What is a gift cupboard?
A gift cupboard is a collection of brand new or giftable items on hand. Stored together with greeting and gift cards, as well as wrapping paper in the same area, you have all you need when assembling a gift.
It could be a box under the bed, or a drawer in the spare room, but for argument’s sake I am going to call it a gift cupboard.
Ideas of what to put in one, include nice accessories (earrings, a scarf, a purse), stationery (a pen, diary, fridge magnet), and kitchenware (wine glasses, a coffee mug, a cheese knife, some coasters). Anything aesthetically pleasing and/or useful, and usually small and easy to store.
Gift cupboard – pros
- It means no frantic dash to the shops to find a gift when you are busy.
- It is useful if someone pops in – you can give them something on the spot.
- You can purchase items when they are on sale and gather them here, therefore you save money.
- You can include received items, to be regifted. But in this case, PLEASE mark with a sticky note who it came from, to prevent inappropriate regifting. Thank me later.
- Good for periods when gifts are required frequently – like when you have young children attending birthday parties every weekend.
- It seems like something organised people have.
Gift cupboard – cons
- Items can lose their appeal with the passing of time. Colours and trends change, and a gift that looked great at the sales a couple of years ago can now look dated and tired. Imagine giving the book Eat, Pray Love in 2022. Just no. Many things are not timeless.
- Items purchased with no particular recipient in mind, can seem very generic and unthoughtful when given to someone you care about.
- By their nature, the items within are non-essential and were not chosen by the recipient, so may end up as clutter.
- They are a type of ‘just-in-case’ clutter, taking up space in your home even though they may never be used.
- Is an emergency gift even a thing any more, in the era of late-night supermarkets and bottle shops? Will you really be giving someone a box of wine glasses or an unnecessary notepad at super short notice?
Gift cupboard – my views
I used to have a gift cupboard, but as I have simplified my life and moved away from unnecessary purchases, I have discontinued it.
As soon as my kids were old enough, I transitioned away from plastic giftables to giving them money to take to birthday parties. I KNOW it seems impersonal, but children have so much crap these days – I just can’t bring myself to add to it. And giving a child some autonomy and money-management practice is good.
Gift vouchers? I have seen too many expired cards in clients’ drawers, and I can’t go there either. They are just like cash but worse – in that they can only be used in a limited amount of shops, and they require mental energy and organisation to spend before they expire. A 2022 study revealed that the average Australian has $95 of gift voucher credit languishing in drawers – equivalent to a national outlay of $1.8 billion. Ouch.
As for adult gifts or if a cash present is definitely too crude, I prefer to buy something personally appropriate rather than a generic trinket I got in bulk on sale two years ago.
If I don’t know the recipient well or they don’t need anything in particular, a consumable gift like a bottle of wine or box of chocolates is less likely to end up as clutter. If they are unfortunate enough to not eat chocolate or drink wine, someone else they know can help them out.
Gift cupboard – in summary
If you must have a gift cupboard, be intentional. Don’t throw in tacky things you don’t like – as you probably won’t ever feel comfortable gifting those. And edit the cupboard regularly. Charity shops love things with tags still on, so don’t hesitate to donate items from your gift cupboard that you can’t foresee a recipient for. If you find yourself using your gift cupboard rarely, it may be time to retire it as I did.
Check out these statistics on clutter to see how detrimental and pervasive unnecessary items are – both in your home and in that of your recipient.
Here is a list of no-clutter gift ideas (and yes some of them involve vouchers, so choose wisely) and some Christmas decluttering tips.