Setting up and using a gift closet is nothing new, but this year it might just be your sanity saver. Here are my best tips on how to set up a gift closet so you are ready for the holidays in time to ship all your gifts early.
When most people think of ways to save money the first thought that comes to mind probably isn’t shopping. But for this money-saving and stress eliminating tip, I am going to have you do just that. We are going to talk about the art of the gift closet and how it will change your holiday for better during this crazy year.
With trips being canceled every day and gatherings being postponed you might find yourself shipping gifts instead of hand delivering them. And sure, maybe you can give gift cards to make things easy, but where is the thought in that?
By setting up a closet and starting early (the super-easy way) you can get the perfect gift for everyone on your list in plenty of time to ship them parcel post and not spend your entire budget on shipping.
And, speaking of budgets, sometimes you need to make a little investment early to save a lot on money later. And this investment is not only going to save you a lot of money, it’s going to save you a ton of time and (this year) will totally save the day too.
Have I sparked your interest yet?
One of my favorite budgeting tips of all is the gift closet. I cannot tell you how much money I have saved over the years with this little gem of a tip. Most of you probably know what a gift closet is, but for those of you that don’t – here’s a brief explanation.
Simply put, a gift closet is just what it sounds like. It’s a closet (or shelf, or cupboard, or a tote under your bed) where you stash random gifts for birthday’s, anniversaries, Christmas, you name it.
The goodies that you keep inside your gift closet can be used for just about anything.
Now I know what some of you are thinking.
Gifts are meant to be personal and show how much you think of the recipient.
And that can still hold true with this system. When you pick up items, even when doing so early, you are usually buying them with someone in mind. So the thought is still there. The purpose of the gift closet is to fill it with gifts for people on your list throughout the year, not just fill it with random deals on stuff you “might” need for someone someday.
It is important to note at this point that when you are on a budget a purchase should never be made without intention. Meaning an item is always purchased with a purpose in mind.
- Food is bought with the purpose of eating.
- Clothes are bought with the purpose of wearing them.
- Household items are bought to handle household tasks.
You see where I am going with this. The same holds true with items for a gift closet. You are purchasing items for specific people to be used as a gift for an upcoming holiday. By spreading the large cost of holiday gifts out over the course of the year, you are in turn spreading out the impact it will have on your family budget.
If you fill the closet just to fill it, then your closet is just a cluttered space and not the time saving and money-saving tool it is intended to be.
Before you buy any item take a minute to think who it is for and why. If you can easily think of a recipient that will like or love the item in your hand, then buy it.
If not, PUT IT BACK.
You will save more money leaving the item in question in the store than you will with that item at home gathering dust.
The only exception to this rule is when you buy items to be used for hostess gifts. I do like to have a few generic gifts on hand for dinners, parties, or other events that call for a last-minute gift.
How to fill your gift closet.
Since most people today are on a budget, it helps to have a few dollars set aside for deals that come out when you are out shopping. You can do this by having an errand book set up for not only everyday shopping but also for deals you can take advantage of to fill your gift closet. You never know when a good sale is going to hit so having funds earmarked just for your gift closet will help to keep you on budget.
Remember the whole point of this holiday gift closet is to save money not cost money.
How it works. When I am out running errands I may see a sale bin. I just take a few minutes to rummage through and see if there are any deals keeping my family and close friends in mind as I rummage.
I just love to rummage.
I love to rummage especially for Christmas.
I am a stocking stuffing gal. I LOVE to give stockings as gifts. They are so much fun to fill and I can really get creative and goofy with the gifts. A gift closet is the best and most affordable way to do this.
So, as I am rummaging through the bin I see a mini clipboard marked down to just 10 cents. My dad loves to do crossword puzzles and tends to grab random magazines to write on. This little clipboard will work perfectly for him. Into my shopping basket, it goes.
I just found a gift for him for 10 cents! I actually gave him this exact gift last year along with a few pencils and crossword books for Christmas and he loved it!
For 10 cents!!!!
I think so many people ignore the gift closet idea because they believe it takes the love out of shopping. It really doesn’t at all. We all shop for the same people over and over.
Our family and close friends.
The whole purpose of the gift closet is to spread out the cost and stress of purchasing a large number of gifts over an extended period of time.
