Your potential gift items can be bought at anytime of the year and during any event. Many unique, useful and quirky gifts can be found at discount and close-out stores, for example, Tuesday Morning, Dollar Stores, Big Lots, Marshalls, and Ross. Some good buys can be found at stores that are liquidating or going out of business, swap meets, post-holiday event sales, and charitable organizations such as 10,000 Villages and World Vision (catalogs for these are also listed on the web). When you go on a short or long trip, keep an eye out for unique or area specific items purchased from art and craft festivals, art galleries, specialty gift stores, even souvenir stores. If you are crafty, items you have made are personal and appreciated. Even new or like new gifts you received but wish to pass on could become part of your emergency supply (but beware of regifting to the original giver!) Anything you consider special, unusual, delightful, or surprising can make a special gift.
Gifts that can make great package stuffers or stand-alone gifts include bath items such as decorative and specialty soaps, body wash, tubes or jars of lotions and creams, hand and foot care accessories, loofahs, bath mitts, small hand towels, facecloths; and general items, for example, candle holders, decorative candles, drawer sachets, decorative, elegant or funny bookmarks, picture frames, small designer boxes, coin purses, small makeup purses. For the office, buy small desk accessories, designer pens and pencils, humorous or decorative post-it-note pads or note paper, small technology items and accessories like a cute or funny cell-phone holder. Jewelry is often welcome but be sure you are aware of the types of jewelry the receiver might wear. These can be pendants, earrings, bracelets, anklets, or brooches, or for men, tie clips, keychains, and cell phone holsters (the latter can also work for women).
Food items should be long lasting and non-perishable to avoid spoiling before you need them; and they should be periodically checked for expiration dates and tossed if expired. Include cocoa, coffee, teas, spice/herb blends, specialty candies and chocolates, and cookies. Non food items for the kitchen can include magnetic notepads, designer fridge magnets, hot dish pads, dish towels, unusual but useful utensils, and food clips or pegs.
To store all your gifts, use a plastic lidded container or a decorative craft box. You can also choose a cardboard box and decorate it to your desire if you prefer. For a starter box, choose one about the size of a large shoebox and increase the size if you plan to keep a lot of items on hand. Most of the items you include should be able to be mixed and matched in a pinch, be part of a theme or easily added to other gifts you may have already bought. Store your box in an easy to reach area in a closet space where it will be secure from light, heat, and bugs, especially if your box includes non-perishable food items. Don’t forget to also have on hand gift wrap, gift bags, tissue paper, package accessories, and gift cards, kept in a separate container. When you have a good supply available, you can be rest assured you will never be a victim of forgetfulness or last minute gift emergencies again!