From year to year, we don't remember what we gave as gifts for occasions. If we attend the bar mitzvah of a friend's child, it would be nice to know how much we wrote the check for so, when their second child has his bar mitzvah, we can go back and see what we gave his brother so there is not such a disparity. I have created an Excel spreadsheet which I call "What we gave."
Column A is the name of the person we gave a gift to. Column B is the gift or amount of check. Column C is the occasion (Christmas, Bar mitzvah, Birthday). Column D is the date.
From year to year I had trouble remembering what gift we gave our cleaning lady for Christmas, what we gave the beautician who has done my hair for over 20 years. Also, much to my chagrin, I've noticed that I don't remember things like I used to when I was younger. This is a big help!
This is also helpful in logging what people gave us for gifts (my husband, my son, myself). If someone gave my son $150 for a bar mitzvah gift, I am not going to give her son only $100. Anyway, it helps me a lot.
By CandaceK from Scottsdale, AZ
I tend to give whatever I can afford to. I can't afford to "keep up with the Jones's" and I give what I am comfortable with. I find that most people understand, and it truly is the thought that counts. I have relatives that can afford to give lavish gifts, and if they want to give expensive gifts, it is greatly appreciated, but there is no way I can afford to reciprocate. I'm having trouble right now just feeding my family, and with Christmas approaching, we are really having to budget carefully.
For Christmas I keep a note book for all gifts. I keep track of what the item is, who received it and the cost. Each occasion gets a page or two. I don't have one page for all Christmas's. For example Christmas 2008, then next page is Easter 2008, next page is my daughters 13th birthday, then Summer vacation 2008, and so on. I use it for all parties I give. I write down everything, food, gifts, decor and the guest list. I also use this same one for vacations.
I list where we are going, if I'm bringing food~what and how much, list of clothes (shorts, coats etc) Everything gets listed. As I pack it I cross it off the list. Then I don't forget, plus it makes it easy to look back and see what I should bring if we go again. As for the party lists. After the party I write down how many people actual came, how much food I used, what didn't go over so that next time I don't make that same item again. If it went well then I know to make it again. If a food item went fast then I know to increase how much I should make. I also collect recipes from friends newspapers etc and stick them in the notebook.
So if I decide to try that recipe I have them right there in my notebook. I'm on my second note book. It's great to look back on all the parties and gifts I gave. I know exactly what each of my kids got from me for every birthday and every Christmas! As for keeping track of money gifts I give. I keep a running list of what I gave for every wedding and birthday. However I don't keep this list in the notebook. I keep this list in my greeting card box. I have a simple large shoe box where I put all of new greeting cards.
So when I see a card I like or if there is a sale on cards I stock up. I put them in the shoebox and when I have a occasion that I need a card, I pull out the box. Find a card and my list is right there. I know what I have given for each graduation, funeral, wedding, birthday, anniversary. So I can better decide what is appropriate. I don't generally give according to what they might have given me.
I go to the Dollar General and get a cheapy journal type calendar. I write in all birthdays, anniversaries, etc. on each day. In separate ink I go back and judge how long it will take to mail a card, gift, etc. and count backwards on the calendar and write in red ink "mail Jane's b-day card" or whatever and I know I need to mail it before or by that date. Once it is mailed I write the date I mailed it next to the note so I can remember in case a pkg. is lost, etc.
One year I went on ebay and bought two lots of misc. greeting cards (you can buy just birthday as well) and I am still using them three years later! It paid off hugely for me and I send a lot of cards every year. Next to the person's name on their birth date I write a dollar amount or the gift I sent to them. This has helped me a lot because my memory is bad and I would always send one amount of money to one person's child then forget and not know how much to send to the sibling on their birthday. Now I can just go back and look it up.
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