Start planning early - I know what I need to get done but if I turn my mind to it early enough (think Halloween) then I can start crossing things off my list sooner rather than later. And then take things one at a time. Get out the presents that need to be mailed first and then worry about the gifts for the people who will actually be here on Christmas Day.
Embrace the chaos - Part of what I love about the holidays is the preparation; I wrote a post a few years ago here about how I love getting ready for Christmas.
Keep what works and know that there are things that just won't happen and that's okay - We like to do a lot of fun things over the holidays, some of them are successful and other fall flat. We keep the successful ones and then drop the other ones. We have some traditions but we still need to to adapt over time for what works for us. Last yearr we didn't get to go to the Santa Claus parade because it was just too cold and we didn't want to take baby Q out for too long, we could have been disappointed about missing this "tradition" but instead we just watched it on TV.
Make copious notes - I have a Google Doc that contains all of our holiday plans and I refer to it several times a day. I also have various notes on my phone for gifts, groceries, to dos, etc., and I write everything into my calendar.
Shop online - I love going to the mall and I usually get there a couple of times during Christmas, but when I can, I will order things online and get them shipped to my office. Rather than searching through a mishmash of toys at Wal-Mart or Toys R Us or trying to find a size at Old Navy, I can easily pick out what I want online.
Order photo cards - I used to write a Christmas letter and hand write the cards, For the past few years we have done photo card. It is much easier to pop the cards in the envelopes and give a link to this blog for those who want to know what is going on with us. I still hand-address the envelopes and write a couple of lines on the cards, but I can get it done quickly.
Have a party - I always wanted to have a big open house to welcome neighbours, friends, co-workers, and family to celebrate the holidays with us. We have done that for the last three years and the 4th annual party is happening this Saturday. This is good for a number of reasons - we can visit with lots of people all at once, we make lots of cookies and stock up on appetizers and alcohol that will then carry us through to Christmas, and the party happens mid-month so by the time it's over, we can sail right through to Christmas Day with only a few things left to plan.
Throw in a treat, drive around the neighbourhood, or holiday movie whenever we can - We can't schedule everything in, and I don't like doing that anyway, I prefer things to happen organically, so we just fill in any free moment with a touch of the holidays. On the way home from school and work, take a detour down a different streets to see their lights, watch part of a holiday movie during the week, pick up a peppermint cake pop while doing errands, etc.
Remember the real reason for the season - Spending time with loved ones and celebrating the wonder of Jesus' birth are what it's all about.