Breaking news from the Obvious Department: If you’re going to participate in gift-giving this season, you only have a few weeks to get your act together. To wit: Hanukkah begins in 22 days; Yule is 26 days away; Christmas is exactly one month from today; and Kwanzaa begins in 31 days.
Annually speaking, this is about the time when I start to freak out. I believe I’ve mentioned (about 100 times) that I have 7 kids. A golden rule in parenting 2 or more children (especially if these children have been taught to read and count and recognize the world around them) is that equality in all things rules the day. This is particularly true for my family at Christmas.
When our kids were younger, my husband and I focused on equality in numbers. And like items. If one kid got a book, everyone would get a book. If one kid got a sweater, everyone would get a sweater. Everyone would get underpants, socks and the exact same gifts in their stockings (because at this point, all creativity had died). From an organizer’s perspective, it was just easier to keep track of who got what and who was getting shorted.
Now that most of our kids are college-aged and desired items are exponentially pricier, equality in all things refers SOLELY TO BUDGET. Living by this notion becomes more of an organizational nightmare. It means that while kids A and B have Santa lists that are composed of just one item that is worth the entire per-child budget, kid C wants six small items worth about the same. Kid D’s Santa list is the entire Toys ‘R’ Us catalog and while I can pick and choose among the items, the desire for said items changes daily and is inversely proportional to item availability and the number of days left until Christmas. Kid E has never responded to my request for a Santa list and kid F just wants money (which I refuse to do because a box of pennies looks plain cheap). After much pleading, cajoling and outright begging, eventually Kid E gives me a list with something like “World Peace,” or “Universal Domination,” or “Apple MacBook Air,” or something equally impossible. In the end, I get each kid socks, underwear, a book and a sweater and still manage to break my budget. Because, of course.
And keeping track of this delicious nightmare has previously been done within the confines of my highly cluttered brain — occasionally extending to the back of an old grocery receipt.
This year, I’m trying something new. A bit of Internet sleuthing revealed a nifty tool called a Holiday Gift Tracker. I’ve created my own version as a PDF and have it available for you readers to download. The Holiday Gift Tracker is a printed spreadsheet where one can list each gift per recipient, plan where the gift will be purchased and catalog the amount budgeted for each item. The sheet also allows you to track whether the gift has been wrapped and/or delivered. It’s BRILLIANT. And while I don’t expect the Holiday Gift Tracker to solve all my gift-giving issues, it’ll definitely reduce my brain clutter.
Download your Holiday Gift Tracker at FresnoBeehive.com.