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.

3 Reasons We Should Pray for Our Kids

3 Reasons We Should Pray for Our Kids

3 Reasons We Should Pray for Our Kids

I first met Tara Cole in a writer's group. Since our time in the group she has gone on to publish here book Everyday Prayers for the School Year. It is a 30 day devotional and journal for moms, which will help you pray for your kids during the school year.

Read her 3 Reasons We Should Pray for Our Kids below and check out her book Everyday Prayers for the School Year.

3 Reasons to pray for our kids

3 Reasons to Pray for Our Kids

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.

A guest post by Tara L. Cole

As we get into the swing of another school year, you may be helping your kids prepare for college visits, begin a new job, or settle in at college. During this season as it comes time to let go and move from “the boss” to “advisor,” where do we start? How do we guide our kids during these new phases of life? 

It starts in prayer. 

If you’ve been in church for a while, you’ve probably heard a lot of sermons on prayer. Let’s focus on three specific reasons why you should prioritize prayer even more during this season of letting go.

Why We Should Pray for Our Kids Reason #1: Because You’re Invited

The Creator of the Universe, Lord of Heaven’s Armies, invites us to pray to him. Invites us into an intimate relationship with Him. Why would we say, “no?” 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us: 

Always rejoice, constantly pray,  in everything give thanks. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7 also states:

Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Then in the verses proceeding the well know Jeremiah 29:11 passage God says

For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the Lord. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope. When you call out to me and come to me in prayer, I will hear your prayers. When you seek me in prayer and worship, you will find me available to you. If you seek me with all your heart and soul  I will make myself available to you, says the Lord (Jeremiah 29:11-14a, NET).

We love this promise, you’ve probably even quoted it to your kids during times of stress, but we forget that it is proceeded by prayer. As we move into a new season with our kids, we need to remember that those blessings and plans for them are based on a life of prayer and seeking God first. 


Why We Should Pray For Our Kids Reason #2: Because You’re Given Examples

We also see this example from our favorite Bible heroes. When they came up against struggles or new seasons in their lives, they began in prayer. 

Before Jesus chose his twelve apostles from his group of disciples he spent the night in prayer (Luke 6:12-16). Then at the Mount of Olives before his crucifixion, Jesus went to God in prayer (Luke  22:39-45). If the son of God prayed, during shifts in his life, who are we to do any less?

While your family is in this time of transition, instead of making never-ending lists and stressing you and your kids out. Begin in prayer. Ask God for his guidance during this time to focus on what matters most. 


Why We Should Pray for Our Kids Reason #3: Because You Receive Benefits

Another reason we should pray is that there are so many benefits to prayer! Who in their right mind would say, “No thanks!” When offered peace beyond understanding, a direct line to God, and great and effective power? That is precisely what God promises to us in Philippians 4:7, Proverbs, 15:29, and James 5:16. 

He holds out these blessings with an open hand. All he asks is that we trust him, reach out, and take them. Yet so often we walk away. We don’t trust. We don’t take them. 

We try to navigate this new season of parenting on our own, thinking listening to one more podcast, scrolling through social media, or talking with a friend will give us the wisdom and support we need. Those things might help, but our primary response during these times of uncertainty always needs to be to look to God and His blessings first. 

Seeing our kids launch into the world can be exciting and scary. We hope that the foundation we helped them lay over the last eighteen years has been enough, and they will make wise choices as they leave our homes. 

We might not be there to help them daily, but we have access to the One who is there with them. We can continue to bring them before God in prayer knowing he loves them even more than we do. 

If you need help praying for your kids as they navigate their final years of high school or begin their first years of college, pick up a copy of Everyday Prayers for the School Year wherever books are sold. As a college professor for 15 years, I purposefully wrote this prayer devotional for Moms who have kids of all ages and stages of school. It was written with you and your children in mind. My prayer is that it will help your family draw closer to Jesus this school year. 


Tara L. Cole

About Tara

Tara L. Cole is a teacher, wife, and mother to three active boys. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Freed-Hardeman University and a Master of Arts in Composition and Rhetoric from the University of Central Oklahoma. Tara has taught communications and writing courses since 2007 at various universities in Oklahoma both in person and online, and she is currently a Communication’s Faculty member at Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology. She is also a recipient of the NISOD Award for Teaching Excellence in 2019 and the Regents Distinguished Teaching Award in 2020.

Along with teaching, Tara’s passion is helping moms and their kids deepen their relationships with Jesus. Her previous book Abide: 40 Ways to Focus on Jesus Daily and podcast Over A Cup help women connect with Jesus throughout their day. Learn more at taralcole.com

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.


    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.


