7 Best Holiday Planners

7 Best Holiday Planners

7 Best Holiday Planners 

Start your engines. It's list making season.

Gift lists. Meal lists. Grocery lists. Budget lists. Event lists. Lists. Lists. Lists.

Every list reflects decisions made. How much to spend. What to cook. What to buy.

And of course, the most important decision is whether to create all of these lists on paper or your phone, computer, or tablet. (Or a combination.) This is a BIG decision.

I am a combo gal. There is no way I am adding up a column of numbers by hand no matter how cute the piece of paper is where I wrote the numbers down. I normally make my grocery list on the Alexa app, but Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner grocery lists are more complicated and need a piece of paper divided by section in the store.

No matter how you like to plan you can find your ideal planner in this list of 10 Best Holiday Planners.

7 Best Holiday Planners 1

7 Best Holiday Planners

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. For more information, see the full disclosure in the foot bar.  

Best Free Holiday Planners


Stress Less this Christmas with a FREE Printable Planner designed by Tammy Rotzell of Footprints of Inspiration. 


If you are digital all the way, check out this FREE holiday planning template designed to work with a FREE AirTable Account.

Best Holiday Planners

best holiday planners - the christmas project


The Christmas Project by Kathi Lipp

I love how The Christmas Project is organized into projects with step-by-step directions for getting organized and having your best Christmas season.

best holiday planners

This beautiful Holiday Planner Bundle is currently on sale for $4.90!!!


Gorgeous printable Christmas planner



Turn up your holiday cheer with this absolutely gorgeous holiday planner. It is only $6.40!! This same Etsy shop has several other beautiful choices.

best holiday planners - digital



Prefer a digital solution to your planning? Check out this pretty Digital Holiday Planner.



I cannot imagine adding up a column of numbers by hand. For all things 2022 there is no reason to do that and risk math errors when Quicken will do this for you. You can make a Christmas budget, download all of your transactions from your bank and credit cards, categorize the expenses however you like, tag gift expenses by recipient, and print it all out in a handy report which you can pretty up with some stickers!

Other Holiday Planning Necessities

christmas planner stickers


I may be the only person out there who needs a line item in her budget for stickers, but there is no better way to cheer up your calendar than with a few stickers. I love Happy Planner stickers. 

These are my Top 7 Best Holiday Planners. Do you have a favorite holiday planner? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.

How to Parent a College Student

How to Parent a College Student

How to Parent a College Student: 6 Winning Ideas

I am frequently asked to recommend resources for new and not-so-new empty nest moms. Michelle Wiener, an empty nest coach, has written this guest post How to Parent a College Student: 6 Winning Ideas. She offers tips for positive parenting in the empty nest years and beyond.

Check out her ideas for parenting college students below then head over to her website for more tips and tricks for thriving during your empty nest years.

How to Parent a College Student

How to Parent a College Student: 6 Winning Ideas

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, I will receive (at no additional cost to you) a small commission, which helps pay for this blog. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Positive Parenting in the Empty Nest Years and Beyond

A guest post by Michelle Wiener


When I think about my son leaving the nest and going away to college, I know we will both go through many changes. He will be in a new environment and city, finding a new peer group, adjusting to life on his own and the rigor of college. I know I will be thinking new things and feeling new feelings.

I may be thinking things like: I miss him.I wonder what he’s doing. I hope he’s figuring things out. I hope the dorm food is okay. I want to talk to him. I may feel empty, lonely, anxious, worried, disconnected, and a loss of control. If I act from these feelings, I may not behave as intentionally as I would like to. I may be tempted to call or text him frequently, ask 101 questions about his college experience, give advice, or tell him I miss him multiple times. How will my son feel as a result? Some possible things that come to mind are annoyed, resentful, guilty, suffocated. This may lead to him wanting less frequent interactions with me.

