Yesterday I reviewed my presents list for the new year. I keep a Spreadsheet detailing all of the presents for the year, and this is how I allocate a fortnightly allocation out of our pay that gets automatically transferred into my Presents Account. The past two Christmas' I have come out with money left in the account (yay!), so this indicates to me that this system works, needless to say that we will be continuing with this system again in 2013.
I work out the amount of money that I want to spend on each person for each present, and then the Spreadsheet calculates the total for me. I then divide the total by 26, and this becomes my fortnightly allocation to the Presents Account. I have columns for Birthdays, Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter and Other (such as Mother's/Father's Day, Christenings, Weddings, etc).
On the Spreadsheet, I write down the presents as I buy/make them, and deduct the cost from the total that I wanted to spend, so that I know how much I still have left. This has the added benefits of reminding me what I have already bought (no forgotten presents stashed somewhere 'safe') and as I just copy the Spreadsheet each year, it is really easy to flick back and look at the previous year and make sure that we try to think of something a little different to give.
At the same time as I did my budget, I cleaned out my presents box, and allocated presents to people for the year ahead (I put little sticky labels on the item with the person's name on it). This is always a good way to save some money on the budget. I tend to pick up all sorts of goodies when I see them throughout the year and at the after-Christmas sales, and store them away for this purpose. I think I need to buy one Valentine's Day pressie for next year, the rest I have already, from picking them up after Valentine's Day this year!
I also have a box of spare presents, which come in handy for parties and events that pop up throughout the year. Before I packed away the boxes, I picked out a few things that have been in the presents box for a couple of years and removed them so that they can get donated to charity.
Next I cleaned out my greeting cards box, and allocated cards for the year ahead, using my monthly dividers. I was able to allocate cards up until July using the supply that I already have on hand!
I have made a list of the remaining cards that I need, so now I can keep my eye out for a card box or some cute cards on sale, and stock up my supply in the coming months. You can read more about how I organise my greeting cards here. I also picked out some cards that have been in my box for a couple of years to get donated to charity too. If I haven't used them in the past 2 years, I don't think that I will use them anytime soon.
And that is how I stay on top of my presents/cards throughout the year. It is quite confronting the first time you actually calculate the total of how much money you spend on this stuff (eek!), but I always look at it from the perspective that I am giving to my loved ones (and there is no one on the list that I buy for out of obligation), it is our way of exchanging blessings for the special events that we celebrate throughout the year!