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Create a Gift “Closet” AND NEVER Pay Full-Price for Gifts Again…

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Gift Closet

What is a gift closet?

A gift closet is a designated area (not necessarily a closet!), where you store gifts throughout the year, as you find the best deals on giftable items. Gift closets are essential to saving the maximum amount on gifts! Having an area to store items means never having to pass up a deal.

Gift Closet

But I don’t have an extra closet in my home!

That’s okay! Most people don’t! Think of somewhere you could make some extra space. Guest room? Garage? Under the bed? I made one in my home by reorganizing a couple of closets and donating some stuff that was just taking up space!

Keep it organized…

I like to start off by making a list of everyone I buy gifts for throughout the year. When I sit down and write it all out, it tends to be way more people than I thought it was going to be. Having the visual list makes it super easy to stay organized and thorough.

We’ve created a FREE printable Christmas Gift List for ya! Just click here to print.

Christmas listAnother great tip for staying organized, is to keep a box with all your gift wrapping supplies- scissors, tape, wrapping paper, ribbon, tags/cards, etc., inside the closet. These items can be purchased after each holiday with deep discounts on them as well.

Gift Wrapping Supplies

Be prepared!

Don’t stress when those last minute occasions pop up! In addition to the list of friends and family to buy for, I like to keep a list of “miscellaneous” items that I’ve purchased. Have you ever had a kid come home with a birthday invitation for the next day? How about a last minute baby shower, bridal shower, or graduation? Well, it makes it a lot easier when you’ve got a box of miscellaneous items to pick from real quick, rather than making a trip to the store and paying full price for something.

Greeting Cards

Don’t forget the cards needed for these occasions as well. I keep a small shoe box of miscellaneous cards in my closet, including blank cards.

How to stock it…

If you’re on Hip2Save frequently, there’s a good chance you’re already bargain-shopping savvy, but here are a few quick tips to keep in mind regarding gift buying-

Confession: I buy *nearly everything* on clearance. I just hate paying full price, when I know I could get it for cheaper! I don’t even walk down the main aisles at Target, because I know that all their clearance is on the back end-caps, so that’s how I make my way through the store and take just a quick glance at the clearance items.

Target Toys Clearance

Clearance, Clearance, Clearance!

Keeping an eye on clearance shelve and watching the prices drop, is the best way to find smokin’ deals (and watch for coordinating coupons, of course!). You can count on great clearance items at different times throughout the year, like the post-Christmas clearance toys (don’t forget to grab wrapping paper and bows too!), as well as the Fall clearance of older model gaming systems, and their respective games, to make room for the pre-Christmas release of new ones. There’s a predictable pattern to retail ups and downs, if you watch for it. Also, look out for candles, non-perishable gift sets, and other giftables immediately after Christmas, and stock up for NEXT Christmas! These make great presents for those last minute neighbors or friends that you didn’t have on your list.

Gift Closet

Always look for small stocking stuffers!

You can pick up some great deals on small items after holidays like Easter, Valentine’s Day, and Halloween, as well as items like bubbles and jump ropes at the end of summer. The BEST way to save is by shopping really far in advance.

Buy in Bulk!

I’ve purchased packs of items before, like small reading lamps for example, and opened them to put one in each of my kiddos’ stockings. And if you find an incredible deal on something, buy more than one! You can ALWAYS find someone to give it to, or keep it in the miscellaneous box. If nothing else, you can always sell or donate items that you just can’t find a use for, and you can feel good about not having spent much on it.

If it’s getting close to Christmas and you’re needing to fill in a few more gifts, be sure to watch for daily deals on sites like Amazon.

Check out this video on gift “closets” Collin made way back in 2013, when she was short on space…


Written by Danielle for Hip2Save. Danielle is a proud mom to 5 amazing kids in Utah, who lives for coffee and baking. She’s dedicated to balancing her own interests and passions, while encouraging her children to follow their own paths in life.

