Posts Tagged ‘list’

Last week I spent some time talking about ways to maximize efficiency when grocery shopping. I ended my post with a short section on lists and a promise to revitalize my own list to share with you this week. Well, I’m happy to say that I was able to work on a new list and even give it a test run when I went grocery shopping last Thursday!

Six ways you can optimize your list

Before I get to my new list, here are a few general tips anyone can adopt to optimize their grocery list:

  • Keep your list visible at home so you can easily add to it when items come to mind.
  • If you keep your pantry stocked in a particular way, add items to the list to replace those you use right after you use them so you don’t forget.
  • Try to arrange your list by common items or by subject to make it easier to flow through it when you’re at the store.
  • Bring a pen and even a clipboard when you visit the store so you can cross items off your list and have a flat surface to write on.
  • Clearly mark items you don’t end up buying for whatever reason so you can easily transfer them onto your next list.
  • Consider making your list digital for easy editing and so you can carry it with you everywhere—try a cell phone or a PDA.

How I revitalized my list

Before revamping my own list, I followed most of those tips above.  However, one in particular I knew I needed to work on: arranging my list by subject. That is what I worked on this past week and I’m very excited about my new format! Here’s what I came up with:


Again, I shop primarily at Walmart Supercenter and I occasionally stop by a local supermarket called Trig’s. I have a planned route I take through Walmart each time I go so I thought it would be useful to arrange the items on my list to fit my route. Last time I was at Walmart, I took special note of actual aisles and locations of items I buy so I could make my categories. I also kept in mind aisles I visit frequently, versus aisles I almost never visit.

I decided to hang my new list on the refrigerator, right where I kept my previous version. But this time when I add an item, I add it directly to the section where it can be found in the store. That way when I am actually shopping, I will (ideally) never backtrack or retrace my steps. My first test-run went very well and it felt so efficient!!

Creative lists from around the blogosphere

Since my list is tailored specifically for Walmart, I thought it would be useful to look up other list templates created by fellow bloggers. Not only can you use these lists for yourself, but you can also borrow ideas from them (or mine) to apply to your own special list format.

I would also like to mention here that I had a great comment on last week’s post from a reader, Shannon.  She shared:

We keep a running list of items then meal plan and decide the rest of the list. Last month I make a print out of what items are on which isles at the store we frequent most. Now when I need to shop I get a copy of this, circle the items I need and off I go. It saves a lot of time to know beforehand which isles I can totally skip. The other magical thing I JUST thought to do last week is to start on the opposite side of the store from which I’ve been doing it for 20 years! Start with the dairy and end with the produce! Now everything fits in beautifully with the produce on top!

Thanks Shannon! 🙂

Reader Reflection

Do you use a special grocery list template when you go grocery shopping? Feel free to share here!


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We have only 2 weeks left until Christmas. 2 WEEKS! Let’s face it, even if we are trying to be super organized, it’s easy to let things slip around this time of the year. The Christmas season is a challenge for those wanting to be on top of things, so that’s why it’s good to make a list.

Today I would like to offer a comprehensive Christmas to-do checklist to help you make sure you’ve got everything covered, every package wrapped, every card sent. Not every item on the list will be applicable to every person. Rather, my hope is that this checklist will trigger a reminder, “Oh ya, I didn’t do that yet!” So let’s not waste anymore time and get to our checklist—we don’t have time to waste!



  • Do you have a Christmas tree up? Is it decorated?
  • Did you string lights outside?
  • Is the rest of your house decorated?
  • Is everything safe?

Check out my recent post, Eight tips to help you survive decorating your house for Christmas this year.


  • Have you purchased all your gifts?
  • Is there enough time for you to still order gifts online and receive them on time?
  • Do you still need to make homemade gifts?christmas-presents-under-the-tree
  • Have purchased enough wrapping supplies? (wrapping paper, tape, labels, bows, etc.)
  • Have you wrapped your gifts?
  • Have you mailed the gifts you need to send to people?
  • Did you make and send out a wish list if people asked you to?

Check out my series, I’ll Be Homemade for Christmas for some last-minute gift ideas and also read my review of Kaboodle, a handy online Christmas wishlist.


