When you're staring down an already long list of things to do and then add another list related to holiday celebrations — well, it can seem a little daunting.

A few days ago, in the midst of a conversation about upcoming celebrations, we overheard someone whisper to a friend, "You say 'holidays'; I say 'hellidays'!" We had to chuckle because we completely understand the sentiment. When you're staring down an already long list of things to do and then add another list related to holiday celebrations — well, it can seem a little daunting. It can seem even more so if you are hosting a holiday gathering. Happily, following these six organizational tips can help you deck the halls without losing your mind or the spirit that inspired you to host a party in the first place.

1. Make a list — and check it twice. When you leave the organization of lots of moving parts completely up to your brain, you're asking for a double dose of stress. Your working memory, which allows you to manipulate and prioritize information, and remember the thread of an argument, is easily overwhelmed by the million-and-one distractions in your environment. Do yourself a favor and grab a pen and paper or a tablet or your smartphone and start a list. Start with menu items, then add decor, guest list, RSVPs, etc. Once you see everything you need to do written down, it's a straightforward exercise to create an action plan so that you tackle it all in time.

2. Ask for help, please! We know that we probably sound like broken records on this front. But honestly, delegating can make such a positive difference with both parties. Instead of looking at your list and assuming that everything on it must be done by you, look at it and from the start figure out what you absolutely must do yourself and then what you can delegate to family members, friends or service providers like caterers. If you have children, ask them to help decorate the tree or lend a hand with holiday baking. Give them something to brag about.

3. Host a brainstorming pre-party. Sometimes when you try to do the planning yourself, you get overwhelmed. A fresh perspective or two is often just the ticket to getting unstuck and back in an energized, party-throwing kind of mood. Schedule time with a few family members or close friends who will be attending your event, crank up some tunes, pour a couple of mugs of hot chocolate and brainstorm some fun. Dream up yummy foods to serve and a few decorations to create. If you don't have time for a gathering, chances are you have at least one or two friends on Pinterest — you could also set up a Pinboard for your party and invite good friends to pin their ideas.

4. Fit In exercise. When you have a lot to do, it's even more critical that you find the time to fit in exercise. It may seem a bit counterintuitive. But studies consistently show that exercise lifts your energy in the long run, even though it takes energy to do. Get the standard 30-minute moderately brisk workouts by walking, swimming, cleaning the house or even moving furniture. You can divide the 30 minutes into more doable 10-minute segments if needed. If you find yourself with 10 minutes to spare and haven't done your workout yet for the day, head on over to YouTube and search for "ten minute workouts." There are literally hundreds of free, guided workout videos just waiting for you.

5. Put free printables to use. There are literally hundreds of free printables out there in the blogosphere for everything from holiday coasters to place cards that are perfect for decking the halls on a budget. All you need is a printer. Start at GetButtonedUp.com/Tools.

6. Shop fast. Most people we know, ourselves included, don't have an army of sous chefs to help them cook each dish from scratch. Save time by using convenience products like cooked cocktail shrimp or prepared pizza dough where you can. Trust us: Nobody else will know the difference.
The writers are co-founders of Buttoned Up, a company dedicated to helping stressed women get organized. Send ideas and questions to yourlife@getbuttonedup.com. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.shns.com