Join The Discussion

Comments 81

  1. Meredith

    This is great! I do this for the kids birthday party presents, those parties can add up with two kids. Also, I stock up on cards when the stores have their sales making them free.

  2. Jeanette

    I love this idea! i have a rubbermaid that i fill with new- but not full priced- items that can be used as gifts. . .it spreads the love a little farther!!

  3. Kristen

    Love it! This is my mentality exactly. My gift closet is a few shelves of the bookcase in my laundry room, and a box under my bed. I especially stock up during Target’s toy clearances twice a year, which is great for all the birthday parties! I surprisingly also find brand-new packaged items at garage sales and save those for gifts too.

    • Shonee05

      When does target have those toy sales, if you don’t mind me asking?

      • Kay

        I think the toy clearance is usually in July but I am unsure of a second one.

        • Queenjen87

          January

  4. Kay

    This has been one of the most cost saving ideas I have learned from following Hip2Save. My husband has also been skeptical of my deal shopping but always asks me to check the gift closet when we have an event to attend. 😂

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      lol Love it! I do the same thing. It’s awesome having gifts on hand and ready for those unexpected events.

      • kylee

        Collin, having trouble downloading CHRISTMAS list. Would u mind emailing it so I could print, pleas? Thanks so much! Somerlove@verizon.net

        • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

          Hmm, the link would be the same to email it to you. Have you been able to try it in a different browser? Are you able to open and view it at all?

          • kylee

            I am on a new phone and having trouble… If someone sends it to my email, i should be able to figure out how to print… Appreciate the help

              • kylee

                Thank u very much!!!

    • Liz Ob

      My husband was a skeptic about it too! Then came his friends birthday party and I have a electric shaver for less than $10 from cvs deal (this was a long time ago) then all of a sudden he was sooooo into it! I went crazy at Meijer’s clearance event at the beginning of the year but man did I score! He loves it! All 15 kids crossed off the Christmas list in January!

  5. Kasey

    This is a wonderful idea hypothetically… But I find that when I buy “extras” that’s exactly what it ends up being… Extra stuff that I would not normally give. Generally any time we get invited to a birthday party or need a host gift I think of something meaningful to that specific person and it always seems it’s never something that’s on sale ever… Or maybe it’s something I want to make. I have done gift closets in the past and it always just ended up feeling like extra junk. So glad it works well for others though!!!!

    • Jenn

      This use to work for us perfectly when our kids were smaller but now that they are older it’s harder to find something their friends like & don’t already own. It’s hard to not offer a gift receipt these days. I donate a lot around holidays so it all works out! Back then I had a list of friends birthdays and I bought ahead and put a sticky note so I would remember! 🙂

      • Anna

        I agree- it works awesome for little ones and more difficult as they get older

      • Susie

        Agree completely. Now that my kiddos are 9 & 11, we mostly stick with gift cards or perhaps a small gift and Giftcard combo and include a homemade card in which they write a short note. This takes a lot of pressure off everyone, and the birthday child can spend it however and whenever they choose. Win-win.

        • Susie

          I do, however, stock up on generic items for toys for tots/angle tree gifting. I also am constantly on the lookout for stocking stuffers, Easter egg stuffers, items for the classroom treasure box, etc.

          • Mara

            I agree that there are some things you can buy this way. I honestly get annoyed if my child gets a duplicate gift without a gift receipt. And I cannot imagine doing this for events such as showers where person has carefully registered for items needed.

            • Stephanie

              It’s the thought that counts. People shouldn’t be expected to give a gift receipt for a birthday gift.

              • kylee

                Agreed

    • MommySpendsLess

      I will fourth that. My daughter’s only 7yo and it seems like stockpiling in advance is already starting to backfire because her favorite character and trendy toys seem to change so quickly. I’ll still occasionally snag super generic or novelty/holiday items if they’re cheap enough but even that’s getting harder – she’s well stocked on art supplies, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, sand molds, etc. I miss when that worked though, it was nice to be basically done Christmas shopping by early November and be able to relax while everyone scrambled.

