How to Create a Gift Closet

If you’ve ever wanted to create a gift closet, here’s something important to know: a gift closet doesn’t have to be an actual “closet.” Instead, a gift closet is simply a place where you stock all-occasion gifts.

Why do you want to have a gift closet filled with these kinds of things? So you can grab something when you need a hostess gift or a thank-you present. 

Where to put a gift closet

Find a spot in your house where you have enough room to keep these last-minute gifts and where you won’t lose them. Don’t just toss them in a bin you keep under the stairs. 

I would recommend dedicating a shelf in your pantry or even a drawer in a dresser where you can keep your stash. And where it will be obvious to find them the next time you need a last minute hostess, holiday or birthday gift.

I say this because I’ve been guilty a time or two (or maybe a dozen times) of putting something in a “safe” spot so I wouldn’t lose it. But that safe spot was so secure that I forgot where it was and ended up losing it. 

Such as the airline tickets for my honeymoon some 30 years ago. Yeah, my husband is still sore about that one.

How to stock a gift closet

The idea in stocking a gift closet is to buy items when they are typically cheapest. For example, I always shop at the stores after major holidays. It’s why I’ve shared tips over the years about stocking up after Valentine’s Day, how to find the best after Easter sales and when Halloween candy goes on sale.

In addition, I’m always stalking the clearance racks at my favorite stores. For example, at Target, you can often find the best deals at the “end caps”–those shelves at the end of an aisle. Not the shelves facing out towards the walkways but the ones facing a wall.

Finally, if I had coupons for something that fit my gift closet preferred presents, then I would buy in bulk when something was on sale.

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Overall, the idea is to stock your gift closet so that when I needed a gift, I solved two problems at once. One, I did not have to rush out and buy a last-minute gift. And, two, if I did need something, I didn’t have to pay full price.

gift closet wrapped presents

What to put in a gift closet

When my kids were younger and attending lots of birthday parties for other young kids, I stocked that gift closet with everything I could think of that might work as kids’ gift ideas. This included games and art supplies that I picked up on sale after the holidays or during back to school.

Remember those penny sales at Staples for back to school? They were great for stocking my gift closet with things from an office supply store that could work for little kid presents. This includes:

  • Crayons
  • Coloring books
  • Puzzles
  • Colored pencils
  • Craft kits
penny deals at staples

Another great place to find goodies for your gift closet? Your local dollar store.

Housewarming gifts

Stores like Marshalls, TJ Maxx or Target have great ideas for housewarming gifts. So, if I saw bath soaps, candles or bags of coffee on clearance, I’d grab those, too. I added them to my gift closet as a go-to hostess or gift for a housewarming party for new neighbors or family members who have moved into a new home.

I’ll definitely shop after Christmas sales with my gift closet in mind. That’s when I’ll look for markdowns on holiday-themed cocktail napkins or glassware, Christmas ornaments, decorations or cookie cutters, and holiday-scented candles (think pine or spice). Again, the idea was always to have a “gift” on hand and one that I was able to get as a bargain.

Teacher gifts

Another great idea, especially for teacher gifts, is stocking up on gift cards. For example, one of the credit card benefits we get is free gift cards for points we’ve cashed in. If there are gift cards that you can’t use for your own family, for whatever reason, add them to your gift closet. And if there is a category that works for a teacher gift — food is always a great choice — then you can grab one when teacher appreciation day comes around, you have a gift ready to go.

Anniversary, baby shower and gifts for graduation

Really, you can use your stock for gift-giving to cover nearly any special occasion when you might need to bring a present. For example, if you are invited to a baby shower for your niece or nephew, you could easily find something from an after Easter sale in your closet that could work for a gift.

Gift wrapping supplies

Along with items in the closet that you’ll give as gifts, you should have plenty of supplies for wrapping up those presents, if need be. Use those same after holiday sales to stock up on the following:

  • Ribbon
  • Gift tags
  • Gift bags
  • Wrapping paper or gift wrap (paper or fabric)
  • Tissue paper
  • Bows

Also, keep the supplies you need to do the actual wrapping here, too. Things like tape and scissors. Don’t forget pens that work for writing your message on a gift tag.

Gift closet for perishables 

Sometimes my gift closet would “expand” to my refrigerator or freezer. That’s where I would stash boxes of chocolate or bottles of wine that I was able to get on sale. 

Truly, any long-lasting food or drink that you get on sale could be fodder for your refrigerated gift closet. Just make sure that whatever edible you’ve stocked up on doesn’t expire before the next time you might need it.

There’s nothing more embarrassing than giving something that’s expiration date has come and gone. Unless, of course, you’re trying to tell the recipient that you really do not care for them. {Sarcasm!}

Helps with regifting

Let’s be honest–at one time or another, we’ve all received an unwanted gift that we couldn’t return. And chances are you, like me, have regifted that unwanted gift.

Well, if you don’t have the opportunity to immediately regift a bottle of wine you don’t like, for example, put it in your gift closet.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with recycling gifts, especially if you happened to have received what I call an all-occasion gift in that it is ready made for regifting. These include picture frames, note cards, candles, soaps, and more. These are all of the items I normally keep in my gift closet and which all make perfect last-minute hostess gifts.

coffee and motivation everything is fine candle fire anniversary gift idea

People really do regift

Think I’m crazy to suggest you consider regifting? Well, think again.

One year eBay did a survey on regifting. Here’s what they discovered were the most popular items to regift

  • wine, champagne or spirits (21%)
  • trinkets or collectibles (21%)
  • beauty or bath products (21%)
  • books (16%)
  • electronics/appliances (14%)
  • fruitcake (14%)

OK, so I might draw the line at a fruitcake, because I think they’re gross. However, it just goes to show you that if you receive any non-perishable food and want to pass it along to someone else, you’re not going to be the only one doing so.

Finally, a lot of this gift closet advice appears, along with many other tips, in my book Suddenly Frugal: How to Live Healthier and Happier for Less. You can find it on Amazon, including an audiobook version, if you like listening to your books.

Final thoughts on creating a gift closet

I’m sure I’m not the only person who has a gift closet in their home. In fact, if you’re reading this and you have one, too, I’d love to hear what you like to stock up on for your stash. Please post a comment and let me know.

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  1. I so love those ideas. I always have a gift closet since I can remember. It is great to have something to choose from when late for shopping or just the time, when unexpected guests with kids come to visit.