Your son comes home from school on Thursday and announces he’s been invited to a birthday party. And it’s tomorrow. I’ve been there! And I have your solution in just two words: gift stockpile. It’s pretty simple. Learn the best time of year to buy everything, and when you find a deal on a giftable item–anything from a blender to a Nerf gun–buy it when the price is low, and save it for later. In the long run, it’ll save you time and money. Here’s how I do it:
I load up on bins when they’re on sale and make a bin for each of these categories:
- Baby Shower Gifts
- Bridal Shower and Wedding Gifts
- Kids Birthday Gifts
- Teen Birthday and Graduation Gifts
- Teacher, Friend, and Neighbor Gifts
Next, I fill up my bins!
1. Baby Shower Gifts
Diapers from your couponing stockpile: Diapers and wipes are like liquid gold to a new mom. Raid your couponing stockpile and give some of those diapers and wipes you get at rock-bottom prices as a shower gift. If you don’t have a stash of diapers already, let’s get you started. Once a month, you can find Huggies for under $3.50 per pack and Pampers for under $5 per pack at drugstores like Rite Aid, Walgreens, and CVS. If you have a pregnant friend, follow MGM Qpon Queen to find coupons for Huggies, Pampers coupons, and other diaper deals!
Baby Gap extra 40% off clearance: Stock up on sleepers when they are under $8. In-store clearance prices are better than online clearance prices.
Tip: the last markdown prices end in $0.97. Follow your local gap on Facebook to find out when the sales happen in your area.
The Children’s Place online “Monster Sale”: Get baby clothes for as low as $0.99! Sign up for TCP emails to find out when the “Monster Sale” takes place. (Plus get $10 off your next purchase just for signing up!) Online prices are better than in-store, but don’t pay for shipping! Free shipping happens so often that if The Children’s Place isn’t offering it the day you shop, it’s worth waiting a day or two and checking back to see if shipping is free another day.
Target holiday clearance: I’ve seen holiday-specific pacifiers, bibs, onesies, and sippy cups marked down 70-90% after holidays! Buy that reindeer onesie or patriotic pacifier, and save it away for the friend that’s due in that season.
2. Bridal Shower and Wedding Gifts
Kohl’s + Kohl’s cash + coupon code stacking: Watch for deals at Kohl’s on small appliances or bed and bath items. Black & Decker appliances have been as cheap as $14 (for a $40 appliance). Toasters or coffeepots often go on sale for only $4.99. The big bath towels get as low as $3 each at Kohl’s, so when they hit that price, stock up!
Black Friday deals on small appliances: Many stores including Macy’s, JCPenney, and Walmart have doorbuster deals on small appliances on Black Friday, making it a great time to stock up on wedding gifts for under $20–sometimes as low as $5 each. And thanks to mail-in-rebates, there’s also a sprinkling of hot appliance deals all year-round. Just a few months ago, I got a $50 slow cooker, electric skillet, and blender for only $10.
Victoria’s Secret reward cards: Take advantage of the Secret Rewards promotion in March/April in order to get VS items for FREE for any brides-to-be who show up in your life. There are $10, $20, $50, $100, or $500 reward cards available. You can request 1 reward card per household per day during the month the program runs. Just mail your request in and they’ll send you a card a day. You’ll have one month to redeem your rewards. Learn everything you need to know about Victoria’s Secret Secret Reward Cards. Also shop the VS semi-annual sale in January and June where you’ll find panties for as low as $3.99. Lingerie is up to 50% off, and good quality pajamas are only $24.99. I have various sizes and styles in my stockpile.
Target Home Clearance: Peruse the end-caps for clearance deals.
Tip: Most Target locations mark down their home section on Thursdays.
3. Kids Birthday Gifts
Hollar for great-priced, high-quality toys: Load up on toys, stuffed animals, art supplies, games, and T-shirts, all for under $5 at Hollar! Hollar has a lot of brand-name toys and crafts (like Melissa & Doug). Your first order ships free when you spend $10; otherwise, shipping is free when you spend $25.
