How We Store Future Gifts (Clara @ 10 Months)

posted by Andrea | 07/25/2018

With Clara’s upcoming first birthday, James’ 3rd birthday a couple weeks ago, and the fact that Christmas is exactly 5 months from today (what!), I thought this might be a good time to share how Dave and I currently handle buying and storing gifts year-round.

But first… a little update on Clara!

Our sweet and smiley Clara Jo is 10 months old today.

WOW! That went fast!

Some of her current favorite things are:

  • sucking her thumb (or really any finger)
  • playing in the pool (as long as the water is warm)
  • smiling
  • eating
  • snuggling
  • playing outside in the pack ‘n play
  • taking baths
  • getting into everything her siblings don’t want her to get into

This past month, Clara spent her first night away from home (a weekend away with Dave’s family) and we found out that although she loves playing in her her pack ‘n play, she definitely doesn’t love sleeping in one!

She also got her first smooch from a boy (her cousin) and I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that she has now officially been ‘out’ longer than she was ‘in’!

She still army-crawls everywhere (and she’s really fast!). She can also pull herself up on chairs and to the side of our couch, and anything on the floor becomes an obstacle for her to climb over!

She’s getting 2 more teeth so she’s been a bit fussier lately, and her sleep schedule has been thrown off a bit by Dave’s family weekend, late nights due to various birthday parties and other activities, and a road trip to visit my sister for a day. At least we packed all the off-schedule craziness into 2 weeks… now our goal is to get her “back on schedule”! We’ll see how that goes!

It’s always amazing how frustrating it is for me when our kids get off their schedule. Even if the kids aren’t super grumpy or fussy, I AM GRUMPY because I miss out on my glorious kid-free quiet time in the evenings… which then causes me to stay up really late to get a few things done, which makes it harder for me to wake up on time the next day, which means I don’t start my day well either, which means I have less patience with everyone the next day, which is basically a recipe for disaster after more than a couple of days!

It’s a vicious cycle for my Type A personality!

Thankfully, it’s summer and Dave is home, so being “off schedule” isn’t really that big of a deal. As long as we get back on track before school starts up again. πŸ™‚

And since we’re talking about school starting up again… we might as well look a little further into the future and acknowledge the fact that Christmas is 5 months from today!

For those of you who like to plan ahead and do a little Christmas-in-July shopping, I thought it might be fun to share how we handle buying gifts ahead of time and where we store them.

How We Store Gifts Year-Round

I honestly never thought I’d be the type of person to stockpile gifts so far in advance, but with all our kids birthdays spread out throughout the year (March, July, September, November) I somehow got in the habit of picking up a few things here and there, and stashing them away for “later”.

Eventually, that turned into a small box of goodies in our bedroom closet… and now, the top shelf of our closet has mostly been taken over with piles of future birthday and Christmas gifts!

Some of them are things I get for free (or almost free) thanks to a good deal, a coupon, or a company who wants to send me free stuff in hopes that I will promote it. Most of the other items are things I find at thrift stores that I know the kids will love… I have to snatch them up right away, before someone else buys them.

There are also a few items I have purchased brand new (in bulk) that we pull from whenever we’re invited to a friend’s birthday party or other last-minute gift-giving event.

Here’s a list of what I have in our future gift stash right now:

  • Tool set from the thrift store
  • A huge supply of thread and a loom for making bracelets (Nora’s birthday gift this fall)
  • Several coloring and activity books
  • A variety of markers, crayons, “click pens”, and other art supplies
  • LOTS of stickers!
  • A handful of matchbox cars and plastic animal figurines
  • Koosh balls (I think all kids love these!)
  • Chalk and bubbles (always good additions to kid gifts)
  • A couple kid’s watches I picked up for almost nothing
  • A handful of ring pop suckers and candy necklaces
  • Two KiwiCrate craft kits (these will probably be Christmas gifts)
  • A selection of books, DVDs, and VHS tapes (good rainy day surprises to pull out)
  • 3 puzzles
  • Keychain flashlight and lasers (always a hit to include with gifts!)
  • A handful of pacifiers, clips, burp cloths, and teethers to add to a pack of diapers and wipes for last-minute baby gifts

I should mention that if we have larger items (like a bike, scooter, large buckets, etc.) we keep those in the basement. Currently, we have a little wooden bike/scooter in our basement for Clara’s birthday. It’s similar to this one, but I found mine for $2 from a thrift store!

