Gift Closet

When the going gets tough, I get organizing.  It’s what I do to zone out and not think about anything else.  It works amazingly well.  The payoff at the end is awesome and it helps me to feel more in control when things around me might not necessarily be so.  I’ve been wanting to tackle my gift closet for awhile because I knew I was going to run out of room to shove things in pretty soon 🙂

This armoire use to be used as my bedroom closet in my old house.  When we moved into our new home 5 years ago and found ourselves with plenty of closet space in our bedroom, I moved the armoire into my office where there is no closet.  It now serves many functions but the biggest one occurs around the holidays when I need somewhere to stash gifts for family and friends.

This is what it looked like last week:

gift closet

And now it looks like this:

gift closet after

As you can see I finally had a chance to get everything out of the plastic bags and into some kind of order.

The two white drawers on the bottom shelf hold wrap and tissue paper in one drawer and party supplies in the other.  The other tote beside it holds our warranties and manuals and above that is the tote I use for my occasion cards.  The brown bag on the other side holds all my extra gift bags inside.

The two baskets on the middle shelf hold gifts I’ve found on sale and already purchased.

You’ll notice I’ve added two cardboard boxes to the top shelf.  That’s because those are gifts that need to be mailed away.  As I complete the list of things I need to purchase to send off I can continue to add them to the correct box.  This allows me to keep everything going to one place contained and organized in the meantime.  Then once I mail off those parcels, that will free up space for me to store my own family’s gifts.

How do I keep track of gifts purchased?

I use a simple notebook that I use year after year.  Each year I write the new year at the top of a blank page and then write the names of all the people I will need to buy gifts for including birthdays and Christmas.  As I purchase items I mark what was purchased into my notebook so I have a running list of what was bought and still needs to be bought.  This system has worked well for me for years.  It’s easy to use, I can bring the notebook with me shopping if I need to and it keeps me from buying duplicates as I can easily look to see what I purchased in previous years.  Not only do I not want to rely on this brain of mine to just remember that kind of stuff but by writing it down I am freeing up all kinds of mental clutter.  Awesome!

Hopefully this helps someone with their own gift space.  Even if you don’t have an armoire you can use, maybe you can free up some closet space somewhere else, space under a bed or even the attic to consolidate and organize all your gifts into one place.  If that’s not possible then even getting a big box for a corner of your bedroom will work.  Just make sure to put a big KEEP OUT sign on it 🙂

Where do you store your holiday gifts?

Coming up soon:  Gift wrap stations

Filed under: Closets, Holidays, Organizing, Organizing Solutions


34 Responses to Gift Closet

  1. 1
    Susanne says

    You never fail to amaze me. I used to prebuy gifts alot more when the kids were smaller. Not so much anymore.

  2. 2
    Amy says

    My love language is gifts so I naturally am loving this post 🙂 I would love to have a gift closet one day. Right now I have a rubbermaid box with gifts hiding in my bedroom closet. Thanks for the great tips!!!

  3. 3
    Kathy says

    Great job. I have done the repeat gift giving before and it is embarrassing. I bought my niece the same doll two years in a row. I had no idea. Obviously, I loved the doll. LOL!! The notebook is a great idea!!

  4. 4
    Juggling Motherhood says

    wouldn’t it be great to have it all in one place, rather than in odd places around the house 😉 Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. 5
    Tamara says

    If only I had a cupboard like that that I could use for my pre bought gifts. Your looks great.

  6. 6
    Beverly Coggins says

    Great post! I’m going to use your section on keeping track of gift purchases as a guest blog tomorrow, with all the proper credit given, of course. You’re amazing Laura!

  7. 7
    Jennifer Clark says

    What a great “nudge” for me to work on mine 🙂 Your picture with the bags is very similar to mine.

    I actually use the linen closet in the hallway for gift storage as the linens are in the rooms they go with (bedding in dresser drawers, towels under the sink in the bathroom, etc…). I still have little ones (age 7 & 5) so Pre-Buying gifts on sale for all the b-day parties they are invited to has saved me alot of money over the last few years 🙂 As well as finding gifts that are perfect for my loved ones throughout the year …

    I love how you have the mailing boxes for the gifts that have to travel 🙂 I’m going to see if I can incorporate that idea into my shelves.

    Again, thank you for sharing!

  8. 8
    Ally0005 says

    Last year when my husband lost his job I cleaned out and organized my whole house and I am still going. It makes you feel better.


