A Professional Organizer’s Guide to Gifting

By Chanel Dror

Are you guys in crazy holiday mode yet? This morning I took a look at my social calendar for the week, and for the first time this year felt that jolt of winter anxiety… so. much. to. do. And with my first gift swap this Thursday (and Hanukkah starting this Sunday), I’m already kicking myself for not getting an earlier start on my gift giving. Why do I do this to myself every year?!

For those of you who, like me, tend to not prioritize gift giving until dangerously close to your deadlines, we called upon an organizational pro to help us finally get the holidays under control. Amy Vance is the guru behind Houston-based Eco Modern Concierge, and let’s just say that if anyone can inspire me to change my last-minute ways, it’s this girl. Keep reading for Amy’s tricks of the trade…

Make a Holiday Gifting Binder. 

For gift givers who like to keep everything streamlined and efficient, create a holiday gifting binder (or folder on your computer desktop!) with the following:

  1. Master Gift List. Who you need to get a gift for, and what you plan to give them.
  2. Gifts Ideas. This can be a combination of a running brainstorming list and catalog tear outs.
  3. Budget Forms. A simple spreadsheet to keep track of how much you are spending.
  4. Receipts.
  5. Calendar. Keep track of when you want to purchase certain items, sales that are going on, and shipping deadlines.

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Let Technology Do the Work.

Here are some of my favorite apps to use this time of year:

  1. Evernote. Great for keeping track of ideas and wish lists.
  2. The List. This is a newer app created by BJ Novak that mixes list making with social media.
  3. The Christmas Gift List. Easy to use, with this app you can even arrange your list by store, so you don’t have to make multiple trips to various stores.
  4. Amazon. I find myself using this for clients  a lot during the holidays. Just about anything you need is available at the touch of a button.
  5. Pinterest. Follow your favorite trend setters for gifting ideas.

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Expert Tips for Making Budgeting Easy.

  1. Get in the habit of setting some money aside every month to help with cost around the holidays.
  2. Don’t forget to add shipping costs into your budget for those loved ones you have to mail gifts to!
  3. Pay cash for items to make absolutely sure you’re not going over your budget.

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Shop Smart.

Use seasonal deals and promotions to your advantage. Some super valuable tricks to keep in mind:

  1. Sale ads come out on Sunday, and since retailers price match Sunday sale ads, Monday is the best day to purchase online.
  2. Buy gift-wrapping supplies and other holiday supplies at end-of-season sales starting the day after Christmas to get items 50-90% off.
  3. Check with sales associates or for available (but not widely publicized) discount codes and promotions.

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Create a Gift Wrapping and Mailing Station.

Designating an area of your home — an entire room, a closet, or a cabinet — to a gift-wrapping station is ideal so you have all your supplies in one place.

Running low on supplies? Always ask the store for a gift box as they’ll usually offer them at no cost.

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Get an Grip on Shipping

  1. A rule of thumb, the earlier you ship an item, the more cost effective it will be. Want a gift to get delivered by a specific time? Plan to ship it 2 weeks in advance. December 10th is a great goal to shoot for if you are looking for gifts to arrive at a loved one’s door by Christmas.
  2. Reuse boxes from deliveries you receive at home. Start collecting and breaking down boxes of all shapes and sizes now, so you can reassemble them when it’s time to ship!
  3. Save time by printing shipping labels at home and dropping packages off at a postal service location, or schedule an at home pick up.
  4. December 17th is the day most online retailers will offer free shipping in order for it to arrive by Christmas. And you can always check out to find out what retailers are offering free shipping.

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