How I Organize Buying Christmas Gifts

It was in the mid-70s yesterday, and I was this close to putting my air back on—although that would be a hassle because the unit is covered for the winter and the breaker is shut off in the basement. I’ve half-watched a few Hallmark movies in the past week or so, and my mom told me she found the Christmas music channel on their TV.

So it’s only appropriate to start Christmas shopping this week. (Also, welcome to weather in New England. There are no rules.)

I’ve never waited until the last minute to get gifts but knowing how shipping has been recently and with the supply chain issues, I figured it didn’t hurt to look for gifts and buy them early. In the past, I’ve used a spreadsheet to keep track of gifts, and since I couldn’t find the one I made last year—it might have gotten deleted when I cleaned up my Google Drive—I made a new one for this year and plan to use it every year for Christmas.

Now I can’t post an actual screenshot of the spreadsheet since it lists gifts for both Josh and my parents—he and my mom read my blog, hi!—so here’s a blank version of it:

This year, I have to get gifts for: Josh, my mom, my dad, my godmother/long time family friend, my boss (we usually give each other beer), and my work-study student (I got her a Dunkin gift card last year). My parents are always hard to shop for because they’re the kind of people who just buy whatever they need, so it’s not like they really need anything new. Last year, I gave people a lot of practical presents—like things they use in their everyday lives—to ensure that they’d actually like what I got them. I’m doing that again this year, especially with my parents.

I don’t know how to do much in Google Sheets but I taught myself conditional formatting, so that when “Yes” is in the cell, it’s green and when “No” is in the cell, it’s red. It makes it easy to keep track of what’s been ordered, arrived, and wrapped.

Josh poses a bit of an issue by having a birthday on January 2; I asked him last year if he could move his birthday because it’s inconvenient when it comes to gift giving. He said no. So, instead, last year and this year, I ordered his Christmas and birthday gifts at the same time. (Mostly so I don’t have to worry about shipping closer to Christmas and New Year’s.) I included both his Christmas and birthday gifts in the sheet and highlighted birthday gift cells in a different color.

Once most of the items come in, I have to take inventory of the Christmas wrapping essentials I have left over. Last year, I went to Walmart and bought coordinated wrapping paper, ribbons, bags, and tags, so I’ll have to see if I need to get any more for this Christmas. 

I’m only decent at wrapping; anything that’s not a box tends to cause trouble. I wrote this post back in 2018, and to be honest, not much has changed, although I’m no longer wrapping in the basement:

Maybe it’s because we’re not setting ourselves up for success where we wrap gifts every year. We do it in our basement in our TV room, that’s home to a TV/media center, a cedar chest that holds our printer, two recliners, a treadmill, some leftover stuff from when I lived at college, and a Bowflex machine that no one uses but my dad claims he’ll start using it again once the basement is clean. (He’s been saying that for years.) We wrap on the floor, and there’s about a three by three foot area that’s open for wrapping. Granted, we could take the wrapping paper and stuff somewhere else, but if we have to wrap for each other, we go downstairs and tell whoever’s gifts are being wrapped not to go downstairs.  

(Fun fact: The aforementioned Bowflex has been moved from the basement into my old bedroom/my dad’s WFH space, and he still doesn’t use it. He now says he’ll use it when he retires… in like 3 years.)

Last year, I wrapped on my dining room table, which seemed like a step up from the basement floor. I’ll do that again this year so I have room to spread out and I can actually stand and not crawl around on the floor to get the tape. I just have to be patient and take my time when I do it, or, worst-case scenario, just put everything in bags 🤷🏻‍♀️

How do you organize buying holiday gifts? How do you feel about wrapping? Is it also unseasonably warm where you live that it makes you confused about the time of year?


  1. How very organized of you! I just keep an ongoing gift idea list in my notes app on my phone and whenever I purchase something off of it, it gets removed. I just started ordering xmas presents this past weekend, so I’d say I’m about 80% done with my shopping. I’m still having some trouble picking some things for my parents, but I think I’m going to send them to a nice hotel outside of DC for a night and give them some spending money. I know I would like something like that… 😉

    I raked leaves last weekend in shorts and a tank top and I hated every second of it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this! I have something similar I use with my gift buying. Oh & I totally get your issue with Josh’s birthday, P’s is January 9th so it’s not as close but it’s still soo close.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I also wrap presents on the floor in a very small space and use old crayola scissors from elementary school even though “adult” scissors are nearby. It will take me about 2-3 hours to wrap 10 things

    Liked by 1 person

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