If you buy gifts for more than one person, you are faced with the combined problem of storage and tracking. If you try to take advantage of shopping opportunities during various times of the year, this challenge is magnified. You need a gift management system that actually makes your efforts more efficient. Now that my kids are grown, I can fully divulge my system. 🙂
I use plastic storage bins, combined with bags, sacks, and sticky notes or masking tape. I like the approximately 24 long by 18 wide by 15 deep (all inches) containers made by Sterilite. I usually get mine at Walmart. They are:
- large enough to hold gifts of varying size,
- small enough to pick up reasonably,
- stackable, and
- easy to write on.
- water proof on the bottom, which is important for basement storage containers.
Cardboard boxes have been used, but are hard to obtain in uniform shapes. Many of them loose their rigidity fairly quickly with much handling, making stacking even more difficult. Unless they are old fashioned shoe boxes (which are generally not large enough), closing the top is both time consuming and the top is more likely to collapse in the middle.
I get opaque bins if the gift recipient is an immediate family member, but I have a couple of clear bins for gifts for friends, so that I don’t necessarily need to dig through to see things. I have a variety of colors of bins, for my own visual aid, but have never labeled them on the outside other than something akin to “skull and cross bones” and “violators will be hung.” 😉 Since my kids were taught at home and became aware of home organization at young age, I also frequently told the story of how I accidentally found a-yet-to-be-received Christmas gift when I was young and how this made Christmas morning less exciting. And the kids knew I always had the right to change my gift distribution plans at the last moment. In the end, it is all a game, and if they cheated the disappointment was theirs.
One bin, separated into compartments using large paper lunch sacks, works well for organizing stocking stuffers. I do label each bag with a name (we stuff stockings for all ages around here), and put them in something like age order of the recipient. The size of the sack also helps me gauge what will really fit in the stocking, not that I let that confine my creativity… Plus, with things pre-sorted along the way, I get a quick visual of whose stocking needs more attention.
With birthdays happening all year long, it is very handy to have a place to stash things that I find along the way. Sometimes it’s when I’m traveling. Sometimes I just hit a good sale or get fun ideas in unexpected places. When a birthday is approaching, it is simple to go check the bins and see what I have stored up and what I might want to get still. Having separate bins also makes it less complicated to have other kids help me wrap gifts, which thankfully they LOVE to do. Strangely, I love to give gifts, but really chafe at wrapping them. Go figure.
I am finding these gift organization methods transition very nicely as the kids grow up and start their own families. Each family gets a bin. Individuals within the families have their gifts sorted into bags or small boxes, well labeled with tape (works well on plastic bags you want to hold closed) or sticky notes (on things like books or already in small boxes). There have been a few of those things over the years that don’t fit into the bins, like a drum set, drill press, or a bicycle, but those can be kept/hidden in a shed, garage, or grandparent’s house, with a note left in the bin about where the item is.
Whether you enjoy giving gifts, as I do, or only give due to social expectations, I think you will find this system will make the whole process more fun. Often a good method can make a person embrace something that was once troublesome.