Our family (and especially our teenager!) gets invited to a lot of parties during the year. Between birthday parties and Christmas parties, going away parties, office parties, school parties and housewarmings, it seems that we are forever having to come up with a small $5-10 gift to celebrate the event. All those little gifts can get expensive in hurry which is why I maintain a large gift stash as a way to save money.
A gift stash is a collection of odds and ends that I pick up at end-of-the season clearance sales and save for some future event. With careful shopping, it’s not hard at all to find great gifts at 80-90% off which are then tossed in the gift stash to be pulled out when needed. The key to making a gift stash work is to limit your purchases to clearance items that have a broad use, never expire, and are something that you yourself might enjoy. Here are some of clearance items that I keep in my gift stash.
Drug store spa items
Our local Rite Aid and Fred Meyer are forever moving spa items into the clearance bins where they can usually be found for about 80% off. Popular spa items that my teen’s friends have enjoyed include bottles of scented bath salts, aromatherapy candles, pedicure kits, facial masks and bath & shower gels.
Seasonal holiday decor always seems to be a welcome gift at winter house parties and office Christmas gift exchanges. Past items that have worked for coworker exchanges and teacher gifts include Christmas salt & pepper sets, seasonal serving dishes, fleecy Christmas lap blankets, holiday themed travel mugs, holiday candles, whimsical ornaments, wall hangings and even seasonal doormats. For non-holiday gifts, we hit the end-of summer sales for discounted barbecue tool sets, salad sets, serving trays, yard decor, and other items that our friends might find useful when entertaining.
Another great gift to keep in your gift stash is winter or holiday themed clothing accessories. Mittens, gloves, holiday socks, and cashmere scarves are popular gifts for kids and adults alike. If you anticipate invitations to baby showers in the year ahead, it’s a good idea to stock up on discounted onesies, bibs, and baby blankets.
Tins and containers
Wrapping up the list of gifts I keep in my gift stash are containers such as cookie tins and gift bags. Priced at just pennies on the dollar during Christmas Clearance sales, these are great items to have on hand for when the occasion calls for a homemade gift such as cookies, pastries, and other treats.
What not to buy
Things I don’t ever keep in my gift stash are clearance priced video games, toys, movies, or electronic gizmos which are generally in the clearance bin for a reason. I’ll also steer gear of anything that’s faddy, perishable or might be out of date by the time the next season rolls around.
Maintaining a gift stash is a great way to buy gifts for friends and family at a price that fits nicely into most budgets. By shopping carefully and thinking ahead to what you might need for upcoming holidays and other special occasions, you too can save hundreds of dollars a year like I do.
More by this contributor:
The Penny Pincher’s Guide toy Christmas Shopping
8 free canning jar Christmas decorating ideas
Five easy ways to pay down your Christmas Debt quickly