Video: How to Make a Gift Closet

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In this new video, I will share with you how to make a Gift Closet no matter how big or small your home (in fact, this video was filmed back in March when I was living in a rather small home)! In my opinion, Gift Closets are a must when trying to live a frugal lifestyle as they prevent you from ever having to pay retail price! And now is the perfect time to start a Gift Closet (if you don’t have one already!) as Christmas is still 6 months away so you’ll have plenty of time to get it stocked up before December! Check out my video for some great tips.

* Go here to watch the video.

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Comments 65

  1. Suzanne

    That is so great. I call ours the “Prize Closet” but no less it’s the same! Love it!

    • Tia

      I think I’m going to call ours that too from now on! Sounds like a game show!

  2. Shawn Williams Naticchioni

    I love my gift closet and so do my neighbors they have come over to shop at my gift closet on occasion.

  3. Patty

    Most definitely have a gift closet! Mines under the bed too! I also try to buy workbooks, activity books, puzzles, and art supplies when I see them for super cheap. And then when I start hearing a lot of “I don’t know what to do!” I can pull out some new puzzles or activities to give them! Can’t wait for the target July toy clearance to get stocked up again! My list is ready!

  4. justme

    I’m so with you on the Gift Closet. I love your videos! I’ve been able to give people $40 gifts and only spend about $5 doing it! Yay! It’s such a good feeling to be able to give to people generously without going into debt to do so. Thanks for all you do!

  5. Ali

    Awesome video. I have an actual closet dedicated to gifts. I store christmas, birthday, school supplies and back to school clothes in there. The area underneath my bed I have two roll out bins for gift wrap. One for holiday wrap, labels, ribbons and another for birthday wrap and year round. These are great for stocking up on the after christmas wrap sales too!

    I would add that it’s important to take a look at what you have from time to time. It helps you remember what you have vs what you need to add. Make sure you can see everything easily or $$$ gets wasted.

  6. Diane

    Where did you buy those containers for storing under your bed? Were you able to get them on sale too? Thanks for your help!

    • april

      they are just shoe racks with out the shoes i think.. that’s what i use anyways..

    • Erin

      They look like the zippered pouches that bedding comes in to me.

    • MommySpendsLess

      I think they’re “under the bed” bags that Walmart sells. They’re a canvas sort of material on the bottom with clear plastic on top and close with a zipper. The brown ones run about $8-$9 and they sell white ones by their cheaper store brand for about $4. I have 4 of the white ones under my daughter’s twin bed holding stuffed animals and a couple under the guest bed for Christmas gifts. The ones in my daughters room have all ripped so I’m looking to replace them with hard plastic ones. They’re filled almost too full for the height under the bed and tugged on regularly by a 3yo so I think their condition says more about their rough handling than their durability. I do find the ones under the guest bed a bit hard to slide back under if they’re not full and arranged properly. The bag wants to bunch, small things end up bunched together in one end etc. but at half the cost of any plastic containers of similar size I’ve seen I can’t complain too much. And the more expensive brown version may be sturdier (I haven’t watched the video, just the still image)

  7. brenda

    I have gift items saved, but they are not organized. I like your idea of keeping them in the under the bed storage box. Hopefully it will inspire me to organize mine!

  8. amanda

    Agree–gift closets are great! I will say, though, that as my kids are getting older, they have more specific gift requests and I’m not always able to buy those items on clearance. Same for friends’ birthdays….we do gift cards a lot now because at a certain age kids enjoy those more. Oh, and I also usually shop registeries for baby/wedding showers since those gift recipients often have specific needs.

    • Joy

      Totally agree with this. Plus, as your kids get older (over 10) birthday parties for friends dwindle. And, at Christmas time my kids draw names for cousins at Thanksgiving along with the adults.

  9. Melissa L

    Thank you for this video. One of my goals this year has been to start a gift closet. I started right after Christmas last year. I have a big tupperware bin I found on sale after Christmas that I’ve been trying to find cheap or free gifts to fill. It’s exciting to see it fill up! I’ve been keeping track of each item that I put in, and the deal I got for them. But I need to find a better way to keep track. Thanks for again for the great video!

