Organize Your Gift Giving

Have you ever taken the time to organize your gift giving? 

For many people holiday shopping is a frenzied, chaotic experience that perpetuates stress and often debt.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Gift giving can and should be fun and fulfilling.  For this to be the case all that is needed is a little advance planning.

Check out these tips for more organized (and enjoyable) gift giving.

Prioritize Your Gift Giving

The first step to organize your gift giving is to determine who you’ll be giving gifts! 

Don’t feel obligated to purchase gifts for everyone you associate with.  Focus on those people who mean the most to you or whom you wish to recognize in some way. 

Make a list of people you’d like to recognize with a gift and stick to your list.  Don’t feel obligated to purchase a gift for someone who isn’t on your list because they unexpectedly present you with a gift.  This is one of the most common reasons for overspending during the holidays.  Thank the giver graciously with a hand written card and stick to your list

Keep Records 

Record keeping is a great way to organize your gift giving. 

Several years ago I developed a simple chart for keeping track of the following:

  • People I need/want to buy for
  • Gift ideas for each person
  • Purchases I've made
  • Purchases I still need to make

I like this chart because it allows me to see all the pertinent information relating to my gift giving at a glance.

This chart is available as a free printable.  Just click on the link below the thumbnail to download it. 

click to download this PDF file here.

Use the Ideas column to keep track of inspiration.  I find myself making notes in this column year round.  If I visit the home of someone on my list and notice something they need, I jot it down as a potential future gift.  When someone on my list says “I really want a…” or “I wish I had a…” or anything else along those lines, I write it down in the idea column next to their name.  This practice saves me a lot of time and effort when gift giving occasions arise because I usually have a supply of ideas to choose from. 

The Have column is where you keep track of purchases you’ve already made.  I find this helps prevent duplicate purchases, especially if you are in the habit of shopping early and stashing things away. 

Use the Need column to derive your shopping list. 

In our family we celebrate Christmas.  Each year each person receives certain things (an ornament, a book and a pair of pajamas) in addition to a more personalized gift.  I use the Have and Need column to keep track of each item.  I keep my chart on the computer so it’s easy to edit.  I simply add the following to the Need column at Christmas time:

  • Pajamas:
  • Book:
  • Ornament:
  • Stocking Stuffers:
  • Other:

As I acquire the needed items, I transfer them to the Have column.  It makes it easy to see at a glance how my shopping is progressing and how much I still have to do.

In addition to purchases, keep track of clothing/shoe sizes for the people on your list with the free printable chart below.

click to download this PDF file here.

As you organize your gift giving remember to keep track of your purchases.  I have found it useful to keep a master list of my hiding places.  It may sound silly, but I’m not the only person I know who has purchased gifts several weeks or months before a holiday and then forgotten where they were hidden!  Below is another free printable chart for just this purpose. 

click to download this PDF file here.

Organize Your Gift Giving by Year

Early in our marriage, my husband purchased the same book for his brother two years in a row.  After that I decided it was a good idea to create a separate Annual Gift Giving Chart for each year as a reference in order to avoid a similar mistake in the future.  It has proven useful on a number of occasions, not only with extended family, but with my own children.  It also serves as a good source for ideas.  While I don’t want to give the same person the same gift, I have been able to reuse the same gift idea with a different person.  

Prepare for Gift Giving Year Round

A good way to avoid overspending during the holidays is to shop year round.  With your handy list of gift ideas, you can always be on the lookout for the perfect gift.  Year round shopping has a number of benefits.

  1. It saves money – Take advantage of sales and clearances, allow time to shop for the best price, and avoid last minute pressure purchases.
  2. It reduces stress – Avoid holiday crowds and have time to relax during the holiday season knowing that your shopping is done.
  3. It’s fun – Stretching gift giving out over the course of the year allows time to savor the experience.  Whether you’re carefully thinking through expenditures or making a spontaneous purchase at that moment when you see something and know that it’s perfect for someone you love – you can enjoy having the time to select the perfect gift for everyone on your list. 


Taking the time to organize your gift giving allows you to put the emphasis where it should be during the holidays: on thoughtful expressions of love toward friends and family. 


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