Happy Friday, my sweet plum pals! Today, I wanted to fill you in on my all-time favorite money-saving and stress-reducing hack: the gifting closet. In my case, “closet” may be a little bit of a generous term – “two shelves in the hallway built-in” is more appropriate – but it’s the best way I’ve found to make folks feel loved and seen without spending a ton.
I don’t know if you also internalized the “never show up to someone’s house empty-handed” rule or if you’ve ever panic-purchased super overpriced baby books/wrapping material/cards while en route to a baby shower (guilty). But adding a little stockpile of potential presents has removed a ton of unnecessary anxiety from my life. And I don’t know about y’all, but it’s been a particularly tough couple of weeks for so many of my loved ones – when it rains, it pours – but being a thoughtful and supportive friend is WAY easier when the store is just at the end of the hall, you know? So yes, while I hope to save you some cash and to take a little load off your shoulders, I also hope that you’ll be inspired to brighten a friend’s day – it feels like we all kinda need it right now. 🙂
Step One: Plan Your Occasions
Having a stash of potential gifts for newly engaged friends is top of mind for me, but folks with children may have totally different priorities. (I’m constantly shocked by the number of birthday parties that kids are invited to!!!) What kind of things do you have coming up over the next year? Some notes to jog your memory…
Events: It’s nice to have something on hand for birthdays, engagements, housewarmings, baby showers, graduations, retirements, bridal showers, weddings, and anniversaries.
Just Because: This is a great catchall for all types of thoughtful presents – think of teacher appreciation, greeting gifts for new neighbors, “thank you” presents for your friends who watch your pets at the last minute (Just me? Too niche?), grief gifts (be sure to check out Velinda’s ideas here, too), welcome home presents, and host gifts.
Holidays: You know the big ones, but Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Hanukkah, Purim, Eid, Easter, and Galentine’s Day (know it’s a joke holiday, but it’s absolutely worth celebrating) are the first ones that come to mind. (Any others?)
Step Two: Shop Your House
A big caveat for my shopping lovers: do not buy things just to fill up your closet! You have plenty of time to stock up and make it special, but you’re going to want to start by looking at your own house. Are there any unused products or vintage pieces that deserve a new home?
Full transparency: my gifting closet started accidentally when I missed the return deadline on a few of these Capri Blue reed diffusers. The scent is SO GOOD but it just felt like a miss for my home (kind of like how perfumes smell different on different folks). But instead of feeling like a bum who can’t manage their time, I was SO grateful to have missed the return deadline when a neighbor who loves candles and diffusers volunteered to watch my cat at the last minute – a diffuser packaged with a bottle of wine and a few bath bombs in a vintage basket made the perfect “thank you” gift. My closet grew from there – it was so fun to shop my own house and look for goodies that could be repurposed as presents in the future.
Step Three: Keep an Eye Out
Once you’ve taken inventory and know what you already have, the fun of expanding your gifting options can ACTUALLY begin. 🙂 There’s no rush to stock up all at once here – take your time, keep an eye out for sales, and actually think about the events you have coming up (no need to buy kids’ toys if you don’t know a kid, I am not trying to build a pipeline for the casting director of Hoarders here). Make a special note of your friends unique tastes, too – one of my best friends LOVES bolo ties so I always keep an eye out for those when I’m shopping so I’ll be Leslie Knope-level prepared for her birthday/Christmas/a promotion/a rainy day.
