Gift Giving Made Easy

Most of us have experienced the pre-Christmas panic of not having a gift for a certain person. Sometimes it warrants a quick Amazon Prime order, other times a mad dash to Target on Christmas Eve. Regardless, cutting Christmas shopping down to the wire tends to take all the festivity out of things (and usually results in a gift you aren’t thrilled with).

To prevent Christmastime stress (not to mention frantic overspending), it helps to plan ahead on the gift front. Sure, it takes time getting things organized, but in the end it’s so worth it to feel like a jolly elf rather than The Grinch this holiday season.

Here are 5 tips on planning ahead when it comes to Christmas gifts:

1. Make a spreadsheet.

Think ahead about all the people you’ll be buying Christmas gifts for. Family, of course, but what about colleagues? Neighbors? Friends? Go ahead and map out everyone you can think of. (It helps to review this list right after Christmas, too, to round it out.) You can reuse it year after year (just like a Christmas card list)!

2. Set a budget.

Keep your holiday spending in check by deciding a range for how much you’re comfortable spending on gifts. Then, divvy up that amount among your list of gift recipients as best you can and track actual spending as you start making gift purchases.

3. Decide on a theme.

Not for all of your gifts, but for your smaller ones. The ones you’ll give away at company parties or to your next-door neighbor. Choosing a theme will 1.) make your shopping more streamlined and 2.) likely save you money. Some theme ideas: homemade vanilla extract or limoncello in interesting bottles, coffee mugs (you can buy a set and distribute them individually), or soaps and lotions.

4. Track gift ideas throughout the year.

You might think of JUST the thing to get for Aunt Margaret in June. Don’t lose the thought! Instead, add the gift idea to your spreadsheet. You can even go ahead and buy it (that helps spread out your budget, and crosses one gift off your list). Just be sure you don’t forget you already have her gift covered when it comes time to take gift inventory and start wrapping.

5. Designate a Christmas gift location.

Find a spot in your home – maybe it’s a closet, a corner of your basement, a dresser with a couple of free drawers – as your office Christmas gift collection spot. As you buy gifts throughout the year, add Post-Its to denote who each gift is for and place them in this location. (Add a note to your spreadsheet, too!) That way your gift inventory will be easy to access and you won’t overlook an already-purchased gift.