Even if you plan to pare down the number of people on your Christmas gift list, you need a starting point. That's why list advocate Paula Rizzo of ListProducer.com says making a list puts you at an immediate advantage. "Shopping with a list is like using a road map; if you put some effort into organizing your list before you hit the stores, you are more likely to get more done," Rizzo says.
By scrutinizing the list of people you normally buy for, you can see where you've spent your money during past holiday seasons. When you're done shaping and pruning your list, use it to focus your shopping. Then, says Rizzo, you won't wander around the mall overspending on the people who remain on it.