Christmas spreadsheets help keep everything organized
By Susan Shinn Turner
For the Salisbury Post
So I was scrolling through facebook the other day — minding my own business — when I noticed the following post from Ondria Witt, evidently a recent conversation between her and her husband.
The magic of Christmas …
Me: “I need you to sit down with me and look over the spreadsheets.”
Sacha: “What spreadsheets?”
Me: “The Christmas Spreadsheets.”
Sacha: “You have Christmas spreadsheets!?”
Me: “Um, of course I do! Doesn’t everyone?”
I’m thinking to myself, “Christmas spreadsheets? What the heck?”
I’m here to tell you, they’re as real as Elf of the Shelf and Santa himself. Some local women find them to be an absolute necessity if you have a long gift list to keep organized.
To learn more about it, I went straight to the source. I called Ondria, who was in the car with Sacha — you guessed it, looking for Christmas décor.
“I told Sacha, ‘Surely I am not the only person who uses spreadsheets,’” Ondria tells me.
Oh girl, you are not.
“Sacha leaves Christmas to me,” she continues. “I don’t think Christmas would happen at my house if I didn’t make it happen.”
Ondria has a good reason to be uber organized. Since 2011, she’s written the blog, “Mommy’s Block Party,” and says business has “exploded” in the past three of four years. It’s now her full-time job. Ondria and Sacha have two children, Balian, 7, and Sabine, 19 months.
“I started using spreadsheets primarily for blogging purposes — what I’d written, and the items that were coming in and what I needed to review,” Ondria explains. “I’m a list person, and I live by my lists. I used to use Word, but then converted to Excel.”
The actual Christmas list making started several years ago, when Ondria’s mom, Leslie Durocher gave Onrdia a Christmas planner as a gift. (Rob Durocher is her dad and her biggest fan and cheerleader).
“I used that planner for years until I ran out of room,” Ondria says, citing the need for electronic conversion.
Ondria creates a tab for every family member, and fills it with categories of gifts purchase and things to look for. She combs Black Friday ads to get ready. She’s also got columns to track when gifts are wrapped, tagged, and delivered. Celebrating at home, as well as at Sacha’s grandparents’ house and her parents’ house, Ondria delivers quite a lot of gifts. Just like, well, you know who.
With her blog, she gets into holiday mode by August, and publishes a gift guide in September.
“It seems to get earlier and earlier each year,” she admits.
Ondria does develop a budget, she says. “We try to stick to it. I use ‘try’ very loosely. I love Christmas. It’s the one time of year we have the resources to do a little extra. It makes me happy to see everybody else so happy.”
The same goes for Nancy Shirley, who’s absolutely agog when I tell her I don’t use Christmas spreadsheets.
“You’ve got to be kidding me!” she says, laughing. “I have spreadsheets for everything!”
Nancy actually uses her “Christmas spreadsheet” year-round. “I buy stuff all year long. When you get read to wrap, you just print out the list and check everything off.”
Just like, well, you know who.
She’s got spreadsheets for birthdays, the family addresses, and taxes. It makes sense, as Nancy is director of client services for Healthcare Management Consultants.
She recently completed spreadsheets for both her children’s weddings in the past several years.
Back to the holidays. Nancy says she sets a certain amount to spend for each person on her list. But she shops the sales, she says, “So people get a lot of stuff that way.”
Nancy has been a spreadsheet gal from way back. When her two children were younger, she kept a spreadsheet on the Little Critters book series, to determine which titles they needed.
“Why didn’t you just go look on the bookshelf?” I ask her.
She laughs again. “Because it would be way too hard to look through all those books!”
(I want to say that I kept all my Nancy Drew books on the same shelf, in order, but let that go.)
Carole Parrott and her husband, Jake, are the parents of four children. Carole also keeps a Christmas spreadsheet year-round to track ideas and purchases. She buys for her family, but Carole, who works for Herff Jones, also buys gifts for principals and advisers.
And, she notes, she also locks her spreadsheet. “That way nosey people (my kids) can’t access it and ruin their surprises!”
That sounds just like, well, you know who. Actually, no. The Naughty and Nice lists are pretty widely known, come to think of it.
Then there are people like me, who kick it old school and scribble lists on the backs of envelopes. Susan Stubbs and Sandra Honbarger, sisters and neighbors in China Grove, do just that.
“I tried using an app last year and it drove me insane,” Sandra admits. “Going back to my scribbled lists this year.”
My friend Libby Staton, also of China Grove, also uses the back-of-the-envelope method. Although she admits that she doesn’t even have a list yet this year. “I just want to make it to next week.”
You and me both, Lib.
And if you must know, my list is in my head. Pretty much because it’s the same every year: restaurant gift cards for Mom and Daddy (mostly Chick-Fil-A and K&W; Cracker Barrel or Olive Garden if I want to splurge); Daily Guideposts for Evelyn Kinkle, my second mom; a contribution to Community Care Clinic in honor of my best friend, Carol. Andrew said he didn’t want any gifts this year — he’s 21, after all — but I’m taking him to a concert in early December, and I recently bought him new sheets, so I figure both of those “count.”
My new husband and I are celebrating our first Christmas together, and the other day, he told me he’d never been to Biltmore House. Gee whiz, talk about agog! I’m hoping we can give that trip to each other for a gift.
Otherwise, I’m plugging in my ceramic Christmas tree, and I’m ready for the holidays.
Merry Christmas to all — those with the spreadsheets and those with the scribbled lists!