Christmas decorations have begun to appear in stores and malls all over the country. People are already starting to think about (and stress over) gift-giving, and it’s only October.

Do we need to panic? Can selecting a gift for someone be easy? While it may always be difficult to find a present for picky Aunt Mildred, the gift-buying (or gift-making if you are crafty) experience can be made easier and less painful:

o Get organized. Make a master list of who is usually on your gift list. Include birthdays, Mother’s Day, anniversaries, etc. Keep it in your daily planner (print or electronic) so it is always available.

o Set a budget. How much can you afford to spend on Christmas, birthday, and shower gifts? Be realistic, and don’t feel guilty. Your friends and family would not want you to blow your budget on their gifts.

o Start early. Who says you have to wait until two weeks before Christmas to begin shopping? Reduce the stress and take advantage of seasonal items and sales throughout the year. If making gifts, the earlier you begin, the better.

o Shop where you are. Unique, creative, and budget gifts are everywhere; you just need to pay attention. On vacation, think about your grandmother or best friend as you browse that eclectic store. Picking up groceries at Costco? Check to see if there is a toy for your neighbor’s birthday party.

o Let go of the need to surprise. When my mom and I shop together, she often sees an item she wouldn’t normally buy for herself. I buy it and give it to her for the next occasion. No stress for me, and she receives something she really wanted. (By the time she gets it, she has usually forgotten about it anyway.)

o Keep track of gifts. Designate a gift area in a closet to store all gifts. Note on your master list the gift item, price, and recipient.

o Don’t abuse the system. Gifts must be purchased (or made) for a specific person and occasion, and the cost must be within budget. Buying a gift for “just in case” usually results in more clutter and wasted money. Don’t do it.

Selecting gifts can actually be fun and less work this holiday season and into the new year.

It’s still early. Take some time this week to make your list. Start looking where you already shop for sales. Set aside a gift area. Get ahead of the game. You’ll be glad you did.

© Renee Ursem, 2009

Author's Bio: 

Renee Ursem, Professional Organizer and Consultant, is the owner of Get It Together, LLC, offering clients in Las Vegas, Nevada simple, practical solutions to organizational challenges in their homes and offices.
Renee can be reached at Renee is also on Facebook.