How to Stock a Gift Closet on a Budget

Do you have a gift closet? Not sure what that is?

A gift closet is a dedicated space in your home to store gift items, gift wrap and cards. A gift closet holds a stockpile of gift items and everything that you need to wrap and present them.

Why bother? It will save you both time and money. A surprise child’s birthday party invite won’t hurt your budget when you have a good selection of age-appropriate gifts stocked in your gift closet. Baby shower invites and graduation announcements are easy to answers with the help of stockpiled gifts. Shopping sales and catalog clearance items really cuts the cost of Christmas gifts; holiday shopping is simple when you have a stockpile of gifts at the end of the hall.

So, are you ready to set up a gift closet in your home. Try these tips to acquire a stockpile of gifts on a budget:

• Make a List of Occasions
You probably have a birthday list or a calendar filled with important dates for family and friends—anniversaries, graduations, birthdays. Make a list of all the possible times when you may need a gift. Do you have any bridal or baby showers in the near future? Or maybe a nephew’s graduation is approaching?

Obviously, you can’t predict everything, so you may receive last-minute invitations from time to time. Add a few occasions to your list to cover these “pop-up” celebrations—parties for your kids’ friends, housewarming parties, welcome gift for new neighbors, etc. Hostess gifts are always good to have on hand too.

Once you’ve completed your list, copy it to your phone or place it in your family command center. You’ll want to have this list at the ready so you can check it whenever you find good deals.

• Assemble Your Stash
Many of us already have a “gift stash” or closet in some form or another. Maybe you just place extra items in your pantry or in the top of your closet. Bring all of them out and assess what yo already have on hand.

Go ahead and get creative. Go through gift cards, Amazon gift cards, Swagbucks, Inbox Dollars…any “free money” that you already have that might be useful for buying gifts. You’ll probably end up with more than one item that may make a good gift itself, like a Groupon for a massage or a mani/padi. You’ll be surprised at all he great gifts that you already have on hand.

Bring out any homemade gifts that you’ve crafted for gifting. If you’ve bought some flea market/thrift shop vases or baskets, add those to the group. A vintage vase with some fresh flowers from your garden can make a beautiful gift—and costs practically nothing.

If you’ve purchased extra items on sale, during the Christmas season, back-to-school or summer sales, add those to the mix. The good thing about having a gift closet is that you have the time to add extra thought and small, inexpensive touches, which add so much more to your gift.

• Take Inventory and Organize
Okay, so now your gift list contains an inventory of all the items that you already have on hand. You may find that by organizing and taking stock of items you have on hand, and simply pairing gifts with recipients, you already have a hefty gift closet that’s ready to go.

Your gift list inventory is your go-to list when you’re out shopping, especially when you find great deals. It helps to jot down notes on your gift list too—to remember that your mother-in-law loves anything with flowers on it and your nephew’s size is medium and LOVES music.

Your inventory can also help you plan crafting and DIY projects. I know when I find a cute idea on Pinterest, I save it and think about who I can make it for. Add crafts to your lists, then you can keep an eye out for supplies.

You should also inventory all the cards, gift bags, wrapping, bows and baskets that you have on hand. Baking homemade bread is a lovely gift, but it can be a showstopper when it’s in a charming basket with a jar of homemade jam. A handmade salt scrub is wonderful, but in a festive bag with a bow and a handmade gift tag, it becomes quite special.

Pick an accessible storage spot that’s out of the way, like in a bin under the bed, in the basement, in a storage closet or any other convenient place. The idea is to have the items organized and inventoried so that you can easily find them and have them ready when it comes time to gift them. If your kids are on your list, pick a spot to store items where they won’t peek or accidentally stumble upon their gifts early.

You can store bows, ribbon and wrapping paper in bins or even in hanging closet organizers—like the kind used to organize shoes. There are under-the-bed wrapping paper bins, but rolling them up and taping a piece of paper around each to hold the wrapping together works just as well. Stack boxes and baskets inside one another and fold bags flat in a file folder.

• Shop Smart
Is your closet fully stocked? If not, keep a lookout for great deals and unconventional gifts while you’re out and about. You’d be amazed at how many garage sales, thrift sales and rummages offer literally “new with tags” items—even in the original packaging! I’ve found books, games, puzzles and craft kits for under a dollar—and brand new too!

My favorite time of year to find great deal on gifts is November and December—I make a habit of checking the Amazon Deal of the Day page each morning just to see what I can add to my stash.

Another tip is to stock up on school supplies (colored pencils, pens and crayons) during back-to-school sales. Coupled with some coloring books or art paper that you can find on clearance at Michaels or Hobby Lobby can make great kids’ birthday gifts for nearly zero.

Keep an eye on clearance racks and shop smart. Some baby clothes that you saw might be adorable, but if you don’t have any babies on the horizon—according to your gift list), maybe hold off on that. Avoid trendy or dated items and look for quality, universally appealing and classic gifts. Candles, picture frames, pretty bowls and tea towels make wonderful hostess gifts. Buy your home team’s logo gear after the season is over and you’ll have it available for next year’s pre-season birthday party. Same goes for summer items—they’ll be cheap in the fall, but the recipients will be excited to use them in the spring!

While going over your inventory, you may have found that you’re low on wrapping supplies. First of all, get creative and try to think of ways to save on wrapping paper. You can use craft paper, newsprint and even maps to create lovely packaging for your gifts. Put items in baskets, boxes or mason jars to add some charm. stock up on ribbon, twine and other accessories that you find on sale. 

Right after Christmas, you can find huge rolls of wrapping paper, solid colored bags and boxes. Stock up! Even red and green won’t look like Christmas in July when you add cute pieces of floral tissue. Metallic items are always good choices and you can soften their sharpness when you add black, pastels or jewel tones.

I love making cards from photos, which cost almost nothing to put together and look so personal. If crafts isn’t your thing, you can find clearance cards after nearly every season. When you come across a funny birthday card or greeting that captures the sentiment that you’d like to send to your mom, pick it up ad mark it off your list. Many stores have .99 card racks and the Dollar Tree has plain and blank cards packaged for just a few cents apiece.

The whole idea of a gift closet is to help you save by being prepared for any celebrations or invitations that come your way. It can be a huge time and money saver and by simply organizing your closet, you might just find that you have quite a few nice gift items already on hand.

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