About 5 years ago I started a Google Doc for Christmas gifts so that Anel and I could keep track of who was buying what and how much we were spending. Over the years we have perfected our system and now it is locked down and perhaps my greatest achievement of life. Not only does it keep us organized, but it also takes away two of my big stressors during the holiday season… scrambling to buy last-minute gifts and spending too much money.
I’m sure there are fancy apps that do something similar, but I’m old school when it comes to lists and a good ole’ spreadsheet works well for us.
This foolproof holiday gifting doc ensures that we don’t forget anyone, that we stay on budget, and that nothing falls through the cracks during a very busy time of year. I hope it helps you too! By popular request, I’m sharing a downloadable version and instructions:
Step 1: Set a budget
It’s too late for this step for those of you who have already finished buying holiday gifts, but for anyone who hasn’t finished, set a budget before you buy anything else by adding up everything you’ve spent so far and setting a budget for the rest of your gifts. Write down that number and stick to it.
Step 2: Create a spreadsheet
You can download my template here (it includes my formulas) or just copy the columns below into Excel or a Google Doc.
Step 3: Make a list of everyone you need to buy for
This includes everyone from your partner and children to your coworkers to the mailman. Think of every single person you want to buy a gift for or give cash to and write down their names in the “to” column.
Step 4: Add in gifts, keeping your budget in mind
Add each gift you plan to buy (or have already bought) into the gift column and the cost into the cost column. Create a sum formula at the bottom of the cost column to keep track of your budget. Or use my version which already has it done. I also like to note who it’s from e.g. Santa vs mom and dad for Amalia’s gifts.
Step 5: Buy gifts
Step 6: Track gifts
Keep track of what you’ve purchased, what has arrived, and what has been wrapped in the spreadsheet. You can also add a notes column if you want to track delivery dates or anything else.
Note: We have decided not to wrap our gifts this year. Wrapping presents is a true joy for me, but I just couldn’t justify all of the paper that would get thrown away so we wrapped everything in reusable gift boxes/bags or just with grosgrain ribbon (also reusable). Going forward, we’re going to get this 100% recycled craft paper for the holiday season and I’ll embellish it with a pretty ribbon. The photo above is from last year.
Step 7: Give gifts and spread that holiday cheer!
I hope this was helpful! What are your best holiday gifting tips?
On gift wrap – we all travel a great distance to my parents for the holidays and usually wrap our gifts when we arrive. I chuckle because we have been using the same tissue, ribbons, and gift bags for at least five years. Sure, some tissue and a few bags do get tossed out each year when they get too tattered, but it certainly has prevented a great deal of waste. And it is kind of fun to see the same bags year after year. In the event I do buy a new bag, I try to make sure I really love it and it is well made and will stand up to being used over and over. It is hard not to buy wrapping paper though, especially when there are so many gorgeous designs.
This is the best blog post I never knew I needed! I can’t tell you how many times in the last week my husband and I have had the “who do we still need to buy for” conversation. Thanks for sharing!
I hope this helps! Make it a shared doc on Google and you’ll never have to have that conversation again.
I totally do the exact same thing on Google docs! its the best because you can access and edit from anywhere! Also thank you so much for the link to the paper because I have been feeling all the excess packing guilt this year! I told my mom not to buy any fancy wrapping paper, so I will send her this, and its perfect we always have lots of ribbons and such to make it festive!!
love this post! I use a google doc too..and also record what people have given us so I remember to say a thank you note.. <3
Smart! I did that for our wedding and baby shower but hadn’t thought to do it for holiday gifts. I’m adding a tab!
One of my favorite ways to “wrap” gifts is in a reusable grocery bag. I buy several from Trader Joe’s (about $2 each) and then put each person’s gifts in that. Then they have a reusable bag to continue to use.
Love that idea! I’ve been buying the J.Crew totes this year for friend gifts and doing the same. I make it part of the present.
I love using kraft paper as gift wrap! It’s fun to dress up with reusable ribbon, and I’ll sometimes add Christmas tree branches as extra embellishment. I’ve also been using two rolls of Christmas kraft wrap for what feels like 7 years now. I’m now starting to collect nice reusable gift boxes, and I hoard gift bags! Eco-friendly AND thrifty.
Love the idea of adding Christmas tree branches or sprigs. That sounds so pretty!
This is awesome! I have a spreadsheet from my Black Friday / Cyber Monday purchases, but this format is so much better. I’m almost frightened to populate it for this year since I fear I’ve overspent. I’m going to do it anyway because it’s better to know while I can still make some last minute adjustments!
Do it! You’ll learn for next year at the very least 🙂
Before Christmas, I take all my kids’ gifts out of their original packaging and go ahead and assemble and put in batteries so the toys are ready to play with. I hated dealing with the impossible-to-open packaging and tiny screws and bajillion triple-A batteries during the chaos of Christmas day. We never wrap our kids’ gifts either!
So smart. There’s nothing worse than opening a gift as a kid then waiting for what seems like EVER to get batteries put in!
So innovative- would have never thought to use a spreadsheet for this. So glad I have influencers to explain this to me!
Here for the #sarcasm!