Santa isn’t the only one who benefits from making a list and checking it twice! How else would he stay organized and make sure nothing slips through the cracks? What about you? Are you a list maker? I must confess, I live by lists. I have one for every area of my life. (I even designed my own planner because I couldn’t find one perfect for my lists.) Yes, I’m that anal. But even if you’re not (and maybe especially if you’re not), today’s tip might be helpful!

Tip Nine: Make Lists

Hopefully you have a plan and are planning ahead, and now lists can help you stay ahead of what’s required of you for each of your commitments, including gift giving. The busier I am and the more moving parts in my life, the more I rely on my lists to help me. Depending on the list, I will keep it electronically or on paper. A favorite electronic list tool I use is Cozi. It allows you to build multiple lists, so I name one Menu and list my meals for the week, and then I keep a list for Costco and other stores I tend to frequent. On a daily basis, I consult my menu for anything I need to take out for that day’s dinner, and then when I think of something we need or use the last of something, I just add it to the appropriate list. When I shop, I check off the items as I place them in my basket. The next week, or as we run out of items, I simply uncheck the items to add them to the list again and add anything else we need for that week’s menu. My kids have Cozi on their phones, too, so they can add items as they see we need to them, and they have the list when they’re in charge of shopping for the week. It works great for us!

Since our focus is on Christmas, let’s talk about keeping a Christmas list!

One way to create a visual list is on Pinterest. Everyone in my family (except James) has a board of items on their wish list. My board is “Gifts: from Santa to Mommy”. Each person pins items to their gift board, noting color and size preferences. That way, any one of us can all jump on another person’s board from pretty much anywhere and see what’s on their wish list. My sister pins to a shared family board, and this works great too. All pins for her family go there, and I can go to that central location for ideas. Some of my family madly pins at the last minute, and some of us pin throughout the year as we think of things.

I also keep a list on my phone throughout the year. As ideas come to me or come up in conversation, I jot them down by name in my Notes app. It can be major gift ideas, stocking items or whatever, but this keeps me from drawing a blank under the pressure of the season. When Thanksgiving week rolls around, I get down to business. I transfer the list from my phone to paper, stalk my kids’ Pinterest boards and build my master and working lists.

The Master List

Here’s how I organize my master list.

[gview file=”http://shaunawallace.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/12042015Tip9GiftChart.pdf”]

Down the left side is everyone’s name, and across the top I list categories. As you can see, I have a place to make note of each person’s three gifts, what’s going in each stocking and what other family members are giving each other.

As I shop, use a check and circle system. If I order something online, I place a check by that item. When it arrives or if I make the purchase in person, I circle the item so I know it’s in my possession. I don’t cross things off so I can always read what’s on the list.

Below my chart, I list anyone else with whom we exchange gifts and what I plan on giving each one. I also list events or activities that require shopping, including food items and/or outfits.

The Working List

My working list is organized by store, type of gift and/or area of town, and it’s the one I cross off. Here’s an example using the types of items that might be on the list for that store:

[gview file=”http://shaunawallace.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/12042015Tip9WorkingList.pdf”]

Out running errands? Consult your list! Is one of the stores you need to visit in the area? Stop by and grab the items on the list for that store. This happened to me yesterday. I was running errands and found myself at a Target with a Starbucks. I knew from my list that I could grab a few things on my list. I picked up those items and crossed them off! It felt great!!!

The Entertainer

If you’re the shopper and the entertainer, another list/chart that’s been a huge help to me this year is a meal planner. I’m a little late for this to be helpful for Thanksgiving, but the concept can be applied to your Christmas dinner or even New Year’s Eve. Do you cook the same dishes from year to year? Do you find yourself thinking through the same details every year? Make a dinner planning chart like this!

[gview file=”http://shaunawallace.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/12042015EntertainingChart.pdf”]

Down the left, list the dishes you always serve. Across the top, list the categories you think through each year. Mine include the dishes that will be required for cooking and/or serving, the temperature and length of time each dish needs to cook, and the ingredients each recipe requires. Fill in the details once and consult it each year. It’s more work up front, but then you don’t ever have to think about it again. Just pull out your chart! (I keep my chart in a clear plastic sheet protector in a binder labeled “Holidays.” Behind the chart, I keep all the recipes on my chart and any new ones I want to try in the future.)

Well, it’s time for me to check my list and see if there’s anything I can take care of while I have a few hours. I hope today’s tip was helpful!

Our last tip is tomorrow, and it could be the most important of all: Extend Grace for a Meaningful, Manageable & Memorable Christmas.

This series of tips is filling in the framework of The 3 M’s of a Merry Christmas. If you’ve missed a few tips along the way, you’ll find all ten here: 10 Tips for Making Christmas Meaningful, Manageable & Memorable.