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Holiday Gifts: My Planning, Budgeting + Shopping Guide

Holiday Shopping can be stressful... the planning, budgeting and remembering to get something for everyone can be a full-time job. Over the years I've gone from buying gifts for 3-5 people to now buying gifts for over 20 people each Christmas. Why? I have a big family and when you get engaged and married, you inherit an even bigger family.

All of those gifts mean a lot of planning and careful budgeting. Without a plan and budget I'd end up spending over $1000 because I'd just buy whatever looked good and quickly forget who I had and hadn't bought gifts for. It's also fairly likely I'd forget someone along the way.

In recent years, I've started planning and budgeting as early as September. My planning guide allows me to make sure everyone is accounted for, budget their gifts and organize when I'm buying them to optimize my budget and save on shipping costs.

My 5-Step Planning Guide

  1. Brainstorm a list of gift recipients.

  2. Make your Planning Spreadsheet or Brainstorm Document and include the following columns: Name of Recipient, Where They Live, Gift Brainstorm, Estimated Cost/Budget, When the Gift is Needed By

  3. Research, Research, Research. Look into sales, promotions and gift guides to optimize your budget.

  4. Align "Where They Live" with others that live in the same location to optimize any shipping and align "When the Gift is Needed By" to keep it consistent with anyone that lives near them. This will help you maximize your time and save your budget.

  5. Start Shopping!

Tips + Tricks

  1. Going to visit family over Thanksgiving? Plan to bring their gifts with you. This will help cut down on shipping costs. This also works if you're visiting them earlier in December and won't see them on the actual day.

  2. Optimize Holiday Deals. If you can, plan out gifts in late October or early November so that you can take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Some stores will even announce sales early.

  3. Spread out your purchases. Buying all your gifts at once can be a hard hit to your bank account. I like to spread them out so over 2-3 months.

  4. Utilize Gift Card Sales. Some stores and Costco will have specials on gift cards that will save you money in the long run. Whether it's BOGO or even something like $70 for $100 worth of Gift Cards, you'll save money. These are great gifts for Grandparents and extended family.

  5. Re-Gift... This may be taboo in some circles, but I am not afraid to admit that I do it. Re-gifting is a great way to plan gifts. Sometimes I even pull something from a FabFitFun box or other subscription box that I didn't need and gift it to someone on my list that I know will appreciate the item.

What a template? Check out my Planning Template below.

Holiday Gifts Planning Guide
Download XLSX • 9KB



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