Christmas is near and your shopping is done! You were smart this year, buying presents throughout the year.  The “Christmas rush” didn’t throw a “humbug” on your holiday season.

You were also crafty. Every house has those little nooks and crannies, so you devised hiding places for those gifts. Throughout the year, you have been buying, wrapping and hiding those Christmas surprises.

But now you have a problem 

As Christmas Day approaches, it’s time to retrieve those gifts from their hiding places and arrange them under the tree. As you begin the scavenger hunt, you realize the problem.

Yes, the hiding places were great. Nobody found the gifts. But now you can’t either!

Not only that but the memory of exactly what was purchased and for whom is now hazy. The scavenger hunt starts to consume more time, and the stress level goes up.

Parentheses to the rescue

Buying throughout the year is great. Wrap the gifts as you go if that’s your preference. Enjoy hiding the gifts where nobody will find them. But add one more step so this time next year, YOU will know the hiding places.

Do you use a paper planner? If so, each time you hide a gift, flip ahead in your planner to a few days before Christmas. Jot down the gift. Next to it, in parentheses, write the hiding place. That’s it!

This time next year, let your planner serve as the treasure map:

  • Boots for Susie (Under bed in guest room)
  • Coat for Jimmy (Top shelf of linen closet under blanket)
  • Bicycle for Timmy (Tom’s garage)

If you organize digitally, it’s the same thing. When you hide a gift, create a task dated for a few days before Christmas. As part of the task, include a set of parentheses with a reminder of where to look.

A system for follow-up

For those who use a paper planner, my favorites are the classic Day-Timer or Franklin Planner, because each day is displayed on two facing pages. The left-hand page is for notating appointments and to-dos.

The right-hand page is for taking notes during phone calls or meetings. It’s a place to jot down anything that comes up during the day. It serves as an alternative to writing on dozens of sticky notes and random scraps of paper.

When your friend calls to extend an invitation to his party and carefully goes over the directions on how to get there (since Google Maps doesn’t get it right), you take notes on the right-hand page. But how will you get back to these notes on the day of the party?

Flip ahead to the day of the party. Enter the party on the calendar. Now add one more thing. In parentheses, add the day you took the notes. When it’s time to leave for the party, the parentheses tell you where to look to get the directions.

Parentheses mean one thing

Years ago, in my paper planner and today with a digital system, parentheses mean one thing to me: “Look here for more information.”

Sometimes, parentheses direct us to another spot in the planner where we recorded information. Sometimes, parentheses direct us to the location of a file containing supporting material for today’s project. And sometimes, those parentheses direct us to the exact spot where we hid that gift months ago.

Feel free to hide that present. Put it in a place nobody would think to look. But add one more step on the front end that’s going to save you time and stress on the back end.

Can you think of a time when you hid a present somewhere…and then forgot where you hid it? Tell me in the comments.