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This weekend, my children had not one, but two birthday parties they had the delight of attending. This could have been a panic filled time for me as I remembered to purchase one of the gifts, but the other gift, well, I forgot. My gift closet saved the day once again. I pulled out 3-4 choices of age appropriate gifts that I had stockpiled, and my daughter chose which one she wanted to give to her friend. It was still personal and thoughtful, and it had the added bonus of being cost and time efficient.
While we are all aware of the benefits of stockpiling household and grocery items, there is another area of life where stockpiling is truly helpful and that is the area of gifts. Now, before you get stressed out trying to figure out where to fit another space in your house that looks like Toys ‘R Us or TJ Maxx, let me demystify this zone.
Growing up, we had a gift closet in our house. This was where my Mom “hid” all the gifts for upcoming birthdays, but mostly it was the Christmas present hiding place. It was no secret that our presents were all in there, but we were well aware of the dire consequences of taking a peek in that closet. So, we didn’t touch it. In my house now, I have two “closets” of sorts for gifts. I have a storage box underneath my bed where I put away gifts for my kiddos, and in our hall closet, I have a plastic box that holds presents for others. It is amazing how much stuff can fit into these two areas alone. The first step is to find a “closet”. The second step is to not forget where you put it! The worst part of stocking up early on gifts is when you can remember you have a gift, but can’t for the life of you find it.
Consider your Season
In my season of life, I have kids’ birthday parties, baby showers and weddings to attend. These (in addition to Christmas) are my main gift giving occasions. You might be in a different season full of graduations and retirement parties. It is helpful to start off making a list of what you are consistently purchasing gifts for.
What to Put in the Closet
Here are some ideas of what I have stockpiled over the years.
Baby showers – I almost always give a package of diapers and wipes. What Mom doesn’t love free diapers!? At times, I’ll add something homemade, a favorite board book or even a regifted item from one of my own babies.
Birthday parties – Board games make great gifts (and they are on sale once a year at least in a big way!) I try to think through what age and stage my three kids are in, and when there are good sales, I will buy not more stuff for them, but gifts for their friends. If you have older kids, iTunes gift cards might make a great deal. It never hurts to talk to your kids about what kind of gifts they want to give, and then keep that on your radar when looking through the sales.
Weddings – I must admit that I do not stockpile for wedding gifts. I know how much thought I put into registering for what I needed; therefore, when I purchase wedding gifts, I try to get something off of the person’s wish list (but I’ll go to Bed, Bath and Beyond and use a 20% off coupon if I can!) :)
Graduations – You could create a lovely snack box of prepackaged goodies for their dorm room from your grocery stockpile. If they are moving into an apartment, a caddie of cleaning supplies would be a great idea. Any graduate would love some of those movie tickets you purchased off of a daily deal site or a restaurant gift card that was purchased when they had a special running.
Now I know that some of you are vehemently opposed to regifting, and that this can be a touchy subject. In all honesty though, I wouldn’t be surprised if 90% of folks haven’t been on the receiving or giving end at least once. A time comes that you get a baby outfit from Great Aunt Beth that just isn’t your style, and while you can be incredibly grateful for the kindness of Great Aunt Beth to remember you, it is a bit wasteful to use something once out of duty and then let it just sit there. So here are some tips to regift:
— If you think you might forget who gave you the gift, put a sticky note on the bottom of it with the name of who gave it to you.
— Don’t re-gift it in the same circle of friends. You are less likely to hurt someone’s feelings that way.
— If you are going to be embarrassed if your regifting is discovered, just don’t do it. Save yourself the stress.
Gift Bags and Tissue Paper
One other massive money saving tip is to save your gift bags and tissue paper!! I got married nearly 10 years ago, and we are still using up wedding gift bags. I cannot imagine how much money this has saved me over the years. You can also get creative with your wrapping paper and tags. My artistic husband and I make snowflake gift tags each year for our Christmas presents, and my children have been known to decorate a brown paper bag with markers to wrap a friend’s gift.
One last thing, thoughtfulness is key. You want to make sure that your gift communicates love and care. If you are just shoving an old gift into a bag, it will look that way. We really try to sort through our things with the person we are “shopping” for in mind. The purpose of giving gifts is to show love, and your heart will come through regardless of how much you spent.