How to Build an Emergency Gift Stash to Save Time, Money, and Stress

This website may earn commissions from purchases made through links in this post.

How to create an emergency gift stash. Be ready for any occasion, save time and money, and never stress over last-minute gifts again!

pile of boxes on a shelf with labels men's gifts etc representing a gift stash

When I worked in retail, I saw a lot people running around stressed and angry, looking for last-minute gifts.

‘Oh, that will do, let’s just grab it and go, we’re running late!’

I swore I’d never leave gift purchases to the last minute.

Famous last words.

I’ve done the Saturday morning shopping dash more times than I’d like to admit.

The alternative is to have a gift stash – a curated selection of thoughtful gifts you can give at the last minute.

The key word here is curated. 

The potential hazard of starting a gift stash is buying a whole heap of rubbish that you never use, or nobody ever wants. A few generic gifts can save the day in a pinch, but a little planning can save you time and sanity without wasting money and space.

The Pros and Cons of a Present Stash

Picture this: it’s Saturday morning and your child has yet another kids birthday party to go to. With thirty kids in the class, these parties can happen almost every week! But you haven’t had time to go and buy yet another birthday present. 

Or perhaps you’ve been invited to a housewarming party. Or a surprise dinner party.

In these moments, having an emergency gift stash can be a lifesaver (not literally, that’s a bit OTT, but it makes life less stressful).

Grab something from the stash, wrap it up, and away you go. No stressful running around Kmart looking for a present on the way to the party.

When my daughter was in early primary and there were parties all. the. time. I bought a bunch of craft kits that were heavily discounted in a closing-down sale and they saved me a tonne of money on birthday presents.

On the other hand, if you’re buying stuff ‘just in case’ that you never end up using, that can be a waste of money and storage space. So it pays to build your present stash strategically. Here’s how.

How to Build a Gift Stash That Saves Time and Money

When building your emergency gift stash, it’s essential to choose presents that are versatile, budget-friendly, and universally appealing. These gifts have broad appeal and can be easily personalised to suit the recipient.

To really dial in your gift stash and ensure you’re not overbuying on stuff you don’t need, consider ahead of time the potential occasions that might crop up during the year.

1. Write a Master List of Occassions, Recipients and Gift Ideas

woman writing gift list

While it can be useful to have a few generic gifts for teacher presents, kid’s birthday parties or hostess gifts, it’s better to try and plan for specific occasions so that you’re not overbuying gifts that never get used.

And by having the recipient in mind, you’re getting gifts that are personal and thoughtful.

To do this, start by writing a list of occasions or potential occasions you’ll need to buy gifts for during the year. List who you will be buying for and include some potential gift ideas if you can. 

Your stage of life and friendship group will determine your gift stash. 

Are you at the age where everyone is getting engaged or having bridal showers? Or when everyone is having babies? Or when your children are attending dozens of parties? Plan ahead for these events now and you won’t need to do a mad rush to the shops for a last minute gift.

Keep your master list on you, either in your purse or in a note-taking app like Evernote on your phone. That way, when you’re out shopping, you can refer to your list.

2. Gifts on a Budget – Saving Money on Presents

Planning ahead means you can take advantage of sales and get a great gift without breaking the budget.

Use the sales cycle to your advantage. Buy stationary during back-to-school sales, kid’s toys during the July toy sales, and baby gifts during the baby sales. If there’s a particular item you want to buy, sign up for the store’s email promotions so you’re notified when that item goes on sale.

Other ways you can save on presents include:

  • keep an eye out for clearance stock
  • look for sales or use coupons
  • look for second-hand gifts
  • regift things you don’t need
  • repackage second-hand things into a hamper
  • use gift cards 
  • check out deal websites/online stores

3. Plan Ahead for Handmade Gifts

Do you like to make gifts?

Then you’ll need to start early.

Planning ahead gives you time to make presents, which can not only save you money but also add a personal touch that money can’t buy.

Despite good intentions, I’ve regularly found myself up half the night trying to complete a handmade gift in time. Avoid the stress by starting early.

