The Gift Closet

Sep 18, 2009

Even if you are careful with how you spend money on yourselves, it is easy to shell out more than you’d like when it comes to gifts. When you buy for yourself, it’s easier to save your money and make the purchase you’re hoping for when you find a good deal or the item goes on sale. For gifts, though, it’s not always so simple. I find that my kids are always being invited to birthday parties with just a week’s notice. I don’t have time to shop around for a great price on toys or kids’ clothes when I’m pressed for time.

That’s why I have a “gift closet.” Actually, I have more than one of them. And, if truth be told, they’re not so much “closets” as much as tall cabinets in my garage. I used to keep all of this stuff in my own closet, but when I found I had no more room for my clothes, I told my husband we needed a new system. Thus, we spent this past Valentine’s Day building cabinets in our garage until 1 am. It was oh, so romantic . . .

Anyway, all year long, whenever I’m in a store, I scan and scour the clearance shelves and racks. I find that the best time to do this is right after Christmas. For the holidays, stores, such as Walmart, stock up on lots of extra items, such as little girls’ makeup and beauty kits and baby bath toys. Once the holidays are over, they put these items on clearance, often at 75% - 90% off. Craft stores, such as Michaels, put their big craft kits on sale for a dollar or two, also. That’s when I buy! I can often get a $10 item for $1 or a $20 one for $2. I buy a lot of them. Enough to last me for a whole year’s worth of kids’ parties. This way, whenever one of my kids is invited somewhere, he and/or she and I can go out to our garage and “shop” for a gift. There’s no need to run out to the store and no need to spend a lot of money. I’m still giving a really nice gift – it just didn’t cost me full price.

I do the same things for kids’ clothes. When the stores have their ends of season clearance sales, I stock up on stuff, not just for my own kids for future years, but also on outfits I can give as gifts at a later date. Sometimes, I have a specific child in mind when I shop. For example, I know that we have certain friends’ kids or my niece whom we give a gift to for their birthday and Christmas. If I see something for them that would be great for next Christmas, even if it’s in May, I buy it, stick a Post It note on it (so that I remember who it is for and don’t accidentally give it to anyone else) and put it away in the closet.

In order to keep track of who I need gifts for, especially for Christmas, I keep a list in Word on my computer. I have everyone’s name written down and, as I buy presents for them throughout the year (as I find things on sale), I write down the item I purchased for them. This way, I don’t buy something, put it away, and forgot I bought them a gift – causing me to rush out at the last minute and spend a lot of money on something else because I think I have nothing to give them. If I come up with something I’d like to give them, and thus, need to search for a good price on the item, I write it next to their name, but in the color red. This way, I don’t forget my gift ideas and the red reminds me that it hasn’t been purchased yet. Once I buy it, the color gets changed to black.

I also stock up on books – especially kids’ ones. We have a great store here, which I’ve mentioned before, called Half Price Books. All books are, of course, half price – and some are even less than that. The kids’ section is the best, though, because many, if not most, of those books seem to be brand new. And, the store always has a bunch of clearance racks on the sidewalk in front of the store where they are selling hardcover kids books for $1 - $3. Whenever I go there, usually when my supply starts to run low, I stock up on books to keep in the closet. Again, it’s a great gift to give to kids and I can give them $40 or so worth of books for two or three bucks.

I also keep a stash of “grown-up” items in the closet that I can grab if I’ve forgotten I need a gift for something like Teacher Appreciation Day or we get a last minute email saying that it’s our child’s teacher’s birthday the next day. The more kids you have, the more teachers there are who become a part of your life. And, for years, I was a teacher. I, though, rarely recieved any gifts from my students. So, I try to make a conscious effort to let the teachers know that I appreciate them – with a little gift. True, I don’t spend a lot of money on these gifts, but when I was teaching, I would have been grateful for at least a card.

Does this whole concept of buying gifts on sale, in advance, make me seem cheap? Perhaps. Do I care. Nope. If I spent $10 - $20 on every kid’s birthday party my three children are invited to all year long, we could very possibly go broke. Kids don’t care how much you spent on their gifts – they’re just excited to get them. So, why should I pay a fortune for a toy in June that I could get for less than half the cost if I buy it in January?

So, next time you pass a clearance aisle at Target or Kohls or somewhere else, ask yourself if you might want to buy a few extra presents you can keep around the house for when you’re in a pinch. It’s inevitable. You’re going to need a gift sooner or later. Won’t you be proud of yourself if you have just what you need, just when you need it, for just the right price?


Sheila Rae said...


Found you thru MBC :) Great Blog. I am following you with both my blogs and

Please come follow me :)

If you would like to exchange buttons for blog love I would love too :)


Kelly Seiler said...

Okay, I'm following both your blogs. Love them. I don't have a button. How do I make one? I'm new to this blog thing! Thanks!

Susan Fobes said...

Thanks for the tips. I went to Walmart after Christmas last year and bought quite a few of those basket gift sets (fancy soaps and shower gels) for teacher's gifts this year, but I never really thought about kids gifts...


Wonderful finds here! Also, I found something interesting I thought I would share, I wrote about it this month…


Bringing Out Your Inner BOLD!

Bill Blass said, “Style is primarily a matter of instinct.” Decorating takes on a new meaning for each individual. Clever and chic for Janie may be yesterday’s yawn-fest for Carol. Different tastes in dècor mean different furniture, artwork and color palettes. So what is the rule of thumb for making your place zing if it’s not a certain style, pattern, or color?

Bold, baby! Bring out the Y-O-U!

Boldly say what you want to say when designing a room. Make a statement and let your personality shine through. If you go in for the palest blues to soothe and relax, add a custom zing to make it pop! Love black and white photography? Maybe even some of that ultra-hot photo alphabet wall art in black and white? Splash in some passionate pink or revved up red on the wall to make it sizzle.

No longer are walls content with neutral shades. Any color of the palette goes! Splash on muted melons or eccentric eggplants with savvy sage. Classic colors cozy up with velvety crimsons and Dijon yellows. Color is fantastically bold and beautiful! Rich textured throws, swags, rugs and runners jazz up every room, every time.

Patterns are all the rage now, too. Twists and twirls, paisleys and pearls! Did you ever in a million years think of dotting stripes and striping dots? Designers these days are pulling out all the geometrical stops. Paisley mixes with all sorts of combinations-checks, polkas, and weathered solids. Discover a new way of looking at the world around you in different shapes and designs.

Mix it all with gorgeous gilding in silver and gold. Toss in a few well-chosen accents-bold and beautiful. And with the trend of decor becoming more and more personalized, a meaningful piece of photography will make you feel right at home. Black and white as well as the historic look of sepia photography looks gorgeous in any room. Add all these ingredients together, and you’ve got yourself a decorating design that not only expresses your individual style but does so as personally and beautifully as you want it to.

Whatever you want to say while decorating, say it with your own personal sense of style. Put it out there for the world to see and don’t look back! Embrace your individuality whether your nature is “Janie jazzed” or “Carol calm”. Express yourself! When people enter your home they’ll shoot you a complementary smile, knowing it looks and feels sooooo perfectly like you. And no one can do YOU better.

by T. Miller
Décor Tips & Quips from AlphabetPIX

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To take your individual decorating style to a whole new level of personalization, and discover a new way of looking at the world around you, check out Imagine photographs of natural alphabets, art photo messages or even personalized photo frames. You’ll love pictures with alphabet letters! (Intrigued? Check us out...

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