Why I no longer have a gift shelf

We’ve all seen the tip to keep some spare gifts on a shelf in case of emergencies.

This is a great idea if you often need a generic gift, and perhaps don’t know the recipient very well at all.

I kept a gift shelf for many years and I was very glad when my kids were in pre-school and attending 10 parties a year for various little classmates.

We used to do a gift on a theme every year so it made good sense to buy 10 colouring books, 10 packs of my favourite colouring pencils and 10 pencil bags, for example.

But very quickly, once the kids started school, I realised that they’re not getting invited to as many parties anymore as the parties become smaller (in most cases) and “close friends only” invites.

In fact, Kendra (9-year-old twin girl) reminded me the other day that she has only been invited to three parties this year and it’s already November.

So there is no longer a need for a gift shelf.

When I realised this fact, I decided to clear my gift shelf by gifting what I’d been keeping to all my Santa Shoebox kids that year. It’s actually really fun for me to stuff those shoeboxes as much as I can. And I love having the extra space at home!

These days I do have a few things I might buy in advance for our own kids’ birthday or Christmas presents (usually books found at a sale, activity books for holidays, or a cute T-shirt).

The great thing is I decided on my limiting container – a clear plastic box the size of a photocopy paper box – and my self-imposed rule (I’m an upholder) is that I’m not allowed to exceed the container.

And for actual friend gifts? I ask the child what their friend would like, we discuss where to get it and then we go buy it. Easy.

This year (my kids turned 9 in July) one of the gifts for a boy was two Horrid Henry books, and some gifts for girls were 1) a beautiful hardcover prompted crafting/ doodling/ sketch book in a nice carry bag and 2) unicorn pyjamas with a set of unicorn notebooks.

If you keep a gift shelf, perhaps ask yourself if the gifts have passed their sell-by date (your kids are older and the gifts are for a younger audience) and you need to move on, or if the convenience of having the gifts on a shelf are not an issue anymore. There may be things on your shelf you’ve had for years.

One thing I’ve done this year for my own friends is if I’m out and about and I see something that is perfect for a specific friend, I buy it whether it’s their birthday or not, and gift it next time I see them. No waiting for birthdays or forgetting where I’ve hidden it! And the best is that people are usually surprised which is super fun!

Do you keep a gift shelf? Why or why not?

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  1. Thank you for sharing your appropriately updated “gift policy” – and of course for so generously gifting Santa Shoebox Project beneficiary children <3

  2. MamaCat says:

    I have never had a gift shelf…I saw one that belonged to a friend and I was quite taken aback by this idea of buying gifts you have no one to give it to. I like to buy personalised gifts and if I don’t know them well enough to give a personalised gift: why am I buying one in the first place?
    Even if I give a gift voucher or cash, I pair it with something I feel is meaningful and has thought put into it.
    I recently received a gift…from someone who thought they had found the perfect thing for me…it was stereotyped and not something I would ever have thought had anything to do with me, besides the stereotype. So I have this thing, and I now need to find a home for it, because the giver spent quite a bit on this thing, and genuinely believes i love it.

    • Marcia Francois says:

      I just love your thinking – if I donโ€™t know them well enough to give a personalised gift: why am I buying one in the first place?

      Oh gosh, now I’m super curious to find out what that “perfect” gift was ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. We have a gift shelf that’s basically toys my kids have received that exceeded our storage space. It was OK in theory but a) I have two girls and of course they get invited to boys’ parties too and b) They’re also moving into the space of being invited only to close friends parties. We haven’t taken anything from the gift shelf in months so I probably need to clear it out. Thanks for the prompt to do that!

    • Marcia Francois says:

      Oh yes, I remember those days Beth, when kids get invited to all their classmates parties – girls or boys – and then the transition to close friends only. Glad the prompt helped – that’s exactly why I felt like I needed to clear out.

  4. No gift shelf but it is something I would love to actually have. Not just for gifts but for wrapping papers and ribbons etc . And yes you are right people are surprised to receive off season gifts and we should do this more often!

    I tend to buy gifts way ahead and sometimes forget about it but Iโ€™ve found this helps for last minute gifting

    • Marcia Francois says:

      I do agree with keeping just a few bags or rolls of gift wrap (I should do instastories). It does sound like you need a gift shelf but keep it to just one shelf for all those buy ahead gifts.

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