I know I will need to manage my own feelings during this process. I will need to be kind and compassionate with myself, manage my sense of worry and anxiety about the idea of him being far away, and think of the positives for both my son and me. I will need to begin cultivating a new life for myself. By being aware of my own feelings and managing them in productive ways, I will be more likely to be my best self as a parent.

It’s helpful for me to imagine how I want my son to feel while he is away at school. I want him to feel that he has autonomy, space, independence, freedom, a solid connection to me, and a support system when he needs it. This leads me to ask myself how I want to show up as a parent for my son. Some things that come to mind are: I want to be supportive, helpful, compassionate, calm, grounded, and connected. If this is how I want to show up, I can think about what this looks like in our interactions. When my son goes to college, I will follow these 6 winning ideas for how to parent a college student:


  1. Give him space by communicating just enough and not too much. Perhaps we have an agreed upon frequency and method of check ins.
  2. Text or call just to say “hi” without expectation that he has to get back to me right away.
  3. Ask just enough questions to be interested and find out how he is doing but I won’t “pepper” him with one question after another.
  4. If he brings up a problem or issue, I will ask him if he wants me to just listen or if he wants my advice, help solving the problem, or to get involved.
  5. Send him occasional care packages or cards so that he knows I’m thinking of him.
  6. Ask before I schedule or plan a visit. Perhaps we agree on these in advance.


    I’m choosing to prepare in advance mentally for how to parent a college student. I plan to talk with my son about the changes that will come and discuss how I can be helpful and involved in his college life. I’m hopeful that being intentional in how to parent a college student will lead to a healthy and enhanced parent-child relationship in this new stage.

    Michelle Wiener

    Michelle Wiener, PhD is a Life Coach who helps empty nest women redefine their identity and purpose so they can create an exciting new chapter and live a life feeling inspired, secure, and fulfilled. If you are approaching, or are in the empty nest years, contact Michelle for a complimentary discovery call at Empty Nest Coaching.


    Empty Nest Devotional Book

    Empty Nest Devotional Book

    Empty Nest Devotional Book

    I am frequently asked to recommend resources for new and not-so-new empty nest moms, so I keep my eyes peeled for the best empty nest resources. Kristen Strong is an author I have followed for several years. I included her book Back Roads to Belonging on my list of 10 Best Books for Empty Nesters. Kristen is now facing her own transition to becoming an empty nester and has written an Empty Nest Devotional Book.

    I invite you to read about her journey and to hear about her new book The Changing Nest: A 12 Day Devotional for the Mom of the Graduate. Her book will soon be on your list of best empty nest books

    Empty Nest Devotional Book

    Empty Nest Devotional Book

    This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, I will receive (at no additional cost to you) a small commission, which helps pay for this blog. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

    Rearview Memories and a Hopeful Resource for the Mom of the Graduate

    A guest post by Kristen Strong


    If you’ve brushed shoulders with me from time to time, you know I love taking pictures. Whether hiking Rocky Mountains trails near my Colorado home or enjoying Rocky Road ice cream on my humble back porch, my kids and husband put up with my frequent desire to stop for pics “real quick like.”

    And I put up with their ribbing about such things.

    But I can’t help it—I am who I am. I relish moments framed in pixels, and I find these illustrated rectangles and squares testify to the many blessings found in life’s small moments.

    I find too that with time, the memories pictures invoke so often turn into present day touchstones of God’s faithfulness.

    I’ve always had a reflective personality that likes to relive good days gone by (as well as how the Lord pulled us through some hard days gone by). And while that is all well and good, reliving those good days can also make it very hard for me to enjoy the here and now because I’m too busy craning my neck to look for signs of yesteryear when things seemed a bit brighter and happier.

    Rearview memories, like scenes reflected in rearview mirrors, are rather interesting. Of course, many (most?) of us can likely recall painful moments of the past like they happened just yesterday. But often still, the further those rearview memories travel in the distance, the hazier their sharp, painful edges may become. By the same token, marinating in the good parts of those memories might give us a more charitable view of them than perhaps reality at that time would’ve revealed

    As our daughter, the baby of our family who just graduated high school, flies the nest this fall, that’s what I find myself contending with: Dwelling on happy rearview memories, specifically the days when she and her older brothers were all home. I do this to such a degree I start to believe that just maybe the best years of my life are in the rearview mirror too.

