A mum of three, engineer, scientist, educator, and all around dabbler, I'm far better at finding interesting things to do than I am at doing housework.
Published October 31st 2012
Follow Santa's example for an organised Christmas
"Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat. Please put a penny in the old man's hat..."
So goes the song, and while most of us don't have to worry about fattening the geese, we do have to worry about getting the gift shopping done, and hopefully having a few pennies left over. If you're the type of person who usually has all your shopping done by June, this article is not for you. For the rest of us though, why not read on, get organised now and approach December in a more relaxed frame of mind.
Step 1: Make a list. Santa uses one for good reason - they work! Sit down and make a list of everyone you have/want to buy a present for. If you participate in a Kris Kringle and don't know who you'll be buying for yet, just make an item for Kris Kringle and move on. Next to each name, leave space for a list of gift ideas and a costs column.
Step 2: Make a budget. Boring I know, but worthwhile. For each person on your list make a note of how much you're willing to spend. Now you know what your total Christmas gift outlay is going to be. Too much? Revise your figures and try again. When you have a budget you're happy with, note the final figures next to the names on your list.
I'm making a list...
Step 3: Now print your list or save it somewhere easy to access. Your phone, your ipad, or print it and put it in your handbag. It needs to be somewhere you can access easily at home and at the shops.
Step 4: Time to start filling in those blanks. So how do we do that?
There is the time honoured approach of wandering the shopping mall, waiting for inspiration to strike. This approach can work well if you allow enough time. If your list is prepared early, then every shopping trip for whatever purpose can include a little Christmas shopping, with no need for a marathon on Christmas Eve.
When inspiration does strike, check your list. Does it fit in your budget? Remember to check that you haven't already bought a gift for the person you're thinking of! All OK? Buy it and mark up your list with what you bought and how much it cost.
No inspiration? Don't want to wander the malls? Then read on!
Let's start with your junk mail. No, don't throw it straight in the bin. At this time of year it can save you time and effort if you sit down and look at it. Flick through the catalogues looking for ideas. When you find something that looks suitable, mark it in the "ideas" column of your list. Don't forget to note where the item is being sold. Repeat with all the catalogues. Now you're ready to go shopping, either online or in a real store.
Listen to your loved ones. Are they giving you hints? Are they enthusing over a new hobby? If so, mark it down in your ideas column!
Don't restrict yourself to buying "stuff". Thinking laterally can result in great presents. Experiences or memberships can be a wonderful present. For example, if you have a family of animal lovers on your list, consider giving them family membership of your local zoo or aquarium instead of individual gifts. In this case, perhaps give each child a small stuffed animal to unwrap on the day, with a note attached asking to be taken to visit their friends at the zoo.
For adults, what about a night out? Tickets to a concert, show, or a dinner at their favourite restaurant - with an offer to babysit if required. Not an exciting gift? Arrange a white water rafting trip, rockclimbing, or flying trapeze lessons!
Still no ideas? Christmas is approaching fast? Time to resort to the gift card solution? There is a way to make this a far less boring alternative! Make a gift pack using that gift card as the starting point. It's a great way to make gift cards fun with no more effort than a trip to the supermarket!
Make that gift card fun!
Still struggling with one or two people? Why not let them revisit their childhood with a Christmas stocking, just like the ones that Santa used to bring! Buy a stocking (or make one if you're crafty) and fill it with an assortment of fun items. Your local discount store can be a good starting point - just remember to stick to your budget and not get carried away with all the fun stuff you're finding! Give your stocking a theme, or just fill it with little things that you know they'll love. Don't forget to include a tin of biscuits, a bag of chocolate coins, or a jar of bo-peeps for that authentic Christmas stocking touch! For those who have a good sense of humour, the internet is full of recipes for "lump of coal" toffee - why not give it a try?
So get started today and find out how much less stressing an organised Christmas can be!