Doesn’t it always seem to happen that you find the perfect gift for someone in July, but their birthday isn’t until November? You decide not to buy that perfect gift, then come November, you have no clue what to get that person. If you had a gift closet, you could go ahead and purchase that item in advance and simply wrap it when it’s time to gift it. You will be so happy not to have to rush around looking for the perfect gift at the last minute. That’s why creating a gift closet is the answer to all your gift-related problems.
What is a gift closet? It’s a dedicated space to store gifts, as well as gift wrap, cards, ribbons and other gift-giving supplies. The idea is you buy presents and wrapping throughout the year — after the holidays when prices are discounted, when you’re at an annual craft fair, when you happen upon the perfect gift — and store them in your closet until you need to use them. You save money by shopping at cheaper times of year, and you save time and stress because you’re always prepared when birthdays and holidays come around.
If you need to create some order around the chaos of gift giving, learn how to create and organize the perfect gift closet.
Benefits of a gift closet
As we said above, you will benefit in many ways by creating a gift closet. A gift closet will:
- Save you money
- Save you time
- Take the agonizing and stress out of gift giving
- Keep you prepared for any gift-giving occasion
Save money. It’s fine to buy holiday gifts on Black Friday, but it’s not the cheapest time of year to buy everything. Stores have plenty of sales around other holidays or at the end of a season. You don’t have to give up those bargains because the sales don’t align with your family’s birthdays. If you see a toy or gadget you know someone on your gift list will love, buy it when it’s on sale and store it in your gift closet. Take the same approach to gift wrap; buy it on sale after the holidays and store it in your closet until next year.
Save time. Buying gifts in advance is a great way to save yourself time. How much time have you spent running from store to store looking for an affordable gift, or searching online for something — anything! — in your budget that a friend, teacher or family member will like? With a gift closet, you can simply pluck out the gift you bought in advance, or “shop” from the unassigned gifts you purchased earlier in the year.
No stress. No one enjoys agonizing about what to get their mom, best friend or nephew. A gift closet takes away this stress because you already know what you’ll be giving the recipient. Have you ever been on vacation, saw something and instantly thought of someone who would just love that item, only to get home and wished you had bought it for them? When creating a gift closet you can buy it, bring it home, and hold on to it for just the perfect gift giving opportunity.
Be prepared. When you forget about Teacher Appreciation Day until the night before or get busy and can’t go shopping for the birthday party your kid is attending over the weekend, it’s not a problem when you have a gift closet. Just pull out a nice gift from your stash and wrap it up. No late-night run to Target necessary.
How to organize a gift closet
You’re sold on the gift closet idea. Now you have to create one. Here are tips for how to organize your gift closet.
Find the best location
Finding an ideal location to store these treasures until the right moment can pose a problem. Instead of storing some things under the bed and other things in the closet, it’s best to create one central location.
Ideally, you have a closet in a guest room, office, hallway or finished basement that you already devote to storage. Devote a section of this space for your gift closet. Personally, I have a tote for gifts that I buy in advance. That tote is located on the top shelf in our closet. If I purchase something that is too big for the tote then I place the item beside it.
If closet space is at a premium — I understand! — you can get creative about gift storage.
Here are other places you can store your gifts if a whole closet doesn’t work for you:
- Under your bed, in a flat tote or sweater box. One like this would work.
- In a tote or box in a corner
- In a storage bench
Purchase organizational accessories
A gift closet is meant to save you money, but you would be wise to purchase a few organizational accessories to keep your gifts and wrapping stored neatly. You don’t have to spend a ton of money; ask your friends or neighborhood groups if they have any of the items you’re looking for that they no longer need.
Here’s what you might need to organize your gift closet:
Storage boxes: A plastic tote or a sturdy box is ideal. You can find specific boxes meant to fit long rolls of wrapping paper, or simply stand them up on the closet floor in a tall, narrow box or old umbrella stand. You might want a separate bag or box for ribbons and gift tags.
Paper/journal: Use a piece of paper or mini journal to keep track of what you bought and for whom because it’s easy to forget that you even bought someone a gift nine months in advance. You might also want to keep a list of birthdays and annual gift-giving events, so you remember who and which events you need to shop for when you do hit the stores. Keep this item with your tote or attached to the inside of your gift closet door. Even better, keep this information in a note-taking app on your phone, so you can easily call it up when you’re at a store or craft fair.
Labels: Your gift closet might share space with files or boxes of the kids’ old artwork. Label the outside of the tote (masking tape and a sharpie will work fine), so you can find the items you need quickly.
Bags: Another organization option is to put items for each recipient in a bag labeled with that person’s name. You can even store your Christmas stockings in your gift closet, and fill them up as the year goes on. If that’s easier for you than referring to a master list, go for it. You can have one bag or separate tote for general gifts vs. ones bought for a specific person.
Honestly, it’s that simple. Not a lot of fuss or time has to be spent creating a gift closet.
Gifts to keep in your gift closet
In addition to the gifts you purchase for specific people, you’ll want to keep these gifts and items in your gift closet.
Generic gifts. I recommend always keeping items on hand that aren’t too personal, but are still nice. Look for gifts anyone could use, but aren’t trendy. You’ll want these items for unexpected or last-minute gift-giving events, such as a thank you gift or teacher gift. An example of these type items could include journals, candles, bath and beauty products, or pretty mugs. (See our article on making your own spa day gift basket.) Sometimes I will buy several of my favorite things because I love giving things that I enjoy to others.
Kid gifts. If you have kids who get invited to birthday parties, you can keep a few generic kid gifts on hand. Buy Lego sets on sale, art supplies, puzzles, and small stuffed animals. That way, you’re not frantically searching for a gift an hour before a party.
One caveat: You can easily go overboard buying all kinds of cute gifts for no one in particular, overspend and never give away the items. That won’t save you money! Impose limits on this type of shopping. Designate a small bag or box in your gift closet for generic gifts, and once that is full, do not buy any more. Or, you could limit yourself to keeping no more than five or 10 unassigned gifts in your closet.
Regifts. Your gift closet is also a good place to keep items you’d like to regift. (See our post about regifting without guilt.) Think about the butter dish or bubble bath you’ll never use. If you come across something wacky, store it here for your office’s annual White Elephant or Yankee Swap party.
DIY gifts. Are you a fan of DIY gifts? If you like to make homemade bath salts, magazine bowls or crocheted stuffed animals, make a few extra to keep in your gift closet for that unexpected baby or holiday gift. You might like to gift homemade soup mixes or other food gifts, but I don’t recommend keeping food for months in your closet. You could store your mason jars or DIY supplies there.
Gift wrap supplies. You will also want to buy generic birthday or blank cards, wrapping paper, tissue paper, gift bags, boxes and tags or labels, so you’ll have a nice way of presenting your gifts. Don’t spend a lot of money on these throwaway items. Buy them on sale, or recycle gift bags and boxes you receive as gifts. Sometimes charities will send you note cards as a thank you for donating, and you can store these in your gift closet, as well. Consider making your own gift bags out of newspaper, as well.
Once you have your gift closet/tote ready to go, you’ll be able to pick up items along the way when they are on sale or when you see something you know someone will love. Then you can take it home, store it in your gift closet and feel good knowing you’ve crossed a gift-buying to-do off your list.
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