  10. Ketsy

    I also have a gift closet and sometime’s it’s a mess ๐Ÿ˜€ Some tips or reminders are to buy age appropriate gifts. Example: If your child is entering the first grade, then you can have a couple of gift both for boys/girls her age just in case an invitation comes along. Another tip is ugly or broken boxes ๐Ÿ™ Sad to say or admit but if I’m buying something on clearance and it is to gift out, I want it to look pretty and presentable not dusty and ugly when I give it out. (Trust me you don’t want your child to be that child.) Also, if you are buying cheaper, you can also make your gift a better gift. I have previously given gifts to twins even though we only knew one of the twins. Mom smiled ๐Ÿ˜€ in the case of something bigger such as a bridal shower, etc. Don’t be afraid of two gifts put together and to add a personalized card or so to add to the gift. **Another tip I do for gifts is save up little gift cards here and there like the ones you get back at Target during a purchase. These come in handy.
    **Last but not least, son’t be afraid of gifting a coupon (especially if your friends know you. Example: Victorias Secret or Bed Bath and Beyond gift card with an additional coupon ๐Ÿ˜€

    • SharonSaver

      I often buy my parents gift cards off Cardpool or similar for different occasions. I will include a coupon for the restaurant if I have it ๐Ÿ™‚ As long as the person knows you coupon and thinks it is cool, I think it is a good idea to include them.

  11. Megan

    I call mine the “gift box.” It’s one of those printer paper case boxes. My family is known to reuse gift bags (we joke about it too-“geez, that bag looks familiar!”) so I keep a gift bag near by filled with gift bags, a roll or two of wrapping paper, tissue paper, etc. My favorite places to buy gifts to fill up the gift box are TJ Maxx clearance and Target clearance.

  12. Karen

    I store my gifts on a shelf with my stash! I purchase candy through the year using those candy bar coupons and they make a nice addition to gift bags–especially for the adults! I have used offers from Collin & Hip2Save and some gifts I have are Philosophy Holiday Body Wash/Shampoo, games purchased for $2 each and some great buys on the recent Oneida offer.

  13. Maggie

    I just love your videos, I pick up so many ideas.

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      I am so glad you find them helpful! ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Kelly

    I’ve had a gift closet for a couple of years now and I love it! I normally stock up on games and Legos since those work for kids of different ages. I keep mine in the linen closet since it’s guaranteed my kids won’t ever go in there. ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Mary

    Hi—I have a gift closet as well, but was wondering what you do if someone asks for a gift receipt (if they received multiples of the same item or need a different size)? I keep my receipts,but a lot of stores have limited return times (30 days, etc). Just curious what everyone does in this situation—thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Lucy

      I have a “gift closet” too but it’s lightly stocked because of the issue of not being able to give a gift receipt in case of repeat gift, or even worse if the item’s defective or doesn’t fit. For the most part I use coupons when it’s time to buy a gift. That way I can include a gift receipt. It also makes the gift more personal because it was actually purchased specifically for that recipient.

    • Angie

      I struggle with this, too. I used to have a gift closet but then I realized it was about buying gifts on my time and with no one in mind. I don’t think that is in the spirit of gift giving. Sure I could stockpile lots of gifts for my kids’ friends, but I would never dream of not giving a gift receipt. To not give one is tacky. I have big parties for my kids and at least 90% of people give gift receipts. It is just a sign of respect, I think. I might spend more, but I know I am giving a gift in the spirit of gift giving. I can save money on other things. It can be fun to stock a gift closet, but what I think is more fun: giving a meaningful gift I chose for a specific person.

      • Lucy

        Well said Angie. That’s why my “gift closet” consists of one box on a shelf with Bath & Body Works products and stocking stuffers for my kids. I’d rather buy something specifically for the recipient (and rarely pay retail) than gift something just because it was a great deal on clearance.

