Genuine Curiosity

Author Dwayne Melancon is always on the lookout for new things to learn. An ecclectic collection of postings on personal productivity, travel, good books, gadgets, leadership & management, and many other things.


Stay In Sync On Holiday Shopping

Well, it's that time of the year - holiday shopping time.  Maybe it's just me, but one of the challenges of shopping is coordinating the "divide & conquer" approach with my wife.  

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We have 3 kids, grandparents, nieces, siblings, etc. that we want to buy gifts for and we have busy schedules, so we want to make sure everything gets covered, we don't duplicate efforts, etc.  There are a couple of tools we've evolved that make this easier and I wanted to share them here in case they'll help you, as well.

Part 1: Gather ideas during the year

The first method is pretty easy - I create a note on my smartphone for each person I want to buy gifts for.  I call them "Gift ideas for <name>" so I have a separate note for each person.  Then, during the year, when I hear them mention something they want or I see something that might be a good gift, I add it to the list.

The list gets replicated on all my devices (iPad, computer, phone, etc.) so I can add items (and URL's if appropriate) to make it easy to shop when the time comes.  You can use notes in Outlook, iOS, Google Notes, or Evernote - it's your choice.  I'd pick one that can be replicated across all the devices you use - that makes life a lot easier.

By the way - these lists work for birthdays and anniversaries, too - not just holiday shopping.

Part 2: Stay in sync with your shopping partner(s)

When we get into the shopping season, I create a shared spreadsheet in Google Docs.  You could also use Office360, a cloud storage location, or something similar;  I like Google Docs because it is free and multiple people can edit simultaneously so there are no versioning problems.

Gift Collaboration

The tool is pretty simple.  As you can see from the screen grab above, you just make a list with one column for each person you want to shop for, along with a Status column.  You farm your "Gift ideas…" lists and add them to this spreadsheet, then you share the list with your shopping buddy (my wife, in my case) so they can get to the list.

In the status column, you can enter things like "Have," and "Ordered" to indicate which things are already covered.  You can also enter someone's name so you know who is expected to handle the shopping for that item.  Don't forget that you can add comments and notes to the items - this is a great place to elaborate, add URL's, specify colors, etc.

The only caveat:  don't share the sheet with anyone who's in it, otherwise they'll know what you're getting them!  For my wife, I just stick with tracking things in the "Gift ideas for…" note - including tracking what my kids have gotten for her. (That reminds me: when we hear what other people in the family are getting our kids, we track that in this spreadsheet, too - that helps prevent duplicate gifts.)

If you have your own tips and tricks for holiday shopping, please share.