  • Did you buy all the cards you need?
  • Did you write a newsletter?
  • Did you take a family Christmas photo?
  • Did you sign each card and address them correctly?
  • Do you have enough stamps?
  • Have you decided when to mail the cards so they arrive on time?

Special Events

  • Do you have all the special events you plan to attend marked on the calendar?
  • Have you purchased tickets?
  • Do you have a working camera or video recorder?
  • If you are participating in a special program, are you ready? Are your kids ready?
  • Did you find out the special times of your church service?
  • Do you have nice clothes picked out for each event?


  • Have you decided what you will bake this year?
  • Do you have the necessary ingredients on hand?decorating-cookies
  • Do you need to go shopping?
  • Do you have enough tins or containers to store your cookies & candy?
  • Do you have enough time to bake everything you have planned?


  • Is your house clean?
  • Do you have places for everyone to sleep?
  • Do you have enough food?
  • Have you planned meals?

Check out my post, Preparing for houseguests: a checklist, for more useful tips.


  • Have you purchased plane tickets or made any other necessary travel arrangements?
  • Have you booked hotel rooms?
  • Do you have driving directions?
  • Is your car ready and able to put on as many miles as are necessary?
  • Is your car prepared for driving in snowy conditions?
  • Are your houseplants watered?
  • Will your pets be taken care of?
  • Will you remember to take out the trash before leaving?
  • Is your Christmas tree watered and safe from any possible hazards while you are gone?
  • Have you packed?
  • Did you take time off work?
  • Did you pay any bills due while you will be away?
  • Did you hold your mail if you will be gone for long?

Reality Check

Have a seat. Relax a little. Stop rushing around for a moment. Don’t forget what Christmas is all about! Most of the things I listed above are ultimately what Christmas is NOT about, even if we do them year after year. Don’t let the little (or even the big) things you have to get done prevent you from enjoying the season and remembering the reason!!

Reader Reflection

Did I forget anything? Of course I did!! What would you add to my list?

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With only 34 days until December 25, it’s probably good to start thinking about what you might want for Christmas. Yes, that’s right, I said YOU. I’m not trying to sound selfish or anything, because in my opinion Christmas should be more about giving than receiving. christmas-presents However, we’ve all been asked some time or another, “What do YOU want for Christmas?” and we’re no help if we don’t have a good answer.

With weddings or baby showers, there are convenient gift registries we can use to help our friends and families find a gift for us that we desire. After my husband and I used Amazon’s gift registry for our wedding, I wasn’t quite ready to leave it behind. I loved the concept! The first Christmas after we got married, his parents wanted to know what I wanted for Christmas. Then my parents wanted to know. Then my brother needed ideas. You can see where this is going. But Amazon’s registry, although great for our wedding, wasn’t exactly the perfect fit for my Christmas wish list.

Registries through specific companies or stores are inherently restrictive because you can only register for their products and your friends and family are forced to buy that product only through that store. Enter Kaboodle, a catch-all sort of gift wish list in which you can “collect information from anywhere on the web [and] put it into a Kaboodle list that you can share with others.” No restrictions, anything goes. That’s why I’ve used Kaboodle for my Christmas wish list for the last 2 years. And I’d like to share with you today why I love it.


Here’s the deal

Like any gift registry, you simply create an account and start a new list. But the unique thing about Kaboodle is that you can add products from anywhere on the web! kaboodle-siteWhen you sign up for an account, you have the option to get some handy Kaboodle buttons to add to your browser so that whenever you encounter something you are interested in, you can easily add it to your list by pressing that button. Once the product is added, you can describe it or leave any comments or notes for your friends or family to read. Your list has a unique URL that you can share with others. When someone visits your list, they may decide to ‘reserve’ one of your items. You can choose a setting that prevents you from seeing whether a product has been reserved or not, leaving some element of surprise. After someone reserves an item, they have the freedom to buy the item from anywhere they want, online or offline, including the store you originally found it in. The only thing Kaboodle does after this point is remove that item from the list so that others will not buy it as well. Easy as pie!


