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5 Tips to Get Organized for Birthdays, Graduations and Special Occasions

We’ve all been there. That birthday seems so far away–until it isn’t. Your nephew’s graduation is months away–but the days creep up on you. There you are, stuck, shopping for or making a gift at the last minute. And honestly? Most people can tell when you put zero thought and effort into a gift, because you’ll end up giving them something completely off the mark.

If you don’t want to be known as the Terrible Gift Giver in your circle, here are some tips for getting organized for all those special occasions that crop up.

1. Keep a list of important birthdays, anniversaries and events in a prominent place, and update it regularly.
Did your niece just get married? Add their anniversary to your list! Did your sister welcome a new baby into the world? Add that birthday right away so you don’t have to ask for it later.

2. Buy an assortment of cards, or a box of blank all-occasion cards.
My step-mother and my mother-in-law always seem to have cards on hand. And while my step-mom prefers to send occasion-specific cards, my mother-in-law often sends all-occasion cards. And they’re very sweet. Personally, I prefer handwritten notes like the ones they send over a greeting card sentiment that’s simply signed, “Love, Dad.” Thankfully, our parents are great about writing sweet notes for those special occasions.

3. Keep a running list of gift ideas for your family and close friends.
This is something that has really helped me over the years. Did your friend mention the salon where she gets her nails done? Make a note of the name and get her a gift certificate for her birthday. If your husband mentions a certain tool or gadget he’d like to have, add it to your list. Don’t wait too long. If you’re like me, you’ll forget if you wait more than a day or so to make notes to your list.

4. Maintain a gift log throughout the year.
You may spot the perfect gift months in advance. If you do, get it, but keep good records of the gifts you’ve purchased and who they’re for. If you spend a certain dollar amount per person, track the amount of the purchase, too.

5. Create a list of unique cash gift ideas.
Let’s face it–sometimes, cash is the best gift. Do you think the graduate in your family really wants another copy of, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”? Probably not. Teenagers, newlyweds and college grads are often very appreciative of cash gifts, but that doesn’t mean you have to stuff it in an envelope and forget it. Boring! Put it in a creative container or fold it into something pretty.

Have you ever been guilty of giving a gift without putting much thought or effort into it?