All that said, if I were building my closet again from scratch, here are the slam dunk presents that I’ve given in the past and the types of things I’d keep an eye out for…
1. Textured Ceramic Jar Candle Sandalwood & Tobacco | 2. Match Striker | 3. Write On Pen Set | 4. Gia Rectangle Claw Clip | 5. Indigo Blue And White Striped Pedestal Planter | 6. Wood Stone Tray | 7. Salida Bottle Opener | 8. Garden Scissors With Pouch | 9. Oil Diffuser
We’ll talk about this a little later, but the real key to these gifts is to pair them with a “live” buddy – so like, YES, bring your friend a beautiful bottle opener…alongside a nice 6 pack. Bring a tray WITH a crusty baguette from the grocery store. Grab a vase and then add a little floral arrangement. Fill up a vintage jar with a homemade treat or a salt scrub or a bath bomb. You can really get personal here and it’ll make it seem like you spent hours shopping for the perfect gift instead of a few quick minutes pulling from your own personal stash 🙂
A few things to note: candles and scents can be such great gifts, but try to keep the packaging neutral – in this case, a ceramic or stone or terra cotta jar will make it feel a little more elevated than the standard glass-with-sticker packaging. The same thing goes for trays, match strikers, vessels, jars, and planters. While I’m usually a fan of a maximalist moment, gifting decor can be VERY tricky so it’s best to keep it simple.
Beyond decor, there are a few other surprise slam dunks that I’ve found – hair accessories (especially simple clips like these – no shame in splitting up a pair!), nice pens, and elevated basics (like this vintage corkscrew) can really put a smile on people’s faces. I also love keeping some nice salt and sage on hand for housewarmings (if you also want to buy a smudge stick to gift, please purchase from an Indigenous vendor – Sheyenne from Whispering Winds is my favorite!).
For Culinary Types
1. Stoneware Mug | 2. FIVETWO Ultimate Apron | 3. Chop Whitewash Wood Bowl | 4. Helms Gold Cheese Knives (set of 3) | 5. Minimalist Measuring Cups | 6. Drink Rocks | 7. “Cook This Book” Cookbook by Molly Baz | 8. Stud Decanter | 9. Assorted Airtight Silicone Lids (set of 5) | 10. Trio Marble Serving Board | 11. Teak Measuring Spoons | 12. Old World Italian by Mimi Thorisson
Again, the pairing is key – these stoneware mugs are SO luxe and weighty and expensive-looking despite their tiny price tag (only $7.99 for 2!) and would be SO GREAT to gift alongside with some nice coffee or tea. I’m also a huge fan of the apron – I find that folks LOVE wearing them but rarely purchase them for themselves – and this one from Food52’s line is so good. It comes in a few other lovely colors, too 🙂
And while these are all new, it’s fun to keep an eye out for vintage bowls, carafes, decanters, cookie jars, and goblets when you head out to the flea market or thrift shop. I feel like these vintage wooden pineapple bowls, this AWESOME carafe with a racehorse stopper, or this sweet little spice jar would be super great gifts.
For Self-Care Lovers
1. BIG MOOD Bath Soak | 2. Dr. Jart+ Dermask Water Jet Soothing Hydra Solution | 3. KNC Beauty Collagen Infused Lip Mask Set | 4. Turmeric Botanical Bar | 5. Nécessaire The Body Ritual | 6. Honest 4-Ounce Organic Body Oil | 7. Goodnight Set Sleep Mask & Gua Sha | 8. Superfood Latte Sampler | 9. Prima Bath Gem 25mg CBD Bath Soak for Relaxation & Recovery
Does part of my gifting shelf look like the checkout line at Sephora? Yes. Am I ready to show up at your house with a bunch of face masks when you’re having a bad day? ALSO YES. I usually just stock up on a ton of these sheet masks at Target, but you can really grab anything that strikes your (or your pal’s) fancy. There are a ton of tiny and easily storable gifts to scoop in this arena – though these ones above are our tried-and-true favorites 🙂 – so I’d recommend just holding out for sales or bundling opportunities.
1. Straw Constructor STEM Building Toy | 2. Paint-Your-Own Wood Tea Set Kit | 3. LEGO Marvel Spider-Man | 4. Small Security Blanket Bear | 5. Green Toys Submarine | 6. Give It A Swirl Tie Dye Kit | 7. ‘If I Were a Puppy…’ Book | 8. 60pcs Magnet Building Tiles | 9. Nail Polish Set
So uh, I don’t actually know any kids (which I think is normal for someone with almost exclusively childfree friends!) but I do always have at least one baby book (looking at you, #7) for showers on hand. That said, it seems like y’all DO know kids, so we pulled some EHD-favorites for ya in case your child keeps getting invited to their classmate’s birthdays and you’d rather not break the bank at the last minute while you’re en-route to parties.
