Here's how I organize Christmas shopping for my family.
1. I start a gift idea list all year long. When I see or think or hear of a good gift for someone I jot it on a piece of notebook paper that I keep tucked in my household binder. I also finds this helps with the "I wants" I hear from the kids. All year long when they ask for something I will say "ask for it for Christmas or your birthday!" which leaves me with many great (usually long forgotten) ideas.
2. When I am ready to start shopping I get a little more organized with that idea list and divide up a fresh sheet of paper-each child and Jeff and I get a little square and then also a relative/friend square. I write down what I'm going to buy and check it off when it is purchased.
3. I don't worry about absolute fairness because then I would go insane. I don't want my kids to concentrate on that either-just to be happy with what they have instead of comparing. And also teenage gifts can cost way more than baby gifts. Of course, I round up in my head who might need something a little extra or I might take a gift out to save for a birthday to give a general overall feeling of fairness.
4. I buy almost everything on-line. What I can't/don't buy on-line I try to compress into the least/fast amount of errand running. I am almost never alone at a store, and errand running with little ones is just the last thing I ever want to do.
5. I keep almost all the gifts in my closet in these numbered bins (one for each child and Jeff and I share one) way high up. Our closet is off limits during this season. (I hide bigger items in special hiding places.)
6. About 2 weeks before Christmas, I do a general re-assessment of the gifts to see who needs what, and mostly for just peace of mind because I get a little nervous about it. I just did this yesterday and found that Isaac has only one gift (he needs clothes and he needs to not have his mom pick them out) and I have a few odds and ends to pick up here and there. Matt needs to go out with me to get basketball shoes, and I have one more gift to buy Andrew.
7. I also make sure that all my teacher gifts are wrapped and ready early, and I like to have all outside-the-family gifts bought and ready also. I like to get those "out of the way" because they are important to me and can weigh on my mind.
8. I have done wrapping in two ways-little by little starting about two weeks before Christmas and all at once in one day when I'm complete-depending on my time constraints with babies and toddlers. Either way, I will admit it's about my least favorite thing to do, and Martha Stewart would be ashamed of my presentation. I do spend a little more time wrapping outside-the-family gifts but still then-pretty simple.
I have to admit that as simple as I made that all sound, sometimes it all seems overwhelming to me-usually right before the season, some time in mid-November, I have a moment or two where I experience a general freak-out in my head. But then I calm myself down (usually with the help of a large bar of chocolate and re-reading this post and this one) and realize that it really is all about my attitude. I can approach it all as work and hassle and stress or I can approach it all as fun and exciting and an awesome way to show the people in my life how much I appreciate and love them-I guess that's called the "Christmas spirit". I choose the second because life is too short and although these years for me are so busy, I know one day I'll miss them.