How to Organize Your Christmas Shopping

With Black Friday coming up at the end of this week, most of us will be out shopping for deals (though I might stay home and just do my shopping online). This article is a quick read but packs a powerful punch of common sense that is sure to make your Christmas shopping go much more smoothly! -Ed.

By Nicole Dean

Grab a notebook. Grab a pen. It’s time to get serious about your Christmas shopping by making your list (and checking it twice).

Make a list of the people you’ll be buying for this year. Leave space between each person’s name. Now go back through the list and write down gift ideas and a rough dollar amount you’re willing to spend on each person.


1. Aunt Fran – Collects lighthouses, loves golf – $30.00

2. Beth – Candles, bath and body products – $20.00

3. Joe – Something for his new truck, loves fishing – $50.00

Bring your notebook shopping with you. It will help you to stay focused on who you need to shop for, a general idea of what you’re looking for and your price range. Making a detailed list like this will prove invaluable in keeping you organized and on budget with your Christmas shopping. As you shop, cross off each person on your list. Be sure to keep an eye open for bargains and grab a few extra gifts – there’s always that visitor that shows up that you didn’t anticipate.

Set holiday shopping goals for yourself and jot them down in your notebook.

1. I will have all cards in the mail by December 10th.

2. All of my major shopping will be done by December 15th.

3. I will not go over budget!

Making lists and setting goals for yourself this holiday will save you time and stress and allow you to enjoy the season for what it really is. If you haven’t started your shopping, start now. It’s not too late to get on track. The first step is starting your notebook, making your list and getting a plan of action.

After the holidays, store your notebook away somewhere (perhaps with your decorations). It will serve as a great reference when you’re ready to start your shopping next year.

Happy Holidays, Happy Shopping…and by keeping a Holiday Notebook – Happy You!


Nicole Dean is a mostly-sane mom and creator of – a fun and informative site to help moms achieve success working from home. She invites you to learn more money-saving tricks at


For more money saving Black Friday tips, see TipHero’s article, 17 Ways to Prepare for Black Friday Sales. - Ed.

CrazyBusy Tip: The Easiest Way to Stop Losing Puzzle Pieces

My three year-old is a puzzle freak. For Christmas this year, we bought her the Disney Princess: Pretty Puzzles and Sweet Stories book, and she will not let it out of her sight.

Her fascination with puzzles began when she discovered she could put together a wooden jungle animals puzzle all by herself, and then a wooden numbers puzzle. Each one of the puzzles in the Disney Princess book is just 24 pieces, so we gave it a go. There’s a puzzle on each thick cardboard “page,” along with the accompanying story.

Besides teaching my child valuable problem-solving skills and satisfying her fascination with the Disney princesses, there’s one really big reason why I love this puzzle book: The back of each and every puzzle piece is color-coded to make sorting the pieces a snap. Snow White is pink, Beauty and the Beast is yellow, etc.

(At this point in my post, please envision a video of me smacking myself in the forehead.) Now why didn’t I think of that?

I have thrown away many puzzles with missing pieces (left over from when my teens were small) because I never really knew how to organize them. Oh, I would try to — by putting them in zipped plastic bags once their boxes got crushed — but the kids would get into them and the pieces would be here, there, and everywhere. If the pieces were small and indistinguishable, I wouldn’t even know which puzzle they belonged to.

Which leads me to today’s CrazyBusy Tip:

Assign a different identifying mark to each puzzle in your home, putting those marks on the back of every single puzzle piece according to which puzzle it belongs to.

Yes, that sounds like work, but who said you had to do it? If your children are old enough, put them to work — they’ll probably think it’s fun. (Though you should do the same to your puzzles, if you have any.) Give each puzzle it’s own symbol, shape, number, or color. That identifying mark will go on the back of each puzzle piece AND on the box or zipped plastic bag.

Here are some suggestions for marks you can use:

    Colors (use markers or crayons)
    Shapes, like squares, circles, or triangles
    Symbols like asterisks, plus signs, check marks, or even smiley faces

It doesn’t matter what you use, as long as it’s simple enough — and bold enough — to see clearly. A sharpie pen is probably the best tool to use to mark your puzzle pieces. Don’t make the symbols elaborate…this is supposed to lesson your workload and/or stress level.

I hope I just took one little load off your shoulders — I know that figuring out this method was a “Eureka!” moment for me. What can I say? Little things make me happy. ;-) Come back soon to read another CrazyBusy Tip!

©2010 Sally Dinius
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Sally Dinius is writer-in-chief here at, a blog created to inspire and motivate busy mamas everywhere to feel healthy, fit, and in control of their lives. Follow her on Twitter at, and become a member of the CrazyBusy Mama Facebook fan page by clicking here.

CrazyBusy Tip: 100 Fun and Easy Organizing Ideas for the New Year

The start of a new year always gives me the urge to make changes around my house. I’m a redecorator at heart — my interior decor style has changed often over the years and though I may not always be financially able to change our furnishings and colors at will, the desire is there.

Oh, for a few thousand dollars to switch things up again! I can dream….

Getting back to reality, I wanted to share a great link with you that I found today. Martha Stewart’s team has put together a visual list of 100 ways to get organized around your home. I usually shy away from that type of article, as the ideas are usually boring and regurgitated. These, however, are just plain fun. You’ll find yourself saying, “I can do that!” or “That’s a fun idea!” Or maybe you won’t, but I sure was.

(I particularly liked the tea cup jewelry organizer — keep an eye out for it. As the owner of way too many tea cups, it looks like a fun and girly idea to try.)

The other tips are, for the most part, much more practical — but still fun. Enjoy!

100 Easy Organizers at

©2010 Sally Dinius
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