The 1 Thing You Can Do All Year to Make Buying Holiday Gifts Effortless

POPSUGAR Photography | ShopStyle Photography
POPSUGAR Photography | ShopStyle Photography

We've all been there — it's early to mid-December and there are still a number of gifts you've yet to think of, let alone buy for your friends and family. After years of getting stuck in the gift-giving rut and spending money on things my loved ones probably didn't even want, I've revolutionized holiday gift-giving with a hack so simple I don't even know if you can call it a hack.

I keep a list in the notes app on my phone of the things I know my friends want.

Whether I'm at brunch with friends in June and someone mentions a perfume they'd never buy themselves, I'm watching TV with my boyfriend in January and he notes a cool product in an ad, my mom emails me in May to say she saw a nice copper pot set at Bed Bath and Beyond, or I see something in a shop that basically screams a friend's name, I write that item down under the person's name* in the list and go back about my day.

It ends up looking a little bit like this:

POPSUGAR Photography | Alessia Santoro

Depending on the person and how much I want to spend on them, I'll go through the list in early November and highlight the things I really think they'd like, delete anything I'm sure they've bought for themselves or which is no longer available, and put a little star next to anything I'd rather save giving them until their next birthday.

I've been doing this for years, and not only has it resulted in some seriously awesome gifts that I know the person is going to be pumped about, but it makes gift-giving fun again. I no longer stress a week (or a few days) before Christmas Eve about what I'm getting someone. Instead, I'm typically finished with my holiday shopping well before mid-December (yes, I'm bragging) and I can spend more time focusing on wrapping said gifts (Why does wrapping take forever?!) and enjoying much-needed downtime with my loved ones during the best season of the year.

*To any of the real people on this list: these gift ideas were all made up, so you'll just have to wait to see what I buy you — I've been prepping under your noses all year.