Organizing Your Way to a Simple Christmas: Gift Lists

Be sure you don't miss a thing! Subscribe to receive updates by email. Or if you use a feed reader, subscribe to my RSS feed! Thanks for visiting!

source: daveynin

source: daveynin

Today is day three in our two-week Christmas series: Organizing Your Way to a Simple Christmas.

Simple gift giving doesn’t have to mean pruning your gift list to just your immediate family, although it certainly can be if that’s what you need to do for your own sanity. But it does require some planning and forethought so that you’re not scrambling the week before Christmas to figure out what to get for your grandmother or the neighbor across the street!

Making a Master Gift List

Take some time to sit down and make a master gift list of everyone you might possibly want to give a gift too — family, friends, neighbors, doctors offices, church staff, etc. I’m not saying you have to give gifts to all of those groups of people, but if it’s important to you, make sure they’re on the list!

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your list, go ahead and prune it down and choose the people/groups that are most important to you. For instance, we don’t give gifts to our extended families. It’s just not very realistic with 11 sets of aunts and uncles and various cousins and second cousins and cousins once removed. Instead, I usually try to put together little bags of homemade candy or cookies to hand out at family gatherings.

I do love surprising our church staff and doctors’ offices with a basket of homemade cookies as well, just because I appreciate all that they do for us throughout the year. But I tend to leave those things for last and cut them if it becomes too overwhelming.

Write Down Gift Ideas

Once you have your master list written out, take some time to group the people on your list. For example, we’ve always found it easier to give the same basic gift to all of our parents and grandparents, usually something sentimental and centered around our girls — a handprint calendar, a DVD of pictures and home videos, etc. You might group doctors’ offices, church staff and neighbors together or friends and neighbors, etc.

Rewrite your list with this new grouping and begin jotting down gift ideas next to each person and/or group. When it comes to baking and gift baskets, try to be as specific as possible — i.e., “peanut butter blossoms, chocolate-covered candy canes and hot cocoa mix” — so that you’ll be ready for the next stage of planning.

For other gifts, it’s better to start out with some general ideas so that you don’t find yourself pigeonholed and searching for the “teal v-neck cashmere sweater” for hours on end. If you want to do more handmade gifts but aren’t sure where to start, I’ll share some resources for brainstorming in the next post, but if you have any general thoughts about what each person might like — i.e., “jewelry,” “girly,” “sports,” etc. — you can include those notes at this stage as well.

If you haven’t even thought about gifts at all, you may want to start with a simple key — such as B for baked goods, H for handmade gifts and S for store-bought gifts — next to each person’s name. Don’t wait too long to begin writing down more specific ideas, especially for baked goods and handmade gifts, so that you can start making those gifts sooner rather than later.

Gift Lists for Children

It can be easy to go overboard, especially when it comes to giving gifts to our own children at Christmas, but if you’re looking for a way to simplify Christmas and gift giving, here are a few ideas:

:: Set a limit on the number of gifts you give each of your children. Many families set a limit of three gifts (like the three wisemen).

:: Try a family or group gift instead. Because our girls receive so many gifts from their grandparents and great-grandparents, we’ve decided just to stick with one bigger gift for all of them and then a stocking of smaller things for each fo them. For older children, you may do a family experience gift such as tickets to an event or show everyone’s been wanting to go see.

:: Set a dollar limit. This one can be dangerous because you can by a whole lot o’ junk for even $25 or $50, and I’m not sure that really simplifies anything at all. But if you don’t give into the urge to get as much as possible within the limit, this could work as well.

As with everything, the key to simplifying your gift giving is to have a plan in place, preferably written down, ahead of time!

Today’s task: Take some time to make your Christmas Gift List, brainstorming gift ideas for each person on your list. Group the people on your list according to similar ideas. And then prioritize your list so that you’re able to prune as you go if you find the holidays getting to stressful or unmanageable.

Do you enjoy gift giving at Christmas, or do you find it stressful? What’s one thing you’d like to change about your gift giving this year?

About the Author

Mandi Ehman

Hi. My name is Mandi and I’m an organizing junkie. I’m also a wife, and Momma to four little girls (5, 3.5, 2 and a new baby!). I've worked at home since our oldest was a baby, and like a lot of other moms, my life is a constant balancing act of caring for my family and my home, meeting my obligations and finding time for hobbies in there somewhere. Oh, yeah, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m somewhat of a kitchen dunce and I only like to pretend that I’m crafty. Read more here!

10 Responses to “ Organizing Your Way to a Simple Christmas: Gift Lists ”

  1. Thanks!! I started my list before I even finished reading this! :)
    Catie´s last blog ..Song Of The Week My ComLuv Profile


  2. I stress when buying gifts for my friends and family. But I really do enjoy seeing joy in their eyes when they open it.´s last blog ..New House New Baby My ComLuv Profile


  3. I have kept a list of the people we give presents to on excel for years. I record the gift, the actual price of the gift and my budget for each person. Each year,I can look back and see what I bought the person and how much I spent. It helps me not forget people, create a budget and not get the same gift twice!
    [email protected]´s last blog ..Join me at The Creative Mama! My ComLuv Profile


  4. [...] Organizing Your Way to a Simple Christmas: Gift Lists [...]

  5. [...] Organizing Your Way to a Simple Christmas: Gift Lists [...]

  6. Yay Marci. Is there anything that can’t be put on an Excel spreadsheet? Instead of tracking the amount I spend I have one column for all the suggestions and ideas I have for each person. In the next column I enter what I actually bought them. The next year I begin my list with all the suggestions from the prior year which I didn’t use. Sometimes they aren’t relevant anymore, but with adults at least, a good idea from one year is still good the next. For kids I include their age after their name. When creating the next year’s list just add a year. This is particularly useful for really young kids as many toys are age specific.


  7. [...] She has started a two week series on getting ready for the holidays! And one of her first topics is creating a gift list. She even has some great resources for you to download in terms of setting a budget and thinking [...]

  8. I think this is an excellent idea! I keep a list throughout the year and pick up anything I find on sale as I go. I am always left with my parents, though – they are impossible to shop for!


  9. [...] to having a written budget, having a gift list written down and full of ideas helps you stay on track to buy what you need for everyone n your [...]

  10. I enjoy your posts and would love to win the cookbook. Thanks.


Leave a Reply

CommentLuv Enabled

You can use these XHTML tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <strong>