Picture borrowed from http://moneysavingmom.com/2011/09/get-a-jump-start-on-holiday-shopping.html/christmas-presents
I love to plan my Christmas gifts starting in January. This helps me not only save money but save sanity. I save money because I have all year to look for those specific items and it saves my sanity because my family is not stressed about what to get someone. We're prepared.
Here's a few steps that have helped me.
1. First decide if you want to make all/some of your gifts. If you want to make them, try to find neat and unique ideas online. I LOVE pinterest.com for getting great ideas.
2. Is there someone in your family that has a lot of stuff? For those people I get the same thing every year. For our grandparents we do pictures in some form and homemade goodies. For my mom and dad, I always get them a gift certificate to a Bed and Breakfast and add in something small for each one.
3. Make a list of everyone you'll need to buy for. I make my list out something like this. I do put their names in of course but I didn't want to put them here in case my family wants to be anonymous :)
Brother 1 and his wife (I do couples gifts now) -
Brother 2 and his wife -
Mom and dad -
2 older nieces -
younger niece -
Daughter big gift -
Daughter stocking gifts -
4. Start thinking of things you want for each person. In our family we get one big gift for each kid. That doesn't necessarily mean it will be a lot of money but it's one thing they will really, really enjoy. We do a gift for them to share, a gift for them to give someone else and stockings. Stockings have a mixture of fun things and necessities like socks, undies, bras, etc... As you think of gifts you're sure you want to purchase/make for everyone, type it by each persons name.
5. Have a gift tote (or 2 or 3). I purchase these in red so I know these are Christmas totes. As I purchase/make Christmas gifts, I put them in the tote. I them promptly highlight that item in red so I know I have already purchased/made it.
6. The day after Thanksgiving or a couple days later we get our tree up and we wrap all the presents or put them in gift bags. Then I sit them on top of our bookcases in our library/den in sets of families. For instance, if we go to my husband's family first, I put all their gifts closest to the front door and all together.
7. Some other fun tips are make sure to check stlmommy.com and thefrugalgirls.com as well as other similar sites for great deals. For instance, I get almost all our Christmas pictures we give to people for free! You will randomly see free 8x10 collages at Walgreens throughout the year. I start making them around October and always have a couple extra sitting around here after Christmas. You can also trade for items. People often have full gift cards they won't use that you can trade items for or pay $5 or so less for.
Also if you're making gifts, make all you can as soon as you can. No one likes to get their gifts days/weeks/months late.
I hope I've covered everything. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask :)