My mom is a no-nonsense, practical, and frugal woman. Growing up, she always had shelves in a storage space that contained all kinds of presents. Whenever birthday party invites arrived or some sort of gift-giving occasion snuck up on us, she would send my siblings and me to the shelves to pick something out.
I thought this was normal, and it’s a practice I adopted long ago. But recently I learned most people don’t have a gift stash of their own.
You see, my kids received a last-minute invite to a birthday party at the beginning of the year. Our family vehicle had bit the dust so I didn’t have the luxury to run out to Target and pick something up. Fortunately for me, I had my gift stash. I grabbed a couple of age-appropriate things for a sweet two-year-old and off we went.
When I arrived, friends marveled that I was able to bring something, knowing we’d been invited with 24 hours notice, and had a precarious vehicle situation. I quickly replied, “I just raided my gift stash,” and their questions started pouring in.
That’s when it dawned on me: not many people have a gift stash of their own.
If you’ve always wanted to start one, there’s no time like the present! Here’s how…
At least twice a year, Target puts the majority of its toy department on clearance. That is the time to shop. Think about what your son or daughter might like next Christmas. Browse the clearance section at all your favorite stores and pick up a few basics for whatever baby showers pop up in the coming months. If you see your favorite must-have baby item on clearance or sale for a super great price, grab it. Michaels and Hobby Lobby often put their craft kits on big time clearance. Stash those aside. (They may even just come in handy on a rainy day.)
Set a Budget
Each month, I have a specific amount of money I’m willing to spend on gifts. This money encompasses birthdays, Christmas, and other holidays. I’ll admit, it’s not a lot of money for the number of gift-giving occasions that seem to present themselves. Still, this helps me set some parameters with my spending. It also allows me the freedom to pick extra gifts up on slower months and leave space for those months that contain six family birthdays.
If you have school-age kids, it’s never too early to brainstorm teacher gifts. Or did you see the perfect gift for your mother-in-law but her birthday is still several months away? You can still buy it. Save yourself the trip of going back – or the grief of not finding it later!
Make a Spreadsheet
Buying ahead is great and all, but not if you forget what you’ve gotten! If you’ve purchased specific items for specific people and specific occasions, make a spreadsheet so you can keep track. Then you’ll also know in, say, September who you’re done Christmas shopping for and who you still need to shop for.
Find the Space
Store all of your gift items in the same place. If you have shelves in the back of a closet, that’s perfect because you can easily access and see the items. If you’re like me and space is at a premium and you don’t want your kids to find it, stick it all in a big Rubbermaid bin. It’s not pretty but it works.