5 Simple Steps for Planning Your Christmas Gift Shopping List

Making a Christmas Gift shopping list this early in the year may seem counterproductive. You have no idea of what to get the folks on your list, have no idea how much money you will be able to spend, and if you have a drawing for gift giving, like some large families do, you have no idea who you are buying for in the first place.

Santa's hand and arm with a red pen making a naughty and nice list

But with a Christmas Gift shopping list, you can still plan ahead for the gifts you know you will need, and at least have ideas for the potential drawing.

When I was doing my own planning for this post, the Country Boy told me he could easily write it – so, I gave him the chance.  Here is his version of this post:

“Christmas shopping? Easy! Make a list. Now, give it to your wife. Done!”

Well, I hate to spoil his fun, but making a Christmas Gift shopping list just isn’t that easy!  But it can still be a simple task to do, and the perfect thing to explore while curled up in a chair, enjoying an ice cold beverage while trying to stay cool in August!

How to Plan your Christmas Gift Shopping List

Christmas gift list surrounded by holly and wrapped gifts

There are a few easy steps to making your own shopping list.  Try these tips and in just a few hours, you can mark this task off of your Planning for the Holidays checklist!

Step 1 – Making a Christmas Gift Shopping List

Before you can shop for anyone, you need to know who you are shopping for. Keep in mind, shopping for Christmas gifts may not be just for family members. You may enjoy doing small things for your neighbors, a friend, and if you have children in school, teachers.

Having an idea of everyone you want to give a gift will come in handy – both with the shopping aspect as well as the budget.  

On a separate sheet of paper, jot down the names – and if necessary, the relationship (neighbor, teacher, etc.) – of everyone you think you would like to give a gift to. Use this list as you complete the Christmas Shopping List Process

Step 2 – The Christmas Gift Shopping List Budget

a Christmas budget list including gifts Christmas cards, holiday meals, decorations

Speaking of a budget, according to National Debt Relief, it helps tremendously to have a prepared holiday budget in place early. A holiday budget includes all of your planned expenditures, such as food, gifts, decorations, travel, etc.

Using the gift column in your budget, jot that amount down on the top of the list you just made. Having that number in mind will help you with the next step.

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Step 3 – The Gifts

Next, take a sip or two of that cold beverage and think for a moment. Imagine each person you would like to give a gift. What are their likes, dislikes, hobbies? Are you planning on creating gifts by hand? If that is the case, consider colors, styles, etc.

When I am at this point of my planning process, I also consider each person’s personality, their daily schedules, and their jobs.

For instance, my brother is a dedicated family man who loves to cook and experiment with new recipes. He also is a bit quirky and is quick to make someone laugh. Mark is also filled with compassion for others, so he applies his baking and cooking skills to help others and lift their spirits.

bottle of olive oil, spaghetti sauce, ravioli pan, package of pasta

With all of that in mind, I tend to blend his Christmas gifts with purchased and handmade gifts. I enjoy creating a very personalized gift basket that will get him excited to get back in the kitchen. First, I search for the latest fun kitchen gadget as the ‘anchor’ – or ‘big’ gift. Then, I create handmade spice mixes, dips, cheeses, crackers, condiments or other items that will work with that new gadget.

 If the person is a mother with young children, consider a Break Time gift basket filled with teas, hot chocolate mixes, a vintage teacup or mug, a Journal, devotional or book in a genre they enjoy reading.

For teachers, consider a bath spa basket. For an elderly neighbor, think about a gift basket that includes hot soups, fresh breads and a batch of homemade cookies.

Once you have gotten some ideas for gifts, it’s time to take the next step.

Step 4 – Where to Shop

storefront with whitewashed French doors bordered with planters filled with blue hydrangeas

With all that is happening in the world right now, online shopping is one of the best ways to go. It not only saves time but keeps you out of the crowds.

Still, there are some items that aren’t easily ordered online, such as craft supplies (especially if you want to actually see the fabric or feel the yarn before buying) and groceries.

When shopping for groceries, you can still save time by ordering online and arrange to pick them up. For more personal and unique gifts, one of the best places to shop is locally. Independent shop owners usually have items that cannot be found anywhere else, and often are handmade.

By shopping locally, you are supporting your community, your neighbors and preserving the ability to have shops in your area. Plus, while you are shopping, you can take the time to visit for a while. It just doesn’t get any better than that!

Step 5 – Fill in your Christmas Gift Shopping List

a woman's hand making a Christmas list with packages wrapped in brown paper with green and gold ribbon

Now that you have an idea of who you are shopping for, what gift you want to give them, where you want to purchase the gift and how much it will cost, it is time to put it all in one easy-to-find place.

The best place to do that is to create a notebook for all your Christmas needs. To get you started, check out Have a Merry, Simple, Christmas eBook. It has everything you need to plan ahead for Christmas. From recipes, menu ideas, DIY gifts, worksheets, and more!

Enjoy the Rest of Your Day!

pitcher of strawberry lemonade with fresh strawberries on a blanket on grass

By having your Christmas Gift Shopping list completed, you can not only check it off your main Holiday Planning list, but you can also pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Now – you have my permission to take the rest of the day off, enjoy another cool beverage and get started on some of those handmade gifts.

And if anyone asks, just tell them you are working – you are getting part of your Christmas shopping done early!

Want a Little Help Getting Your Christmas Gift Shopping List Done?

Here is a list of posts that will help spark your creativity!

Get Ready! How to Plan Ahead for Christmas in August

Productive Holiday Planning

Handmade Cloth Napkins – ‘Dress’ Your Table with Fun

DIY Place Cards

Share the Love – Support Your Local Businesses

Avoid the Christmas Rush – Create it Now!

How to Make Simple, Low Cost Christmas Gifts

Create a Craft Kit – The Perfect Gift for Creatives

60 + Simple Life Gift Ideas for One Stop Shopping

Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.


  1. My family is 19 people so we decided for the adults we would do a secret Santa. $5 or less . Parents still do their kids and I do all eight grandkids because I want to! ? I do buy craft kits and games for them but I also make candy .

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