As an exercise in reminding myself of the value of tables, I manually drew one some years ago and wrote it up with birthdays for family and special friends. Christmas is a demanding time and is what it is. Unless a birthday fell at Christmas, the festival did not come into the equation.
When I had finished filling in the various boxes with names and dates, I was very surprised to see which was my busiest month of the year for birthdays. Call it illusory, call it a blind spot, call it what you like……for some unfathomable reason,(if reason there was) I was sure that my largest group of birthday greetings were in a different month of the year. But, there it was, written in my own fair hand with all the details, all of which had been checked. There was no getting away from it, that particular period was where I was likely to be busiest greeting people and making up some parcels, especially for the children, who had birthdays at that time.
The next step was to progress to spreadsheets. It was not difficult to resist that temptation. I have a friend who does one at Christmas time. She totals up what she spends on everyone, with a separate column for what is spent on her children so, she can see the distribution of the spend.
What I have done though, is create a computerised table, much like the one I manually drew up. I added an extra column for Christmas gifts/greetings and suchlike. This is because I can then use one table for both purposes. I also note birth dates in the name column. Some people receive both birthday and Christmas greetings. I save the tables from year to year, as yet, I have not decided for how long. Like address books, some names disappear over time. I have found the tables incredibly useful to check back with, as, for example, I nearly gave the same gift to someone, two years running.