  9. 10
    Jeannette says

    It might be worth a plane ticket to me for you to come and help me declutter and organize my house. This past week I had to empty out my two spare bedrooms, one being my computer room the other my youngest dtrs bedroom. (she is 20 but a slob)
    My sister is moving into one of the rooms and my youngest dtr has decided to move back home as well. Because it was done in a hurry so to speak, I now have things on floors, on chairs etc//
    I don’t even want to think of my attic that was once organized and practically empty. Its giving me OCD just thinking about it..
    so when are you comeing?

  10. 11
    Linda says

    I love the notebook! I’m going to have to start one.

  11. 12
    Adrienne says

    I would love to have a gift closet or something of the sort. You keep giving so many good ideas.

  12. 13
    Liz Jenkins says

    Love the notebook idea! I’m not a big gift person but have started trolling ebay for xmas presents for my daughter. I keep my list on my Outlook in the “Notes” section – I just have a Note with her name & xmas 09. This is where I track them. Our house is really small so I’ve made my “gift closet” the top shelf in our clothes closet but so many of my clients have stuff all over the house. Keeping everything together prevents duplicate buys and wasting time trying to find things. Nice job!

  13. 14
    Anita says

    We put in shelves at either end of the closet in our spare bedroom and that became my gift closet. I also use a spreadsheet on my computer to keep track of my gifts, the recipient, whether the gift has been purchased/made, and whether it has been wrapped. Saves on paper clutter, since I’m prone to losing a notebook, and I can reference my spreadsheet whenever I need to.

  14. 15
    Elise says

    I use a three ring binder to keep track of all my Christmas thoughts – the gifts I’ve already bought, that I need to buy wrapping paper next year, my card list, etc. Great job with the armoire! I love it!

  15. 16
    Allison says

    Every year I get closer to being like this. Most years I print out the Fly Lady’s Holiday Control Journal. I have yet to fill the whole thing out, but haven’t really suceeded yet.

    I love reading your posts because they always get me one step closer to being the organized person I really want to be!!!! thanks for your insights!

  16. 17
    Jana says

    You are a wonder! Great job. Yep, my gifts, wrapping and such are in rubbermaid containers in the basement. Hmmm, probably ought to start cleaning them out and getting them ready for December. Thanks!

  17. 18
    Suzanne says

    Looks great. I love the gift notebook idea.

  18. 19
    Liz says

    This isn’t really about the gift idea but I thought I would let you know that most product manuals are available online – even the older ones. I took my large file box of manuals one rainy Saturday and found all but 3 manuals in .pdf form online. I keep them in a file with folders marked with the name and the room it is in (ie Sharp TV in rec room…). Very rarely do we look at a manual after the first time so this is a much easier way to save all of the information. The ones I couldn’t find online were small so I ended up scanning the information. Warranties with receipts attached are in a slim folder with my important files.

  19. 20
    Martha says

    When you are done at Jeannette’s may I fly you to my house for a week? As she wrote, I, too, am dealing with a 27-year-old son home for a short stint before leaving with the Air Force and one husband who was single for 45 years who collected —- everything… I need matches and a good water hose….

    Lovely ideas! Thanks for the inspiration. One room, one mess, at a time, right??

  20. 21
    se7en says

    We have a gift drawer – only at the moment it is packed with “items” for re-gifting!!! I would love to blog the tidying of the gift drawer, but ummm may offend some!!! Any gift that isn’t immediately loved and adored gets put in there. The trouble is that if no-one in our house loves the item then we feel terrible passing it on… Eventually our gift drawer has exploded with unwanted gifts… Now what? Everything is new – we just don’t like it and especially not enough to give to someone else. I know I should not even look, box it and pass it on! We only get gifts for special friends and so they are specially chosen … Thank-you, you have been a great help: box and donate… asked and answered!!! Have a good day!!!

  21. 22
    Laura says

    A great idea for those re-gifting things is to give them away at Christmas to the Angel Tree Program or local Food Bank. Often food banks like to distribute gifts as well at Christmas time and supply is often very very short. The white basket you see in my after picture is one such gift. I keep it there in my cupboard and as things come up on sale I add to the basket to give away to a family in need either directly or through the food bank.

    Hope that helps!