      • visitor3

        Thanks for the warning. Mine are young enough that we have a lot of kiddie birthday parties, classroom parties, and similar occasions requiring many thrifty gifts for young kids who aren’t too picky and need something fun and age-appropriate to open. Lots of puzzles, outdoor toys, bubbles, fun winter hats, cartoon washcloths, kiddie umbrellas — things like that. Will make an effort to use up the stash before their peers outgrow it.

        In earlier chapters in my life, my gift stash focused on wedding-type gifts and then baby-type gifts. I see the trend shifting and changing. I think there would be ‘tween type trends to buy, though, right, like nail polish and hair brushes and beach towels and quality umbrellas? Or… not necessarily?

      • stephanie

        I don’t stockpile the trendy stuff or characters. They are out of style too fast. I tend to do craft kits, games, legos and books

    • Mo

      I agree with you wholeheartedly. As I’ve become more aware of the “stuff” we bring into our home, I’ve started to have the same awareness about the things we gift to others. The gift closet idea worked *really* well when our kids were littler and we were able to buy general things that most littles love. As the years went on though a few things happened – one, they were all getting older and had so. much. stuff. – you never knew if more likely than not you’d give something someone already had :/ and it’s hard to give a usable gift receipt if you buy far in advance of gift giving. Secondly, I noticed that the things that went on clearance became more and more character specific (like it’s hard to find a plain board game anymore, like Memory, etc. are all character themed now) – and in a bad way – like Team Umizoomi, not as popular as it once was, same for movies like Finding Dory, so then you’re giving something that is “old” unless a child still really has a love for a character like that. Clearance used to be on great general toys and that has changed, I think because surely toy companies got hip to folks buying in advance and started using “time sensitive” characters on their products which cuts down on that probably! The other thing is that for my oldest son (10), giving gifts has become about giving something “cool” like a Nerf gun, Lego set, etc. We used to rely on board games, etc. that were steeply discounted (there are Nerf sales but not for under $5 like board games go) but now he’d be embarrassed to bring a “boring” board game, no matter how much he likes playing them at home. I say ride the gift closet train as long as you can 🙂 but just beware of those pitfalls, and be prepared to come up with other creative ways of buying/crafting gifts for kiddos in the older ages. Collin and her crew definitely give ample opportunities to get great deals on things, I just have to use them more creatively now than before. (luckily I was able to unload a number of things that were languishing in my gift tub on FB garage sale sites, local kids sales, etc – and even made some money on them, so that’s an option too. Buy low, sell a little higher but quickly – save someone else who doesn’t deal shop some dough and make a little money on the side). 🙂

    • T

      I feel the same way 🙁

  6. Sahi

    Yeah I was just thinking on similar lines. Don’t we need to give gift receipts? And it would be shocking for some parents to visit a store to exchange a gift & find out that their gift was only $4 when they were excited that it might be atleast $30! 😃

    • visitor3

      I don’t worry about gift receipts EXCEPT for a few very particular members of the family. Actually, all those demanding people are my husband’s impossible-to-please relatives so he’s the one who has to shop for those gifts and deal with their complaints and demands for gift receipts. 😉

      • Liz Ob

        I feel so bad to return a gift now. I used to exchange but I want the person who picked out the gift to know that the kids use and love them. All the things I stock up on are quality enough to be gifts. And if a year goes by and I haven’t used it I’ll put it in the prize bag for my kids bday party games. Everyone loves them! Got star wars sticker rolls on clearance at Tru and shampoo conditioner. You name it. The kids love anything and the adults get motivated to participate. It makes it funner for kids to play with adults.

  7. ResseCup

    Completely cleared my actual gift closet this year since I’m moving to another state. It’s a great idea for birthdays, showers(i.e. baby, wedding), Xmas, etc. Even found discounted greeting card and stored them along with gift bags and tissue paper. Always buy your tissue paper at the Dollar Tree.