Being said, I LOVE having adult coloring books, fun markers/crayons/colored pencils, journals (these are my favorite), puzzles, and cool playing cards on hand which could all probably do double-duty as a kids’ gift in a pinch! This gradient puzzle is my all-time favorite thing to gift (I have six of them in my apartment right now, no joke) and it seems like it’d be a blast for people of any age. Also a huge fan of these Strawberry Thief playing cards (there are a ton of other classic Morris prints, too!) which are another awesome elevated basic.
And All The Trappings
Do we all hang on to every nice gift bag we receive, or is that just a weird thing that my family does? In any case, there’s no reason to rush out and grab a whole bunch of bags/wrapping paper/bows/ribbons right now. Build up that collection slowly over time!
Being said…I love a vintage basket, box, or pedestal bowl for gifting. You grab some tissue paper, slide your gift in there, give it a little zhuzh and MAN, you have a beautifully presentable present!! There are wildly affordable container options all around ya – vintage baskets are SO cheap when you buy them in person – so just keep your eyes peeled the next time you head out on a shopping trek. The holidays are right around the corner, after all 🙂 (HOW?!)
Step Four: Then Organize It
When it comes to organizing your gift closet/shelf/bin/container under the bed, less is more. You don’t need a million specialty products – just something that can corral your gifts and trappings! If you’re a small space dweller (or trying to hide presents from the other people in your household), consider throwing everything into one big suitcase. If you already have some plastic bins, use those! But if you’re looking for something a little more elaborate or organized, all of the following have nearly perfect ratings from people whom I assume are VERY well-loved by their friends and fam.
1. Hanging Gift Tote Organizer | 2. Elfa White Mesh Gift Wrap Cart | 3. Grey Wrap & Tote Organizer | 4. Customized Gift Wrap Center | 5. White Elfa Utility Mesh Gift Packaging Over the Door Rack Solution | 6. 20 gal. Clear Weathertight Trunk
If you can’t tell from the earlier photos in the post, that over-the-door organizer is a HUGE deal in the gifting closet blog world. I’m planning on organizing a walk-in closet in my apartment soon (installing shelves and everything!) so this is actually one of the first items on my to-buy list as the reviews are GLOWING.
But there are a ton of other options if such over-the-door storage isn’t your thing. I’m so impressed by the construction of #2 (you KNOW Leslie Knope had one of these carts in her hoarder house!!) and the size of #3. There are solutions for all kinds of homes! Hooray!
Step Five: Gift It
We’ve started to go over this, but I’ve recently come to the conclusion that the best, most thought-out physical gifts have five parts (we all know that experiences are a whole different ballgame!!):
- Something solid: You know, like a mug or a tray or a book.
- Something consumable-ish: Bread! Pens! A bath bomb! Cheese! Wine! Markers! Just something that the recipient can actually use or enjoy. (I’d also argue that “a plant” could fit into this category, but it felt weird to call that “consumable,” so here we are.)
- Something thoughtful: A heartfelt note in a card means EVERYTHING…or you can take a page outta the EHD playbook and gift a compliment jar, which is an absolute tear-jerker every. dang. time. 🙂
- Nice presentation: I talk a big game but transparently, this is still where I struggle. I didn’t have a bag or basket on hand a few weeks ago, so I literally handed Jess her unwrapped Christmas presents and was like “HERE YOU GO, NOW OFF ON YOUR WAY!” (Also YES, I was EIGHT MONTHS LATE. And I had her gifts the whole time!! I just kept forgetting to *gift* them!!) But actually putting effort into wrapping or presenting your gifts shows the recipient how much you care, which is really sweet. (I’ll do better this year, Bunge!!)
There you have it – the five steps to creating the gifting closet of your dreams. Save money, reduce stress, feel organized, and gift better – what else could you ask for?? If anyone else has any tips or favorite storage options, please drop them below – I’m excited to hear from you 🙂 Happy weekend. xx