A Great Gift Stash

Ah, the awkward moment when a friend or loved one shows up with a Christmas gift and you're left offering... a hug. A well-stocked gift closet can ensure this doesn't happen to you. Happy Holidays!

Woman Arriving with GiftA great gift closet lets you put your fingers on an appropriate, thoughtful gift in a moment. But how do you get a great gift closet? It's actually easier than you think -- and surprisingly affordable, too.

Stock your supplies

Start by springing for things you're going to need on hand anyway, like wrapping paper, tape, gift bags, tissue paper, and other packaging items. Be realistic: I know I can't wrap gifts at all, so I only buy gift bags. My husband is a fantastic wrapper, so if I see a great deal on paper, I'll only get it if I know my husband has time to wrap gifts.

You can also use colors or themes to help sort your stash -- gifts wrapped in purple are for teen girls; gifts in orange are for adult couples, and so on. If you get patterned bags or paper, you can use solid color bows as your key.

What's inside?

Of course, all the pretty packaging in the world is no good if you have no gifts to put inside. So what makes a great, generic gift? You want something special, and something different enough that the recipient doesn't have another 6 at home. For toddlers, have on hand a copy of My Mommy's Tote, by P. H. Hanson.

Older children will enjoy this Tin Can Robot kit or the ever popular Webkinz stuffed animals, many of which come in a convenient mini size with a mini-price to match.

For girls, rather than the drugstore makeup kits, pick up some sterling silver chains and pretty pendants to put on them. Try mall jewelry stands or online retailers -- you'll find a large selection for under $20. For the guys, try a wallet -- but go beyond the conventional with something like the Jimi Compact Sports Wallet.

If you really want to please any teens who show up unexpectedly bearing gifts, spring for a couple of $10 iTunes gift cards. Package them in attractive gift card boxes, and you'll see a rare sight: a smiling teenager.

Grown-up gifts

Worried that a few of your own friends might show up with gifts in hand? Here are a few ideas that look like you out a lot of thought into choosing just the right gift.
  • A copy of Griffin & Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence, by Nick Bantock. This truly beautiful book is a story told in letters -- that you unfold and remove from envelopes -- between a man and a woman. The book makes a wonderful gift and feels very personal.
  • The Hillary Nutcracker certainly isn't for everyone, but you'll know immediately if you can give it to one of your friends.
  • A gourmet tea set with a glass pot and nine "flowering" teas -- when boiling water is poured over the balls of tea leaves, they bloom into breathtaking shapes, and produce a delicious tea to drink.
  • Chinese food and sushi always taste better when eaten with chopsticks. This set of 4 pairs of stainless steel chopsticks makes a lovely gift.


Spend a little time on your gift closet, and your friends will never know that you didn't really think of them.

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