Our gift stash is always changing (it’s actually fairly low right now), but it’s usually geared towards children and babies. We rarely have adults to buy gifts for, and I often prefer giving gift cards or something handmade when we do.

I think our older kids know we have gifts in our closet, but they can’t see them, they certainly can’t reach them, and they rarely ever ask about them… so we’re safe for now!

Eventually, as the kids get older, I have a feeling we’ll try to do more money, gift cards, or experience gifts to let them decide what to buy or how to spend their money — which means we won’t need as much space to store future gifts.

But for now, the top shelf in our closet (which was essentially unused space before) is the perfect spot for the gifts we buy ahead of time.

It allows me to pick up extra amazing deals year-round so I never have to start from scratch for any of my birthday or holiday shopping. Plus, I always have a fall-back supply of gift items for last-minute birthday party invitations, baby gifts, a longer car trip, or even just a fun rainy day surprise.

Do you buy gifts ahead? If so, how and where do you store them?

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29 comments

  1. Debbie

    07/31/2018

    Every now and again I’m able to find some gifts during a half-yearly sale or something like that. I keep them in our closet too stashing it in a big bag. Most of the gifts are for family not living in our home so I’m not worried that they’ll be discovered.

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  2. Brooke

    07/26/2018

    I keep 2 gender neutral gifts for birthday parties around – appropriate for each of my kids ages (legos for the 8yo, craft items for the 4yo). That’s it! When it’s used (rarely – most birthday parties lately are no-gifts), I’ll replace it at the next sale. I used to pre-buy for my kids, but then I’d end up with more than we could gift, so I ended up spending more on “deals” than I would if I just bought 1 toy for birthday/holiday at the right time, and it takes up a lot less space.

    Right now is the one exception. I found a significant gift card to Toys R Us right before they went out of business, so I used it up and bought my son’s birthday present several months in advance.

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    Andrea Reply:

    This is a great idea!

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  3. Janine

    07/26/2018

    Oh my word, I LOVE that picture of Clara getting a cousin smooch! I keep laughing every time I scroll past it. That’s a keeper!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, it’s a keeper for sure!

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  4. Ashleigh Witt Wilder

    07/26/2018

    I have a box in our guest room closet for extra gifts, but I have found in the last year or so that most birthday parties we are invited to are β€œno gift parties.” I have a fairly decent collection of gifts and no kids to give them to! Haha! How far Do you buy gifts for your own children ahead of their birthdays or holidays? I have found my oldest daughter, Also named Nora age 6, tends to change her mind about what she likes so often these days.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, I love the parties that say “no gifts” So much nicer for everyone!
    As for buying gifts for my kids — I rarely ever buy anything brand new for them ahead of time. The gifts I have are usually thrift store find ($1.00 $0.50 items) that I think they would like… if they don’t, we just donate them back again. And yes, my Nora changes her mind ALL the time too!

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  5. Leigh

    07/25/2018

    Totally. We have a big gift box full of things for my kids to take to birthday parties. I buy for it when I find something appropriate (mostly crafty stuff or Lego) at the right price. I keep an Evernote document with what’s in it.
    For my kids I buy ahead and usually wrap the gifts immediately so they can’t get discovered.

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    Andrea Reply:

    This is awesome — such a good mom!
    Also, when you wrap the gifts immediately, do you put some sort of note on them so you don’t forget what the gifts are or who they are for? I know I’d forget over time!

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  6. Jody

    07/25/2018

    Oh Clara you are growing so quickly!! I wish we could bottle her happiness and sell it to all the grumpy adults out there.
    What a happy peanut she is!

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    Andrea Reply:

    I know! She’s SO happy. It’s a joy being her mom!

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  7. Betsy

    07/25/2018

    I keep buy-ahead gifts in a large Rubbermaid tub in our master closet. Our kids are middle/high school age now so they are aware of it, but they have never tried to peek as far as I know. πŸ™‚ My mom used to store our gifts in suitcases in her master closet.

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha! Good for them for not peeking! Also, I LOVE the idea of storing them in suitcases — we never travel so we hardly ever use our suitcases. I may have to start doing this!

