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Gift Planning: Tips for Holiday Gift Giving

Gift Planning: Tips for Holiday Gift Giving

It probably won’t surprise you that as an “Organized Mom” Christmas gifts are top on the list this time of year of things I am organizing. With my own children to buy for and countless nieces, nephews, relatives and friends to consider, holiday gift planning is really important, as is keeping track of everything. I always create an excel file to track the gifts my husband and I give to our children – to keep gift giving to our children fair and to stay organized. It’s very simple, just lists each of our kids names, tracks gifts, dollar amounts and totals. It also lists all the other family members we buy for. Year after year, I’ve tracked all of this information on a new holiday gift giving sheet. It’s actually very helpful to look back at. In some cases, there are things I used to do for many family members that were very costly but not all that appreciated. In other cases there are things I do that add expense but are worth the tradition. Since I give ornaments to all the kids too, it always helps me to avoid repeat themes. Here are some tips to help you get started in tracking your holiday spending.

Holiday Gift Giving Organization Tips

Wrapped Present1. Create your holiday gift list spreadsheet. You need three columns – one for the name of the person, one for the cost of the item, one for the description of the item. If you give multiple items to one person, add some extra rows now or later and be sure to total the column by person if this matters to you. Title the tab by the year.

2. Shop and save. Anytime you purchase gifts, put the receipt aside and set aside time to key these in. I key them in each time I return from the store so I don’t forget. The time you do it doesn’t matter though, just track them whenever you’re most apt to stick with it. If you buy items online, put them into your spreadsheet right away or create a folder to dump orders into to track later.

3. Track miscellaneous holiday gifts. Remember to track what holiday gifts you give to teachers, babysitters, mail person, news person, bus driver and anyone else you might give to. This will make it really easy next year to decide what to do.

4. Keep it simple for next year. Next year, just copy the sheet into a new sheet and remove the gift data.

I find by updating my sheet throughout the holiday season, I can gauge when my shopping is done too. Did I get enough variety of gifts for the kids? Did I forget anyone on the list? Earlier today I started to panic that I forgot to buy an ornament for one nephew. Instead of having to dig through a closet of gifts, I was able to check the list quickly. Being organized really will help you in so many ways this holiday season and next. Oh, and if both Santa and Mom/Dad give gifts, you can easily highlight which gifts will come from Santa too, making wrapping much easier. Happy holidays and happy organizing!



  1. Keith Reed December 17, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    I have tried this in the past, but the problem usually doesn’t come with amount we spend on each kid. The kids usually don’t know exactly how much everything you get them, costs.It’s great in theory, but I don’t know that it is needed.

  2. Elizabeth December 3, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    My parents and my in laws both did something similar to this. My in laws focus on the amount of money solely now but my mom still makes sure that the number of gifts is also the same- my brother is significantly younger so it has mattered for a while. This meant years where I got something more expensive, I might get a calendar or a book as another gift to balance out the cost.

    It translated as I moved out and got married into my wanting to make sure we spent equal time with both sides of our family. It is not even because we live 6 hours by car from my in laws and 18 hours by car from my family but we are careful to split holidays and with a baby on the way, plan to visit both sides at least once per year not on a holiday!

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