        • shannon

          You can give a nice gift (appropriate for the recipient) that’s on clearance. Many of those great items I found out about on Hip2save. For example, I got a very cute exercise shirt for my family member who is an exercise enthusiast. I got it for about 75% off. It’s perfect for her specifically and I got a great deal. I feel like I can do both-get the perfect gift and pay a great price.
          I am able to give very generously because I get great deals all year long.

          • MommySpendsLess

            I think you can do both. My coworker shops all year, snagging great deals on birthday and Christmas for her family and friends but does so with specific people in mind, like “that purple memo board would be perfect for my purple loving niece’s dorm room” not “that memo board in on clearance for $2 instead of $20 so I’ll buy it and figure out who to give it to later”

            I buy stocking/basket stuffers and basic gifts (puzzles, books, games, art/craft supplies, dress up clothes, blocks, Barbie stuff, etc) for my daughter when I see a great deal but save some room in the budget to buy 1-2 gifts closer to the holiday that she really wants and reflect her interests/favorite characters at that moment (she’s 3.5yo so they change often!)

  16. Sara

    I have one too! Love gift closets. To save even more money on wrapping. Use the comics from the sunday paper. I get so many comments from it and the kids LOVE it. Plus for little ones, comic newspaper is so easy to tear.

  17. shannon

    I keep all my gifts in the same place and If I have a lot of items, I keep a list of the stuff and the intended recipients. My motto is: buy it if it’s cheap and/or free and find someone to give it to later (If I don’t already have someone in mind to give it to). I also try to be very generous w/ others and give gifts that most people wouldn’t buy themselves.

  18. Maria

    I really love this idea and will start this year as I’m trying to help my family save money. We have a lot of family and their birthdays are scattered throughout the year so this is really smart to do when you think about it. Thank you for the idea!

  19. Bridgette

    I too have a shelf of “giftable” items in my basement with my stockpile items. If its a great deal or free, I will buy it and put it on the shelf. If I cant use it, I am sure someone can. I may have a little OCD tendancies because I bought a price gun and I price everything in my stockpile so I know months later what I really paid for it. I also have a gift wrap station that has paper, a tote of bags, a tote of tissue paper, etc. I buy whatever is on sale after each holiday that I think I can use later on at some point.

    • Shelby

      lol….I like the price gun!

      • Ashley57

        I want to do that too! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Jenn

      Love that idea! ๐Ÿ™‚ It sounds fun.

  20. Becky

    I use an old steamer trunk to store my gifts! I have done this for years and it comes in handy when you need that last minute gift. I also buy toys throughout the year for the local Salvation Army Christmas drive as well as hats and gloves to send with those toys! Thanks Hip2Save for all the great tips!

  21. Mo

    My only tip is to try to keep the gifts general – when there’s a toy deal on the newest movie, that themed toy will only be popular for so long sometimes, so if you don’t know you’ll be gifting it *right* away maybe consider that before purchasing. I think someone mentioned the same thing in the facebook post that accompanies this deal – no one wants to give a kiddo an outdated toy!

    • Erin

      Agreed! I’ve seen lots of bloggers post their hundreds-of-dollar clearance trips to Target or Kmart, and it often seems like it’s more about getting a deal or beating others to a deal than anything else. Almost all of it is stuff that I would never give and that I hope my kids don’t get! I always wonder how much junk they are left with.

      I think classic toys/games/books are best for the gift closet, as well as those that have special meaning to your own child, so that there is some thought behind the gift. I also suggest buying with your own children in mind so you don’t get stuck with weird stuff that you got a “deal” on. Once again, though, things that they aren’t going to outgrow or lose interest in right away. I also keep an eye out for gifts that get used up–craft kits, art supplies, bubbles, etc.

  22. Lucy

    I’m working on building a gift closet. I’m in my late 20’s, so most of my friends are now having children. I tend to buy baby items most. My fiance has a 4 year old son, and we’ve started filling the gift closet for his christmas and for all of the (way too many!) birthday parties we go to! Organization is my problem. I’m making it my goal to get it organized and start a spreadsheet detailing my purchases, that way I know what I have on hand!

