Guest post from Liz of Catholic Deals
My family gives lots of gifts.
My husband and I both come from big families, and we have also been blessed to be able to share in the life event celebrations of many friends — from bridal showers and weddings to baby showers and baptisms. Now that my children are school-age, they also are frequently invited to birthday parties, and we need teacher gifts as well.
We really enjoy blessing our friends and family with presents, but the cost of many gifts can quickly become a financial hardship. That’s where a gift stockpile comes in. Instead of purchasing gifts only when I have a specific event to attend, I buy a variety of gifts whenever I find them at good prices and store them until I need them.
Over the past few years I have refined my gift stockpiling system so that gifts take up only a small portion of our budget, yet we are still able to give appropriate and thoughtful gifts. Plus, I rarely have to run out and purchase a present before a party; I just choose and wrap something on hand!
If you want to build a gift stockpile of your own, here are three tips that I have learned over the years:
1. Purchase only items that are appropriate for your gift-giving needs.
Think about the events that you are likely to attend or people with whom you usually exchange gifts. That crystal vase may be 75% off and would be a perfect wedding gift, but if you haven’t attended a wedding in five years it will probably sit in the closet.
For several years I kept a plastic bin of baby clothes and gifts, since I attended so many baby showers and baptisms. However, now that my friends’ children and my own are older, I have mostly stopped purchasing baby items. With my oldest in school and attending frequent birthday parties, I instead started concentrating on looking for deals on toys.
2. Know your target prices and sale opportunities.
The point of building a gift stockpile is not only to have gifts on hand, but to be able to purchase them for much less than you would if you had to run out the day before a party. Therefore, you should know the best price range that you are able to find with some regularity and only purchase gifts when they hit that target price.
For birthday party gifts, I currently try to spend no more than $5 per gift. I know that if I watch the toy clearance at my local Walmart and Target I rarely have to spend more. I also know to watch clearance sales closely after major holidays, and I have learned the mark-down systems used by various local stores.
I almost completely fill my kids’ Christmas stockings and Easter baskets with items purchased after the holiday the previous year.
3. Limit your stockpile.
Even if you pay your target price for a gift, it doesn’t really save you money if you don’t use it for years, either because you have too many items or you can’t find what you have.
I have found that the easiest way for me to limit my gift stockpile is by space. I have one plastic bin for children’s gifts and one for adult gifts, plus a smaller under-the-bed bin for small stocking stuffer and Easter basket items for my own family. If these bins are filled, I avoid buying more items until I have space. I also clean out the bins every so often.
My personal limit for storing future gifts is about two years. If I buy something on clearance after a holiday, I assume I will use it the next year. If I don’t end up using it, I don’t mind hanging on to it for one more year. However, beyond that I strongly reassess whether I will ever use it, and I sell or donate items that I decide to purge.
My gift stockpile has been a blessing to our family and I hope to our friends and relatives as well. I hope that these tips help you bless your family with your own gift stockpiling system.
Liz McGuirk is a wife and mom living in Northern Virginia. She blogs at Catholic Deals, where she shares savings on Christian and Catholic books, media, religious articles, and much more.