Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sundays with Santa's Little Helpers: Week 2 Christmas Lists & Budgets

For us, Christmas isn't a huge stress when it comes to shopping. With my siblings, we pool the money we would normally spend on each other, including gifts for our parents, and adopt a family, or give to an especially needy cause during this time of year. We've been doing this for close to 10 years. However, we still buy for our godsons that are on my side. And then we have a decently sized group on Carl's side that we buy for, so planning is still in order.

For me, it starts with a spreadsheet of those we are going to buy presents for. The next column is for how much we'd like to spend on them. And then in the following columns are different gift ideas. I usually like to start the list in early November to give me ample time to come up with ideas. However, if I spot something earlier than that for someone, I am not opposed to just picking it up!

Now let's talk about staying on budget, since I know many people, including ourselves, are cutting back. Keeping with the spreadsheet that you created for the gift list, next to the gift idea column, you can start filling in the actual gifts as you buy them.

As you buy gifts for people, track it in a spreadsheet. I've included the template for one which will help keep you on budget. The formulas are already included. Just edit the sample information with your own!

Click here for the sample Christmas Shopping List

So on top of that, here are a few other tips for holiday shopping:
  • Before you go shopping, make a list of the stores you'll be shopping at. Google search the store name + coupon and see if there are any deals.
  • Check online to see if they are having free shipping events. You'll save time AND money.
  • Handmade gifts are perfectly acceptable, just be creative with it- I'll be making up my Christmas gift baskets this week (hopefully) so I'll share them with you! My goal is to keep them under $5 a piece!
  • Magazine subscriptions are a great present. Not only are they inexpensive, but they last throughout the year.
  • Can't think of what to get the person that has everything? Invite them over for a really nice dinner. Or better yet, suggest not doing gifts and donate time or money to a charity you both love.
So your challenge this week? Write out your gift list. Include the names of the recipients, how much you'd like to spend and at least one gift idea for each person. And I challenge you to avoid gift cards this year! (Yeah...I'm just throwing that one in there!) Once you get that far, shopping this season will be a breeze! Plus- don't forget to tell me how your Thanksgiving menu and grocery list planning went from last week. Don't know what I'm talking about? Read about it here! Stay tuned the rest of the week for more shopping and budgeting tips as well!

Be sure to check out Working Woman's Guide to Domestic Success & A Life In Progress for more ideas!


  1. MRS, I am waiting for your Christmas gift baskets of $5

  2. This was a great post! I love to shop online. I have four kids and a job and it is just easier (and less stressful). I always manage free shipping and go to to check for extra discounts! It really works out. Thanks for all your great ideas for staying organized and on budget! Have a great day.


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