  23. Ashley57

    I try to keep things like candles in my gift closet for generic gifts. I do often get baby or wedding-type gifts for free, but I do still buy something off their registry, even if it is small. Oddly enough, two of the last parties I went to I had something in my gift closet that was on their registry, so I added to that.

  24. Mel

    I have had a gift closet for years and now that my 3 kids are all in school, it is so nice to have them choose a gift from there instead of buying a $10-$20 gift card or giving cash. I stock up on games, baby items for shower gifts, teacher gifts, etc. My sister shops from my closet often and will pay me a few $ more than I paid just for the convenience!

  25. Jenn @ Spend Less, Shop More

    lol I bought those same floral gift bags on clearance that Collin has in her video!

  26. Megann

    Great video! Thank you! This is something my mother always had and now my sister and I carry on the tradition as well some times even swapping items based on our needs!

    Does anyone know of any great ways to score gift cards? I know there are websites where you can buy discounted gift cards but I have never tried. These sites and am a little unsure of them.

    • Ashley57

      I have bought more than $2,000 in gift cards from Cardpool, with no problems at all. One time they accidentally sold me a gift card that had already been purchased, and they refunded me my money and gave me a $10 Cardpool GC. I was thrilled. I buy things like JcPenney, Outback, Olive Garden, Wal-Mart, etc. The only thing I don’t buy is Target, since the Redcard gives me 5% off already and the gift cards are usually less than that. I even bought a Men’s Warehouse one once when my husband had to rent a tux vest for a wedding!

  27. Jamie

    Great call under the bed. I dont have anything under my bed so it would be perfect. Our gift storage is out in the open in my basement and Im weird then about what I give to who because they have all seen stuff.

  28. Adrimom

    I, too, have a gift closet. My girls are 1 and 3 and each time we are invited to a birthday party, I’m able to let them pick a gift out of the closet to give. I guide them to age appropriate gifts but they’re pretty good at picking what they think the party gir/boy would like best. I cringe at the idea of having to buy gifts at full price for kid birthday parties. I also have a stash of newborn clearance and baby bella blankets (because they’re amazing) to use for new baby gifts. I honestly don’t worry about gift receipts. Since I have kids, I know that the toys will be opened whether or not we already have that one and it’s great to be able to bring duplicates to grandma or grandpa’s to have extras there. : ) Or even just to have extra to share when friends come over.

    I also have a stash of party favors for our next birthday parties. : )

  29. Jenn

    Here is my question … how do you set money aside to purchase all of these items. That is one thing I am having a lot of trouble doing. When I see all of these great deal Colin posts, I have to pass them up because I don’t have extra funds. When I do, my hubby always has a reason for it to stay in the bank.

    • Ketsy

      No matter the income, we’re all on a budget! Seems like hubby is the bread maker (or even if he isn’t)… a little bit of a trick here and there lol. I saw a lady do this with her grocery shopping. I guess her husband and her agreed on a “weekly food budget” and she does the grocery shopping. She buys their favorite items with coupons but doesn’t factor the coupons when it comes to budgeting. Then she puts the coupon value aside for these type of shopping. This has worked for me. Hope it helps. Eventually the hubby will get with the program.. or not ๐Ÿ˜‰ In my house it has worked because he sees groupon outings and a closet of paper supplies that he hasn’t had to buy in a while.

      • Ketsy

        I hope that wasn’t confusing. For example: If you are buying diapers for $40 and it’s a must buy item and you have $3 in coupons. Put the $3 aside because no matter what you (he) had to buy that item at that price.

    • Crystal

      Personally I usually ended just getting some generic gifts to start with like when there is a good deal (candles) when I am already shopping at the drug store. I would just sent a limit. I usually only spend mostly tax or a few dollars. I am also a re-gifter too. I just make sure I know where the gift came from. So from one side of the family it can go to the other side or friends. This really works when we get doubles of things. Sometimes it is easier than returning the gift when you take in the gas and time to return the item.

