Saturday, July 21, 2012

Christmas in July

Yep, I'm not kidding. I don't even do craft fairs or anything (yet, it's something I would like to do once I'm more settled) but today was all about Christmas. I'm big on making my own gifts, and have done so for as long as I can remember. I wrote on my other blog last year about our family traditions surrounding Christmas and showed some of the gifts we made.

This year I wanted to get a head start, so I started planning. I started by making two lists, one of everyone I wanted to give something to (even if just a card) and another of ideas I collected (mostly on Pinterest). Then I started matching them up in Excel. I use Excel for a lot of things, and this type of list coordination is one of them. Once you get the hand of formulas and different ways of arranging, it can be a SUPER handy planning tool. Here's what my gift list looked like once I was done(ish):

Down the left hand side is everyones name. For families, if I was only sending one card I added it to only one members name, I'll just have to keep that straight in my head. Then I did a text column of what I wanted to give people. With only a few exceptions, there's a limited amount of things I'm making, all from the tab you can see at the bottom "Gift Ideas". My main gifts this year are going to be my annual calendar, cookie mix, hot cocoa mix, a spa kit, a first aid kit, cup sleeves and for my medic buddies, stethoscope covers. For the kiddie crowd (not a huge demographic in my social circle unfortunately) I also plan on putting together some craft kits a la Ashley-Ann. I put those gifts along the top and added up how many of each I would need. This makes it super easy to plan and budget!

There's two items that show up more than others, post-it/tags and cards. Cards will go out to each family, and some people are getting only cards, as I just don't have the budget to give everyone a special gift. The post-it/tags are a cute idea I found on Pinterest that lead me here. Instead of just putting a boring plain tag on each gift, they'll be a post it note holder! They will also be stand alone gifts for some.

The other crucial part of my planning spread sheet is the supply shopping list. Here I listed all the individual pieces of each gift, where I found it (I spent a fair amount of time today researching at various stores) and how much it costs broken down to per gift. This is where Excel shines, and makes my life so easy! Once the list was done, I could just sort it by the source and I have an idiot proof shopping list!

As you can see, I'm not sure where I'll get lavender essential oil (or how to spell it) but I'm suspecting it will be at Walmart or Zellers. There's also a fair number of things, especially for the first aid kits, that I already have, so I don't need to purchase those.

The beauty of planning like this is that I have some spare time now, so I'm making use of it. I can also spend the next few months waiting and looking for things on sale now that I have a base line. The plan is flexible, and I can add or take away from it as I wish. Each of the over 40 people on my list will be getting a handmade gift, but I won't be spending a ridiculous amount of time making them (once I have the supplies, an assembly line gets nearly everything done in an afternoon) or break the bank buying things (I'll be spending less than $10 per person). The most time consuming gift will be making card sets for a few very special people, but now that I have it in black and white how many I need, it will be easy to work on those over the next few months.

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