The 'Gift Box'

by Angie Zalewski

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The use of this one concept has saved our family hundreds of dollars every year!

I keep a box--actually several boxes at this point in time--labeled "Gift Box" in my closet. When I run across a great clearance sale or a new item at a garage sale, I purchase it and store it in the Gift Box. When a gift-giving occasion comes around, I go to my Gift Box first and see what is available. We are all aware of the recurring gifts that we will be buying from one year to the next. I keep a list of names and gift occasions (birthday, Christmas, Father's Day, teacher gifts, etc.) taped to the top of the box. When I come across an item that would be ideal for a certain event, I jot it down next to the name, then put it in the box.

Many items will have no specific destination in mind when I purchase them. However, there are many things I look for specifically, such as gifts for four- and six-year-old boys (in preparation for birthday parties my boys will attend in the coming year). I also look for all-occasion items that might be ideal for teacher gifts or acquaintance gifts.

In addition to finding low-priced gifts at garage sales or clearance sales, you may also put items into your Gift Box that you may have received as gifts but that just didn't work out for some reason. Perhaps an item was the wrong size, or you already had one, or it's just not to your taste. As long as you remember its origin (so you don't give the gift to the person that gave it to you), this practice is cited by social experts as acceptable.

Because of the Gift Box technique, I'm rarely forced to purchase a gift item at full retail price. What a joy it is to bless someone with a wonderful gift at a moment's notice at a fraction of retail price!

Angie Zalewski and Deana Ricks are co-founders of the Frugal Family Network. To subscribe to the Frugal Family Network Newsletter or find out more about their Stretching The Family Dollar workshops, call (512) 891-9031, e-mail

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