    • ResseCup

      Another good use is to rack up on good deals(personal supplies, toys, clothes) and donate to local shelters during the holidays💙

  8. Lasha R.

    Thank You very much Collin and team! I am grateful for your time and help! This post is so helpful for my family and I truly appreciate! I am going to follow your advice and save a lot this year for Christmas!!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      You are SO welcome!! 😊 Happy to hear you found the post helpful.

  9. Edy

    I do this every yr ! My daughters both love the same perfume ,so I went and bought today the gift sets at Macy’s , and got $40 on Macy’s $$ like a cash card to spend sept 28 , and I have my eye on 2 blouses for the one that does exercise. Will get those with that $$ and maybe something else for the gift closet ! For them

  10. Kate

    I dont give gift receipts w/gifts. For 1 I’m lucky to remember the gift, let alone the receipts too. & 2nd anyone who knows me knows I’m cheap…er…thrifty & yes I do regift too BUT am very careful who I gift it to.lol no sitcom drama YET!

  11. beth

    OT, just wondering what CB sites everyone has been using for Victoria’s Secret? All of them have seem to longer offers for VS any longer.

  12. hellfire gainz

    Gift receipts….
    Sad when an old fashioned thank you and heartfelt appreciation when someone took the time to think of you is now old news….

    • Dd

      Here, here! The world keeps getting tackier and tackier. I think we’ve forgotten both the definition of and significance of the word “gift”. I don’t give gift receipts unless I’m gifting clothing (which is rare–I don’t like others to pick my clothes and guess my size so why would I do that for them) or a registry item (to help the recipient with records). I give gifts with confidence that the recipient will be grateful and use it as they see fit, not run to the store to try to get cash back for it. Yikes.

      • HDK

        Until your kid gets 5 copies of candyland for Christmas! Then I was grateful for the gift receipts included on 3 of them. Lol.

  13. Teresa

    This is awesome! This is helpful. Thank you!

  14. Natalie

    One idea for those that have older kids and are having trouble with a gift closet: gifts cards are nearly always on sale for one store or another. Not the same discount on clearance but maybe you can split that gc up to multiple recipients or buy something for someone else with it.

    • s.

      That’s what I do with small gift cards like Target (from the giftcard deals) or Starbucks…stockpile small ones to give or combine into a larger one!

      • Laurie

        So you can take all the small amount cards an ask to combine into one larger amounts card?? Didn’t think of the thanks!!

  15. justme

    Don’t forget the cards. I LOVE those boxed card sets at Walgreens where you get two boxes of those birthday cards at Walgreens for only $3! They have blank cards and sympathy, thank you, etc….. They are really nice cards and they are cheaper than the dollar store.

  16. Just Me

    The gift closet just hasn’t worked for me…the kids at my kids school don’t have parties. Great idea though.

  17. thehenrydthoreau

    99.9% of my gifts are either $.25 or free. I use Shop Your Way Rewards free points from sweeps. I just picked up six bottles of Axe, one bottle of Bod and five footballs for $.28 after points. I use MCR codes to purchase gift cards or movie passes. I also use surveys or free pampers points to pay for gifts. Since I use craft paper to ship, I also use it wrap gifts. If people judge my wrapping paper, I seriously need to rethink these relationships.

    • Lori

      Well done! Love it!

  18. Candace

    I do this. More for my own kids and close family/friends. When I pick something up on clearance, I always make sure I have someone in mind for it. It does get a little harder as kids get older, but I can generally find something I know they will like even at the end of the year. My oldest is very into STEM type gifts, so most age appropriate construction sets work for him. My best friend is obsessed with A Christmas Story, so I got her a cute mini lamp like the one from the movie. By July the top shelf of my closet is packed with Chrismas gifts, lol! And I have to do double up for the baby, since his birthday is two weeks after Christmas. I liked when CVS had all those super cheap Hallmark card sales. For me I would never give out cards because sometimes they end up being almost as much as the gift! But the sales helped, so now I have a file of cards for different occasions. Also, the best advice I have ever gotten when I was a young mom. “Santa gives books and clothes, MOM gives video games and bikes!” Why should Santa get the credit for all the good gifts? 😛 I have a binder that I use to stay organized for Christmas, birthdays and holidays. It has a file in it that I store my surplus greeting cards in, and a place for pens and a calculator. I have a section where I keep a running list of what gifts I have for everyone, and then a section for each boys birthday, so I can plan their parties (space for gifts, decor, food and games, plus a checklist for invites. I have a calendar in it to make sure I don’t miss any birthdays. I have a space for planning meals for special occasions. I can keep track of my spending, so I don’t go over budget. I downloaded a new section for Christmas that has a section for gifts I plan on making and holiday parties. It sure makes it easier to stay on track and helps me to NOT go overboard.

