Christmas Shopping Tips
Every year it’s the same for me- I can’t just run out to the stores come Black Friday and begin swooping up every deal I can get my hands on. Part of me wishes I could just leap into action like that; but I just can’t start my Christmas shopping without a plan.
Making A List & Checking It Twice
I need to know in advance what my budget is for each individual on my Christmas gift list to determine my overall Christmas Shopping Budget. Predetermining my total budget allows me to make necessary adjustments to individual budgets to keep me on track. I’m also able to figure out how much of my budget remains for charitable Christmas gift purchases.
This may sound like too much “type-A” behavior for a joyous holiday season. Au contraire. Staying organized and keeping my list out of my head and at fingertips is what brings me joy.
I started my Christmas Planning & Organization Guide over a decade ago. Each year, I begin updating my guide shortly after summer and I keep it handy through the end of the holiday season. My guide helps plan and budget my Christmas shopping with the following three steps:
Step 1: Make A List
Christmas Gift List & Budget
I start by making a list of each person in my immediate family for Christmas gift shopping.
I then add a category to this list for extended family on my side, and then on my husband’s side.
The last category on my Christmas shopping list includes friends, teachers, co-workers, mail carrier, hair stylist, and so on.
I then create a column titled Budget. Next to each name of my Christmas Shopping List, I fill in the amount of money I have budgeted for each individual.
After determining each individual budget, I can then add it all up to determine my overall Christmas Shopping Budget.
Save Some Room On The Bus
I then create a column for Gift Ideas. This is an important step for me. First of all, a gift idea that may be in your head today for someone, may not be there tomorrow. It’s my “bus is full” philosophy. You see, I believe that when I must commit an idea to memory, I take up too many seats on the bus in my brain. However, the minute I take that idea from my head to paper (or computer), I’m freeing up space on my bus for more thoughts and ideas. Whenever I think of a great Christmas gift for someone, I immediately run to my computer or pull out my paper list and jot it down. I can’t tell you how often this method has saved me from last-minute shopping madness.
Stay On Track
The next column is to keep track of Gifts Purchased. After I purchase a gift- or gifts- for an individual, I jot it down in this column along with the amount I actually spent. By doing this, I can first keep track of my progress so I know at a glance when my Christmas shopping is complete.
This also allows me to keep track of my spending to know if I’m staying on budget. If I go over budget, I can either make adjustments elsewhere; or at the very least, I can take the surprise out of opening my January credit card statement.
Next, I update my Christmas Card list. By taking the time to add people and update addresses, I’m saving myself again from last-minute mayhem.
2. Schedule It
“What? Only eight more days until Christmas?!” I don’t like to be surprised mid-December with the realization that I’m running out of time to do things like mail out Christmas cards or finish shopping. So, if I schedule items on my calendar ahead of time and stick to it, I find more joyeux in my noel, like:
- Christmas Photos
- Christmas Cards
- Charitable Outreach
- Teacher Gifts
- Christmas Shopping
- Gift Wrapping
3. Keep It Together
I don’t know what your purse looks like around the holidays, but I know that mine can look like a jumbled mess of receipts, sticky notes, sales ads and store coupons. I’m getting my annual Christmas eye-twitch just thinking about it.
Which is why I create my envelope system. I take four envelopes and label them:
- “Sales Ads”
- “Store Coupons”
I keep my envelopes together and use them faithfully. I’ll never scramble around again looking for that receipt to return the paella pan I bought for my mother before learning she bought the same one for herself.
When describing the sangria jar to a sales clerk, I’ll always have the sales ad handy to refer to.
And who doesn’t love saving 20% at Bed, Bath and Beyond by having that coupon handy?
Download Your Planning Guide
To help you stay on track this Christmas shopping season, I’m sharing my humble planning guide here:
It may seem like only “paper and pen”, but I believe the written word holds a lot of power. And if that power helps take the stress out of my holiday by keeping my shopping, budget and schedule on track, then it might as well be made out of gold to me.
I hope my guide helps you as much as it has helped me.
Have a Joyous, Organized and Eye-Twitch-Free Holiday!