WFMW: Write Down Your Gifts

Have you ever bought someone a Christmas gift, then hidden it, and lost it?  And then you clean out your closet two years later, and there it is, right behind the too-small jeans, except now nobody plays with Rescue Heroes anymore?

Uh, yes ma’am.  Many times.  The more kids I had, the more likely this scenario became.  Or–and this is the worst–I’d find that I’d spent too much one person and not enough on another, and the whole thing felt unbalanced, causing a last-minute scurry.

A few years ago, I started keeping a close record of what I was buying, and for whom.  It’s simply a list, {DRYER CHILDREN, STOP READING} kept in the back of my daily planner.  I start it in the fall, when I first start mulling over gift ideas.  When a child mentions something they’d like, I record it on my list.  When I’ve actually purchased it, I circle it.  When I’ve gift-wrapped it (oh, the sense of completion) I cross it off.

Then (and this is key), if I hide it someplace weird, I write down where I hid it.

This list isn’t only for my kids’ gifts, either.  I keep every gift idea/record I have on ONE piece of paper, with notes jotted about sale prices and sweater sizes and any other relevant bit of info.  That way I can take it with me when I go shopping.  It has saved me a ton of stress, and a good bit of money, too.

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55 thoughts on “WFMW: Write Down Your Gifts

  1. Steph at the Red Clay Diaries says:

    I do the gift imbalance thing every year. And it’s always my middle child who gets shorted. The one child who notices any difference in gift value or amount.
    I’m tired of running to Walmart on Christmas Eve to even it out.
    I’m gonna do a list like yours. Great idea!

  2. Kitty says:

    That’s a very good idea. Just the other day I found a couple of Christmas presents I had bought (not too long ago either) and had completely forgotten about. Luckily, I keep them all in the same closet so I figure I’ll just go through there before finishing my shopping. But a list would definitely make it easier.

  3. Raise Them Up says:

    Oh, how I need to do something like this!
    Unfortunately, like so many other things, I haven’t seen my planner for weeks. Sigh. Hidden gifts can go for years around here.
    This year I’m actually giving a gift to my third son which I bought for my first–9 years ago!

  4. Nicole @ Here's The Diehl says:

    I do something similar, except on the computer in a Word document. I add to the kids’ (and my!) lists throughout the year as things are mentioned, and when it’s purchased, I put how much it costs in parenthesis behind the item, so I can be tracking what I’ve spent per person as I go.
    My husband loves me for this!

  5. AmberStar says:

    Oops…I couldn’t find this comment form and posted my blog page up above. I don’t have any useful information on my blog at all.
    However, I do find that if I keep a list I panic whenever I see one of my children reading any list in case it is that special list. I haven’t started keeping it in a special place where they would know NOT to look…since they are probably your age.
    The writing down where you hid it is really good. I am still finding gifts I’d picked up all year and put away. Oh aggg..if I have to go out for more.

  6. Christy says:

    Nice. I keep a Google Doc Spreadsheet with “Ideas, Boughts, and Wrappeds”. It has saved lots of heartache.
    And my mom is the WORST about buying gifts and then losing them. I’ve gotten Christmas presents for Easter before. Several times.

  7. Carol says:

    Shannon! If I did that someone might mistakenly assume I was organized or something. It makes way too much sense. And it’s way too simple and sensible. I couldn’t possibly!

  8. Kris @ Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers says:

    Oh, I so totally do that! Well, except I haven’t had to write down where I hide them because, so far, I’ve managed to fit them all in our top secret hiding place (which is in such plain view it’s scary…shhh, don’t tell my kids!).
    I typically use the list to make sure that each child has a comparable number of gifts. Dollar figures mean nothing to them so long as one person’s pile isn’t bigger than the other’s.
    Ah, the joys of raising kids who don’t hyper-focus on material things.

  9. Heidi @ Blue Eyed Blessings says:

    This is something that works for me, too! I couldn’t go without making a list of gifts since I’m pretty good at putting things in odd places. Last Christmas, I even typed up a list on the computer for things in a Rubbermaid container that we stored in the attic that were intended for gifts for this Christmas.

  10. Carey says:

    I do the same thing! I usually don’t forget that I’ve hidden something, but I have the same problem you do of pulling everything out later and realizing that I’ve spent much more on one person and too little on another. Only difference is – I keep my running list on my computer – away from curious eyes!

