I used to keep a big Holiday planning book with all my gift ideas, torn catalog pages, and loosely formulated budgets for the Christmas season. Sometime around October, I start keeping an eye peeled for hints, craft ideas or great gift ideas for particular people in hopes of eliminating a mad scurry in late December. I even included sections for holiday dinners, too. The Book contained my master plan. And, it weighed a ton–way too heavy to actually carry around while doing that Christmas shopping.
One habit that did stick, however, was keeping The List. I’ve tried various methods since retiring The Book, but the one that has served me the best is a spreadsheet in Google documents. I create it on my desktop at home, then pull it up on my iPhone. Once open, you can “Add to the home screen” so it’s fast and easy to check, add to and update on the fly (Starbucks at the mall, drinking a Pumpkin Spice Latte, I hope!). The columns are titled: Name, Budget, Gift Idea, Where, Price, Purchased/ordered (date), and Wrapped. Down the side, list the names of each person you want to include in your gift-giving. Don’t forget teachers, neighbors, etc. Leave a few spaces under each name to jot down ideas that occur to you. Don’t worry if it’s off the wall, either. I often refer to The List later in the year for birthdays or other special occasions.
I’d say that, thanks to The List, I’m over halfway finished shopping. Several items are squirreled away around the house, hopefully under the radar of my inquisitive family. My goal is to not go into debt trying to create the “perfect” holiday, just make it memorable and meaningful for my little family and our close friends. Christmas is about the traditions, good food, family and friends, good health and happiness. Planning for it makes me happy, and I hope it does the same for you! What tried and true tips do you have to make the holidays go more smoothly?