Christmas ideas

I’ve always loved Christmas.  Yet in addition to having a full work schedule, it adds extra burden to your already full days and nights. Therefore, having some practical Christmas ideas to buying presents is critical for your sanity.

I find most of my time in the lead up to Christmas is spent on buying presents.  Therefore, I will devote an entire article to how I deal with this.  Some of you will roll your eyes at this one, but it’s been a life saver for me the past few years.

How I buy Christmas presents

1. I have an Excel file that I started about 5 years ago.  Each year I simply open the file from the year before, click “save as” and save it with the title “Christmas Presents 2017” (or whatever the year is)

2. In column A it shows everyone our family needs to buy a present for.  It includes everyone, from family to the kids’ teachers to Kris Kringle presents for the kids with neighbours.  Since I use the same file from the year before, I only need to add or delete people who have come into our lives and require a present (very rare) or unfortunately remove the names of those no longer with us

3. The next column I have shows who the present is from.  In Column A it might say James (my hubby) and in Column B whether the present is from me or one of the kids.  This information is already in the file once you pull it together the first time

4. Column 4 shows the present given.  By using the file from the year before, it reminds me what present we gave the prior year.  This means I don’t get something too similar again.  I then delete last year’s present details so I can type in this year’s present.  If I’ve already bought someone a present I type it in.  Also, if I know what I want to buy someone but just haven’t bought it yet, I also type it in

5. The next column shows what step I’m at in the present process:

  • “Given” i.e. I’ve already bought, wrapped and given the present to the person
  • “Wrapped” i.e. The present has been bought and it’s already wrapped and ready to give”
  • “Bought” i.e. The present is bought but I need to wrap and give it
  • “To buy”.  I focus on these ones first, particularly since I mainly do online shopping and need to make sure it arrives in time for Christmas

6. I use this last column to help me know who I still need to buy for.  There are loads of people we need to buy for, so this system lets me also filter the list to only show “to buy”. I find this approach much less overwhelming than just trying to remember who I need to buy for

7. My husband and I allocate one night to do all the wrapping when the kids are in bed.  We make sure we have loads of wrapping paper, Christmas stickers (see below) and tape on hand to get it done in 1 night

8. We don’t do Christmas cards but Christmas stickers.  It’s faster to simply write who the present is for and who it is from.  This simple change has saved us a few hours each December. I don’t feel guilty, as I found we all were writing the same thing on every card (“We hope you have a great Christmas and new year etc etc”)

9. I often give the same gift to people who won’t see each other’s presents.  I get the same present for each of my kids’ teachers.  Since they’re in different classrooms, their teachers won’t know they’ve got the same gift (until they read this post!)

10. My favourite presents to give are ones where I don’t need to venture into a shop.  I like presents I can easily tailor and print out or email it directly to the recipient.  My favourite online presents to give are magazine subscriptions.  These also work for last-minute presents or ones where you’ve missed the last post to arrive before Christmas.  For the person who has everything, I like making a charity donation in their name that has a defined value e.g. the donation pays for 5 homeless people to have a hot meal

What other Christmas ideas do you have regarding how you buy Christmas presents?
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