{organizing with style} An Organized Holiday Shopping List Using Google Drive

My name is Angela, and I'm addicted to making lists!  There I said it.  The first step is admitting you have a problem, right?  Ok, so maybe list making is not really a huge problem, but they way I typically go about it is problematic. I have a tendency to grab a notepad and make my list and put it in my purse where it promptly gets wrinkled and eventually lost.

I don't know about you, but I get about a million catalogs in the mail, and they seem to double around the holidays. Fortunately, many of these catalogs are full of fun and educational gifts for the kiddos that provide lots more options than my local Toys R Us. I also love catalogs like Uncommon Goods when it comes to finding unique gifts (especially for my husband and my dad).  And the Solutions catalog always has a wealth of interesting ideas that I like for stocking stuffing. The catalogs pile up on my counter, I tear out pages with items I'm interested in, and then ... and then I have a giant pile of paper. The problem only increases when those Black Friday ads start to arrive.  It's a lot to keep track of - the gift ideas, the stores with the best prices, when the sales end...

I've been trying hard to better utilize technology to keep track of my various lists, and I've started using both the Notes and Reminders apps that came standard on my iPhone/iPad. These basic apps are great for my general to do and shopping lists, but when I started making my holiday shopping list this season, these apps just weren't working for me...enter Google Drive.

This year I'm turning my shopping list into a spreadsheet, and making sure I'll have access to it any time and any place.  I've used Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) a few times to share documents among people when working on committee projects, but until now I've never really taken advantage of the fact that I could also access documents from Google Drive on my smart phone and tablet. But one quick download of the free Google Drive app and now I can create my shopping list spreadsheet on the computer, but easily pull it up on my phone to reference it  or add to it when I am out shopping.

Here's what my holiday shopping spreadsheet looks like:

For those who aren't familiar with Google Drive, here's a very quick spreadsheet tutorial.  Start by signing in to your Google account using your email address and password {note: if you don't already have a Gmail address, you can sign up for a new Google account}.  Once you are signed in, click on the Google Apps link in the upper right corner of your screen.

This will bring up a list of Google Apps.  Select the Google Drive app.

Once Google Drive is open, click "Create" in the upper left corner, and then choose Spreadsheet from the list of options.

Once you have a blank spreadsheet open, it works much the same as an Excel spreadsheet. I created a header row and gave each of my columns a name to help me organize my shopping list:  Recipient, Gift, Store, Item Number (for those items to be ordered from a catalog), Cost, Discount Offer, and Discount Deadline.

I started to fill in my spreadsheet last night, flipping through catalogs and inputting the relevant information. 

You might notice that Beckett and Cooper are the only ones on the image of my shopping list - that's only because I don't want to give anything away to my husband or others who might read this blog post.  But my final list will have many more recipients on it.  That's where the spreadsheet functions really come in handy - it can be quickly sorted by either the recipient or the store. So when I get ready to place an online order from any one of these stores, or when I am heading out to the mall, I can simply sort my list by store and have a neatly organized list. 

There is just one trick you need to know when sorting your spreadsheet.  If you were to just sort alphabetically by a particular column, you would find that your header row would no longer appear at the top.  Instead, select your entire table, then click on the "Data" tab at the top of the spreadsheet, then click "Sort Range."  In the Sort Range box, click where it says "Data Has Header Row" and then choose to sort alphabetically. This ensures that your header row remains at the top of the screen.

For me, the best part of using a Google Drive spreadsheet to organize my holiday shopping list is the ability to access the list from both my computer and my iPhone. When I am shopping online, I can have the spreadsheet pulled up on the computer screen side by side with a second browser window where I can do my shopping. But when I am out shopping at the mall, I can easily pull the shopping list up on my phone using the free Google Drive app.  Here's what the spreadsheet looks like when open on my iPhone:

I plan to continue to update the list as new ads and catalogs arrive. If I find a better price advertised at a different store, I can simply update the store and price columns accordingly. And once I buy something off of my list, I intend to highlight the row in grey so that I'll know what I've purchased and what I haven't.  Using the spreadsheet functions will also help me to stay on budget.  I can easily select the "cost" cells for any number of gifts to see the total sum of those items displayed in the bottom right corner of the screen.

This is a new system for me, so I'll let you know how it works out.  I'd love to hear how you keep your holiday shopping lists organized!

Looking for more Christmas inspiration? You might be interested in these projects:

1 comment :

  1. Angela, I've been using Google Drive the last couple of years for fundraising events. Others on the committee can see their tasks and keep notes for all of us to read. Given the right permission's of course.