By Claire Kurtz
The Well-Organized Woman

Wouldn’t it feel great to be organized and prepared for your holiday gift giving and gift-wrapping this year? Well, here’s how.
Start today – yes, start today. Make a list (check it twice). Or be a modern Santa, and set up an Excel spreadsheet. Brainstorm the list of people to whom you’ll be giving gifts. Talk to your kids and significant other about the list in order to avoid late night runs for a forgotten teacher gift.

Naughty, nice and other categories

Group the people on your list into categories: family (kids and adults), friends, neighbors, coworkers, children’s teachers and service providers (stylist, groomer, mail carrier, etc.).
Spend some time browsing online for gift ideas for each category and individual. Pretty much everything you’ll find in the store you can peruse online without battling crowds.
Assign a budget for each category; then stick to it. You’ll have to allow some wiggle room. But try to stick with the spirit of the budget, which is “spend wisely.”
You’ll probably find some deals, as well as items that cost a little more than you’ve budgeted. The end result should be happy gifting and a new year without holiday credit card debt.

No Shopping Under the Influence

The holidays are stressful enough with travel, school breaks, parties and other cheer. Getting your shopping done early – before the holiday stress creeps in – has all kinds of advantages. Why? Because you’re not shopping under the influence of a deadline.
The temptation to grab something too expensive or merely because you’ve got to pick up a gift “now” can lead to poor choices. Take the time to actually enjoy the shopping experience, and choose a gift that’s really thoughtful and that the person will actually enjoy.
Those folks you see out shopping on Christmas Eve are probably not putting a great deal of thoughtful consideration into their purchases.

Net a deal

Start online shopping early and take advantage of all of the great free shipping deals that online retailers will be offering this year. Set a goal to complete half of your holiday shopping online if you typically only shop in stores.
If you are already an online shopping master, then bravo! Consider having your items wrapped and shipped to their recipients directly instead of mailing packages yourself.
For even more holiday organizing, Google “holiday planner.” You will find some great, free downloadable tools for stress-free shopping and entertaining.

Claire Kurt is a certified personal assistant who helps men and women increase their quality of life through organization and timesaving techniques. Find out more at thewellorganizedwoman.com.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.