, however. With a little planning, some prioritizing, and a bit of work, you can get more organized and enjoy this special time of year a little more. This is the year to take back the holidays and get the most out of this season…and it’s not nearly as difficult as you might imagine. So, take a deep breath, toss back some eggnog, and take a look at these tips to help you unclutter the holidays and make them a little merrier.

The first and most important step to unclutter your holidays is to make a holiday plan to keep you organized and on track. Your plan at a minimum, should consist of a to do list, shopping lists, and a holiday budget. First off, make a list of everything you need to accomplish during the holiday season. Then make a note of when each item should be accomplished and what the top priorities are. Finally, make sure you get the rest of the family involved in working on the to do list and make a note of who will help with the different items. In addition to a to do list, your holiday plan should include shopping lists for each person for whom you need to buy a gift and a budget to keep track of holiday expenses. You can make your holiday plan as simple or complex as you like, the important thing is that you have a plan and you can keep track of what needs to be done. If making a holiday plan from scratch seems like a big chore in itself, don’t worry. There are plenty of resources on the internet that offer templates that you can use to get you started.

Once you have a holiday plan, it’s time to make a plan of attack for the basic holiday chores such as shopping, decorating, and sending out Christmas cards. The secret to taking the stress out of these things is to get them done as early as possible so that you can spend more time with family and friends. This is especially true of shopping, which could easily be the most time consuming task on your list. A study by Consumer Reports concludes that the average American spends 10 hours or more shopping for gifts during the holidays. The best way to tackle this chore is to get out there early and leave the last minute shopping for the crowds. You can save yourself some time and avoid the crowds by doing your shopping early in the day or right after work. Online shopping is also a great idea to save time. Many online retailers will even wrap your gift purchases before they ship them for a nominal fee. If you are mailing gifts, make sure to get them shipped early, so that they arrive in time. Decorating and sending out Christmas cards are much the same. The sooner you can get them done the better.

Extra space is even harder to find during the holidays. If you need to make some extra space for visiting relatives, to keep gifts hidden, or to store decorations after the holidays, you can try to coordinate with friends, family, or neighbors. There is no need to clutter up your house or burden others with your stuff during the holiday season though. You can easily make some extra room and hide your gifts by renting a Self Storage unit and storing them there.

As you make a holiday plan, prioritize the things that are most important, and get the busy work done as early as possible, this season should be a little less stressful and a whole lot merrier!