If you have been around the couponing world for a while, you’ve most likely stumbled across the idea of a gift closet. This idea is not new or revolutionary, but it is a fantastic way of maintaining a budget and giving awesome gifts. The concept is particularly great for families with kids who make the birthday rounds or with lots of nephews and nieces, but anyone can take the idea and apply it to their home. Let us know in the comments your best haul or your best-kept secret places to find gifts for less.
What is a gift closet?
- It’s a stockpile of gifts. Grab items when you can get them for rock-bottom prices and keep a stash of them hidden away for birthday parties, weddings, baby showers, or whatever celebration comes your way. As the name implies, a closet is nice to store these hauls but even a cabinet, shelf, or under a bed will do! We keep ours in a closet under the stairs. Shhh! Don’t tell my kids!
When do I start?
- Now! Or anytime you see a fantastic deal. The idea is to designate a piece of your budget so you can pick up gifts when a great opportunity presents itself.
- Easter is a great time to start looking for toys. Toy stores typically run fantastic sales on basket-filling items like play-doh, cars, and games. For the past couple of years, Toys R Us has ran BOGO sales on Fisher Price and Little Tikes. High value coupons were also released at the same time as the sale so I was able to pick up $50 Fisher Price toys for $15 each! Hopefully, we’ll see the sale again this year.
- January and June – the time for the secret toy sales! Target does an entire toy department reset around mid-January and at the end of July. I have gotten toys marked to 90% off. We saw discounts of up to 75% at Walmart in January as well, especially online, and Toys R Us got up to 90% off this year.
- Post-Christmas is a great time to pick up adult gifts! Look for those packaged fragrance sets or soap sets for pennies on the dollar. Scarf and glove sets, executive gifts, and holiday scents can be had for a steal.
How much do I spend?
- The best idea is to set your own budget. Do not spend out of your means. I would recommend about $25 or so a month that you know you can spend on gifts. If you don’t find a great deal one month, carry the money over to the next month. I guarantee you there will be a month where you run across a few deals so it’s better to have more money that month than to spend the $25 on a not-so-great deal. If you can afford a bit more or you’re afraid $25 will not cover all your family/birthday needs, up it to a level you’re comfortable with.
Keep track of the gifts
- Make sure and keep a list of the gifts you get. I keep track of mine with a Google document just so I can pull it up on my phone if needed, but paper and pen works just as well! It’ll help you stay on track with your budget and knowing who you still have left.
Some tips and tricks
- Make sure to check Coupon Divas often! We scour the web daily and handpick the best deals for you!
- Watch Groupon, LivingSocial, and other deal sites for deals. Use the voucher itself as a gift, or use it to score even better deals on giftable items. I bought a $50 voucher to the Body Shop for just $15 with a special discount code Groupon sent me which I then used to buy 5 of their discounted gift bags right after Christmas.
- Keep an eye out for gift card deals. Local stores run specials for gift cards around most holidays. I’ve been able to get discounted gift cards or grocery cash back with the purchase of select gift cards. Those gift cards work just like the vouchers I mentioned above. Use them to score more deals or set them aside as gifts.
- It’s always nice to have a pack of diapers and wipes on hand for the occasional baby shower. We post hot deals frequently for both of these on the grocery side of Coupon Divas that will help you get some for your stash.
- Look for gender-neutral gifts for the biggest bang. Legos, play-doh, art supplies, board games, and books are all gifts that can be given to boys or girls.
- Clearance buys are fantastic, but be wary of fad items. If the birthday is months away, the gift might not be received well if the item is not trendy anymore.
- Have your kids help! If you have lots of birthday parties, take your child to that hot clearance with you to help guide you to gifts that their friends would like.
My Secret stores!
- Kroger Marketplace– these are their bigger chain of stores that sell furniture, toys, and more. When they clearance, they go big! Plus, they accept coupons.
- Mardel– look for endcaps or center displays with items anywhere from 50-90% off. Great for adult gifts too!
- Hallmark– Sign up for their mailing list and they send $5 off $15 coupons pretty regularly that work great with their clearance section.
- Target – ok, so it’s not that big of a secret, but they have some nice markdowns and their new 50% off toy cartwheel deals that led up to Christmas last year gave me some awesome gifts.
- Hobby Lobby – The stores I frequent have a whole back wall of clearance. I’ve gotten cute jewelry, fun sewing projects, and gorgeous wall decor.
- Toys R Us – one of the best places for board games plus they accept manufacturer coupons!
- Barnes & Noble – Their clearance tables can be phenomenal! Look for 75% off and up or their $2 and under clearance.
- World Market – Every once in a while, they have BOGO sales on toys and they have a great collection of classic toys. Sign up for their mailing list and you can also catch some of their hot one day sales on scarves and other nice adult gifts.
- Bath & Body Works – I’m addicted to their semi annual sales in January and June! Combine the discounted prices with coupons for nice buys.
- Claire’s – regularly runs $2 clearance sales. Get there early and you can find more than just jewelry and trinkets.