“Just a reminder that our class Christmas party is tomorrow! Don’t forget, your child needs to bring a wrapped book under $5 to exchange with a classmate.”
Excuse me, they need to bring a what?!
I’m sure none of you have been in a situation where you’ve forgotten a birthday party or been invited last-minute to a baby shower. I get it, you’re perfect, and I’m the only one who completely overlooks the dozen reminders in the school backpack about what a kid needs to bring to school.
And of course, what we experienced this Christmas Eve has never happened before: the family whose kid’s we’ve taken in came over Christmas to exchange gifts……and they brought a random 12 year old cousin along without telling us first. Nothing feels quite as heartbreaking as having gifts for five children and then six show up.
However, I have a secret weapon.
You see, I know that I am forgetful (at best) and space case (at worst). And because I know this, I prepare ahead of time. I have ….. a gift closet.
What is a gift closet? A gift closet is a forgetful person’s lifesaver. It’s a collection of items that can be given as gifts at a moment’s notice. There are toys and nontoys for all ages, genders, and possible situations.
How, you may ask, can you make a gift closet without it costing a fortune? Or waste a lot of money?
And that is the key questions. We’re all about saving money at the Crazy Shopping Cart, so how can I tell you to spend money on things that you don’t really need?
I’ll answer your question with this scenario: you’re browsing through the clearance section and you find a fun toddler for 80% off. It’s a great deal, and you start to add it to your cart…..only to remember that you don’t actually have a toddler anymore.
Instead of regretfully putting the toy back, get it anyway! Take it home, and put it in a closet. You’ve officially begun your gift closet!
The beautiful thing about the gift closet is that it doesn’t require any extra work to create, but it will definitely save you a lot of stress! The next time you are invited to your spouse’s co-worker’s wife’s baby shower at the last minute, you’ll have a closet that has some bottles, baby clothes, and infant toys you can wrap and take!
(Or in our case today, the next time someone shows up for a Christmas gift exchange at your house with an extra child, you’ll be able to quickly grab a DIY model of the solar system from the closet so they won’t feel left out.)
One of the best ways that I fill up our gift closet is when we find awesome deals to post in our Facebook group. That’s probably where 90% of our gift closet items come from.
Now, the items in your gift closet do not need to be just for other people! Our Christmases and birthdays are much more affordable because about two months in advance (or starting in August, for Christmas), I keep an eye out for things that my husband or kids would want. Retailers love to raise prices around holidays (like Easter and Christmas) because most people aren’t planning in advance. I can purchase a favorite toy (like a Fingerling) months in advance for half the cost and none of the stress!
It really helps our budget to spread out our gift-buying. If you’re looking for other ways to contribute to your gift closet and lower holiday spending, check out our article on having a Debt-Free Christmas!