    Of course, there’s nothing wrong at all with recollecting the past and celebrating the gifts found in family and the gifts found in God’s faithfulness through good times and bad. But I don’t want to elevate those active memory-filled years of having kids under our roof (while simultaneously minimizing the less desirable realities that came with young children) so that I believe the good life for myself and my husband is a thing of the past.

    Psychology researchers Terence Mitchell and Leigh Thompson call this propensity to let history erase the less pleasant parts of memories “rosy retrospection.” In the words of these smart folks, rosy retrospection brings about a dampening of our current life pleasures because:

    “We are hard-wired to give negative stimuli a lot more cognitive attention in the present…But these details disappear by the wayside in our memories. The result? Rosy retrospection: recalling the past more fondly than we experienced it at the time.” [1]If it’s true we can remember the past more fondly that we experienced at the time, I believe it’s possible to experience the present—and the future—more fondly than we think we will. Scripture backs this up in several passages, not the least of which is Ephesians 1:18:

    I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the wonderful future he has promised to those he called. I want you to realize what a rich and glorious inheritance he has given to his people” (NLT).

    Having already sent twin sons to college, I know that it’s important to remember the good times with our adult (and adult-ish) kids as well as mourn the loss of their presence full time under our roof. As you do so, take heart: whether you’re a brand-new Empty Nester like I’m about to become or a more seasoned one, you shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Jesus’s very life on this earth and death and resurrection proves that good things exist beyond goodbyes.

    Change can be hard, oh yes. But hard change can still be very good, especially when it’s allowed by our heavenly Father—which all change is.

    Before you know it, you will be watering the plants or planning the meeting or driving to that appointment and find yourself reflecting on some rearview memories of Empty Nester You. Then, you’ll do a double take because of the light-filled pictures you see: touchstones of God’s faithfulness found in good memories that continue to surface and bloom within this life change.


    The Changing Nest: A Twelve Day Devotional for the Mom of the Graduate

    I wrote a downloadable ebook devotional called The Changing Nest: A Twelve Day Devotional for the Mom of the Graduate. It’s called The Changing Nest because while we may have fewer people living inside our homes, God wants to fill our hearts and our nests with His goodness—to see His goodness in the land of the living—as much today as He did when our kids were younger. Our nests may be changing, but in many ways they aren't empty.

    The Changing Nest ebook will benefit you by:

    • Helping you name the lossesand the good things found within this season of change.
    • Preparing you for what’s to come so you have more peace where you are now–and where you’ll be tomorrow.
    • Acting as a come alongside friend who gets how you’re feeling right now–and offers a hopeful perspective on what you can expect in the future.


    Within this $10 downloadable ebook you’ll find:

    • Twelve days of stories + solid, meaningful encouragement including a focus verse for each day that will help you have a hopeful perspective of this changing season.
    • Twelve daily prayers for the mom of the graduate.
    • A bonus page of Scripture-based prayers for the recent graduate.


    Visit this page here to purchase a copy and/or gift a copy to a loved one!


    [1] Shuhua Xiong, “Why We Romanticize the Past,” New York Times, April 2, 2021,


    Kristen Strong

    Kristen Strong, author of books including When Change Finds You, Back Roads to Belongingand Girl Meets Change writes as a friend helping you discover a more hopeful view of the difficult change in your life. Kristen and her veteran husband, David, have three children. Kristen’s writing can also be found at kristenstrong.com and on Instagram @kristenstrong.

    Resources for Parents of College Students

    Resources for Parents of College Students

    Resources for Parents of College Students as They Head Back to School


    😮 Say it isn't so! It can't really be time to get ready for the kids to head back to school or to move them to college!!! This August will be our LAST Back to School in the college realm. 🥲

    I'm not sure I have ever been as hot as the day we moved our daughter into the dorm 3 years ago. After unloading I had to park about a mile from the dorm and walk. This was Texas, y'all, in August! And then they had the brilliant idea to have a picnic OUTSIDE for us to tell our kids goodbye. I have compiled a list of Resources for Parents of College Students whether it is your first year to send off a child or you a a seasoned veteran.

    Resources for Parents of College Students

    Resources for Parents of College Students as They Head Back to School

    This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, I will receive (at no additional cost to you) a small commission, which helps pay for this blog. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


    #1 piece of advice for drop-off: Sunglasses! And a Dorm Shopping Checklist.

    And start getting ready NOW!!

    • The Container Store is THE place for dorm shopping, new apartment shopping, and getting fun ideas for all things organizing. Get your coupon for up to 25% off. The things you buy at the Container Store are of excellent quality and will last through all four years of college and beyond. And besides it is super fun to go to the store and pick out the perfect white basket for your shoes.

    More Back to School Resources for Parents of College Students:

    I am so excited to announce that Next Phase Parenting now has a shop!! You can now get all of the videos and information we normally only offer during our summits ALL YEAR LONG. Check out the empty nesting, parenting adult children, parenting teens, paying for college, and more videos and other resources to help you as you navigate the journey from a full nest to an empty nest.

    The Nordstrom Anniversary sale is also on. You can pick up some back to school clothing (for you and them) and other items at the year's best prices. I just got my new UGG Slippers in the mail. I wear them all day long, every day from about October to May, so I replace them every year. Can't beat getting them on sale!!!


    Free Parent Resources for College Back to School

    On the not as fun list of things to think about: Be sure you are prepared in case your student needs medical treatment while away. Here is our story of when our son needed an emergency appendectomy while at school.

    How parents can support their college student?

    ​I hope you will check out these Resources for Parents of College Students for Back to School. Let me know your own best resources in the comments below.


    Summer 2022 Book Recommendations

    Summer 2022 Book Recommendations

     Summer 2022 Book Recommendations

    It's Memorial Day weekend and I plan to spend at least some of it reading in the sun. Here are my reviews of some of the books I have read in the last year. I always love to hear what you have read and loved. I consider reading to be one of my empty nest hobbies!


    For more book recommendations:

    Summer 2021 Book Recommendations

    Summer 2020 Book Recommendations

    10 Best Books for Empty Nesters

    2022 Summer Book Recommendations

    Summer 2022 Book Recommendations


    This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. For more information, see the full disclosure in the foot bar.  


    summer 2022 book recommendations - the last thing he told me

    The Last Thing He Told Me  by Laura Dave

    The Last Thing He Told Me is a fun thriller with a connection to Austin, Texas. Hannah Hall's husband disappears leaving her a cryptic note. After working through some of her memories of conversations with him she begins to unravel her husband's past and what it means for her and her husband's daughter.

    2022 Summer Reading Recommendations - What Alice Forgot

    What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

    Alice's life is not what she thinks it should be and thanks to a head injury, now she can't remember how things got like they are. As she learns the truth about herself and her actions, she is faced with deciding whether she wants a do-over or if it has all been justified. I also loved Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty. 

    2022 Summer Reading Recommendations - The Night She Disappeared

    The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell

    I love almost all of Lisa Jewell's books. The Night She Disappeared is one of her best. She writes an awesome thriller – dark, but not too dark and her characters are always engaging. I also read The Making of Us and The Truth About Melody Brown this past year. Loved The Making of Us. The Truth About Melody Brown is one of her few duds.

    2022 summer reading recommendations - the rose code

    The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

    I don't always love historical fiction, but The Rose Code may be the best historical fiction book I have ever read. 3 British women are recruited to work at Bletchley Park helping decipher Nazi coded messages during World War II. They become fast friends, but the war and other circumstances tear them apart. After the war they are reunited and use their skills to discover that the real enemy was not each other.

