Holiday Shopping Guide: The Shopping List

Creative Commons License photo credit: daveynin

Christmas Gift List

The first step to successful holiday shopping is to make a list, and don’t forget to check it twice. ;)

Start with the names of all the people you will be buying gifts for. Don’t forget to include people who provide you service on a regular basis, like the babysitter, your assistant, or your favorite barista. For a guide to what to tip for the holiday season, check out this guide to holiday tipping at Bargaineering.

What’s your budget?

You may have a Christmas savings account, a year-end bonus, or some savings ready for shopping. If you don’t have a budget yet, or even an idea of one, this is an important step. Spend money you have or will have before Christmas, and don’t spend money on credit hoping to pay it off. If you need extra cash, consider selling some stuff, or getting a part-time job for the next few weeks. You could also allocate a small amount like $50/week to a savings account. By the holidays you would have about $300.

What to give?

Next include an idea or several next to each person’s name. For some recipients you may know exactly what you want to buy, but for others you may need to do a bit of searching. Think outside the box a bit. Most people already have too much stuff, so consider a membership to a museum or an experience versus a thing. April, staff writer at Get Rich Slowly, covers this topic nicely in The Anti-Stuff Holiday Gift Guide.

My List

I wish I could give more gifts, but my list is intentionally short since we are still paying off debt.

  • Santa’s helper: The bulk of the gift buying is done by Santa’s helpers. Filling the stockings, and a few small Santa gifts, as well as one “big” gift.
  • 5 gifts from me: We started this tradition 2 years ago. Each person buys 1 gift for each member of the family. That way mom and dad get 6 gifts, as do all the kids. It’s fun to take the kids shopping, they pick out interesting stuff. This year they are using their allowances to buy their gifts.
  • Family: Both sets of parents, nieces and nephew, grandmom, and siblings. I do the shopping for most everyone. The parents usually get a gift basket made by me which includes cookies and other treats my husband makes. I’d go into more detail but they are reading my blog. :)
  • Teachers: Teachers get a gift card to the bookstore, and something handmade from their student.
  • Friends: I usually end up doing a gift exchange or sweet swap at least once during December. I don’t give gifts to specific friends, though I wish I could!

Holiday Shopping Guide 2009

  • I don’t do Black Friday: This is my 1st post in the series. I talk about why I don’t shop for “deals” on Black Friday.
  • How to spend smarter this holiday season: my 1st of 2 guest posts over at Consumerism Commentary. I cover ways to spend less, including handmaking gifts and decreasing your shopping list. Please head over and leave me a comment. :)

Have you started your holiday shopping? Do you have a list?

Kelly

photo credit: daveynin

About Kelly Whalen


Kelly Whalen is the founder of The Centsible Life, a blog where motherhood and money meet. Her goal is to help readers live well on less. Kelly is a mom to 4, and loves that she can stay at home with her kids, and still pursue her passions for writing, personal finance, and social media. You can often find her on twitter and Facebook talking money and motherhood.

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  • Mama Bird

    We draw names for the adults, so my husband and I each have one person from his family and one person for my family to buy for. It's a $50 gift limit, but it works well since we all get something that we want. We use Elfster and it includes a 'wish list'. We've been doing this for about 4 years now and it works really well for us. We all buy for the kids.

    I am a big list maker so, I keep an Amazon wish list for each of my kids if people want ideas. I also keep a 'shopping list' on Amazon for myself for when I see something I like for my kids and want to remember for the next birthday or whatever.

    My husband and I usually only buy stocking stuffers for each other, if that and never above $20 total. We usually get what we want throughout the year, so Christmas is more about giving to others for us. This year, since we are going to Australia, we aren't even doing that. Just enjoying our time with family, far-flung friends, and at the beach.
    Woo hoo! I usually make goodies for my neighbors and teachers, though this year we won't be here so not sure about that yet.

    • http://twitter.com/centsiblelife @centsiblelife

      I admit I'm a bit jealous of the beach time you'll be enjoying! I love lists, but try not to be too pushy since I know not everyone wants a list to work off of. ;)

  • http://www.budgetpulse.com Craig Kessler

    Always plan ahead because if you know what you want to buy then you can search for the deals and see which stores have them.

  • http://www.budgetpulse.com/ Craig Kessler

    Always plan ahead because if you know what you want to buy then you can search for the deals and see which stores have them.

  • http://www.flyawayfamily.com/ Mama Bird

    We draw names for the adults, so my husband and I each have one person from his family and one person for my family to buy for. It's a $50 gift limit, but it works well since we all get something that we want. We use Elfster and it includes a 'wish list'. We've been doing this for about 4 years now and it works really well for us. We all buy for the kids.

    I am a big list maker so, I keep an Amazon wish list for each of my kids if people want ideas. I also keep a 'shopping list' on Amazon for myself for when I see something I like for my kids and want to remember for the next birthday or whatever.

    My husband and I usually only buy stocking stuffers for each other, if that and never above $20 total. We usually get what we want throughout the year, so Christmas is more about giving to others for us. This year, since we are going to Australia, we aren't even doing that. Just enjoying our time with family, far-flung friends, and at the beach.
    Woo hoo! I usually make goodies for my neighbors and teachers, though this year we won't be here so not sure about that yet.

    • http://twitter.com/centsiblelife @centsiblelife

      I admit I'm a bit jealous of the beach time you'll be enjoying! I love lists, but try not to be too pushy since I know not everyone wants a list to work off of. ;)

  • http://www.uprinting.com/Business-Cards.html Business Cards

    It made me think of my own list. Oops! I'm not even done with that list yet! Thanks for this very helpful post.

    • http://twitter.com/centsiblelife @centsiblelife

      No problem!

  • http://www.uprinting.com/Business-Cards.html Business Cards

    It made me think of my own list. Oops! I'm not even done with that list yet! Thanks for this very helpful post.

    • http://twitter.com/centsiblelife @centsiblelife

      No problem!

  • http://www.punchdebtintheface.com ninja

    I'm a guy. I suck at making lists. I just walk down the aisle and go "Oh that's pretty, I think she'll like this." Maybe I should become a little more structured like yourself.

    • http://twitter.com/centsiblelife @centsiblelife

      Hey if it works for you, there's no problem with that!
      And I take it by your comment that you don't do much of the family gift shopping? ;)

  • http://www.punchdebtintheface.com/ ninja

    I'm a guy. I suck at making lists. I just walk down the aisle and go "Oh that's pretty, I think she'll like this." Maybe I should become a little more structured like yourself.

    • http://twitter.com/centsiblelife @centsiblelife

      Hey if it works for you, there's no problem with that!
      And I take it by your comment that you don't do much of the family gift shopping? ;)

  • http://www.raisingroots.com Lauren

    Hi Kelly,

    I love your lists!! I started thinking and gathering gifts a few months ago. As I find things I know DD would like (little things for stockings, or Art Supplies) at places like Tuesday Morning, or through special deals, I get them and sneak them into the hiding place in the closet. Most family gifts I make, because no one really needs anything, so I get crafty, which is fun for me, and often repurpose things I already have for those projects!!

  • http://www.raisingroots.com/ Lauren

    Hi Kelly,

    I love your lists!! I started thinking and gathering gifts a few months ago. As I find things I know DD would like (little things for stockings, or Art Supplies) at places like Tuesday Morning, or through special deals, I get them and sneak them into the hiding place in the closet. Most family gifts I make, because no one really needs anything, so I get crafty, which is fun for me, and often repurpose things I already have for those projects!!

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