Do You Start Your Holiday Shopping List Before or After Halloween?

Navigating the unique challenges of the festive season can wear you out! Starting with Halloween, the days go quick and before you know it, Christmas Eve has arrived! Having an organized holiday shopping list is a lifeline to preserving your sanity.

Living in rural areas often means limited access to shopping centers and stores, making each trip a time-consuming and potentially costly endeavor. A well-prepared shopping list ensures you make the most out your infrequent shopping trips. By carefully planning your purchases, you reduce the need for multiple trips saving both time and fuel expenses. Additionally, lists aid curbing last-minute, and often more expensive, purchases.

From managing households to tending to agricultural or farm-related duties, you already have enough stress. A well-organized shopping list acts as a stress-reliever, providing clarity and structure to the shopping process. You’ll also better stick to your budget, ensuring you enjoy the holidays without facing financial strain. Let’s take a better look at how to best include this crucial tool for your holiday shopping.

Start Your Holiday Shopping List Early

Should you start your list before Halloween? Yes! The sooner, the better.

Begin your holiday shopping list well in advance to avoid last-minute stress. As soon as you have gift ideas or know what you need, jot them down.

Categorize Your List

  • People: List the names of everyone you need to buy gifts for, including family, friends, coworkers, and others.
  • Gift Ideas: Write down gift ideas for each person. Be specific to make your search easier.
  • Budget: Set a budget for each person or for the entire holiday shopping.


Rank your gift recipients by importance, helping you allocate your budget more effectively. Identify must-buy items versus nice-to-have gifts.

Set Deadlines

Create a schedule for when you want to have each gift purchased and wrapped. This helps you stay on track.


Look for gift ideas online, read reviews, and compare prices to ensure you’re making informed choices.

Note the regular and sale prices of items you plan to buy to spot discounts more easily. Sign up for price tracking tools and use coupon apps to find the best deals.

Consider Creating a Digital List

A paper list is helpful to have at home, but consider using a digital list you can easily carry with you. Use digital tools like spreadsheets, note-taking apps, or dedicated shopping list apps to keep your list organized.

This will also help prevent you from purchasing duplicate items. If you have your list with you and can check things off in real time, you’ll stay more organized.

Don’t Forget the Wrap!

Check your existing inventory of wrapping paper, ribbons, and cards. Add these items to your list if you’re running low. Check them off when you buy them.

It’s so easy to buy excess paper, bags, and ribbons for the holidays. If you keep track of what you purchase, you’ll know you already have enough.

Streamline Your Shopping

Organize your online shopping by creating accounts or wish lists on e-commerce websites to keep track of items you want to buy.

Use a reusable shopping bag to collect physical items you purchase throughout the season, reducing the risk of losing track of gifts.

Track Spending Habits

Regularly update your spending to ensure you’re staying within your budget.

Be open to alternatives if a specific item isn’t available or is too expensive. Adapt your list accordingly.

Before heading out or making online purchases, review your list to make sure you haven’t missed anything or anyone.

Save receipts and order confirmations until the holiday season is over, in case you need to make returns or exchanges.

Stay Organized

Designate a physical or digital space where you keep all your holiday shopping-related information and materials.

By following these tips, you’ll have a well-organized holiday shopping list that makes your holiday shopping more efficient and enjoyable!

Barb Webb. Founder and Editor of Rural Mom, is an the author of "Getting Laid" and "Getting Baked". A sustainable living expert nesting in Appalachian Kentucky, when she’s not chasing chickens around the farm or engaging in mock Jedi battles, she’s making tea and writing about country living and artisan culture.
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