11 January 2016

The Value of a Present Box

....Is priceless! I have used a present box for years and it has saved us hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars!

I know it's still January and Christmas was just three weeks ago, but a present box will save you money, time and energy all year round. If you don't have one, seriously think about getting one started - you won't regret it.

Having a selection gifts, cards and wrapping on hand means no more emergency trips to the shops to pick up a present or a card, especially for those unexpected times. It means that you are able to stick to your gift budget without worrying about it. And if you have kids, you’ll appreciate the value when it comes to the year-round birthday party routine!

The idea of a present box is to keep a supply of gifts on hand, ready to use. But how do you get that supply?

Every time you see a suitable material or gift item, it's a reasonable price and you have the money in your gift budget buy it and put it in the present box. Now for me, a reasonable price is $5 or under – and this includes gifts for birthdays, weddings, new babies, thank you, house warmings, in fact any occasion.

Sometimes the bargain is great, but the cash isn't there. If you can only afford to buy one gift or you only find one gift, go ahead and get it. Then note it down so you’ll know you have it and if you've already allocated it to someone, note that down too.

I also have a list of people we give presents to: our children, our parents, siblings, friends, class mates, teachers, coaches etc. in a little notebook I keep in my handbag. I have the name of the person, the type of gift needed and the date it is needed listed in the notebook so that if I find something especially suitable, I can jot it down. This way I don’t double up or miss out on a really good gift bargain.

When the kids were at school I'd buy a lot of the same thing when I found something at the right price and then we'd always have a gift for a classmate's birthday. For example, in January each year during the back to school sales department stores, supermarkets, newsagents and office supply stores have great sales,  up to 80% off. I would stock up on book sets, stationery sets, games and puzzles at these sales. I saved hundreds of dollars doing this.

When I see wrapping paper on sale, I stock up too.  I stock up on gold, silver, blue, pink, purple and green - generic colours that can be used for any occasion. I also buy a roll of dots and a roll of stripes in generic colours when I see them. I store the rolls in a soft-drink can carton, standing them on end and it slides into the bottom of my wardrobe.

The present box lives in my wardrobe. I know where it is when I need it and prying eyes and fingers aren't so tempted to scrounge when it’s in Mum’s room, and I can get to it easily when I need to - that always helps.

I have a selection of baby gifts in there at the moment too – all from a Kmart throw-out trolley. They were 50 cents each, marked down from $7.99, $9.99 and $11.99! I picked up a range of sizes and colours from size 00 through to a size 2; half for boys and half for girls. We have a number of friends expecting this year, so they will all be used I'm sure.

Something else I do is to wrap and label the gifts as I finish making or get them if they are for specific people. They go into the box in order (sort of -  it can get a little scrambled). Then on the day I just have to take it out of the box. This saves so much time, especially at Christmas, when I have a lot of gifts to wrap and deliver.

The gift box idea is to save you money, time and energy and I love it. Stocking the gift box shouldn't be a chore or an added expense. Keep your eyes, ears and imagination open to the possibilities of gift shopping. I've bought a beautiful coffee set, brand new, still in the original box, unopened, at a garage sale for $4, when the retail price at Myer has been $39.95! I've found things on the throw out trolley, in the newspaper and even at the op shop.

Our present box has saved my sanity so many times over the years, simply because I can go to the box and either grab a gift or let someone else grab a gift. I've even had my mother ring and ask if I had something suitable in the gift box – and I have!

Next week I'll post some of the items I stock the present box with and how I add value to them without adding to the cost.


  1. There's only hubby and I at home and I have the luxury of a room just for sewing. In that room I have a cupboard where I keep my makings, my presents. My presents are useful, homemade and generally quite cheap. The materials are usually sorced from the op shop so all gifts are inexpensive. When I need a gift I go and shop my cupboard. Love it.

    1. I do too Jane. I'm hoping to fill it with even more handmade gifts this year :)

  2. Hi Cath,

    I just love my present box and I'm always trying to beat my present budget. Great price on the baby clothes.
    Can't wait for next weeks post.


    1. Yes, we're moved on from the toy stage to the grown-up stage. Now I'm stocking it with things suitable for engagements, weddings (had our first wedding amongst our children's friends last week), new home, new baby and so on. I love sewing and knitting baby clothes but at those prices I would be struggling to get the fabric so I bought them. I know I'll be able to add to them with some handmade pretties when I need to use them :)

  3. Cath i think this is a great idea, i did start a small one last year and added a few things to it but im starting a newer better one for this year. Looking forward to see what you stock your with as im sure it will give me a lot more inspiration for mine lol

    1. I hope so Karen, I love putting gifts together :)

  4. I like the way you think Cath. This is a brilliant idea :)

    I have been keeping my eyes open for specials that can be used for gifts. I find that the post office have some good items reduced down from time to time. I bought some pretty Christmas cards for half price a few days ago, beats paying full price for next Christmas.

    I think I will take a leaf out of your book and give this idea a try. Thank you for sharing :)


    1. The Post Office is great for gifts and they're often really good prices too. I bought picnic sets from our PO a couple of years ago that they had been selling for $59.99 - for $10 each on clearance. They became engagement gifts to two young couples from Church. I picked up binoculars for $2.50 a pair on Boxing Day and small tool sets for $5 each - they've been put away for the boys for next Christmas. I know they'll love the binoculars, they use their father's every time they go on rallies. I can't say how much a supply of gifts has saved us over the years but I know when the kids were at school they'd never have been able to go to all the birthday parties they did if we hadn't had one. Now I'm putting in things more suitable for engagements, weddings, new babies, new homes as well as birthdays and Christmas - all the kids are growing up, don't need so many toys anymore :)

  5. Like you Cath I've done this for years and years:) Linda

  6. I have a gift shelf in my wardrobe and have been making felt Christmas ornaments over the holidays, ready for this year along with homemade jam. I recently found lots of Christmas markdowns for my little niece- a red tutu and tee, a colouring and pop up book and a peppa pig stocking filled with goodies all for $7!I love the $5 budget and think that is reasonable too!

    1. I love the red tutu - I can imagine a very happy little girl when she opens that present, especially with the books and other goodies :)


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