Amy Clark

The Gift Closet Part One: Wrapping Gifts


I had an email which requested that I talk a little bit about the gift closet and how we stock our gift closet. First, I am using the word “closet” in quotes because we do not have a spare closet to stick all of these gifts in. The one major closet that we had in our house was revamped and now houses our entertainment unit (People with small homes should definitely read that post!) Instead, I actually use a clear plastic tote and a shelf in our basement for keeping these spare gifts.

A gift closet is just the idea of keeping gifts that you can use for any occasion. Some people stock gifts with a specific purpose in mind, like Christmas. Other people stock gifts that they think they will be able to use throughout the year, like birthday parties, weddings, or housewarming gifts.

Now just about any tightwad I talk to has a place that they horde deals that they run across. Why should you pay full price for a gift when you can raid the clearance sections of stores and thrift for goodies that will make great gifts? The purpose of my gift closet is:

1. To have a gift that will fit any occasion. I try to stock for weddings, birthday parties, thank you gifts, get well soon goodies, and the “just because” gift.

2. You are always prepared no matter what occasion strikes. If you forgot to write something on your calendar or suddenly realize that your brother’s birthday is looming and you have no funds for a gift, you can always visit your closet for a great gift.

3. Christmas is not a blow to your finances because your gift closet is stocked throughout the year. I try to buy a gift here and there instead of a giant shopping session which can cause a serious dent in our account.

The first part I am going to discuss about stocking your gift closet are inexpensive ways to package your gifts. Storing gifts, in my opinion, is just one element of stocking a gift closet. Another blow to the finances can be the packaging of your gifts. Here are some of the items that I keep on hand for making my gifts look pretty for less…

- I hit thrift stores all of the time and try to look for pretty tins in the housewares section. At fifty cents to a dollar each, they are a great way to package homemade goodies and make them more special.

- Baskets are nice to have on hand to make an instant gift basket for someone in your life. Try and buy these when they run end of the season sales at the craft stores or when you are doing your thrift shopping. Remember that baskets can be spray painted or decorated with scrap ribbon and filled with odds and ends in your gift closet (tissue paper, a pretty dish towel, or whatever else you have on hand)

- I love to keep jars on hand for gifts. These can be used to package up soups, stews, sauces, jellies, or gift mixes. I use scrap fabric to place on top and also have little odds and ends that I have collected to tie around the lid (cinnamon sticks, silk flowers, twine, etc..)

- I always have items that I can use to wrap gifts with. I have wrapping paper, but I also have other items to wrap with. I save the comics section of our newspaper for children’s gifts. I also look for wallpaper rolls at thrift stores to wrap gifts with. The wallpaper looks so elegant and I can get huge rolls of it for a buck at our local stores. Scrap fabric or tulle can add elegance to any gift.

- I save anything that I think would make a great home for a gift. For example, I love those little sacks that cards come in or the boxes that note cards come in. When I receive a gift, I save whatever that person used to give me my gift in. I have started to gather quite a large collection of gift bags and boxes from hording the ones that were given to our family.

- Coffee mugs and pretty plates are also stashed away for those unexpected gifts. I love to find elegant china plates in the housewares section of our thrift store or unusual coffee mugs. For example, a china tea cup can be a beautiful holder for a small houseplant. When the plant needs to move to a bigger home (or in our house, simply dies a horrible death!) the cup can be washed out and used for tea. Fill mugs with cocoa mixes or tea bags as a sweet & simple get well gift. These are just a few of the uses for these items.

- I love to use the china size boxes for giving cookies in, particularly around the holidays. Tuck the cookies in wax paper and tie with a bow. This makes your treats look like a gift anyone could want!

- I keep a manila folder in my gift closet and place any cards that I receive in it. The front of these cards can be made into a new card or they can be used for gift tags with a quick hole punch and a little ribbon.

- I buy the stacks of card stock scraps and use these for gift tags on my gift baskets & bags. Add a small stamp to it and a quick note and you can bypass Hallmark altogether.

Those are just a few ideas that I have for the wrapping portion of the gift closet. In Part Two, I will began discussing frugal gift ideas for various occasions. If there is something in particular that you would like me to touch on, just reply in the comments section.

Feel free to share ways you wrap gifts or how/where you store your gift closet!

Published February 13, 2007 by:

Amy Clark

Amy Allen Clark is the founder of MomAdvice.com. You can read all about her here.

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