I've heard people mention a "gift closet" before. In other words, they keep a stash of things on hand to give as gifts for birthday parties, new babies, etc. Maybe the gifts were purchased on sale, maybe they are just a standard item you like to give.
I think it is a good idea in theory, especially for parties when you don't know the child well (like school classmates). I think I'd prefer to pick out a special gift for close friends and family members, but I do like the idea of saving money on gifts.
So my question is this: If you have a "gift closet", what do you stock it with? What kind of gifts do you look for on sale?
Although I may purchase a gift for my DF, my mom, my fave SIL, or my best friend early if I find the perfect item on sale, I don't think it is appropriate to give a "closet gift" to someone so important in my life. If that makes any sense at all.
Wife to DH (06/10) and Mummy to DD (07/08).
Prior to having children I would purchase items I liked, sometimes with someone in mind and sometimes not. As a pp mentioned I would use them as hostess gifts, thank you gifts, etc.
When I had children I started adding children's items. Items I found on sale or things I've bought through online buying co-ops. Often items I've bought and liked for my children. The problem is, even when I had a recipient in mind, I often changed my mind or they wanted something else so I saved the item. This winter I donated tons of stuff from the closet. I never gave them as gifts and didn't think I would have anyone to give them to in the future. My husband says I've been donating more than gifting and the closet has to go...he is right.
But, I'm not sure I can break the habit. I've recently ordered several boxes of Mercurious window crayons and one-piece chopsticks. I figure I could always find someone who would like them. My children love both items so if nothing else we will use the window crayons and have the neighbor kids over to eat w/chopsticks
To answer your questions of what is in the closet...currently some of the items are:
several hand woven towels (I'm waiting to give them to someone who will appreciate all the work the woman put into them.)
several Family Pastimes cooperative board games and Selecta board games (Lately all the children have requested Star Wars/princess themed gifts so I haven't been able to give the board games. My children like them but as the kids get older I'm finding many of their friends do not like these types of gifts.)
Several baby outfits (I waited too long to mail so I had to buy larger items and saved these.)
Lots of art supplies (makes great childrens gift if I do not have time to shop or my children can use the supplies)
a bunch of Crocodile Creek playground balls (it's a long story)
Wow...sorry for the long post!
I don't have one. I keep thinking about it, but...I'm not that organized, and have nowhere to keep it. DD2 would probably end up treating everything as a chew toy.
Lisa, lucky mama of Kelly (3/93) , Emma (5/03) , Evan (7/05) , & Jenna (6/09)
Loving my amazing dh, James & forever missing Aaron Ambrose (11/07)
I currently have a game for kids (scored a few free games over Christmas with the Hasbro coupons on Rice Krispies), some childrens books, a ratchet set, two pair of little boy shoes (I ordered them online for DS and his feet are too wide ), a couple toys for the kids for Easter, some trinkets and stickers, mini playdoh, you get the idea.
I have a consistent group of people that we buy Christmas/birthday presents for, so I'm always on the look-out for appropriate stuff for them. I even bought my friend a baby gift before they were even trying for their first - it was too perfect for her! (And she did LOVE it ). But I don't have much of that sort of stuff on hand right now.
I did use up a bit of the closet at Christmas - I never ended up going shopping for the swap game my DH's relatives play, so I raided the gift closet and came up with something adequate.
I agree that it's nice to buy a personal gift, but during the primary school years, I found gift-giving almost non-stop throughout the year. There were so many birthday parties for children that I didn't really know (either did my kids, for that matter), or events for teachers/instructors/coaches (Christmas/end of school year/end of season/end of summer camp).... It made a lot of sense to stock up and have something ready.
I will also sometimes use one or two of the gifts I got for DS for another child around his age, I also have a bunch of small hostess gifts we bought when we were in India, which are nice, and I have a bunch of baby clothes as well since we got a ton for both DS and DD that we never used and still have tags on.
I have things like coasters and small decorative boxes and bowls from India, automoblox and kid kinex and some melissa and doug stuff for toddler/young children and baby clothes in my stash of gifts.
That being said I do tend to look at what I have before buying a gift, but if there is something specific I want for someone I go out and get it, since the stuff in my gift area can be used for almost anyone.
One thing that was nice was I had a bunch of the M&D craft sets and when we got the new baby and people came over to gush over the baby I would pull out a craft or something small from closet for DS so he didn't get too jealous. So it was nice to have then.
Carly, mama to DS C (5th grade), DD Miss M (07/09, fostered 1/10, adopted 08/10), and Little Miss C (11/10, fostered 01/11, adopted 11/12). Foster Son, Mr. A, age 11 placed 10/13.
My angel babies , ~01/08~ (twins), ~09/08~, and ~01/09~.
It seems as the kids are getting older (dd is turning 5) they have such diverse interests that it's important to shop for the individual rather than try to make something from the gift closet work.
Things I had in the closet, craft kits, bath toys, art supplies, clearance barbies, books, puzzles, for adults I had some bath sets, candles, picture frames, stationary...
We stopped exchanging gifts with adult siblings, and most of our friends are married and done having babies so we don't have many adult gift occassions any longer.
When I've found things (like the Haba wooden grasping toys) on sale for cheap, I've bought several to put away and attach to new baby presents in the future . . . but I normally knit the actual gift, and that's just a little something extra. I don't like the idea of keeping random things on hand for random people, and even if I don't know the child whose birthday we're attending, my kids do -- and they like to pick out presents for their friends.