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  8. Gillian

    07/25/2018

    You store yours on the top shelf of your closet. I used to store them on the top shelf of my son’s closet. He never once suspected that his Mom would be that obvious, but she was!

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — I used to store them in the nursery closet, but then couldn’t ever go in there to get them when the babies were sleeping (which is when I wanted to work on stuff). So now they are in my closet!

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  9. Pixie508

    07/25/2018

    We have a big plastic bin (obviously not see through) and an old Amazon box from one of my subscribe and save shipments. I’m always picking things up if I find a good deal, including a few “girl” gifts for birthdays (I’m a “boy mom” but as my son had gotten older, there are more and more birthday parties, so if I find something age appropriate, I’ll grab it so I’m not panicking when we get invited to a party)

    I also have a few books on the top shelf of our coat closet. I didn’t want them to get dinged up. We use the library mostly, but I found a few of my favorites from growing up at half priced books in excellent shape so, those will be a gift in the next year or so as he grows into them. Takes up next to no room, and they’re currently under the pile of scarves and hats, so I don’t think even my husband’s remembers they’re there, haha.

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    Andrea Reply:

    sounds like a good (and simple) system!

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  10. Chris

    07/25/2018

    Oh my word! She is so cute! I love the picture of Nora opening up her gift! LOL I really, really love your blog but it wouldn’t be as fun without all the cute kiddo pics!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Chris — and yes, kids have a way of making things more fun!

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  11. Angela

    07/25/2018

    I had a “gift tote” for our kids to choose from when they got invited to a friend’s birthday party. They enjoyed getting to choose a few little gifts from the tote and it saved me from having to run to the store, especially for last-minute invitations (and it kept the costs down, as the tote was filled with clearance items, or things that could be re-gifted.) This worked really well for several years.

    Lately I’ve been sticking with a new system…my go-to kids’ gift. I buy a wooden cutout of the birthday child’s initial from Walmart, along with a little set of paints and brushes, and maybe a couple other wood cutouts to paint or a tiny canvas and easel. That gift has been super popular with the kids (and their parents, who appreciate something more “consumable!”) and I think it seems like a substantial gift for around $10.

    Have you posted about how you organize and store your gift wrap/bags?

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, this is sort of what we do too — they can choose something from my “friends gift stash” to give. I do like your idea of a consumable craft product — I might have to stock up on some of those with the back-to-school sales!

    As for gift wrap storage — I shared that in this post.

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  12. Donna Guajardo

    07/25/2018

    I keep future gifts in my linen closet. It’s such a poorly-designed space that I keep very few linens in it, but I have one shelf designated for gifts. My linens are mostly kept in the rooms where they are used, and I don’t keep extras. I keep the linens for my sofa sleeper and my futon (which is on my glassed-in porch) there, along with beach towels and cleaning rags. And because I live alone, I don’t have to deal with anyone peeking. My family knows not to look in there, but honestly, why would they ever have a reason to?

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    Andrea Reply:

    Oh how I can relate to poorly designed storage spaces! Thankfully, we’ve renovated almost all of our poorly designed storage space — glad you could make use of yours by storing gifts!

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  13. Rebecca

    07/25/2018

    I pop them in the dryer. Yes you read that right haha. I live in a hot climate and hang clothes to dry outside year round. The dryer hardly ever gets used maybe only once or twice a year if that. Plus I’m the person who looks after clothes washing so no one has a reason to look in the dryer of all places.

    As for gifts for others, we have a space set aside on a bookcase. Nothing fancy but it works.

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — clever (and funny!)

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  14. JJ

    07/25/2018

    I like how the kids dress up for their parties–fun!!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    that’s their favorite part of the whole birthday. Nora asked a friend what they dressed up as for a recent birthday party… and the friend looked at her like she was crazy! I had to explain to Nora that not everyone dresses up for their parties πŸ™‚

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  15. Roxanne

    07/25/2018

    Any gifts that we buy “in advance” also live on the top shelf of our closet- but I often hide them inside basket where I keep all my scarves. That way if I have to cover something up or if scarves start spilling over the side, it still looks pretty inconspicuous!

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    Andrea Reply:

    good call with hiding them in with your scarves! I’ll have to get more secretive as the kids get older (and taller and smarter)!

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