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An inexpensive gift closet will become a life-saver when it comes to giving out presents. If it seems that you are running out every week to buy a gift for someone it's probably because you are.
Gift giving, for even the smallest occasions, has become the social norm in the last decade or so but if you find you are scrambling to get your girlfriend's prize pooch a little something for it's 6th birthday maybe it's time to scale back.
While gifts for your close family members are expected, friends and co- workers most of the time don't really need to be given anything more than a card.
But just buying for your family can add up to a lot of gifts in the year when you consider birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, confirmations, Mother's Day, Father's Day, bridal showers, baby showers, weddings, house warming gifts, thank you gifts, hostess gifts, Valentine's, Easter, Christmas and other occasions you want to celebrate! Looking at this list is a great reason to encourage you to start on your inexpensive gift closet!
You need to decide where your inexpensive gift closet is going to be. If you actually have a closet in your home that you can designate to it, then that's great. It might end up being armoire, or inexpensive shelving unit in your basement that has a curtain in front of it or a bin or two under your bed that you can easily pull out.
You don't want to do several closed bins because you will have to keep opening them up to see what is inside.
When my children were very little I explained to them that the surprise of the gift is part of the gift. To sneak around and try to find out what someone is going to give you for your birthday or Christmas is ruining the surprise and won't make you any happier on your special day.
Somethings are worth waiting for! (They really understood the concept and would in their teens ask me if it was OK to go into my closet when it was coming up to their birthdays and Christmas because they didn't want to accidentally see their gifts.)
What you want to avoid is the panic buying at the last minute when you are ready to get anything regardless of the cost.
The year does not sneak up on us unexpectedly, January is always followed by February, March by April- birthdays do not jump about the calendar and celebrations generally fall about the same time every year.
By planning a gift giving strategy and your inexpensive gift closet you can save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars every year and spend your time enjoying the moment, not worrying about money or what to get.
You need to write out the 12 months on paper or computer and have space beside each month to list the holidays you celebrate with gift giving (Valentine's, Easter etc.).
Next write in each month all the birthdays and anniversaries you celebrate, any special occasions you know that will be happening that year, like a 25th wedding celebration or a graduation and finally how many hostess gifts you think you might need.
This probably won't cover all the gift giving you're likely to give in the year as you will probably receive some invitations to events you had not planned on but it's a really good start.
Seeing it all laid out on paper can be a bit of a shock! This is the time you need to decide who will be given gifts and who will be sent cards by mail or e-mail.
For each occasion add the number of people receiving the gifts (for example Easter- baskets for 4 children, 2 cards for grandparents, Chocolate bunny for spouse.) If your kids get invited to a lot of birthday parties add 3 or 4 age appropriate gifts to the beginning of the year.
You might have to re-do this list a few times to make sure that you have covered everyone and all the holidays.
(This is a really good time to decide on your gift budget and how much you can truly afford to spend on everyone. If it is $5 then it is $5. No one wants you to go into debt over them and you will be surprised what you can get for $5 when you have planned ahead.)
Use this list as a master list and always carry a copy of it with you. When ever you are at a great sale you can glance over your list and see if there is anyone you can buy for. Once you have bought them a gift make sure to cross their name off the list.
Buying at sales is a great way to start loading up your inexpensive gift closet. Always have your eyes peeled for gifts when you are out shopping. If you only ever shop at the mall you need to expand your horizons!
Read through my Inexpensive Shopping Guide for a full list of great ideas of where to shop at stores like Outlet Stores, Warehouse Sales, Liquidation Stores, Auctions etc.
When you find something at a great deal think creatively on who you can give it to. Colorful dishtowels that are on sale for 25 cents each can be the start of a gift basket that includes other on sale kitchen items or just be paired with a hot sauce and given as a gift for the seasoned cook or one just starting out. (For other gift basket ideas read Make Inexpensive Gift Baskets that Look Expensive.)
End of season sales are great for presents you need 6 months down the road. A pair of ski gloves bought on sale in March would be ideal for a October birthday.
There is nothing wrong with shopping at garage sales and thrift stores for gifts as long as it is done with the right intentions.
As a former antique dealer I can assure you that antique dealers often check out garage sales and thrift stores for amazing deals and then go on to resell these items for huge profits in their shops or if they are new and unused they sell them on Ebay. You must keep in mind that the purpose of a gift is to bring pleasure to the person that is receiving it and very often price has absolutely nothing to do with it.
If that new in the box reel you spied at a garage sale for $3 is absolutely perfect for you brother-in -law for Christmas then buy it for him. If your sister loves vintage jewelry then scour the garage sales for some amazing bargains!
Your inexpensive gift closet can be filled with the same items. If there is a great sale on champagne then buy a case and a bottle can be your go-to hostess gift!
It doesn't even need to be a full size bottle. I love to give small bottles of champagne as birthday gifts. Here I show how I dress up my Inexpensive Champagne Sparkling Wine Gift.
Loot bag items are also included in my inexpensive gift closet. At clear outs and warehouse sales there are often bins of small items for 25 cents. A sale on grooming items can yield great items for a girl's birthday spa party.
Of course not all gifts have to be store bought, if you are known for your fabulous baking or jams then wrap them up. Your gift closet can be filled with inexpensive plates and containers to put your yummy treats in.
If you have any sort of artistic ability then a pencil sketch or photo of something meaningful to the recipient in a lovely (bought on sale) frame would be perfect.
Once you bring home the gift you bought on sale or from the thrift store or garage sale, with a sticky note mark who it is for and place it your inexpensive gift closet. You could wrap the gift as soon as you bring it home but make sure that you write with pen on the wrapping paper who it is for in case you forget who you were going to give it to.
Finally the old saying "it's the thought that counts" really is true. Sometimes the most memorable gifts are the ones that just make us laugh. When a couple who both loved fishing got married one of their favorite gifts was from a family friend who sent them a check with two lures with a note that read "Glad to see you two finally got hooked"