    • Marissa

      I usually do almost all my christmas shopping in July for kid and the rest of the year just throughout and my hubby HATES it. lol When july rolls around and i have spent 100$ at target he is like WHAT ARE YOU BUYING everyyear i explain to him that with that money i am buying for his 4 siblings, my 2 siblings, our parents our kids and our nieces and nephews…. it seems like SO MUCH money at the time but if you think about it like ok i used 100$ and maybe only got 7 things (i usually can get more then that) then that is only 14$ a present for christmas and if you keep in mind that the present your giving is actually worth a lot more then 14$ then that seems to make hubby relax and realize i know what im doing ๐Ÿ˜‰
      Anyway i have in the past pulled out like 10-20$ a month starting in january and by the time july rolls around thats anywhere form 70-140$ to spend.
      But i have at times also seen a CRAZY good deal and i want to get it so bad but we dont have the funds and if you dont have the funds then you cant get it but for me it’s all about planning ahead. 10$ a month is donuts or going to mcdonalds so when i think about how much money around november and christmas im saving by shopping ahead early it makes all the trouble and craziness worth it.

      (Sorry for the huge rant lol hope it helps)

    • Jenn

      I dedicate myself a certain amount of money a week for items I’m in charge of purchasing – groceries, kids clothing, household items, etc. And that gives me $ for sales. If it doesn’t, I don’t buy or I find ways to postpone certain purchases or cut down on my grocery bill.

    • ihearthip

      I go through phases where I am able to buy, so I just do it then. There are lots of times I have to refrain for months. I try to think ahead for holidays and bdays, because chances are as it gets closer to the date I would have to go and spend full price for gift, card, wrapping. If hubby sees that what I bought ahead of time at a fraction of the cost saves us from paying the full price (and from rushing around), then he is all for it. I feel so ashamed on those times where we have to stop by Walgreens on the way to an event to get a giftcard and bday card! I’ll do what I can to prevent that.

  30. ihearthip

    I keep mine in the top of my closet in big boxes. They used to be categorized by girl gifts/ boy gifts/ boy or girl gifts, but now they are all mixed up! My kids know not to go in my closet. They know what is in there and I have said that if they see something then they will never get to have it, the surprise would be ruined, so they steer clear!

  31. LSC

    Thanks Colin for the great tips! Thanks to you I have a gift closet, too. My kids are 2 and almost 5. I mainly buy for the “unexpected” birthday party for the child in their class that I don’t even know. My daughter is thrilled every time she can go in the box and pick out something for her classmates. I also have a seperate stash for Christmas for my girls. My favorite by far are the dream lights I got for $7.49 (reg $29.99) from Rite Aid a few months ago (I almost cleared their shelf). All the nieces and nephews will be getting those for Christmas this year.

  32. Nicole

    I’m so over gift closets. I’ve had so much stuff for so long I can barely look at it. I used to work wholesale trade shows so I did tons of shopping back then, now 5 years later and I still have lots of things and very few gift giving opportunities. Our holidays are getting scaled back – my family wants less THINGS so we exchange recipes or just do activities together instead of gifts. Last year I donated most toys to Toys for Tots just to get rid of stuff. I won’t be stocking a gift closet again.

  33. Shauna R.

    I literally start looking for next year’s presents right after the holiday is over. LOL That way, I can really take my time and get GREAT deals on things. My favorite way to get presents is with my amazon gift cards I get throughout the year.

  34. katie

    I have a gift closet but it is more for unplaned items, supplemental gifts and for my own children. My kids are aged 4-17 and so someone needs a gift for a friend just about every month. The things I stock up on are name brand bath products (bath body works, etc), bath sponges/ loofas, candles, fingernail polish, etc when it is a great price. I do stock up on a few generic girl and boy items more geared towards my 4 year old son (for kids age 4-6 in case they don’t get used this year). These are usually art kits, make your own bracelets, etc for girls, and hot wheel sets, extra hot wheel cars, etc for boys (toys r us has the 5 car sets for $3 this week and I bought 4- 2 to put back for my son and 2 to put in the gift closet). I also buy candy bars and bags of candy when on sale. I use these items for when a kid hands me an invitation just in time to rsvp and when I can’t run out to get something, if what I have happens to be what the child likes or to add to gifts I buy. Usually if there is a bunch left at the end of the year it gets donated to toys for tots or something similar.

