Weekend Projects

Curb Holiday Spending in 2 Minutes by Starting One Simple List This Weekend

published Nov 22, 2019
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One of the things that can make the holiday season feel harried and busy is all the things we have to keep track of in our heads. But, as with anything that clutters our minds, getting it out on paper (or “paper”) will help you feel calm and in control.

One category of mental chatter that too often doesn’t make the important leap from brain to parchment is gift lists: jotting down what you plan to buy (or have already) and for whom. Getting your gift ideas and plans in order will go a long way in slowing down your racing mind and also give you enough time to actually execute the DIYs you intend to do every year but always run out of time for.

Perhaps most importantly, writing down your gift list puts you in the driver’s seat when it comes to your budget. Especially right before Black Friday’s enticing sales and frantically scooping up everything that’s perfect for so-and-so and on sale, knowing exactly what you need and for whom curbs excess spending but still lets you get just the right gifts.

Credit: Emma Fiala

This Weekend: Make your gift lists (and check them twice).

To make a thorough gift list, you’ll want to outline the following things. But ultimately, you know what’s going to be helpful for you, so if this feels like too much information (or not enough), remix it to suit your needs. All that matters is that you get gifting details out of your brain and onto a paper or digital record.

1. Who you want to give gifts to

It might be helpful to put people in categories, along the lines of immediate family, family you need to mail presents to, teachers, neighbors, etc.

2. What you plan to give to each person or each category of people

For instance, you may decide on gift cards and a nice hand-written note for all your kids’ teachers. Neighbors might each receive a jar of your famous homemade butterscotch. The children in your life might receive one each of something to read, something to wear, something they want, and something they need (aka “Want, Wear, Need, Read” gifting). Map these out.

3. Fill in specific gifts

Some of these slots may already be filled in, but drilling down your lists as specifically as you can will save you the most time and energy thinking about gifts in the long run. For instance, maybe specify what type of gift cards you’ll get and what book you’ll buy for each child.

4. Make a list of where you’ll shop

Beside each specific gift, jot down where you need to go to buy it, whether it’s a brick-and-mortar store or a website. You may even want to make another list with the stores as the headings in order to streamline the buying process.

Write down your to-dos

These to-dos include things like writing cards, picking up gift tags, and wrapping. Remember, the more you get out of your head, the more you’re mentally and emotionally available to enjoy the fun stuff, and that’s really what the season is all about.

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You can catch up with weekend projects right here. Share your progress with us and others by posting updates and photos on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #atweekendproject.

Remember: This is about improvement, not perfection. Each week you can either choose to work on the assignment we’ve sent you, or tackle another project you’ve been meaning to get to. It’s also completely okay to skip a weekend if you’re busy or not feeling the assignment.