This post begins with an admission. For years, I have purchased gifts at a small fraction of their full retail price and kept them stored in my closet for future gift-giving occasions. However, the area of my bedroom, affectionately referred to as my “gift stash” was an absolute train wreck!
There was no way to even know what was up there without moving items around and risking a head injury from falling debris.
However, my lack of organization is your advantage. My near mishap became an opportunity for me to show you how a well organized gift stash should look.
Creating Your Gift Stash
When I quit the full-time workforce 23 years ago to stay home with my growing family, I had to quickly learn how to take budgeting and penny pinching to a whole new level.
We needed to find creative ways to live within our means. I found ways to cut back in nearly every single category of my budget. I found that there were ways to cut laundry costs in half, spend less money at the grocery store, and (yes) buy gifts without breaking the bank.
It was making small changes, like buying gifts on clearance, that made a significant difference over time.
The single, most important strategy that I employed on a regular basis was that of buying gift items from racks of heavily discounted merchandise and storing it in my home to give away at a later date.
Years ago, I got in the habit of walking into stores and hunting for racks, bins, or baskets of majorly marked down merchandise. These almost magical discounts generally show up about a week to ten days after every single major holiday.
Don’t Assume It’s All Holiday Related
Just because the merchandise rack is marked, “Easter” or “Valentine’s Day”, or any other major holiday, does not mean that every item in that section is specific only to that occasion.
Here’s an example. I found this adorable white bunny in a white basket with a yellow liner on a 90% off Easter clearance rack. Each basket with the stuffed animal was marked at an amazingly low $1.25! I bought 3 baskets for under $5 total.
As a gift, I included some baby socks and a rubber ducky (both of which were also bought on clearance). If I head to Dollar Tree and add baby lotion or an inexpensive toy, I have created a gender neutral baby shower gift for under $10.00.
Basically, I follow this same pattern every time we are invited to attend a wedding, shower, or another occasion which requires us to take along a gift.
Tips For Finding Amazing Deals
Let’s look at some tips for creating your stash. Then we’ll talk about how to keep it all organized.
- Look for 75-90% off merchandise 7-14 days after major holidays.
- Buy a variety of smaller items to “mix and match”, creating gift baskets and gift bags.
- Look for items that can be given away at any time of the year. Just because the rack says, “Christmas” doesn’t mean it is necessarily a gift, motif, or pattern that is specific to that holiday.
- Remove the clearance tags right away before storing! Otherwise, that glue can set up like cement and removing them later, becomes a hassle.
- If the tag doesn’t want to come off, grab your blow dryer. Put it on “warm” setting and apply heat to the tag. After a couple of minutes, the glue will become pliable and you will be able to gently remove the tag, starting from a corner and gently applying counter pressure.
Behold, My “Gift Stash”
This photo reveals the honest truth! My gift stash was a mess! I opened my closet door to nearly be hit on the head by objects falling from the shelf.
Here are my step-by-step instructions. If you follow them, you can not only avoid things falling on your from high places, you can also ensure that you can find an appropriate gift for nearly any occasion right in your own home and avoid going to the store to purchase a much more expensive gift.
Step 1: Know What You Have
If you have more than one hiding place (I did), be sure to empty every area.
The only way to do this right is to drag all the items out and put them on the floor or on the bed. Then you’ll be able to see everything you have and begin the organizing process.
Step 2: Arrange in Categories
Get out empty boxes, bins, or bags to help you categorize your gift items.
You may find that you don’t have enough of one category to fill an entire bin. That’s okay. You can use plastic bags or smaller boxes as dividers when placing items in larger bins.
You may also wish to create a master list of each item in the box and place that list somewhere handy to make it easy to know your choices when making a gift selection.
Here are my categories:
- Children’s gifts (with boy, girl, and neutral gifts in separate bags within the larger bin)
Step 3: Label and Fill Bins
Create a simple label using the computer and then apply to the box or bin with clear packing tape. I like to use large capital letters, which can easily be read by everyone in the family. All of my sons, even the grown ones, are allowed to “shop” the gift stash when they are invited to a gift-giving occasion.
Step 4: Store for Easy Access
Put the bins somewhere that you can get to them easily. Here are some suggested places.
- under the bed
- in a closet
- in the utility room of the basement
- in the garage
That’s it! Now you are organized, you know what items you have on hand, you can instantly select an item or create a “themed” basket or bag the next time you are invited to celebrate with someone special.
What are your best tips for finding great deals on gifts? Leave your thoughts in the comment section.