  11. Sheila Gregoire says:

    When I was young I collected coins. For Christmas when I was 13, my aunt and uncle bought me a mint set of 1967 coins.
    My aunt put it away in a safe place. And when Christmas came she couldn’t find it.
    She looked and looked. For years. Whenever anyone lost anything in our family, we would joke, “it must be with the coins!”.
    Last year she went to a formal party and had to carry her formal purse. In it were the coins. So she wrapped them up for Christmas for me. I am 37. You do the math!
    She needs to go to formals more often!
    Visit To Love, Honor and Vacuum today!

  12. Jen TuTu's Bliss says:

    LOL I find hidden Christmas presents around April. I love your blog..what a fun way to share. Please be warned this entire month on my blog is about mom’s, birth and breastfeeding and celebrated in art. I hope that doesn’t yank my G status!!

  13. A Frugal Housewife says:

    Fortunately my little one isn’t big enough to start snooping yet… so I can hide everything in my hugemongus closet (which is the only thing I’ll miss about this otherwise poorly laid out house when we move…) but this is a great idea! I’m good about writing things down, but never thought to write where I hid them – thanks for the tip!

  14. JanMary, N Ireland says:

    You realize how highly sought after your daily planner will now by your family members. You better hide it somewhere weird, then write a note about where, then hide that note somewhere weirder……this could continue right through Christmas into next year!
    I love to start lists like this, then lose them and start another!

  15. Octamom says:

    You’d have to add in big letters for me REMEMBER TO READ THE LIST–yep, I’m a great list maker, bad list reader and found a few hidden Christmas presents in the garage, very well camouflaged, when we moved a couple of years ago.
    On the up side, we had a mini-Christmas in the garage with the movers swirling around us–so it did lighten the mood a bit….

  16. Joanna @ Grace in the Home says:

    I started keeping a Gift notebook about three years ago. There is a section for Christmas as well as birthdays, etc. What a great resource it has been for me! More than once, I have stopped myself from buying repeat gifts for relatives thanks to my little notebook!

  17. angela says:

    I’ve done the same thing in the past. I’ve purchased something – hid it away and forgot about it. And I’ve wrapped gifts and forgotten what they are.
    I now make lists of lists of lists. They sure do help me

  18. Elizabeth Esther says:

    Totally! I’ve done this so many times and it’s SO frustrating! This seems to happen with baby clothing, for me. I’ll purchase things in advance (because its’ on sale!) and then totally forget to actually pull them out and have the twins wear the outfits! Grrrrrr. Great idea!

  19. Marie says:

    My kids constantly make fun of me for this very thing….I’m always finding things the summer after Christmas….’Oh, that’s where that is’……:0)

  20. Reading Rosie says:

    I keep a small notebook with me and as I see something for a gift idea through the year, I write it down with the persons name beside who I think would like it for a gift. Then when I am in the shopping mode, I can refer back to this list.

  21. Holli T. says:

    Hi –
    This is my first time posting for WFMW. I agree with you – I have to write things down or I NEVER remember them. The challenge is to remember where you wrote it down…

  22. Jerri says:

    Great idea! I like the idea of keeping the list on the computer and maybe naming it something crazy like “Tax Information” so that nosy nellies don’t see it.

  23. Betsy says:

    Clever. Last year, while moving, I found a stash of gifts that I had hidden when my nephew was FIVE. (He’s nine now.) Pretty sure those jeans won’t fit him, and he’s a little old to be reading “Go, Dog, Go.”

  24. Adventures In Babywearing says:

    SUCH a great tip and one I am doing this year! I have to- I have no memory! The baby has sucked it all away! I make my list on my iPhone as well as my computer (and label it something other than Christmas so that no one finds it!) But then you have to remember what you labeled it…

  25. Toni says:

    Just this year I started using my Outlook to do the same thing. I created a task called Christmas then kept adding notes to it as each gift was purchased.

  26. Melissa says:

    That’s a great idea. My mom needed that one. We’d always get a shipment of presents from Grandma and Grandpa (spoiled, yes). She hid them around the house. I remember probably about 5 years ago, it seemed like I got a lot more presents than my little sister did, but she didn’t say anything. My very embarrassed mom found the rest of the presents (a whole box-full) two days later in her closet!

  27. Patsy Clairmont says:

    The worst is when it’s a food item that has “seasoned” beyond recognition.
    Once a friend sent me her awesome potato rolls, but by the time they arrived they had grown toupee’s. Not appetizing.
    Rocks you rock!
    Happy Thanksgiving!
    Watch out for the turkeys I hear they are everywhere! 😉

  28. Abbie says:

    Good idea.
    I’ve bought a few things over the past year that are intended to be Christmas gifts…& I’m relying on my memory to help me find them throughout the house. yikes!

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