Wednesday, September 21, 2022

The Best Way to Keep Track of Christmas Gift Purchases

I have another reader request coming your way today and it’s another organizational post, so that makes it even better!  ;o)

Christmas gift shopping can be a lot of work, and if you have a lot of people to buy for like we do, it’s important to stay organized.  I created a spreadsheet years ago to help me keep track of all of our Christmas purchases, and it has worked beautifully for us from year to year.

This is what my spreadsheet looks like before I ever start shopping at the beginning of a new holiday season.  (For this post, I only provided a screenshot of our immediate family members, but there are a lot more people on the list.)  The spreadsheet is very straightforward as you can see in the picture below. 

In the lefthand column, I list every single person for whom we purchase a gift.  For immediate family members (Brian, Jacob, and Olivia), I make separate entries for each of the different gift types that we have to buy – gifts from us, gifts from Santa, and gifts for stocking stuffers. 

This is key to making Christmas Eve go smoothly! 

Brian and I always take the time to sort out which gifts will be from us, and which ones will be from Santa before Christmas, and we document them on the spreadsheet accordingly.  That way, we know which gifts need to be wrapped (and we can do so well before Christmas Eve), and then we also have a blueprint for how to lay everything out on Christmas Eve night.  (And I know everyone does Santa gifts differently, so your spreadsheet may look a little different than mine.) 

This saves us SO MUCH TIME!

In the second column, I list the price of each item we’ve purchased (including tax) so we can ensure we’re spending within our budget and that we’re also spending around the same amount of money on each child.  Another thing that I do (not pictured) is that I total each section so I can see overall spending for each person, and then I also have a running total at the bottom of the spreadsheet for overall spending combined because that helps with budgeting. 

In the third column, I list the items purchased.  Each item goes on its own line, and I just add additional lines as needed.  If I have ideas for items I’d like to purchase for someone, these items go in this column as well and I just leave the price column and last four columns blank until they’re purchased. 

The last four columns enable me to track the gifts from start to finish – I simply put an X in the “purchased” column after I purchase an item.  Then I put an X in the “received” column once it’s been delivered to our house.  I put an X in the “wrapped” column once I’ve wrapped the gifts.  And then I put an X in the “delivered” column once the gifts have been distributed.  This is an easy way to identify what still needs to be purchased and wrapped, etc. and it provides an at-a-glance status any time I need it. 

Here’s a sample of what the spreadsheet looks like in process…

And once it’s completed, all four of those columns on the right will be filled in with X’s.

I’ve been using this method for many years now and it has worked like a charm year after year.  It’s pretty simple and straightforward, and I hope you found it helpful!


  1. We actually do this as well in google sheets! The only difference is that we start with a budgeted amount for each person and then have an estimated and actual column...kinda nerdy but I love it!

  2. This is so much more organized than how I do it! I usually just keep a running dump of items and their price in Notepad. And it is a hot mess! I really should copy this idea. I love how you even have a box for wrapping. I will admit, I LOVE Christmas, but the whole shopping, wrapping, etc. part of it is not my favorite. I get so stressed over it. Maybe if I got more organized about it, it would help. I do love Christmas Day though, it is just all the prep for it that is SO tiring! Ha!


  3. Girl I just keep it written down in my planner! HA

  4. I do something similar, especially to keep track of gift prices. As the kids get older, it can get harder to keep everything "equal."

  5. We used to do something just like this and I would add an extra column near the beginning of the row to mark a quick note about what we bought that person the previous year so I wasn't always gifting the same things to the same people. Now that all the "kids" are teenagers 99% of our list is just money and gift cards so it's much simpler and I don't really keep track other than writing everyone's name on sheet of paper so I don't forget anyone!

    1. That's so smart! And yes, I imagine once our kiddos get older there will be a lot of gift cards and cash given!


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