Getting Ahead Of The Gift Game

by Debbie Garrett

Reduce stress and get ahead of the gift game!

The new year is just around the corner, and I'm thinking that it is already time to get ahead of the gift game. That sounds like a great idea, especially with all of the after-Christmas sales that stores will be running. But how do you make the good thought a reality? It all starts with a detailed list.

Start with a piece of lined notebook paper. Divide the page into two columns. On one side write Holidays, on the other Birthdays. Then get out a calendar and, starting in January, write down the Holidays that you will be buying gifts for. I start with Valentine's Day. I know I will be buying each of my children a little gift. I write February 14, my children's names, and beside each name I write the amount of money I want to spend. I do this for each Holiday thru Christmas. By that time, the list is pretty long, but look at how much information I have!

Then I start over with the Birthday list. Again, starting in January, I start listing the people whose Birthdays I will be buying for. My first Birthday is my mother-in-law. So I write January 31, Mom G., $10. Go thru the entire calendar making these notes.

Once you have your lists finished, start making notes on your calendar, preferably marking occasions about two weeks ahead to give yourself plenty of time. If you need to mail the gift, I suggest marking it down three weeks ahead so that you can mail it a week ahead of time. If the calendar you are using is a purse-sized calendar, just carry it with you and you can shop for any number of people at a time. This will help you take advantage of sales and save time by not making a special trip at the last minute to buy a gift. If you have some idea of what you want to buy or where you want to buy it, make those notes on your calendar as well. By doing this, you are already more than half done with your gift giving for the year!

If you do not carry a calendar with you, use an index card that will fit easily into your purse. Write down the information from your first list for 3 months or so. Carry it with you and you have accomplished the same as carrying the calendar with you.

Another tip to make this easier year after year is to use your computer. Make your list using your word-processor or data base software, save it with a name and in a place that you will be able to find it again next year. This way, you don't have to redo the whole list every year. Make changes as necessary and you are done! You may also be able to print out as much information as you would like to carry with you. Then you don't have to transfer the information to a calendar or a card. Do whatever works for you to achieve your goal of getting ahead of the gift game.

Once you have made some purchases, you may want to designate a box to put these in until you need them. Why not go ahead and wrap the gifts when you get home and even attach the card as well? This way, the gift is ready to deliver and you have it marked so you know who you bought it for. If you choose to put several gifts in a box (which is what I do), then you may want to mark the gifts. Sticky notes may work for this, or perhaps you can attach a piece of paper with scotch tape or safety pin, depending on what you have purchased. It is also a good idea to keep your receipts, just in case. Mark your receipt with the name of the person(s), then keep in an envelope in your box of gifts.

Another method I use is to write down each person's name on an index card. This works particularly well for the people, like my family, that I will be buying multiple gifts for throughout the year. On the index card I write down what I bought, what occasion I bought it for, and how much I spent.

Along with marking gifts that you have bought in advance and not wrapped, why not buy the wrapping paper, a pen, an extra pair of scissors and scotch tape and put it in the box with the gifts? This makes the wrapping so much easier when you do it. Otherwise, if you're like me, you have to drag out the box of wrapping paper, find the scissors and the tape just to wrap some gifts. That makes the task that much more daunting. I am more likely to do it if everything is in one place.

You can apply most of these principles to shopping on the well. Many online stores will mail your gift directly to the recipient enclosing a gift card on your behalf. If you are looking at a handcrafted item, give yourself plenty of time, maybe more than I have noted here. Many very special gifts are made one at a time as you order them, so you must give the artist time to make your item.

Remember, no matter where you do your shopping, how much you spend, or when you wrap the gifts, it all starts with a detailed list and a calendar.

Debbie Garrett
Copyright 2000

Author Debbie Garrett is a Mom of 3 and owner of The Bear Family Gift Corner Specializing in personalized gifts for new babies and weddings, as well as many other occasions. Debbie can be reached at

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