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Did you get caught in the holiday rush last year?  I know I did.

It seemed like it was Halloween one minute, Thanksgiving was a blur, and Christmas was here before I was ready for it.

Last Christmas I set an alarm in my phone for September 1st of this year.  At first, that seemed so early to me, but now that September 1st has come and gone, I know the holiday season will sneak up on me again if I don't start prepping now.  

Ever since I had children, it takes at least twice as long to get anything done and the same goes for Holiday prep.  The first thing I do for holiday prep is work on my gift list.  

It sounds so simple.  Make a list of all the people for whom I purchase gifts.  (I know the way I wrote that sounds "English teacher-esque," but I just can't seem to make myself end a sentence with a preposition when I'm writing.  My apologies for the anal retentiveness.)  I start with the easy ones and work my way out:

-immediate family

-extended family

-friends who are like family

-friends

-friends' children

-party gifts (we have a friend who does a dirty santa party each year)

-hostess gifts

-Service professionals (mailman, newspaper person, trashman, etc.)

Budget for each person on the list and total it up.  

Stay within your budget!  

The better you plan, the better you can follow your budget.  No one feels good about overspending.  It just adds to the holiday stress.  Ain't nobody got time for that!  

Some of the best gifts are the ones you don't spend a lot of money on anyway.

Next, write a description of any gift ideas you already have next to each person's name.

 

That's right.  Start listening to people and pay attention to their style, colors they like, things they mention they want or need.  This is the ultimate way to figure out that perfect gift.  

The key to giving a great gift is to listen.

Keep your list with you so you can quickly jot down ideas when you have them or after you hear someone mention something they want.

You can download my list template here.

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