5 Ways To Organize Your Holiday Gift Lists (Plus A Free Download!)

Happy Monday, everyone! We started making our gift lists this weekend and I was reminded of this post from last year. Here it is again in case you missed it, and I updated the free printable for you spreadsheet lovers out there. Enjoy! -Sarah


gift list, holiday, printable

My kids are the only grandchildren on both sides, and are lucky to have three sets of generous grandparents and a couple of great-grandparents who all ask the same question this time of year: What do the kids want for Christmas?

As mom and Chief Orchestrator of Holiday Magic, it’s my job to keep it all straight. Who wants what, to begin with, and then with whom have I shared these wishes, and did I tell two grandparents the same thing and did I remember to tell anyone about that one other thing that so-and-so wants?

Once the grandparents have been satisfied with hints and links and sizes and lists, the rest of the gift planning begins. We keep things pretty simple, but still there are lists to be made, budgets to stick to, teachers to recognize, and stockings to fill.

It’s an organizational challenge, and one I haven’t nailed down yet (ask me about the time my daughter got three kites from three different relatives for her birthday) – but I’m getting there. Today I thought I’d share 5 methods I’ve used to organize my holiday gift lists, along with what’s worked well and what hasn’t. I’d love your tips and strategies in the comments, too!

1. Amazon Wish List

Amazon Wish Lists work much like wedding or baby registries: you add items you wish for, and then share the list with others who can purchase the items right from the list.

There are a couple of features I love about Amazon Wish Lists. One, you can add items from non-Amazon sites to your wish list (plugins for your browser make it super easy). Two, the registry-like feature makes it easier to see which items have been purchased so gift-givers are less likely to double up. You can also create as many separate lists as you want and can control the privacy settings behind the scenes.

For me the Wish List works best to organize and share a list of specific items (i.e., toys) the kids have asked for. It does take some of the surprise and fun out of browsing and shopping, but if your aim is to share a very specific itemized wish list (or if that’s what the relatives prefer), this works well. It’s a little more time intensive on the front end than some of the ideas below, but for me that’s off-set by the convenience of having everything electronically catalogued in one place.

2. Shared Document

If you are a spreadsheet lover (admit it: some people just ARE), you might like this idea. I create a simple spreadsheet each holiday season with our to-give gift list. It includes fields for cost (budget and actual) so we can keep an eye on our spending as we make our way through the list.

I share the spreadsheet with my husband via Google Drive or Dropbox (if you like this method, you could share a child’s wish list this way with grandparents and other relatives too). Having it accessible in “the cloud” also means it’s always handy on my smartphone when I’m out shopping and see something I want to add or update.

If you avoid spreadsheets like the plague, this document-sharing approach works just as well with a Word or text file.

printable, holiday gift list
Want a head start on creating your simple gift list spreadsheet? You can download a basic template based on my own and tweak it to make it work for you!

3. Evernote

Evernote is another clever way to share a list or a collection of ideas. (If you’re not familiar, Evernote is a popular cloud-based organizing app with a ton of really cool features, most which I personally haven’t made use of yet.)

Evernote works great if you use a smartphone a lot (it has desktop functionality, too, but I find it really useful for mobile list-making). It’s easy to create a new note, snap a photo, or bookmark a link, and it has a ton of really smart features like tags and search functionality that make it easy to find and organize your notes.

I like Evernote and have used it to keep track of holiday gift ideas, but use it very simply. I usually have one big running list of ideas and when I think of a gift idea to give (or when the one of the kids mentions something they’re coveting), I make a note of it. Then later, when I’m in a more focused gift-list-organizing mode, I’ll take those ideas and transfer them to one of these other lists.

(If you’re an Evernote lover, they have a great holiday guide with TONS of ideas for using the app to organize your entire season.)

4. Pen and Paper

Remember when a Christmas list was something we sat down and wrote out by hand? Yes, Virginia, it still works just as well as it did back then.

Much like my hybrid digital/paper calendar planning system, I frequently take one of these electronic lists and print a hard copy so I can make notes, discuss over coffee with my husband, or stick in my purse for a trip to the mall. I like having a digital record of these ideas to share, but there’s nothing quite like pen-and-paper for making a list and checking it twice. 

5. Pinterest

Oh hi, Pinterest. Did you think I was going to leave you out?

Meagan talked earlier this week about using Pinterest in a way that makes you feel good – not letting it get you down, and here’s one way to put it to good use this holiday season.

Ever since Pinterest created “secret boards,” I’ve been using it to make a note of things I want (wait for it) for myself. Since most of the pins in my feed tend to be geared toward moms and women, it’s a great place to get inspired about gifts I’d like to receive. Pinning to a secret board is easy (here’s a tutorial), and this way I don’t draw a total blank when my husband or mom asks me what I’d like for Christmas.

Want some great ideas to add to your own holiday wish list? Check out our Holiday Gift Guide for Moms.

How do you stay organized when it comes to holiday gift giving? I’d love to hear your suggestions!

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