How to Build Up a Gift Closet

By contributing writer Laura

Gift giving doesn’t just happen around the holidays. It catches us by surprise all year round as the need for presents on birthdays, housewarmings, graduations, baby showers, bridal showers, and other little occasions pop up. If you feel like you’re constantly running out to buy full price items at the last-minute, then I have some tips to help you save money and avoid procrastinating.

How to Build Up a Gift Closet at The Happy Housewife

Here are my top tips for how to build up a gift closet:

Compile a List of Gift Recipients

Make a list of family and friends whom you know you will need to buy presents for throughout the year. Make sure to include the dates of birthdays, holidays, and other special occasions that prompt gift giving. List the names of gift recipients as well as some of their likes, latest interests or hobbies, favorite restaurants or food, etc., to help you keep them in mind when running across deals throughout the year.

Ask for Wish Lists

If you have friends or relatives who are hard to shop for, simply ask them what type of gifts that they’d like. I usually ask my sister and friends what they’d like as gifts, when approaching Christmas or birthdays. There will sometimes be an item on their wish list that is new or an act of service that I wouldn’t have thought of, such as babysitting, lending assistance with decorating, lending help with organizing a room, a meal planning/prep party, etc.

Set Up Price Alerts

If there are specific gifts you have in mind for your loved ones, be sure to set up price alerts for those products online. Sites like Camel Camel Camel will notify you when an item is for sale at its lowest price. If you have some flexibility in timing, you should look at the pricing history of that product and wait for it to drop before purchasing.

Check the Clearance Section

When shopping in store or online, I love looking for clearance items. Whether it is out-of-season products, markdowns, or discontinued products/styles, there are great deals to be found. Think strategically and swoop up post-holiday clearance items that will remain good until next year, particularly for stocking stuffers, gift exchanges, and holiday decor.

Use these tips to stock up your gift drawer or gift closet gradually throughout the year, so that you spend less money and are prepared for those last-minute parties or gift givings.

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Free and Fun Family Activities in Your Local Area 4/10 – 4/12

Each week I’ll post links with fun and inexpensive (or free) things to do in your local area and national deals that everyone can enjoy!

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National Activities:

American Girl: April In-Store Events (Events vary by location and minimum age. Find events specific to your area online. Reservations required. For girls ages 8 and up.) During April, they include Grace’s Sweet Spring Break Event, Adorable Accents: Twists & Braids, Grace’s Apron Craft & Cookie Decoration, Meal & Memories with Dad and Mom and more!

Bass Pro Shop: This Saturday and Sunday, April 11th-12th, they are hosting a free Professional Bull Riders family event. The event will include free face painting, crafts, steer head roping and more! Event lasts from noon to 4pm.

Guitar Center: Free Classes through their Music Mentor Series. Register online. No age restriction.

  • Saturday, April 11th: 10:15 AM – Intro to Garage Band Workshop

Kindermusik: Try a free class (see all the information here). Kindermusik ~ Where Music & Learning Play!

  • Classes for children from newborn to age seven
  • Child development through music and movement
  • Immerse your child in a musical atmosphere of play, song, and dance – while developing fundamental skills
  • Connect with other moms, dads, and families

Lakeshore Learning: Saturday, April 11th from 11AM-3PM ~ Kids make and take a Sunny Days Birdhouse craft.

Michael’s Kids Club: Kids can enjoy making a craft every Saturday. This week they are making Lady Bug flower pot. Designed for kids ages 3 and up ($2/child). Starts at 10 AM and runs every 30 minutes on Saturdays. You can shop while they create.

Williams-Sonoma Free Technique Classes (for kids and adults): Saturday, April 11th at 10 AM ~ This Saturday Junior Chefs will learn how to prepare the best lunchbox meals ever! From sushi to sandwich wraps Check the webpage for additional details and make a reservation.  For ages 5+.

Thanks, More with Less Today!

Local Activities:

If you are a blogger who posts a local round-up of family activities, then feel free to fill out this form to be considered for future posts.

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Free and Fun Family Activities in Your Local Area 4/3 – 4/5

Each week I’ll post links with fun and inexpensive (or free) things to do in your local area and national deals that everyone can enjoy!

American Girls

National Activities:

American Girl: April In-Store Events (Events vary by location and minimum age. Find events specific to your area online. Reservations required. For girls ages 8 and up.) During April, they include Grace’s Sweet Spring Break Event, Adorable Accents: Twists & Braids, Grace’s Apron Craft & Cookie Decoration, Meal & Memories with Dad and Mom and more!

Bass Pro Shop: This Saturday join others for a free Easter event! Easter Egg hunt, pictures with the bunny and other activities. Check your local store for specifics.

Guitar Center: Free Classes through their Music Mentor Series. Register online. No age restriction.

  • Saturday, April 4th: 10:15 AM – Group Guitar Workshop

Home Depot: This Saturday, April 4th from 9am to noon kids can come and make a Chalkboard Planter Stand. Check local stores for details.

Kindermusik: Try a free class (see all the information here). Kindermusik ~ Where Music & Learning Play!

  • Classes for children from newborn to age seven
  • Child development through music and movement
  • Immerse your child in a musical atmosphere of play, song, and dance – while developing fundamental skills
  • Connect with other moms, dads, and families

Lakeshore Learning: Saturday, April 4th from 11AM-3PM ~ Kids make and take a Cute as a Bunny Basket Craft.

Thanks, More with Less Today!

Local Activities:

If you are a blogger who posts a local round-up of family activities, then feel free to fill out this form to be considered for future posts.

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Is a Big Tax Refund a Good Thing?

Not unless you like giving interest free loans to the government. 

Stack of Greenbacks

Those of you who filed right away this year you have probably cashed your refund check already.

For years I looked forward to our big tax refund. In fact it wasn’t unusual for us to receive several thousand dollars back from the IRS each year.

DIY Taxes - 04012015

Then I realized that the IRS wasn’t giving me money… they were returning MY MONEY! Money that they had borrowed for a year.

All of a sudden that big refund check didn’t seem so great anymore.

If you are working towards paying down your debt, and/or  you receive a large refund every year, my suggestion is to adjust your withholdings by filing a W-4 form with your employeer. By increasing your allowances you’ll receive more money every month in your paycheck.

You can use that extra money every month to pay down your debt, or increase your savings.

Last year we received a $200 refund, which is a huge improvement from the $6,000 refunds we received years ago.

Remember you can use TaxACT online and file electronically for free.

Have you ever received a large refund? Did you adjust your withholdings after receiving it? 

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This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.