Filling your gift stash with handmade goodies is also a great way to use up remnants, leftovers, and offcuts. Don’t let the remnants go to waste or gather dust at the bottom of the cupboard. Fashion them into cute little gifts that are finished long before they’re needed.

There are a bunch of ideas on Pinterest and Instagram for stash-busting gift ideas. For example, I saw this cute lipgloss holder that can clip onto a bag, which my daughter thought of making for her tween friends.

3. Don’t Forget Gift Wrap

gift wrapping supplies

Yes, I have been that person who has given a birthday gift wrapped in Christmas or other non-birthday-themed paper.

Happy Birthday! Oh, ignore the ‘It’s a Boy!’ paper.

So, in addition to having a stash of gifts, it’s a good idea to have a stash of wrapping paper, cards, tags, tape, and other gift-wrap supplies you like to use.

Including ‘generic’ paper and cards that can be used for any occasion.

I like to keep all the gift bags I receive and any gift wrap that can be reused, but I also stock up on some generic gift bags from the discount store. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye out after Christmas for super cheap wrapping paper that can be used at any time of the year (like plain gold paper).

Cards are also cheap at the discount store, but it’s even cheaper and more personal if you make them yourself.

One idea is to plan a crafting session for a wet Sunday afternoon and make a year’s worth of cards to keep in your stash. Or get the kids involved in a school holidays – something to keep them busy. There are a tonne of easy card ideas on Pinterest and Instagram. 

Occasionally, I also make up a few drawstring bags from old sheets or op-shop fabric to use as gift bags instead of buying them.

4. Storing and Organising Your Gift Stash

Your gift stash will not be much help if it’s a mess and you don’t know what’s in it.

How you store your stash will depend on your home and how much room you have, but it’s a good idea to keep it in a single storage box or two at the most to ensure you’re not just buying stuff you don’t use. Keep the box in your closet or under the bed for easy access.

Apart from limiting how much you have in your stash, keeping an inventory will make using your stash a whole lot easier.

I like to use a note-taking app for my lists, but you could also just write your inventory on a scrap piece of paper and stick it to the box – no need to over-complicate things. Then just cross an item off the list when you give it away or add an item when you buy something.

Assess your stash once a year or rotate and replenish as needed. This ensures your selection is fresh and you’re always prepared for any gift-giving occasion.

Ideas for Your Gift Stash

Looking for the perfect gift ideas for your stash? Below are some generic ideas for kids and adults. To save money, look for clearance or second-hand items (like good-condition second-hand books).

Kids Ideas

  • Art Supplies/Craft kits
  • Puzzles
  • DVD
  • Small Lego
  • Doll’s clothes
  • Books
  • Sticker books
  • Board games/travel games
  • Sports goods
  • *Avoid fad items like fidget spinners that may go out of popularity before you can gift them

Tweens and Teens

  • Journals
  • Stationery
  • Bags
  • Art/craft supplies
  • Board games
  • Manicure kits
  • DVD
  • Books
  • Accessories

Baby Shower Gifts

  • Onesies or other clothes in bigger sizes
  • Nappies
  • Bedding/blanket
  • Singlets
  • Special teddy
  • Baby book
  • Essentials basket (thermometer, dummy, nappy cream, nail clippers etc.)
  • Baby bath towel

Hostess/Housewarming Gift Ideas

Teacher gifts

  • Book
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Mug
  • Notepad
  • Hand soap
  • Gift card
  • Scarf

Generic gifts

  • Wine
  • Photo frames
  • Candles
  • Serving accessories (like a wine stopper or cheese knife)
  • Towels
  • Fridge magnets

A little planning ahead of time can save a whole world of stress and time when it comes to buying gifts. It also allows you to find the more thoughtful gift (not a last minute one) while still saving money.

Do you have a gift stash? How do you manage your gift stash and what gift ideas to you squirrel away? Let us know in the comments below.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Kerrie Stimpson says:

    My girls are older now so I don’t have the same sort of stash. When we did I went through prior to Christmas for non-used gift stashes and they went to toy and gift appeals.