One of the best ways to cut down on holiday stress is proper planning. Our gift-planning template makes it simple to plan, track and budget for your holiday purchases.
(Click the image above for a closer look.)
Why keep a meticulous holiday shopping list? Among the many reasons, I'll share the reason I started keeping one and archiving it every year:
Once upon a time, I bought my brother-in-law a book for Christmas. It was an excellent pick and well received. The next year, while looking for another book I made another great pick — but ended up sending him the exact same book I'd purchased the year prior. Oops!
From there on I kept a list of every person I gave a gift, the gift I gave them, and a small checklist that included information like whether or not the gift had been purchased, received and wrapped. This year I took the best features of my previous lists and rolled them together into a spreadsheet with a few bells and whistles.
Sure you could scribble your shopping list on the back of an envelope, but the back of the envelope won't colour-code, cross-reference and calculate your shopping budget like our handy gift-planning template will. With our holiday template you can record the recipients, the gift you bought them, its cost and whether or not you have purchased, received, wrapped and delivered the gift.
All the cells for purchase/received/wrapped/delivered status are colour coded. Empty cells are light red. Cells can be filled with either "x" or "na" to turn them light green. The "na" flag was included both for visual continuity on the chart (you can't really gift wrap a subscription, for example) and for continuity on the Gift Info page.
The second sheet of the spreadsheet is the Gift Info page; it totals up information about your gift list. There you can enter in your total budget for your holiday spending, and it will total the amounts from your list to tell you how much money you have left and the average amount of money you've spent per person. It will also calculate the number of people on your list and the number you need to pick out a gift for as well as the remaining number of gifts to be purchased, wrapped, and so on:
The boxes indicating the remaining gift money as well as the present-related tasks will show up in red when something is amiss — negative balance in the budget or presents left unwrapped for example.
The template is available from Google Docs and is free for you to copy and alter. If you see any areas for improvement, by all means tinker with it and post a link to your new version in the comments below (and feel free to email it to us, too) so everyone can benefit from your spreadsheet-fu.