Gift Closet Hack for a Streamlined Holiday!

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Finding ways to save money when it comes to gift giving yet still give amazing gifts at the same time these tips will help. Setting up a gift closet will not only organize your holiday gifts but help you to save money at the same time. This frugal living tip is one that you will want to use again and again.

gift closet

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 will 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 the better during this crazy year.

Putting Christmas gifts under a holiday tree

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 of money later. And this investment is not only going to save you a lot of money, but it’s also going to save you a ton of time and (this year) will totally save the day too.

Have I sparked your interest yet?

follow these tips on how to fill, organize and use a gift closet to save thousands every year!

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 who don’t – here’s a brief explanation.

What is a gift closet?

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 birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, you name it.

The items you keep inside your gift closet can be used for just about any holiday and any person on your list. You can also have items that are for unexpected last minute events. Things like a hostess gift or a last-minute child’s birthday invite.

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 only 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.

  1. Food is bought to eat.
  2. Clothes are bought to wear them.
  3. Household items are bought to handle household tasks.

I’m sure you can 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. 

shopping for gifts for a holiday gift closet

Before you buy any item, take a minute to think about who it is for and why. If you can easily think of a recipient who likes or loves 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.

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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 everyday shopping and 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 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.

woman with shopping bags


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!!!!

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 fill 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. 

shopping online for your holiday gift closet

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. 

  1. Buy things early and save on shipping to stock up your gift closet with amazing gifts for the upcoming holidays. 
  2. 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 of your list and your budget all at the same time. 

How to Organize Your Gift Closet

This is one of the most essential parts of the holiday gift closet. The organization of your 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 to them.

As I said earlier, you will not save any money if you purchase gifts that only sit in your gift closet, gathering dust. That is why you want to have a purpose in mind for every gift that you buy.

But how do you remember that your cousin Katey is supposed to receive the coffee and bacon-scented candle because she loves bacon at breakfast?

Easy, you label it.

I know….but hear me out! When you get home, take your new gift purchases to your closet. Take Katey’s candle and grab yourself a post-it note. Write on it:

For Katey – Birthday gift October

I promise you, no matter how much you think you will remember, you are if you buy cousin Katey a gift in February, the odds of you remembering come October are slim to none.

Label it as soon as you buy it, so you don’t forget it.

After you label it, put it in your gift closet.

But wait…..

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 Katey 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 specific person?

Like I said before, I love to fill stockings for family and friends, and to keep things organized, so I do not accidentally 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.

brown bags with name on the front filled with gifts

This saves loads of time and helps me to quickly see how much I have purchased for each person.

Keep a List

Finally, if you have quite a few people to buy for each year, you may be worried about overbuying simply because you can’t remember how many gifts you already have for each person in your gift closet.

As you purchase a gift, keep a list of what you have inside your errand book. Call this your “running tally” of your yearly gifts.


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 significant amount. Just $20 or so. Enough to grab a deal but not so much that you need to worry about losing 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 stay out of the stores. If 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 some fun hand towels on hand for moments like this. Nothing shows I love you more than a fun dish towel with a goofy chicken on the front of it. 🙂

Okay, I never intended for this post to be this long. But when I get excited about something, I tend to talk.

A lot.

Just ask my family. 🙂

But I think the gift closet gets such a bad rap because so many people don’t realize how to use it.

Now that you have tips on how to fill and how to keep the “care” in the gift-giving and even tips on how to remember what is in it, you have no excuses!

I hope this article inspires you to set up a dedicated space to hold and organize your gifts so you can budget out gift giving in a better way.

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. 


  1. joceleyne says:

    a girl after my own heart. I have been doing this for years and it is such a help, come Christmas, birthdays etc. Take care and keep well in this worrying time we are going through
    Joceleyne (the French girl in England)… well, one of them anyway!

  2. I have been doing this kind of thing for years…but never knew it had a name!! You learn something new every day! 🙂

  3. I just found your site and know it’s going to be one of my favorites!
    One of the ways I use the gift closet (mine is actually a big box) is for kids’ birthday presents. My girls are at the age where they get lots of birthday party invitations, often for classmates they may have only been in class with for a few weeks/months and don’t know them very well. I like to pick up craft kits on clearance at places like Michaels and JoAnn Fabrics, often for as much as 75-90% off. Then when an invitation comes home for a birthday party my daughter and I can go through the kits I’ve bought and choose a couple they think their friend would like.

    1. Welcome, Banni! So glad to have you here 🙂
      I just love your idea of keeping craft gifts around for upcoming birthdays….what a great idea!

      Thank you for sharing,
      Tracy Lynn

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