  22. 23
    Christine Simiriglia says

    Great post. I use a similar system only its electronic. I use a free program available at It is accessible on my desktop, netbook and blackberry. If I’m in a store or at a fair, I can quickly pull up my gift list match the items on the list to the perfect gift where I am. I love Evernote. I used it in May to plan my entire wedding. You can read more about it here:

  23. 24
    Cassie says

    I was just thinking about this today! Right now I have all of my gifts, bags, cards and paper all in one big tote and it is overflowing and I now have stuff on the floor. I am thinking of buying a used dresser to store that stuff now. I just want it to be organized… especially since the holidays are fast approaching!

  24. 25
    Becky L says

    The notebook idea sounds great. I think I’ll do that. I have a little two drawer rubbermaid system in my closet that I put items for gifts in and a few clothes. Need to keep that clear for gift items. Now that I have adult children and a granddaughter and daughter-in-law, it’s nice to have a place to put things for gifts when you get them. Lately it’s gonna be a his/her gift probably for this year, due to money, or lack there of.

  25. 26
    Eve says

    Hello! Just found you today and about time! I, like many, am an organized freak. Everything has a place and a list and is usually planned months in advance! I’m sure at time I terrify my scatter brain husband.

    I look forward to reading more and putting your ideas/suggestions into practice!

  26. 27
    Patricia says

    Thanks for the wonderful tips. I am just in the process of organizing my closet. I am checking out the website so I can keep notes on my cell. This will be great.
    Thanks for all the great suggestions!

  27. 28
    Jennifer says

    Thanks for the inspiration. I cleaned my gift closet out yesterday and found a bunch of things I had forgotten about!

  28. 29
    Regina says

    Great ideas there Laura, I especially like the idea of the boxes for things that need to be posted. I have family that live in other states so need to be organised come birthday’s and christmas to be sure to post the gifts in time.

    Looking forward to seeing your post on gift wrap station.

  29. 30
    Organising Queen says

    I have a shelf in my cupboard and a plastic storage container for gifts purchased throughout the year.

    And if I wrap them in advance (this was in the pre-twins days of course :)) then I put a post-it to say what’s inside.

  30. 31
    Jarnette says

    Hi Laura! I have had a ‘gift closet’ for at least 8 years. Right now, I have a designated cabinet in our closet for storing gift items.

    I take advantage of all the after holiday/season sales and purchase gifts for the following year. It helps to have a list of all the birthdays and anniversaries with me. I usually buy 8-10 of the same item for Christmas gift baskets for friends, which I put together annually. Family gifts are more individualized based on interests/needs. I keep a master list every year of all the gifts I have and note who is to recieve each one. This helps when Christmas approaches as I may make some last minute purchases, as needed.

    I try to keep some ‘generic’ gifts on hand for last minute giving…candles, CD’s, books, etc. for adults; DVD’s, CD’s, books, games/puzzle for children.

    Times to purchase:
    DURING & AFTER Back-to-School = Operation Christmas Child, general gift giving
    AFTER Halloween for costumes = great for children that love dressing up…
    AFTER each holiday = to build up your decorations for the following year
    AFTER Christmas = gifts for the the following year (decorative tins, baskets, jars, etc. for baked goods; gift sets for birthdays & next Christmas – watch for expiration dates; theme related items to create your own gift baskets)

    Hope this gives you all some ideas for the upcoming year…

    Blessings as you seek to give (while saving $) ~ Jarnette

  31. 32
    Cherise says

    My gift storage consists of the floor of my closet at the moment but I am on my way downstairs for a rubbermaid tote to put everything in.

    For the gift lists I use an excel spreadsheet that tracks all the names, gifts and price for the year and I also have it all totalled at the bottom with a savings schedule so I know how much I have saved and what I have yet to put into savings to pay it all off.

    Between the rubbermaid container, wrapping presents early (so I don’t have to hide them), and the Christmas Budget spreadsheet I haven’t missed a sale in the last 3 years. Amazing!

    PS Love your closet!

  32. 33
    Jennifer says

    I like the idea of a notebook from year to year. I have moments throughout the year that I decide to plan out things to make for my family for gifts, but inevitably I can’t find the paper I was working with so I start a new list. If I had a notebook soley dedicated to this maybe I’d be a little less scattered!!

  33. 34
    Rebecca says

    Great post! I really should borrow your gift notebook idea. With our nieces and nephews, it’s hard to keep track of which Playmobil toy you bought last year and so on. Also, sometimes we do Christmas shopping in the summer when travelling, and it’s easy to forget what you bought 5 months ago! This year we have it easy; we visited my husband’s family last month and already left behind all those Christmas gifts, so we only have a few people left to worry about.


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