    • Tonya

      Great tip. Thanks.

  19. angela

    I dont even gave kids of my own but i stockpile gifts for xmas for my siblings and family of all ages. I find its easy to stock pile for older kids you just need to transition from toys to beauty and tech (but candy and jerky is almost always welcomed lol) . For my brother (13) i stock up on chargers, powerbanks, headphones, and other cool gadgets) i bought my other bro (about 10) and animation set that hooks to an app on a cell, and a sketch artists kit. I stockpile candels, makeup, Vs goodies, bath&body soap (which items can be exchanged VERY easily for a different scent),unique movies, and shutterfly items for others.

  20. ang

    I also have a “baby shower” box. It has binkies, teething toys, a bottle, and unisex clothes.(all ive gotten fo free or a few scents thanks to hip2save and thrift stores) this is nice for when you find out family,freinds, or coworkers are expecting. 🙂

  21. Nikki

    I do this, too! It has been a great way for me to save not only money but my time as well. I’m so thankful I have new toys at the ready for those last minute invites! Also, I buy toys for “sunshine gifts.” Like when my children’s friends need a little extra smile. For example, recovering from a tonsillectomy or Grieving over the loss of a grandparent etc. My kids and I leave a stuffed animal or small Lego kit etc. on the front porch with a note that lets them know that they are in our prayers. A timely “sunshine gift” has gone over really well.

    • Brittany

      Sunshine gifts – what a wonderful idea!

      • Tracy

        Love your idea for sunshine gifts.

  22. Tonya

    Thanks Collin. When you posted the Lane Bryant text save $10 a few months ago I got 8 nail polishes and those have been great for the gift closet.

  23. Laurie

    THIS IS WHY I LOVE HIP2SAVE!!!!!
    An area to store your stash is essential to organize an know exactly what you have at all times so you will know what to buy. I’m 56 an have been doing this since 1980 when I got married my sister and I would chase the K-Mart blue light special. Many memories N funny stories. Shopping this way has allowed me to give great presents without breaking the bank. If you are committed to finding good deals an learn how to shop with clearance in mind as your FIRST OPTION you will train yourself to find the deals then be prepared it’s not if you will find them it’s deciding exactly what to get and quantity.

  24. Lexy

    I have a “gift” drawer 🙂 at the very bottom and just stock on Birthday and Christmas gifts. 🙂

  25. jhnicole

    I really need to do this.Thanks my Neice birthday is coming up in Novemeber she will be 10 and last yr my sis said she loves books.Last year we got her a Junie B Jones book from the thrift store.I have to ask sis what she likes this year.I really need the gift wrapping too.I have been working on learning how to wrap gifts really pretty.Thanks.

  26. Karen

    As my kids have gotten older I have started a gift card stash instead. You can often get gift cards with extra bucks back or a 3 pack of $10 for only $25. You see a lot of these kind of deals at xmas time. Chain restaurants will give you an extra $10 card with a purchase of $50 or something like that. I stock up then and have a box to choose from for my ten year old to give his friends for birthdays all year. Came in super handy for my cousins 50th birthday – we gave 5 different $10 cards for lunch places, she loved it.

