Good Morning everyone! I trust that you are all settled into a normal schedule now that we are a few weeks past the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season. I thought this might be the perfect time to post about starting a gift closet so that you can start the year off right – planning and saving on all of the gifts that you will need to buy throughout the coming year.
I’ve been using part of my closet in my craft room as a location to store all of my gifts when I buy them, but I really haven’t started a gift closet yet and I’m looking forward to finally starting one this year! Can you imagine? Not getting frantic when you realize you forgot about a gift that you need for the next day? Having a gift closet helps to save time, money, and hassle and will allow you to give a beautiful gift that you put thought into every time without breaking the bank.
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There are a few steps that you want to take to be successful in setting up your own gift closet, so I’m going to outline them here for you.
Make a List of Occasions-
This is your most important step as it will set you up for success going forward. You want to list out all of the occasions that you usually need a gift during the year. Here are some suggestions to get you going:
- bridal shower
- baby shower
- hostess gift
- welcome gift for new neighbor
Use What You Already Have on Hand-
You will be surprised at how much you already have on hand that can start your gift closet! I had an opportunity to use some on-hand items recently for giving to a family in need. The family had relocated suddenly and had nothing for the kitchen in their new home. Our church was asking for donations for any and all kitchen items over the next two weeks to help this family be able to settle into their new location. It was right after Christmas and my first thought was “I can’t afford to go buy things now!” But then, I looked over on the bench near our front entrance and realized that I had two items that were waiting to be returned to stores that were kitchen items and they were brand new! Neither item was going to bring a lot of money back to me when I returned them but they would help this family so I decided to donate them. This got me thinking – did I have anything else I could also donate? I went into my kitchen and found two sets of hand towels that had been given to me a few years before that didn’t match my kitchen so I added them to the pile to donate. Then I realized I had another item I received for Christmas that I wasn’t going to have room for and wasn’t going to be able to return since I didn’t know what store it had come from so I added it to my donate pile. In the end, my bag was bursting when I took it to church the following Sunday and I didn’t spend a penny!
All of these items that I donated to this family could have been added to my gift closet. They would be perfect items to use for future gifts, especially since they were all brand new, unused items! You can use items found at craft fairs or flea markets, gifts you have found that were never given to the recipients (I’ve found a few of these over the years!), handmade gifts you’ve made, gift cards you’ve been given but haven’t used, or re-gifted items, you will most likely be able to make a big dent on your gift closet without leaving the house.
Select Your Storage Location-
This can be the most challenging part of setting up a gift closet for most people. I know that I’ve had difficulty with this in some of the places I’ve lived. Sometimes it feels like there’s barely room for what you already own, let alone using a place to store future gifts! You can get creative if you need to for storing your gifts as well as the items you’ll be using to wrap them.
Choose an out-of-the-way but accessible spot in your home: under a bed, in the attic, basement or garage, in a storage closet or linen closet, or maybe even a cupboard or armoire. Remember, it doesn’t have to be an actual closet, just somewhere you can store gifts out of the way.
You can be creative for containers and storage methods as well: use bins and boxes for bows, ribbon and gift bags. Leave wrapping paper on the roll and use an empty toilet paper roll cut through one side to wrap around wrapping paper to keep it from unravelling. Stack boxes and gift baskets inside each other for keeping your items compact and organized. Look into under-bed storage bins and hanging closet organizers to help keep everything in its place as well.
Keep an Inventory of Your Items-
This is another vital piece to the success of your gift closet. If you don’t keep an inventory of what you have in your gift closet you probably won’t use it. An inventory will show you what you have and what you need to buy. I would suggest using an app like One Note or Trello to help organize your list and keep it on your phone as well as your computer. This way, you’ll have your gift inventory with you when you’re out shopping and can know in an instant what you need and what you already have enough of, which will help you shop efficiently and not waste money. Don’t forget to inventory your gift wrapping items as well. This will keep you from having an awesome gift, but nothing to wrap it in which means you still have to run out and buy something last-minute.
Another suggestion is to have a master gift list. This is a little different from your gift inventory in that it includes a list of each occasion, the recipients, the dates (when possible), and the gift purchased. This will not only help you to know what to buy for an occasion, but it will also help you to know for which specific occasions and people you still need to buy. You can even include notes on your master gift list like sizes for clothing, favorite hobbies, or if someone collects a particular item.
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Where to Shop for the Best Buys-
There are so many places to pick up great bargains to stock up your gift closet throughout the year! One thing to remember when you’re shopping is to try to buy things that are general in nature and won’t go out of style. If something is trendy right now, that doesn’t mean it will still be desirable in a few months. You want to shop smart and not waste time or money buying things that won’t make good gifts when it comes time to give them. Look for items that will work for a boy or girl, or even for any child, like games, puzzles, books, and craft kits.
Shop off-season to find some of the best buys. After-Christmas shopping is one of the best ways to start the year off. You can pick up stocking stuffers, gift wrap, and even toys and clothes during after-Christmas shopping sales, and you’re usually paying 50-75% of the original prices.
Back-to-school sales are another great off-season time to stock up. You can pick up pens, pencils, markers, pencils, notebooks, and sometimes even craft items which make great gifts when paired with a coloring book or art paper.
Always be on the lookout for new, unopened items at garage sales and thrift stores. Clearance racks in stores to find items throughout the year as well. Candles, food items, picture frames, or most household items make wonderful gifts.
Sometimes there are specific times of the year that you will want to try to stock up as well because of the deals being offered.
- Kohl’s will have coupons and Kohl’s Cash at certain times that will help reduce what you are paying.
- Target has their big toy clearance in January and July every year so this is a great time to stock up on Christmas gifts or birthday gifts for the coming year.
- Walmart has a similar clearance event in January and July, but you also want to watch for online clearance events that happen occasionally on Walmart.com.
- Barnes and Noble will also have clearance events, usually in February, May, and September. Some items will even go from 50% off to 75% off a couple of weeks after the clearance event has started.
- Bath and Body Works has a semi-annual clearance event twice a year and this is the perfect opportunity to pick up hand soaps, candles, body sprays and lotions, and wallflowers for gifts.
Hollar.com is a site that has a rotating inventory of toys, accessories, clothing, household items, and even makeup that range from $2.00 – $5.00. On occasion, you can even find a promotion for a credit for your first order so it’s definitely worth looking into.
Amazon is always a favorite of mine. Not only do you get free 2-day shipping if you’re an Amazon Prime member, but they have Amazon Deal of the Days that change each day. If you’re not an Amazon Prime member, look for deals for signing up or free trials when they are offered.
eBates is a great resource to help to pay for your gift buying. If you shop online at stores like Kohl’s, Amazon, Walmart, Target, Groupon, or even Barnes and Noble, then you get a percentage of cash back on all of your purchases you make through eBates. Plus, they are usually running a special to get a free welcome bonus of a $10.00 gift card.
Groupon is another site that has great deals. Not only can you find gift cards discounted up to 50%, but you can also get deals on services like massages, manicures and pedicures, zip line tours, or dinners out at restaurants.
Once you have your gift closet started and organized, you’ll see how easy it is to stay on track and save money through the entire year! I’d love to hear about your gift closets and any tips or tricks you use to keep organized so please share in the comments below. And don’t forget to share this post so others can start saving time and money following these great suggestions as well!
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