  • Interface is easy to use
  • Service is free
  • Community feature: people you know can create lists too and add you as a ‘friend’
  • You can add products from anywhere on the web (highly flexible)
  • People can buy your desired gifts from anywhere they want (better chance to find the best price)
  • Option to keep reservation status a secret
  • In addition to adding actual products from real stores, you can add ‘generic’ items like, “I want a chain saw”
  • You can use Kaboodle for more than just wish lists, like collecting favorite restaurants or showing off your collection of designer purses


  • Every so often (pretty infrequently) adding a product doesn’t always work right the first time (title or picture is wrong, or it’s altogether the wrong item)

Help your loved ones save time and money when they buy you gifts this holiday season

The reason I love Kaboodle from an organizational perspective is because of how easy it is to make a comprehensive, flexible list that offers people the chance to shop for the best price they can find. Plus, you can keep your Kaboodle list all year long and add stuff whenever you see it! No more last-minute ideas for you to come up with and no more last-minute frustrated shopping for your loved ones. I give Kaboodle a thumbs up!!

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Christmas is in less than 3 months. Let me repeat that: less than 3 months. I’m not trying to give you a heart attack. I actually want to help you prevent a heart attack by providing a tip to promote a more relaxed holiday shopping season this year.

Who likes to shop on December 24?

I’ve been there, perhaps you’ve been there. Waiting until the very last minute might land you some amazing deals, but at the same time this common practice can also create immense amounts of stress and diminish your enjoyment of this fun holiday. A few years ago I decided to change my approach to Christmas shopping. You’re not quite ready to start thinking about Christmas, you say? Let’s just enjoy Autumn for a while? That does sound nice. But I ask you to consider these simple steps I’ve outlined below, because they might just help your Christmas be a little merrier this year.

  • Make a list. Around this time of the year (mid-autumn), I grab a piece of paper and make a list. It doesn’t have to be anything complex, and it doesn’t even have to contain any gift ideas right away. It just needs to include the name of every person you want to buy a gift for this Christmas.
  • Store the list in a visible place. Leave it on your desk, put it on your nightstand, or stick it you your refrigerator. Look at the list as you go about your day. This will serve to remind you of people on your list and keep their names fresh in your mind.
  • Add ideas to the list as they come to you. Whenever ANY sort of idea pops into your head, write it down on your list. Perhaps you saw a product on TV you thought your brother might like. Maybe you had a passing idea about a homemade gift you could create for your mom. Perhaps you saw your friend’s children playing with toys that you know your kids would love. Write everything down.
  • Whenever you shop, bring the list. Whether you shop at stores downtown or on the Internet, always bring the list with you, either in your mind or right in your pocket. You never know when you’ll see one of the ideas you already wrote down and have the opportunity to purchase it early (and maybe even on sale!). Furthermore, you might get additional ideas as you’re walking past endless gift possibilities down each aisle.

So what exactly is the ultimate goal?

If it isn’t clear by now, the goal of this practice is to be able to chip away at your list little by little, simply while you’re going about your normal daily activities. And when it comes time to officially go Christmas shopping, ideally you’ll only have a few things to buy and at least you will have ideas. The worst thing is to walk into a store with absolutely no clue what to buy a person. You’ll end up buying a gift just for the sake of buying a gift, and that is not really the point of gift giving. Allow yourself time to plan ahead and brainstorm creative ideas, and you’ll not only end up with a less stressful shopping experience, but you’ll buy better gifts!

The definition of an over-achiever

If you really want to be prepared for Christmas shopping, consider keeping a list all year round. Anytime an idea comes, put it on the list. And if space allows, buy Christmas gifts in July, even April—you’ll be so happy you did when December rolls around! I like to browse art fairs in summer or souvenir shops on vacation because there are always unique gift opportunities in those types of places. While this approach won’t work for everyone, it just might work for you and it doesn’t hurt to give it a try.

Go Digital

Are you trying to eliminate clutter or perhaps you are afraid you’ll lose your list if you just leave it lying around? Make the list on your computer. You’ll be able to edit it more easily, keep it more secret, and it won’t take up any of your precious space.

Reader Reflection

Do you have any creative ways to better prepare for Christmas shopping? Please share!

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