Rylie is 7, Ronin is 3.5
I shop the Target 75% off every January and pick up board games for super cheap (I'm talking typically only 1.74 a game!!). I try to get ones I know my kids loves, I've gotten hullabulloo (this has been a huge hit as gifts), memory games, monopoly games, and also puzzles. (puzzles I can find as low at 50 cents on clearance for board ones and even boxed ones!!).
If I find books on clearance I put those away as well. On the toy side I pick up things like 5 packs of cars. (This is an awesome thing to find after almost EVERY holiday as well). Cars are NEVER old with boys and my kids' friends range from 1-7. I also have picked up some super hero type figures on the 75% off so that we stay in a semi "hot toy" stage. (I typically don't have girl toys in the stash but have gotten some Polly pockets and my little pony things for free with coupons and stashed those and always given those out in sets).
I've loved that when my son has brought home all these invites now that he is in kinder I can say SURE! and just have him shop from the closet. He loves it and knows that he gets to go to more parties this way
Another thing is that I watch out for clearance gift bags and keep tissue paper always in stock as well.
..Fused & Fabulous!
but i did have signature wrapping paper and stationary in a box in my closet so i would always be able to wrap whatever i found.
i have this tendency to do "spontaneous" gifts. i see something and go "that reminds me of sara" and so i buy it and i go home and wrap it and then give it to sara the next time i see her. i'm totally, totally random like that.
for special occasions, though--like holidays and birthdays--i try to give "experiences." i prefer to get movie passes or play passes or zoo passes or dinner out or whatever. i'm a gift-card queen to be honest. which is why my personalized stationary comes in handy--i just pop the gift card into my personal stationary and voila! done.
here, i've been giving random gifts to our practitioners ("because it's tuesday, and you're doing an amazing job!") and also to our friends ("because we love how you drive!"--one of our friends drives us around when we need it). for the practitioners, it's been coffee cards at the very local coffee shop, and for our friend, gas cards. they are pleased a punch--aparently it's much more of an american thing to do.
I have a secret spot for gifts I buy DD in advance that she cannot see or get to. She is 8, about to turn 9. I used to have a large drawer that was too heavy for her to open that was packed with fun items I would find here and there randomly. We gave away that old, heavy furniture a few years ago and I had a heck of a time finding a new spot for her purchased-ahead gifts. About that time, she also became far more interested in specific items as gifts. So, I only buy a little in advance now. I generally go out on Black Friday with the intention of getting her items for Christmas, her birthday, and Easter. Those generally only cover a three month timeframe (Easter changes, of course) and her tastes are less likely to change that quickly. By the time Easter or her birthday arrives (whichever comes last each year), the secret spot is empty until the next November.
When we go on vacation, which hasn't actually been in awhile, I tend to pick up gifts for people I know well and I pick up items for us that are every day items we would love to have and we treat those as souvenirs even though they generally have no telltale signs of being purchased anywhere specific. It is something we just know. We tell the recipient, "We thought of you when we saw this on our trip to _______." The gift generally is given at a regular gift-giving time (Christmas or birthday). Interestingly enough, I suppose, we tend to exchange gifts with different groups of people at different times. For example, certain friends only receive gifts randomly. Family members (kids) receive gifts at Christmas and birthday and no other times. Family members (adults) receive gifts on either Christmas OR their birthday, except my mom and dad because they were both born on December 28 and got gypped their whole lives (and told me all about it). I save the best gift for their respective birthdays and wrap it in birthday paper. My mom doesn't give a hoot about cards, so she only gets one if it is handmade with a gift card or something as part of it. My dad loves cards, so we always give him one. I have a big box of cards already and have had this supply for eons. I used to work for Hallmark years ago when they gave the employees the old merchandise.
I also have Christmas gift wrap and supplies in a special tote under our bed. (We take turns wrapping gifts on the floor in our master bedroom.) I keep regular birthday and other gift wrap/bags/tags/etc in the family office closet along with the gift box. I don't actively add to either of these, but the general gift wrap stuff is overflowing. We've started using some of these supplies in crafts! When we run out of Christmas wrapping supplies, I am switching us over to reusable items (fabric and decorative boxes mostly). I'll probably switch us over gradually, actually. We already reuse the same decorative boxes my mom gave us years ago over and over.
"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless." - Mother Teresa
In theory going out and getting that special something for that special someone is great. However when you're like me you have a lot of people you end up buying for (acquaintances at holiday parties, in laws, etc) and you're on a tight budget. That's why I use my gift closet.
My gift closet isn't really big. Its the bottom shelf in my pantry (an unused linen closet). I want to get a tote and put overflow into my unused shower though. Closer to Christmas things get pretty crammed and I have to get creative, and then for half a year I'm pretty bare again!
Welcome to baby Fiona with a giant omphalocele, 6/17/10!
Amber SAHM Fiber Artist Mom to:
Maddison (9): Arwen (8): Finn (4): Aedan (2)
I hit Target's 50 and 75 % off clearances for toys and games. And I always buy extra crayons, markers, paints, etc. at the back to school sales. Also craft type kits at Target and Hobby Lobby when they're on clearance. I also buy baby clothes when they're 80-90% off at Kohls for baby shower gifts (especially for DH's employees, seems like there's always someone having a baby that we need to get a token gift for, but that we don't know well enough to buy a "big" item)
There is a shelf in my closet that is designated to gift stuff- and it's usually spilled over to an area on the floor, as well. I don't mind that clutter- it's so nice not to have to run out and buy a $20 Barbie something or other twice in one month!
Half-marathon running Mommy to 3 spunky girls and 1 sweet boy. Spending my days and nights where my kids need me most- at home with them!!