Holiday Gift Giving Organized


Holiday Gift Giving Organized | Duluth Moms Blog

It’s officially December and most of us are in the flurry of holiday gift giving. Our family celebrates Christmas so I still have time to get myself organized. I will confess that my tree was up a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving and I’m already done with my holiday shopping and wrapping. I just have my holiday cards to get out. I’ve always been pretty organized when it came to holidays, but since my traumatic birth and acquiring short term memory loss, it has become more important than ever that I rely on lists and stay on top of what I need to do. This system has been something that I’ve done for years and I’m so thankful that I came up with it because it’s the only thing that keeps me sane during this rush.

Step One: Make your Holiday Card list

I am a BIG believer that holiday cards are the best part of this season. Who doesn’t like to get fun mail? Nobody wants to be bogged down by bills, especially this month, so we should all be sending cards. They don’t need to be fancy and you don’t need to send out hundreds, but if you send just one or two cards to people telling them what they meant to you this year, I guarantee you will make their day.

Holiday Gift Giving Organized | Duluth Moms Blog

We send out quite a few and I have zero attention span anymore so I can’t just address all of the cards in one sitting. I have my list and as I address a card, I cross their name off the list. That way I can spread it out over a few nights while I watch Mob Wives reruns. We get a photo card done so I go to a local mall studio, get one photo snapped, and that’s it. I’m not stressing over the photo quality because if they know us in real life, a crazy looking card is an actual snapshot of our family. I do this in early November so I have LOTS of time to get my cards addressed, stuffed, stamped, and brought to the post office. The other benefit to making a list is knowing exactly how many cards you need. This way you don’t fall short and you don’t end up with a lot of extras.

Step Two: Make your gift list

I shared this method of shopping with someone on Black Friday and they told me I was a genius. I don’t feel like a genius, I feel like someone desperately clinging to the last bit of sanity I have. I do this list well in advance of shopping and that helps me plan where I need to go so I’m not wandering from store to store and spending more money than I need to. I have a policy that I get everyone two gifts. I like even numbers and I have to be even across the board.

Holiday Gift Giving Organized | Duluth Moms Blog

(This is not my actual list! My list is totally finished and I’m obviously not posting what people are really getting. Ha!)

I write down the name of every person I would like to buy for this year. If I already know what I’m going to get them, I write it down under their name. Once I buy the item, I put a check mark next to that item. That’s really key in the world of online shopping, all of those shipments makes it hard to remember what you ordered and for who. Those check marks help keep me on track with spending. I carry this list with me at ALL TIMES before the holidays. Its top secret and I treat it as such. This piece of paper becomes Holy Grail. I’m not kidding.

Holiday Gift Giving Organized | Duluth Moms Blog

The back side of the paper is where I list my kids. I have to be even with all of them, too, and this keeps me on track. There was a year where my son had five more presents than my daughter on Christmas Eve and there I was, running through the mall a half hour before it closed getting the things I thought I had already purchased just so I could be even. I will never have a repeat of that year again.

Step Three: Wrap!

It seems silly to have this on the list because it’s obvious, but I know for years my husband and I were up wrapping presents minutes before the kids would be up to open them. Again, that’s something I will never repeat. Every time I buy a gift, it goes on this list. It goes into my Top Secret Hiding Spot. When the little girls nap, or everyone is in bed and my husband is watching This Old House reruns (yawn!!) I will start wrapping. Once I have the gift wrapped, it gets highlighted. You see all that highlighting on my list? It’s wrapped and hidden or wrapped and under the tree. I know I don’t have anything left to do for that gift. You have no idea how good it feels to see a totally highlighted piece of paper!

Bonus Tip: Assigned wrapping paper. Seriously.

If you’re like me you have multiple holiday gatherings. We go to my in-law’s on Christmas Eve, my parents on Christmas Day, we see my brother and his family at some point, I’ve got lunches and dinners with individual friends, it becomes hard to keep in order. I am guilty of searching under the tree ten minutes before I have to go to sort presents and EVERY SINGLE TIME I miss one.

The last two years I have gone with assigned wrapping paper. I know. It’s not groundbreaking and it’s painfully obvious but hardly anyone does it.

This year my brother and his family have cute little Christmas sloth paper. My in-laws have paper with pickup trucks with trees. My parents have retro snowflakes. My friends have Christmas cats with socks. My kids have anything else that is not one of these. It is revolutionary, you guys. Now when I go to a gathering, I just have to grab the presents with that wrapping paper.

I’ve had a few friends come over and ask about all my paper and I tell them and you can see the tops of their heads blow off in amazement.

I’m considering submitting myself for a Nobel Peace Prize. I could be saving families from arguments on the holidays. We’ve all been there- you’re five minutes late because nobody would get dressed, the car is running, you’re searching for all of the presents to bring, dad is yelling at everyone to GO, and it becomes the least jolliest day of the year. Assigned wrapping paper could save us all.

I’m just saying.

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Sara Strand
Sara is a stay home mom (not a regular mom, a “cool” mom) of two teenagers and two elementary grade kids, who is always stressed out because one has their driver's license, one is a free spirit, one is fearless, and one is always in the clouds. In her “free time”, she is a book reviewer, dance mom, true crime podcast junkie, Dateline/Keith Morrison fan club devotee, and an Amniotic Fluid Embolism survivor. Always honest and sometimes funny, you can also find her at her blog, Stranded in Chaos (, where she shares good (and not so good) books, tales from mom life, recovery and life after birth trauma, and livin’ la vida loca after 40ish.