Organized Christmas Shopping (& Gift Guides)

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The holidays will be here before you know it and, believe it or not, many people are already Christmas shopping!

I love to have most of my Christmas shopping done before Thanksgiving so I can relax and enjoy all of December with my family.

I start my MANY Christmas lists in October and it helps me stay organized and on budget during the holiday season. As I’m starting to put my lists together for this year I thought I would share my tips with you. This is my routine on how I plan and purchase gifts for family and friends each year, as well as keep a budget for all the traditions and activities.


The first thing I do is determine my holiday budget. The easiest way to do this is to look at how much you spent the previous year. I can see in my banks app where I spent money during November and December of last year. I add up the totals of the stores and experiences that I know were purchased for Christmas (example: Amazon, Target, Shutterfly for Christmas cards, Nutcracker tickets, etc.) From there you can determine a good budget for this coming year. Did you feel like you were tight on money after Christmas last year and so need to spend less this year? Did you feel like you had money left over and it’s ok to splurge on somethings a little more than usual this year?

Come up with a budget you and your spouse agree on, and stick to it.

Shopping for your children

My kids are the first ones I shop for and now is the time I start my list of their Christmas gifts.

They each get 5 gifts to open Christmas morning. I try to follow the gift giving idea of “something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.” They also get one extra “Santa” gift.

These categories are helpful when deciding on ideas for practical gifts they will love and use often. They don’t have to be literal either. For example, for “something to wear” it doesn’t have to be clothes, but could be a new robe, a watch, a bike helmet, jewelry, or even dress up clothes. I also usually get something creative for them for the “something they need” category, such as a craft kit, painting/art kit, puzzle or educational game.

Using this as a guide I search around other gift guides or Amazon for gift ideas. I try to think of things I know they will love, spark imaginative play, creative learning, or that they will use/play with often. When I find what I would like to get them for each category, I write it down.

Even though I think I know what I’m going to purchase, I don’t buy it right away. Mostly because this list is always changing. For the next month, my kids might mention something they would like to have or I’ll find a better idea for a gift in one of the categories. By mid November is when I try to pull the trigger and buy everything, except for that one extra “Santa” gift. I usually wait for this gift for when they actually ask Santa for it, because it usually is something they really want out of no where!

Making these lists and shopping like this I have everything purchased by Thanksgiving and only have to buy the one extra thing later…way less stressful.

I also do not have a budget for each kid. I use the overall Christmas budget and make sure I keep everything under that, including gifts for the kids.

Here are my updated gift guides for kids: These are all items my kids own and love, or are items on their list this year. Many of them are educational, open ended, and continue to grow with your child (all the things I look for in purchasing for my kids.)

(As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases, at no extra cost to you. I only link items I love or have used! Thank you for your support when you purchase through these links!)

Gifts for Girls age 6-8

Gifts for Boys age 3-5

Gifts for little ones age 1-2

Educational Games Guide

Educational Toy Guide

Stocking Stuffers

Yep, I also make a list for stocking stuffer ideas. I don’t like to waste money on a bunch of cheap toys that will last a minute and be spread throughout my house. I try to buy intentional items I know my children need or will use often.

They always get some items they need, like a new toothbrush, socks, or underwear. They do get one or 2 pieces of festive candy, but I try to AVOID areas like the Dollar Store and Target Dollar Spot during the holidays that always try to suck me in with all the small little things.

Keeping a list also helps when you know you have enough and don’t need to get anything else to put in there!

Stocking Stuffer Gift Guide


When shopping for my kids, storage is another factor I try to think about. Do we have a place to put it? Where is it going to go? Does it need a storage bin or basket?

Having this idea in mind before hand makes clean up and organizing all the new things after Christmas much easier. If I know something has a lot of little pieces and will need it’s own bin, I will purchase that before Christmas as well. That way after it is opened I can go grab the new bin really quick and it has a place to go.

Prior to Christmas I always clean out all the kids current toys and purge what they don’t play with anymore, anything broken, or missing pieces. This gives me an idea on wear to put new items.

My kids are pretty good with helping me and getting rid of things when I tell them we are donating to other needy kids who will enjoy it too.

Shopping for your spouse

For me personally, shopping for my spouse is always so hard. If there is something either of us need, we usually purchase it ourselves. My husband and I usually make a pact to not buy gifts for each other, but use that money towards a vacation later on the next year. This works out really well for us.

Shopping for family and friends

Now is the time I will also make a list of all the friends and family I need to purchase gifts for. Grandparents, nieces & nephews, in-laws, co-workers, neighbors, or anyone you usually get a gift for. If I have ideas for each of them in mind I will write them down. This way if I am out shopping from now until Christmas and I see something, I can get it to save and know exactly who it is for. If you’re unsure what to get certain people, having this list will help you remember who to look out for when you are shopping.

For many family members, they LOVE homemade gifts. They might be a little more time consuming to make, but they are more inexpensive than purchasing a bunch of gifts and they are very thoughtful. Check out my blog post HERE on different, and simple, handmade Christmas gifts we have made in the past.

Extra Christmas Expenses

Once I have my idea list for gift giving, I’ll then make a list of any other Christmas expenses so I can subtract it from my overall budget. These items include a Christmas tree (if you purchase a real one,) Christmas cards, or any extra events you usually plan on going to. For example, every year we go to the Nutcracker to watch my nieces perform, and a Polar Express Train ride. It is tradition for us to do them, so I know what they generally cost and can subtract them from my budget.

Overall, I hope I gave you some good tips to beat the crazy shopping season and be able to spend that time relaxing with your loved ones. Christmas should be a time to slow down and celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ and enjoy being together. ❤️

Happy Shopping!

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