Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Gift Larder

Building up your own gift larder seems so frivolous but really it's not. Haven't you been enjoying a delightful day only to discover that you forgot about a dear person's birthday? It happens and instead of having to frantically run to a store and pick out a dreadfully unfit gift why not have your own small stash ready to go? I make an effort to include something handmade to add that personal touch. To fill in some gaps I add things from my favorite stores. I often buy things and stash them for later as they are discovered and always, always on sale. Usually on BIG sale. It makes sense and fits my thrifty tendencies. By building up a small selection of nifty little things I'm set for that last minute gift giving. Since I have a hearty stock of canned goods, jams mostly I often toss in a jar in every gift I give. I learned to make more of the smaller 4 ounce size jams than any other size. These tiny jars are perfect because I am able to mix and match for a fun variety.

For finding those non-hand made goodies I go to World Market, Tuesday Morning, Outlets and thrift stores. Yes, I do shop at thrift stores. They have the best selection of baskets and glasswares for incredible pocket book friendly prices. Another bonus is that often the items I find and choose are unique. The point of a gift larder is NOT to have a thrift store of you own. Rather have few things on hand for a gift basket/bag or two. My stash must fit on a small shelf in my craft area. I choose a good variety of things to keep around. Since most of the guys we know are more fond of iTunes, tools and beer they generally are not shopped for in this gift larder stock. This is for women and children.

Items to search for in store sales or at the thrift shops:
pretty small flower vases
pretty kitchen towels: flour sack, high quality terry
tea cup and saucer sets
vintage candy dishes
milk glass vases
quirky things
flip top canning jars
vintage pyrex
small colored glass bottles
yarn
stationery
books
small games
playing cards
vintage toys
food items: oils, spices, sauces
olivewood spoons
art supplies
craft supplies
gift bags

Other things are going to be based on what you know about your people. For example the people I know like things such as: cooking, jewelry, birds, fiber arts, reading, eating (don't we all ;-D), pets, games and gardening. Since these are the subjects of inspiration I try to seek out items with these themes.

Just the other day I found a beautiful pair of sterling silver bangle earrings normally priced $25 but on sale for $5! I snatched them up. It was the only pair and I considered myself lucky in bargain shopping. I don't know who will get them but, hey, $5 is an excellent price for a pretty earring and there are many ladies I know who would like wearing them. I also came across some pretty scarves. Same deal in price. Another excellent item to have on hand for last minute gifts. One thing I often choose is stationery items. Little pretty notepads and letter sets. Tuesday Morning is often the best place for these items as you can find some high end lines (Crane & Co, William Arthur) hiding in their stock. Those are great to stock up on since they make great anytime gifts. At other stores I find spices and oils. Williams and Sonoma has an outlet store nearby and when they have sales I stock up on some excellent things. Usually they carry this vanilla powder I adore. It turns out everyone I give it to really enjoys it as much as do I so I pick up extra bottles for gifts. Because even when it's on sale it's still costly this is often a Christmas gift but I have to buy it ahead because it's gone by fall.

What I make:
jams
Bath salts
marble magnets
tote bags
jewelry
stenciled shirts or towels
ornaments: glitter birds
watercolor painted note cards
knitted: scarves, hats, mittens
felted: hats, mushrooms, mittens
lap quilts

There are hundreds of ideas that are as unique as my friends. I try to always be on the look out for things I know others would like. When I get it home I simply attach a sticky note to the item listing the person it would suit. I know that seems strange, but when I'm in a hurry this note saves time and that way I am certain to remember who I was thinking about for it. For me the best things are those found on a whim. To help round out the larder I make certain to wrap my gifts nicely. Sometimes I am able to find unique bags or boxes to put together a pretty package. Other times I try to think of clever ways to re-use things as gift wrap. Because I have put a bit of effort into creating this larder over time I have been able to save money. It's the small things that really help out in big ways. A little bit of planning sure does pay off.

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