  35. Katelyn

    I also buy Christmas Cards after Christmas for the next year and I’m always scouring for blank cards! Some of my best go-to gifts (I have a picky family, not many kids to shop for either) are giftcards I redeem credit card reward points though or a groupon! Plus I get puzzles for my dad when I find them on clearance, ALWAYS a hit!

  36. Queenjen87

    I have gotten used to buying gifts in January and July. Usually I can rack up on gifts cheap at cvs paying with ECbs. Then July is when I get the “big ticket” clearance items for my three year old, her total of 12 cousins under 10, and small gift items. I usually come in at about $250 for everyone for christmas and birthdays, and only have to fill in some small gifts at Christmas time. Considering most people spend that on thier child alone, I come out pretty good. I actually have two closets stuffed full. One for my child and one for everyone else lol.

  37. Mel

    I definitely have a gift closet! I stock up on candles, Febreeze car clips, Glade sprays, razors, and razor gift sets…all of which are great gifts any time of the year! I also have a card box that has dividers for each occasion – birthdays, anniversary, baby showers, etc. I buy generic cards when I have coupons (i.e. $1/3 CVS and $1 off Hallmark) and then put them in my box and whenever I need a card, I go to that box! I’ve trained my husband to go to the “card box” and he’s been known to give me Valentine’s Day and birthday cards from there!

  38. Christa

    I buy toys from target on clearance and coupon/sales throughout the year. Easter is a great stack time at Target & Meijer.
    I store them on shelves in my garage. In November I go through the gifts and pick out who would like what. Then I normally have a couple of trash bags full of toys left over. I always take them to a Toys for Tots drop site.

  39. Lady Kay

    Thanks for the the encouragement!!! June got so crazy and I have felt overwhelmed – so my coupons are pilled high and I have not clipped one this month. I know I need to start again. Thanks ladies!!! I had fallen off the wagon. I need to tidy up my gift closet – we had tons of graduations, birthdays and events this month. I have a curtain that runs along a back wall hiding my secret storage space for gifts and stock up items. I keep a notebook to track who, when and what gift I gave.

  40. kendall

    This is random – but your bedding is so gorgeous!

  41. Sophie

    I don’t have the use for a gift closet per se (no little kids to buy for anymore) and all the grownups in my fam have come to expect giftcards, but I do stock up on cards, candles, BBW stuff, etc. But I I do have a special bag in my closet. When I find thrifty deals with clothing for me or the hubby (e.g. off season clearance, swim closeouts, consignment store) I toss in the bag. I started doing this several months before a vacation once because I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford a new wardrobe. Now it works even for a new event or season or even a little date night. I limit myself to 1 bag (don’t want to be a hoarder) & most items cost $10 or less. I do this with undies, too because sometimes I want to treat myself to something special. My husband notices anything new I wear, but if I tell him it came from my “stash” he knows it’s already paid for & that I likely got it for $5 anyway. Sometimes I even surprise him with a new polo or fun boxers & he gets a smile out of it.

  42. Hannah

    I do this! Ours is a big Rubbermaid tote, and sometimes I use a smaller one as well if the big one fills up. In my family, we draw names on Christmas Day for the next year so we know who to shop for, and in my husband’s family, everyone just gives gifts to the kids, so I always have a list in advance of Christmas. Our local book and toy store always has a huge 50% off sidewalk sale in June, so I hit it up and get at least 70% of my shopping done on good, quality gifts that I would have picked out anyway! Also, my family does stockings for the entire extended family (we’re talking at least 40 people–everyone contributes a little bit), which gets expensive all at once, so I grab little stuff throughout the year and hang onto retail gifts, etc. for stocking stuffers.

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