The Holiday Jumpstart Starts Today! Grab a Pen and Join Us Now — Holiday Jumpstart

For 10 days at the end of October, Apartment Therapy wants to help you get ahead on the holidays. Together, we’re checking off doable daily tasks to get one step closer to the effortless holiday season you deserve. Sign up now (it’s free!) so you don’t miss a thing.

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For the holidays this year, Apartment Therapy wants to give you the gift of time travel.

Pretend it’s the weekend after Thanksgiving and you just woke up thinking to yourself, “Oh gosh it’s almost [insert holiday here] and I haven’t booked my flight, or ordered greeting cards, or made that appointment yet, what the hell am I gonna do?!”

What you’re gonna do is just… jump in. Get it done. Little by little. The good news is, we’re here to help. And the even better news is: It’s not even Halloween!

To save you the trouble of Googling: Hanukkah this year begins on December 2.

If you join the Holiday Jumpstart and commit to tackling our 10 small weekday holiday prep assignments, you’ll be 10 steps closer to an effortless season—and it’ll only be November 2. We’re also making room for you to enjoy the really good stuff about this time of year: The traditions and kindnesses that make the season so special.

Ready to get started? Make sure you’re signed up for updates, then here’s the one thing you need to do today:

DAY 1:

Make a list of who to buy for.

We love the generosity that enlivens the holidays, but sometimes our budgets aren’t quite as big as our hearts. Because it has ripple effects on other parts of your holiday prep, we think that making your gift shopping list is a really good place to start.

As you journey on through the Holiday Jumpstart program and the rest of the holiday season, you can use this list to check off gifts you’ve bought, or keep a running total of how much you’ve spent… but you can stop today once you have a list and a ballpark total to budget for.

For fun, do this with something festive (hot cocoa! candles! Not-so-Christmasy Christmas music!) to set the mood.

Make a list

It’s up to you whether you want to start with pen and paper (a notebook, your bullet journal) or go digital (with an app, a spreadsheet, or a note on your phone). One big pro to keeping this list in the cloud is being able to pull it up for reference, or to add a gift idea that comes to you in the middle of the day.

Step 1: List everyone you want to buy for on separate lines. Start with significant others, children, family members, and friends, then move on to anybody else that comes to mind. (Don’t forget to consider people like teachers and service providers—we made a list below.)

A note: We’re trying to cover all the bases and prepare you to make sure nothing you want to prioritize has fallen through the cracks. Our suggestions of “who to buy for” are just that—suggestions. Your list only needs to be as long as you want it to be.

Step 2: Add rough dollar amounts next to each person’s name, estimating how much you’re able to spend on each person.

Step 3: If you know what you want to get certain people, add gift ideas next to the names.

Some Others You Might Want to Add

Just to make sure you don’t forget anyone or anything you need to shop for, here are some people that might make your list:

  • neighbors
  • teachers and tutors
  • caregivers, babysitters, or daycare staff
  • coaches
  • instructors
  • personal trainers
  • clients and vendors
  • co-workers
  • bosses and managers
  • office assistants
  • doorman, or other building staff
  • housekeeper
  • handyman
  • gardener
  • pool cleaner
  • trash or recycling collectors
  • postal carriers and package delivery drivers
  • hair stylists and barbers
  • pet groomer
  • regular baristas or waitstaff
  • religious group members or worship staff
  • other club or group members

If you want to stay really on top of things, you might also want to add a few catch-all categories like the ones below. You don’t necessarily need to know what you’re buying yet, but it helps to budget for these expenses, too:

  • two to three host gifts
  • one just-in-case gift (to keep on hand for an unexpected party or somebody who gifts you)
  • secret santa or gift exchange
  • charitable gifts (like if you adopt a family for the holidays, or buy lunch for the local firehouse)

Try an App to Organize Your Gift List

Like anything else, there’s an app for that. (Though they’re mostly Christmas-themed, so if you don’t celebrate Christmas, hopefully you can stand a little Santa branding.)

If you’re an iOS user, both Santa’s Bag and The Christmas List have 4.5+ star reviews. For Android, people recommend Christmas Gift List. PC Mag has a great rundown of these apps and more, if you want to do a little comparison before you hit the download button.


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