    2022 Summer Reading Recommendations - Vanderbilt

    Vanderbilt by Anderson Cooper

    Having spent some of my teenage years in Gloria Vanderbilt jeans too tight to bend over in, I found the true story of Gloria Vanderbilt fascinating. I listened to the Audible version, read by her son, Anderson Cooper. Yes, that Anderson Cooper. Who Knew?!!?

    2022 Summer Reading Recommendations - Searching for Sunday

    Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans

    Searching for Sunday and other books by Rachel Held Evans are for those of us who love the Lord, but get tired of the pat answers. I love her books. I love that she kept searching even when she was discouraged. She tragically died a few years ago, but her work lives on. 

    2022 Summer Book Recommendations - Team of Rivals

    Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin

    Team of Rivals is not a light beach read. I listened to the Audible version of this book. It was 41 hours long! BUT I learned so much and truly enjoyed the story and history. Lincoln was a fascinating man and he delivered our country through the biggest crisis it has ever faced.

    MORE 2022 Summer Book Recommendations:

    Here are a few more books and authors I have read over the past year.

    Megan Miranda – If you have not figured it out, my favorite genres are thrillers and mysteries. I have read several books by Megan Miranda. They are solid thrillers perfect for the beach and the airport.

    Kristin Hannah – I read both The Nightengale and The Four Winds. I really liked The Nightengale. The Four Winds drug on and on for me.

    1000 Books to Read Before You Die by James Mustich

    I received this book for Christmas. As someone who reads for a hobby and is at that age where bucket lists are being made, I have had a good time going through this book, checking off what I have read, and making plans for what I would like to read.

    I read The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler from this list. It was published in 1939. Chandler went on to publish an entire series. “Chandler had an immense stylistic influence on American popular literature. He is considered by many to be a founder, along with Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain and other Black Mask writers, of the hard-boiled school of detective fiction.” (quote from his Amazon biography) It was interesting to read from the beginning of the genre. It was made into a movie with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall – need to look that one up!

    This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger – This book was not my favorite, but is a solid read. It is a “journey” book – 4 orphans travel across the country, meeting various people and learning about themselves and others along the way. I am interested in reading some of his other works to see how I like them.

    What have you read in the last year that you LOVED? Let us know your Summer 2022 Book Recommendations in the comments below.

    17 Tips for Empty Nesting, College and Life Prep, and Parenting Teens

    17 Tips for Empty Nesting, College and Life Prep, and Parenting Teens

    17 Tips for Empty Nesting, College and Life Prep, and Parenting Teens

    It's been a strange week. I cut my finger slicing carrots, then I got tested for Covid after my sweet physician husband put on a steri-strip at his office.

    I had texted him to say I could not get my finger to stop bleeding. He told me to come up to the office. His text auto-corrected to “steroid strip,” so I thought he had some magic strip that would stop the bleeding, but no, it was just a super tight band-aid. In addition to my gross finger I also complained of a scratchy throat, congestion, and a headache. Off to the lab I went. I really just wanted the magic bleeding-stopping strip and not the q-tip-up-my-nose-thing again.

    My test was negative.

    Read on for the 17 Tips for Empty Nesting, College and Life Prep, and Parenting Teens.



    17 Tips for Empty Nesting

     17 Tips for Empty Nesting, College and Life Prep, and Parenting Teens

    Join me and my co-host and friend Melanie Studer at the Next Phase Parenting Summit. 17 contributors will present their most amazing tips for empty nesting, college and life prep, paying for college, and parenting teens.

    No proving you don't have COVID and you don't have to wear a mask, but it is fine if you do.

    For three whole days you can interact with parenting, college and career prep, paying for college, and empty nesting experts. These are not just “experts,” but folks who have BEEN THERE. They will share their knowledge and their hearts on their topics.

    You can also join the Free Facebook group to interact with other attendees and speakers, ask questions, and play fun games and win prizes!!

    I'll see you on the inside!