Amazon Lightning Deals: Another place to watch for great deals on toys. Act fast–Lighting Deals really do move like lightning! Make sure to add the item to your cart, sign in to your account, and enter payment info before the deal goes live. That way, all you have to do is check out, and you’re not at risk for losing the toy before it sells out–sometimes in less than 90 seconds!
Tip: Join Amazon Prime (free 30 day trial here) and you’ll get to shop most Lightning Deals 30 minutes before deals go live for everyone else.
Target semi-annual toy clearance: Usually starts on the second or third week in January and again in July at Target; you’ll start seeing 30% off on toys. The sale then goes to 50% off and quickly to 70% off. Eventually the leftover toys hit the end-caps, and they sit at 90% off. Items go so fast! If there’s something you really want, it’s best to get it at the 50% markdown. The good stuff is gone once it hits 70%. During the rest of the year, shop Target on Thursdays, because that’s when they mark down their toy section.
Tip: Stock up on arts and crafts items like crayons, construction paper, scissors, markers, etc., during Back-to-School sales and clearance sales after school begins.
4. Teen Birthday and Graduation Gifts
Raise.com for discounted gift cards: Get a 12-15% (average) discount on gift cards at Raise.com for stores you already frequent. In fact, if you’re not using Raise.com yet, you’re missing out! Let the teen in your life pick out their own gift. You can choose gift cards from iTunes, Best Buy, Sephora, Starbucks, TJ Maxx, and a lot more.
Cosmetics deals at Walgreens, CVS, or Rite Aid: Find high-value coupons for new products at Walgreens, CVS, or Rite Aid. Keep an eye out specifically for brands like Maybelline and Revlon and items like nail polish and mascara. Also look at Target! Text BEAUTY to 827438 to get a coupon to use at Target. For the girl who likes brand-name makeup, you can find deals at Sephora, too! I like to stock up during their semi-annual sales in April and November. I also like to buy their value sets, which include a mix of items of the same brand.
BestBuy.com deals: This electronics giant isn’t just a great place to get a giant flatscreen TV. Watch for Best Buy sales a few times per month on headphones, appliances, and computers. Sometimes you can even haggle for a better price at Best Buy. And if you find a better price online, Best Buy is one of a handful of retailers who will price match Amazon.
Back-to-school sales/clearance on dorm stuff: Give an incoming freshmen a head start on their space in college. You’ll find comforters, pillows, and basically anything a student needs to set up their dorm room. Back-to-school sales are in full swing from July to September. Check out Target and Ikea clearance sales in September for some of the best deals.
5. Teacher, Friend, and Neighbor Gifts
Bath & Body Works semi-annual sale in January and June: Stock up in-store or online on hand soaps for as little as $3.25, and Wallflower refills for $3. Lotion and body cream are $3.75, and candles are up to 50% off. Bath & Body Works items make great gifts for my kids’ teachers and also for times when I forget a friend or a neighbor’s birthday. Late gifts are better than no gifts, right?!
Accessories deals at JCPenney: Find deals on jewelry, scarves, gloves, or flip-flops. JCPenney does in-store “penny deals” where items like towels, tank tops, and makeup bags are only $.01.
Wine Case Discounts: If you have the sort of relationship with your child’s teacher where this would be welcome, wine is a thoughtful gift. Want to save money at Whole Foods? Get a 10% discount when you buy 6 or more bottles.
Join a wine club so you always have a bottle on hand: Check out Club W, where you get your first 3 bottles of wine for $28.41, plus shipping. Try Lot 18’s Tasting Room where you can get 6 wine samples for just $9.95 shipped. Heartwood sometimes sells 6 bottles of wine for under $6 each. Make sure some of those bottles make it into their gift stockpile bin!
And that’s how I did it! I save an average of 45% on the total cost of my annual gifting–and that includes my own children’s gifts! For the last three years, I’ve saved about $700 per year.