    Parent Survival Kit for College Drop Off

    Parent Survival Kit for College Drop Off

    Parent Survival Kit for College Move In


    You have known this day was coming for several months. You have shopped for all the dorm necessities on the College Dorm Room Check List, have them packed up (How to Move to the U), and everything is in the front hall ready to go in the car. But, what else do you need to ensure a smooth move-in day? There are a few “don't forget” items you need to include in your Parent Survival Kit for College Drop Off.

    Also Check Out:

    College Dorm Room Checklist

    25 Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips


    college move in


    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.


    Whether you are approaching college drop-off with dread or excitement or a combination of both, you want the day to go as smoothly as possible. There is the potential for crowded hallways and staircases (forget the elevator), no or very little air conditioning, and a high emotional level from every person you bump into in these crowded hallways. Being prepared will keep you from bursting into tears as soon as you walk into your child's very small room that is already full of her roommate's stuff and her roommate's five family members.





    Plan to arrive at the time you have been assigned. Don't try to beat the system. They have assigned the times for a reason and they will not want to check you in early. If you manage to beat the system and get moved in early, it will cause resentment from your child's roommate who arrives to find the room already set up without his input.


    college move in



    A dollie or wagon. Hopefully, happy and enthusiastic upper classmen will meet you at the curb and take everything to the room for you. If this does not happen, you will be prepared to stack things in your wagon and make quick work of moving the stuff to the room.

    We originally bought this wagon for our daughter's track meets. It was awesome! It folds up flat, has drink holders, and all-terrain wheels. It is a life saver almost anywhere.

    Parent Survival Kit for College Drop Off 4


    A wheeled ice chest with some cold drinks and snacks.

    A door stop to prop the dorm door open while moving in or to keep the room from being too stuffy.

    A few tools (electric screwdriver/drill, rubber mallet, hammer) for assembling shelves and drawer units.

    Pen and Paper to make a list of items to go buy once you arrive.

    Tape Measure. If you need to go buy shelves or drawer units, it will help to know the space available.

    Alcohol Swabs and a blow dryer: These seem like strange items, but they will make hanging Command Strips so much easier. Getting the wall clean and dry before adhering the strips will make them stick better.

    Kleenex (a few for your pocket and a box for the car).

    Multi-purpose cleaner and paper towels to clean spots in the room or furniture that were missed by the last occupant.



    Expect chaos and be ready to be patient and malleable to the situation.

    Don't plan to give advice to your child about room setup or anything else. This is not the time. It is their room and they need the freedom to decide where the bed goes, what drawer they want their underwear in, and whether they want you to unpack everything.

    Take pictures of any existing damage to walls, floors, doors, and furniture in case it is an issue at move-out.

    Plan a shopping trip. After you arrive and get the basic unpacking done, take a survey of the room and make a list of items to go buy. These may be items that were too big to bring with you or just some snacks and laundry detergent. A shopping trip gets you out of the dorm for a while and lets you and your child pick out a few last things together.

    Find a place other than the dorm for your good-byes – some place calmer and more private. Take your child out to dinner or for ice cream as your last activity and say good bye there.


    While it may be hard to believe, you both will survive the drop-off experience. Planning ahead and bringing a Parent Survival Kit for College Drop Off will certainly help. You cannot anticipate everything the day will entail, but having a few items at your fingertips will keep the panic at bay. When it is time to get in the car and drive away, smile through the tears and congratulate yourself on raising a spectacular kid who is ready for the adventures and experiences ahead.

    Parent Survival Kit for College Drop Off 5

    See 25 Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips for ideas about how to set up the room and what to bring.

    New Apartment Checklist

    New Apartment Checklist

    New Apartment Checklist



    It's time to move out of the dorm and get an apartment!!! I have compiled a complete New Apartment Checklist to assist you as you navigate the aisles of IKEA, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and order online. And best of all, the list is printable!! I have gone through stocking apartments with my sons and now my daughter will move into her first apartment this fall. They have lived in both furnished and unfurnished apartments. When we needed to furnish the apartments, we bought furniture from IKEA, Craig's List listings, Amazon, and the Container Store.

    The New Apartment Checklist pdf is part of the Almost Empty Nest Member's Library. Sign up below!


    Also check out:

    College Apartment Kitchen Ideas

    Back to College: The Essential Guide

    First Apartment Care Package – A kitchen care package with recipes

    New Apartment Care Package – A cleaning bucket with supplies and printable cleaning checklist

    College Apartment Recipes

    Adulting: 7 Expenses to Consider When You Enter the Real World

    New Apartment Checklist 6

    New Apartment Checklist

    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.


    Here are some items to consider as you shop and gather items for your apartment. You will not necessarily need everything on this list, but the list will help you answer: What do you absolutely need for a new apartment?

