Wednesday, February 17, 2010
I have been keeping a gift journal for so many years I don't even think about it, and am surprised to learn most of my mom friends do not keep one. Any notebook or journal will do, but a small one has the benefit of being easy to hide and will slip into my purse - if I'd ever remember to take it with me when I go shopping. I also like one with enough pages to last for a few years. Then I can reference back to previous years and avoid giving someone the same thing. Yes, I have done that and it is very embarrassing!
So what do I write in it? For my immediate family (husband and kids), I have sections not only for Christmas and birthdays, but also for every holiday I buy stuff for, such and Easter and Valentine's day. I also track back-to-school supplies and ALL the clothes I buy for the year. I list what I bought for each person and how much I spent. This really helps me stay in budget. I also list the full price of the item, as this really helps me to not over spend. I might have only spent $10 for a gift for my niece and feel like maybe I should get something else, but if I see the retail price was $40, I won't be tempted to over spend. I only give Christmas and birthday gifts for extended family and friends so I track their items on the same page. That way I can see at a glance what I gave/am giving them for both occasions. For items I bought, but haven't decided who I want to give them to yet, I just list them all on one page and then cross them off as I assign them.
One last section that is often overlooked, and can eat away at a budget, is gift wrap and party supplies. I would also include cards, craft supplies, and decorations for particular holidays. These items I especially try to find during 80%-90% off clearance sales, because they can wreck havoc on a budget.
I am really not a very organized person and I am sure someone with much more enthusiasm could find a better way. The idea is just do what works for you.