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I’m bringing back the old Christmas of simplicity and heart-warming visits with friends all through a little thinking and planning ahead.

I’m the early Christmas shopper, but not the one who starts in January (I hate holding on to things for that long – it reminds me of clutter even if it isn’t).  I usually have a list of people and ideas completed by mid August, wrapped by Thanksgiving and enjoy visits with friends in early December.

August – I’ve kept a spreadsheet since 2001 which lists every person, every gift and the amounts.  This lets me see what I’ve done, get ideas for new friends, and make sure I don’t duplicate from the previous year!  I always have a dollar amount in mind as I do this and I keep the list with me at all times.   (Actually, I have it as an Excel spreadsheet saved to Google Drive so I can look at it anytime on my phone).

September & October – I don’t like taking time to shop so if I have to be in a store, I might as well take a look around and see if anything is available that ‘fits’ my list. (I have my list, but like to stay flexible in the event I find an even better idea for someone special.) It’s just a matter of doing two things at once.  My theory is that if I’ve prepared the list well in August and keep my eyes open in September and October I can catch some sales and spread the cost out over a few months too! January is so much better when there’s nothing on the credit card from December!

November – after I’ve purchased the gifts I put post-it notes on them with the name of the recipient and they go in the spare bedroom; this way I don’t walk in and feel overwhelmed because I can easily see organized piles with bright tags on each item!   At this point I can enjoy wrapping a few items here and there while watching one of my favorite programs – Duck Dynasty or Big Bang Theory. By the way, this is also a great time to address Christmas cards so you can just drop them in the mail in December – no pressure!

December – I don’t like crowds so the thought of being elbow to elbow with hundreds of harried people makes me feel anxious. Instead of putting myself through that, I’ve wrapped and tagged the gifts over Thanksgiving and they’re stacked in chronological order for delivery.

As December 1st has rolled in I’ve called some friends and have a few short visits on the calendar.  Whether it’s shortbread, Irish soda bread, candies, or jar gifts, I make a little batch each week when it’s convenient.  Since I’m not in a rush I can enjoy thinking of the people who will receive the home-made tokens.  When it’s time to hit the road, I just match my “kitchen gift” to the small item in a gift bag upstairs and I’m ready to go.

I want to look back on my life and remember the moments, not the Christmas chaos that rolls from one year into the other.  I want to cherish the people, admire the tree, take a treat for the dog, share some home-made Irish Cream and have a few laughs.

Just to get you started, here’s a Christmas List template for you to download. – Christmas List

P.S. – If you’re a spreadsheet person like me, you can keep a status column on your Christmas list and sort it regularly to stay on top of everything.  I sort by “purchase, wrap, bake, and completed”.    If you’re interested in having a customized template in Excel, feel free to email me!

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