Jen Charron: Control Freak


6 Ways to Better Organize Your Holiday Shopping

A Plan for Holiday Gifts and a Downloadable Shopping Spreadsheet

‘Tis the season to get organized for holiday shopping and whether you’re starting now or waiting until December, having a good plan of attack can really make gift shopping easier.

Having a plan for my gift giving helps me simplify what I can as the hectic holiday season approaches. Here are six things I do—and that you can try too—to get prepared to tackle all of that shopping:

1. Shop All Year Long

While I don’t do specific holiday shopping throughout the year, I constantly keep my eye out for great kids gifts that are on sale. I have a shelf in my closet that houses a stockpile of gifts that can be assigned to different kids on my list come holiday time.

2. Jump on the Internet

Early in the season, I do a lot of online research to generate ideas for gifts and shop online for hard to find items.

3. One-stop Shopping

Make the most of my shopping time by going places where you can get many different kinds of gifts at the same time, like holiday craft shows, shopping malls and department stores.

4. Beat the Rush

I try my best to start shopping as early in the season as I can to get a head start before everyone gets into full shopping mode. And I like to make some of my holiday gifts, which takes a bit of advance planning.

5. Go During Quiet Times

Another way to avoid the crowds is to hit the stores during non-peak hours, like during the day on a weekday. And some stores extend their hours like crazy during the holidays. Sneaking out late in the evening and doing some power shopping while your kids are sleeping and your partner is crashed out on the couch can be really productive.

6. Think Ahead for Next Year

Take advantage of post-holiday super sales on holiday-themed items for the next year. I usually buy a few boxes of cute ornaments on mega sale and then tuck them away to use as hostess gifts the next season. And then remember to keep your eye out for great sales all year long to build a stockpile!

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Download a Holiday Gifts Spreadsheet

I use this spreadsheet year after year to keep my gifting organized. If you want to take it and make it your own, you can download it for yourself here. Maybe it will help take a bit of stress out of the season.

Here’s how I use my Holiday Gifts Spreadsheet:

  Fill in my gift ideas into the "To Get" and "To Make" columns.

  Print it out and put in my handbag. As I shop, I cross things out and write in new ideas.

  Set it up so that my husband and the Kid’s gifts are on one side of the paper. Then I fold it so their items are on the inside. This way if I leave my list on the counter, no surprises are ruined. (Now that my 6 year old is starting to read!)

  Update the spreadsheet every so often on my computer: moving the purchased or made items into the “Done” column and typing in the new items in the “To Make” or “To Do” areas.

  Print out the updated sheet and get rid of the old one.

  When all of a person’s gifts are done, give their row a grey background.

  As I get down to the final stages, colour cells of missing items in a bright yellow so they stand out.

  And of course, save it for next year. This way I can remember what I did and I have a place to start the following season.

Happy holiday shopping!