    New Apartment Checklist – Furniture

    Some apartments will be completely furnished, some partially furnished, and some will not have any furniture all. IKEA and Craig's List are great places to get reasonably priced furniture.

    • Mattress: We have bought 2 of these mattresses. They are easy to ship, a great price, and are very comfortable.
    • Bedframe
    • Nightstand
    • Dresser
    • Desk
    • Desk Chair
    • Armoire (if there is not a closet)
    • Dining table and chairs and/or barstools
    • Couch
    • Chairs
    • TV
    • TV stand
    • Coffee table/end tables


    New Apartment Checklist – Kitchen

    • Skillet
    • Sauce Pan
    • Mulitpot
    • Crockpot
    • Indoor Grill:  My sons have used their indoor grills more than any other appliance. It is an easy and quick way to grill chicken breasts, cook hamburgers, make grilled cheese sandwiches, etc.)
    • Airfryer: A great apartment cooking gadget. Great for heating frozen food to crispy perfection. It is also an easy place to cook one chicken breast. We love ours and my daughter wants one for her apartment.
    • A Cookbook like How to Cook Everything: The Basics
    • Mixing Bowls
    • Cutting Board
    • Measuring Cups and Spoons
    • Chef's Knife
    • Paring Knife
    • Cooking Utensil Set
    • Can Opener
    • Pot Holders or Mits
    • Cookie Sheet
    • Pizza Pan
    • Silverware
    • Drinking Glasses
    • Mugs
    • Plates
    • Bowls
    • Coffee Maker
    • Toaster
    • Microwave (Check to see if the apartment provides one.)
    • Paper Towel Holder
    • Strainer
    • Dish Soap
    • Dish brush or sponge
    • Dishwasher Detergent
    • Food Storage
    • Trash Can
    • Trash Bags

    New Apartment Checklist – Living Room

    • Streaming device and/or antenna. What is this antenna thing you ask? Back in the dark ages, it was all we had. Now you can use one to watch network television without cable or a paid streaming service.
    • Lamps
    • Rug

    New Apartment Checklist – Bedroom

    (***Check the size of the bed if the apartment is furnished. Some are twin XL and some are full-size)

    Ideas from the Container Store

    New Apartment Checklist 7

    These modular drawers can be used under sinks, under beds, or to create a drawer unit

    New Apartment Checklist 8

    This Turn-It Organizer is also great in a bathroom cabinet. It is a lazy susan, so you can access items easier.

    New Apartment Checklist 9

    My daughter and I love our real acrylic makeup organizers. They can be configured to exactly fit your needs.

    New Apartment Checklist – Closet (If the closet is dorm sized….)

    Ideas from the Container Store

    New Apartment Checklist 12

    Hanging Storage for sweaters, purses, and other items

    New Apartment Checklist – Desk

    Ideas from the Container Store

    New Apartment Checklist 13
    New Apartment Checklist 14
    New Apartment Checklist 15

    New Apartment Checklist – Cleaning Supplies

    • Vacuum
    • Bucket with cleaners and rags or sponges
    • Broom and dustpan
    • Swiffer


    New Apartment Checklist – Storage Ideas

    • Shelving unit
    • Underbed storage
    • Storage Furniture (These Poppin box seats support 275 pounds and can be collapsed when not in use.)
    • Drawer organizers
    • Stacking drawers (I LOVE these modular drawers that can be configured to meet your exact storage needs. See 25 Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips for a picture of my daughter's modular drawer set.)
    • Elfa drawers (These are amazing, come in many sizes, can be customized and will last forever. We have had some of our Elfa units for over 20 years. They will go from your child's dorm room to their first apartment to their first place after graduation and beyond. They are also great for packing in.)

    Ideas from the Container Store

    New Apartment Checklist 16
    New Apartment Checklist 17
    New Apartment Checklist 18

    New Apartment Checklist – Health and Safety

    New Apartment Checklist – To Make the Apartment Comfortable and Personal and other things you need for an apartment that you wouldn't think of


    New Apartment Checklist – Other Practical items

    New Apartment Checklist 19
    New Apartment Checklist 20
    New Apartment Checklist 21

    The first goal of setting up an apartment is to purchase just enough items to make the apartment comfortable and functional, but not more than you need. The New Apartment Checklist. It is available in the Printables Library. Take it with you to the store or use it as you order online.

    It can be helpful to have the dimensions of apartment rooms, closets, cabinets, and any furniture provided. If you have this information, take advantage of it, and plan out the room. If not, work with whatever information you have knowing that you can always go to the store or order additional items after you move in.


    Best wishes as you and your child use the New Apartment Checklist and take on the adventure of a New Apartment.


    New Apartment Checklist 22

    Free Printable Apartment Checklist available in the Printables Library.

    Sign up Below!