  27. Dee

    Yes!! Started my gift closet around the same time I started reading H2S & it’s one of the best thing I ever did. With all the family, close friends, their kids plus my kid’s teachers combined, we have to come up with roughly 80 gifts a year for both birthday and Christmas. That’s a lot! Husband thought it was silly at first, but after witnessing how little I pay for some of these items, and how convenient it is to go shopping for last-minute gifts at the laundry room, he’s a convert, lol. Now he would automatically go check out the clearance and after-season items even when he’s out without me & he is also a H2S reader! It’s nice to have a sidekick lol.

  28. Jac

    Wow I’ve done this for years and didn’t know there was a name for it 😜. I actually kept my gifts in the closet with my gift wrap and bags.

  29. Nancy

    12 daycare kids. Buying in
    Advance saves me tons for
    Christmas and birthdays!!

  30. dana mercer

    Those Kroger Friday Freebies make great stocking stuffers or gift basket fillers!!!

  31. Ashley

    I use my $10 off $10 purchase JCPenny coupons to pick up baby items.
    I am at the age when ALL of my friends are having babies.
    A distant friend was having a baby and had no help from the dad or other family so I put together a box of new baby stuff for her little boy! She was excited to have new items since all of her stuff was from goodwill etc. All it cost me was basically sales tax and shipping!

    • Ash

      I do this too! I love that you were able to help your friend. 🙂

    • Susan Barger

      I use those for that too! A cute little animal for the outside of the gift!

  32. Debbie

    I ALWAYS have a full gift closet for my great nieces and nephews and grandchildren. I agree it is much harder for older children…my kids are all adults. I still get gift sets with candles, shampoo, razors, lotions etc for filler items for them. 2 years ago I decided that each week I would buy a $25 gift card to walmart, target, Amazon mostly…and some restaurants. I did miss some weeks but I still ended up with a lot..I figured I spent $25 each week on other thing anyway. When Christmas time came I used some of the gift cards to buy thing they really wanted and also gave them gift cards. It was a huge help and I really felt good that it wasn’t so much pressure all at once.

  33. Colleen

    I love hip2save and my gift closet. Last week I scored 2 of the Pioneer woman canister sets and spice shelf featured on the site for a couple of summer weddings. I also pick up gourmet coffee and tea at Ross, TJ Maxx, and Home goods for $3.99. Throw it in a cute dollar store basket with a cute clearance coffee mug, and some Macy’s clearance chocolate and an Aldis candle and you have a great gift for teachers, New neighbors, baby sitter or mailman. I also use the same idea for girlfriends. I buy a stash of Victora Secret perfume during their big sale in Oct and also after Xmas on clearance. I toss in a bath bomb, nail polish, and lotion n BBW shower gel from their Jan or July clearance sale. A Aldi candle and a pair of fuzzy socks and it’s the best pamper gift ever!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Yay! Such great gift ideas, Colleen! Thanks a TON for the kind words and feedback! We sure appreciate YOU! 💕

    • Susan B

      I love the bath bombs for gifts – Dollar General has ones for a dollar (where do some of these places get off charging $6 each?!?) – I usually re-wrap them fancy 🙂 Unfortunately have missed the VS big sales lately 🙁 Don’t you just love putting fun stuff together?!?

  34. Susan B.

    I refuse to buy cards (unless they are the 50 centers from the dollar tree. I generally buy the bulk that are plain inside that can be used as birthday – thank you – miss you – whatever (besides – your handwritten thoughts are much more appreciated!) 3 kids – every party. Rumor was my kids gave the “best” gifts. I always had a gift closet (thanks Mom!) and still do. I’m a big fan at CVS end of summer 75% off sale for playdoh, etc. – great stuffers and the little something to top off a gift. I also stock pile Yankee or Wood Wick candles and beautiful tea-towels and soaps for housewarming gifts. Birthday gifts were always “cool” shirts or sweatshirts with a logo. I like to search the clearance for items that were gift basketed after holidays and rip them apart. Remember – presentation is everything and with a re-usable bag, bin or basket – 2 gifts in one! BTW – Love this site and thanks for sharing all of the great deals!!!

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