You can read the rest of the Ways to Make & Save Money series here.
One way I regularly save money (and have done for years) is by keeping a “gift box” and a “gift wrapping center.”
The gift box is a box where I keep items that can be used as gifts throughout the year – most of them are suitable for a kid’s birthday gift, but there are also items for secretaries and friends. In the last few years, my “box” has grown to include some shelves in the closet, since board games and such items are rather large. But I’ve never had to rush out at the last minute to pick something up – if I do make a special purchase, it’s well thought out and deliberate.
The gift wrapping center is a collection of wrapping paper, gift bags, ribbon and tape. I use it throughout the year to package the items I’m giving away. I have one of those tall wrapping paper bins for the rolls, and a couple of boxes for the ribbon. Most of the gift bags have been saved from gifts received – I remove any tags, then fold and stack them inside a large Macys shopping bag. I don’t think I’d be exaggerating to say I haven’t paid full price for wrapping paper, tissue paper, gift bags, ribbon or tape in the last ten years.
After-Christmas is a great time to stock your gift box and wrapping center. Hit the post-holiday sales and pick up toys, gift sets, and wrapping items for 50% off. Save even more if you can wait an extra week. For those items you plan to use throughout the year, avoid holiday-specific packaging or themes. It’s easy to find solid-color or not-necessarily-holiday wrapping items that can be used year-round. In fact, my favorite wrapping paper this past year was a roll I bought at Target during last year’s Christmas clearance that’s a series of thin stripes of multiple colors, including purple and pink so it was cheerful yet didn’t scream Christmas at all.
Over the years, I’ve probably saved a hundred dollars with my gift wrapping center. I can’t even begin to estimate the savings from my gift box – it must be hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars at this point!