Secrets for Making Your Holiday Preparation Easy

By on December 3, 2014
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By Dr. Monique Y. Wells –

Everyone’s organizational skills are tested when the end-of-year holidays roll around – particularly those of solopreneurs and small business owners.  Yet, with a little forethought and planning, the Christmas / Hanukkah / Kwanzaa season can progress surprisingly smoothly.

This topic came up in a recent conversation I had with Danielle Julia Cuomo, founder of Virtual Assist U.S.A.

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Because she is the owner of the largest virtual assistant business in the U.S., I expected that Danielle would understand a thing or two about organization.  But I was so astonished to learn that she finishes almost all of her Christmas preparation by the end of October (!)  that I immediately asked her for an interview so I could discover her secrets for myself and share them with you.  Even though you can’t start as early as she has this year, you can still use most of her tips to make your 2014 holidays less hectic and more fun!

MYW:  Describe what your holidays were like before you began this practice.

DJC:  Prior to me making this decision, my holidays, in a word, were chaotic. I might even add unpleasant!  I was scrambling to get Christmas cards out, so I’d forget to send cards to some people… I was shopping in over-picked stores and my gifts weren’t as thoughtful… The house was half-decorated…

MYW:  When did you start organizing for the holidays in the fall?

DJC:  I started my business in 2008.  By 2009, I realized that to serve my clients and enjoy the season, I had to make some changes.

MYW:  What tasks do you set out to accomplish?  For example, do you decorate your home?  Buy all gifts?  Plan meals?

DJC:  The first thing I do is plan out my gift buying, including creating a simple spreadsheet that lists all of the people I need to buy for, and whether the gift has been purchased and wrapped yet. This is also a great place to jot down ideas for recipients as I see them throughout the year. (This is a huge cost savings, too, because I have the entire year to find the perfect, thoughtful gift – and find it on sale, too!)

Then I plan out my decorating, including creating a Pinterest board of ideas and I make sure that I have all of the supplies that I’ll need.

In November, I plan out my menu – with recipes – and I bake/cook what I can ahead of time and freeze it.

MYW:  How do you organize yourself to do this?

DJC:  I use the technology that’s available to me, but I don’t use anything overly sophisticated – just Pinterest boards, a spreadsheet, and a to-do list.

MYW:  How does this affect your work routine?

DJC:  Because I “chunk it down” and spread out my holiday to-do list, my work isn’t impacted at all by the holiday busyness. I do a little at a time, over a few months. As a virtual assistant, it’s important that I dedicate my time to serving my clients, so this makes it a lot easier on my work.

MYW:  Whose help do you enlist to accomplish this?

DJC:  Just myself (smile)!

MYW:  What are the benefits of organizing so early?

DJC:  Hands down – it’s that I have more free time to enjoy the holidays with those I love. And when I say free, I also mean that it’s stress free. Instead of spending my weekends battling the malls, I can take my nieces ice skating. Instead of spending Christmas Eve baking and cooking, I can spend it talking to family members as they visit.

MYW:  What are the pitfalls, if any?

DJC:  For some, it may be that Christmas “creeps” too much and the holidays start too early. However, I love the season dearly, so stretching it out by a few months brings me more joy.

MYW:  How does your family feel about this?

DJC:  For years, they would tease me about my “Type A Holiday.” However, several of them have now adopted some of my strategies when they see how stress-free my holiday season can be!

MYW:  Final thoughts?

DJC:  I’d encourage anyone – especially entrepreneurs – to do little things to help make the holidays less stressful. You could do shopping exclusively online and select the gift wrapping options so that you don’t have to do it yourself, have your assistant handle your holiday cards or bake cookies in November and freeze them ahead of time. Lots of simple ideas to make things easier!


Dr. Monique Y. Wells is the founder of Making Productivity Easy™.  She works with successful women entrepreneur CEOs who want to simplify their workdays and find the work/life balance they desperately desire.

About Monique Wells

“Work/life balance” isn’t a myth. It is real for women who take inspired action to make it so. I am here to light the way. — Monique Y. Wells Monique Wells works with successful entrepreneurial CEOs who want to simplify their workdays and find the work/life balance they desperately desire. Through her guidance and support, they build a business that allows them to spend more time with their loved ones, travel, volunteer for community service, and have more fun . . . in short, they build a business that allows them to enjoy the lifestyle they want and deserve!

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Secrets for Making Your Holiday Preparation Easy