Organizing for the Holidays: The Complete Holiday Gift List

Most of us make a holiday gift list. We may even write down what gift to buy. If you take this to-do list a step further, you´ll see how much easier and (dare I say enjoyable?) the holiday gift-buying experience can be. For year’s I used to just keep it all in my head, like what to get for whom, where to buy it, if I’d wrapped yet or not, if I’d sent it to the receiver or not, etc. etc. Do you keep all this information in your head? Why not put it all down to visualize, on one trusty, printed-out sheet you carry with you through December.

Mapping the steps out can streamline the process, such as seeing that you can hit the candle and shoe store located next to each other in one swoop, instead of having to make two trips because you didn’t plan.

Here’s an example of my simple yet complete organizing gift list:








Consider buying one great gift for a couple. You could save money this way, too. Write them together in one row on your sheet. Getting the same gift for all co-workers? Group them in one row.

This is where I write hobbies or stores that would be great to shop at (or browse online) for that person. I also have jotted down ideas that came out of a conversation with a person, such as a massage certificate for a friend who shared with me how stressful grad-school has been.

What have you decided to buy? Buying two or more gifts for one person? Give each one their own row.

In Store or Online?
Once you decide, book the times on your calendar when you will go and buy, or go online and buy. I repeat, fit it into your schedule now.

Keeping track of this piece of the process on paper is one I cherish as it is one less thing to remember in my head during this busy time of year.

Given or Sent?
Have you ever found a beautifully wrapped holiday gift for your friend, in your car or home that you found in February? I have. Keeping track of whether you´ve given your gift or not will prevent this.

$ Spent?
Over the season, I’ve found that is makes more sense for me to write down what I´ve spent so far, including on gift-wrapping for each gift, which keeps a better picture of how much I´m planning to spend on the remaining gifts. You could record your budget for each gift in this column instead, but I´ve found the former strategy to work better to say within my budget. I kind of know already how much a reasonable price is for each type of gift for each type of friend, so I find it trivial to write down.

A Few Final Tips
● Commit to sitting down and solely brainstorming gift ideas for people on your list for at least 10 whole minutes. Thinking about it here and there in your head while running errands over the next few weeks doesn´t work as well!
● Buy some chocolates, or a few pairs of gloves or hats, to give to those who slipped your mind.
● Remember to go local, like from your local gift or coffee shop.
● Go consumable. Take it from an organizing nerd like me, people don´t need more things, and they cherish more experiences. Think gift cards to a local restaurant or local cheese shop, a bottle of good wine to enjoy, or movie theater tickets.
○ If you´re buying fine foods, select something that the person will use quickly, like pasta, instead of something that will sit in their pantry indefinitely, like a jar of pickled peppers. (Unless of course, they love pickled peppers!)

● When I was a little girl, my aunt and uncle were visiting from Brazil and they didn´t have a holiday gift for me. My shrewd uncle handed me a $20 bill. I let out an ecstatic gasp, “Oh thank you! I love money!!” In that same spirit, Amazon gift cards for kids is the stress-free best gift, because they get the privilege to pick out whatever they really want, and maybe get a sense of how money works too!

Do you keep a gift giving list? Care to share your thoughts or suggestions? Please leave a comment below, I’d love to hear how you keep track of the to-gives on your gift list. Happy Gift Giving!










Image: © WDnet Studios

About Sara Luisa Valverde

Supporting people in organizing, time-management, and simplifying has always come naturally for Sara. She´s had the opportunity to hone this skillset in her professional career, most recently while supporting three (incredibly busy) senior professors at Harvard Business School, and while working within a clinical research team at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Since June 2015, she has worked as an independent yoga teacher, specializing in un-learning habitual posture patterns that get in one´s way. Sara honors the act of organizing as both an internal and external process. Her approach is to keep it simple, so you have the mental and physical space for maintaining clarity and peace of mind. She loves that her services in professional organizing bring together two passions: internal and external de-cluttering. She thrives on living a minimalist lifestyle, living as a full-time liveaboard on her beloved sailboat.

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