When you are filling your gift closet, those people are still in your thoughts as you choose your items. It’s the same thing, only you are saving money doing it. That does not by any means take the love out of a gift.
Paying full price shows no more love than paying half price.
Okay, moving on…….
Shopping Online for Your Holiday Gift Closet
Let’s face it, this year is one hot mess and you may be thinking that the holiday is going to be the same hot mess. Because the last place you want to be right now is with a crowd of people at the store hoping to save a few pennies on gifts.
And that is why shopping online is my new favorite frugal tip.
Not only are shoppers learning to adapt to this new normal, so are businesses and more and more of them are offering what they sell inside of the store online. And, this is the very best part, most of those stores are also offering free shipping too.
This can help in two ways.
- Buy things early and save on shipping to stock up your gift closet with amazing gifts for the upcoming holidays.
- Wait until closer to the time and send those gifts directly to the recipient taking advantage of gift wrapping if the store you are buying from offers it.
Either way, having a list and a system of what you need and who you are shopping for is crucial for keeping track on your list and your budget all at the same time.
How to Organize Your Gift Closet
This is by far one of the most important parts of the holiday gift closet.
If you just toss items into it, not only will you forget what was in there, but you will also forget who the gift is for and when you plan to give it.
Like I said before, you will not save any money if you purchase gifts that only sit in your gift closet gathering dust.
Have a purpose for each and every single gift.
But, how do you remember that your cousin Kathy is supposed to receive the coffee and bacon-scented candle because she loves bacon at breakfast?
Easy. You label it.
Haha, I know….but hear me out! As soon as you get home take your purchases and go to your gift closet. Take Kathy’s candle and grab yourself a post-it note. Write on it:
Birthday gift October 2020
I promise you no matter how old you are, if you buy cousin Kathy a gift in February you WILL NOT remember come October that she is the recipient.
Label it as soon as you buy it so you don’t forget it.
After you label, it put it in your gift closet.
You are not done yet.
The next stop is your calendar file where you keep your Birthday reminders for the year. Jot a little note reminding yourself that you have a gift for cousin Kathy for her Birthday. This will not only remind you of the gift so you can get it to her on time, but it will also keep you from buying more than you need for each person.
What do you do when you have quite a few items for a certain person?
Like I said before, I love to fill stockings for family and friends and in order to keep things organized and not overbuy, I use this super simple tip.
I put all items per person in a brown paper grocery bag and label it clearly.
I like the paper grocery bags because they are big, stand up, are easy to toss in items and I can label the outside of the bag so I do not have to label every single gift.
This saves loads of time.
Finally, if you have oodles of people to buy for each year you may be worried about over buying simply because you can’t remember in the store how many gifts you have already in your gift closet.
You can easily keep a list of what you have (or at least the bigger items) in your errand book. I have a short gift list of what I have and gift ideas I get throughout the year.
The beauty of this book is it always goes with me.
If I see a deal in a store I can look quick in my errand book and see if I bought it or anything like it. I also keep my gift closet money there so I know where it is at all times. Don’t panic, it’s not a large amount. Just $20. So you don’t have to worry too much about anyone stealing it.
Random gifts for unexpected events.
This is my favorite part of the gift closet.
If you practice my Once A Month Grocery Shopping advice you know the best way to save money is to simply stay out of the stores. So, when you are invited to dinner at your best friend’s home and you want to take a little something to say thank you, the last thing you want to do is run to the mall to grab a gift and be tempted to blow your budget with one quick visit.
For unexpected invitations, I like to keep small items that I can easily use for this occasion. Candles with matching dishtowels are perfect. I also keep quirky towels on hand for moments like this. Nothing shows I love you than a dish towel with a goat on it. 🙂
Okay, I never intended for this post to be this long. But when I get excited about something I tend to talk.
Just ask my family. 🙂
But I think the reason the gift closet gets such a bad rap is that so many people don’t realize how to use it.
Now that you have tips on how to fill and tips on how to keep the “care” in the gift-giving and even tips on how to remember what is in it, you have no excuses!
Get yourself a gift closet, or gift drawer, or gift box for under the bed even and never worry about blowing your budget at Christmas again.
By setting up a gift closet, creating a list you can keep with you as you shop, and starting early with your holiday gift buying you will turn this year’s hot mess of a holiday into one you can look forward to again.