How to Manage Your Gift Giving

Despite what you may think, it is easy to find the right second-hand gift, it just takes a little organisation. I tend to give myself about three months to get a gift organised.

“Three months!” I hear you cry, “But I’ve got forty-two birthday parties to attend in the space of three months!”

Shush now, it can be done. I have some tips and a Gift Planner to help you simplify the process. The Gift Planner includes the ‘Birthday and Anniversary List’, ‘Present Brainstorming List’ and the ‘Present Box Contents List’ sheet.


There are a certain number of birthdays, anniversaries and general celebration days that you already know will require you to find a gift each year. The first step is to make a list of all of these dates on the ‘Birthday and Anniversary List’ page. For birthdays include the year of birth so you can keep track of ages, same for anniversaries, include the year so you can remember how long you or other people have been married for. This page will act as your ever reliable reference list and will be added to as new people enter your life.

Next, transfer these names and dates into the name column of the ‘Present Brainstorming List’ for the current year. Brainstorm some gift ideas you may have for each person (for those you don’t already have something in mind) and write these gift ideas down in their corresponding ‘What Do I Need?’ column.

Get creative, think of items that you can put together – a colouring book, pencils, and a pencil case all hidden in a backpack? A Barbie, some clothes and a brush all hidden in a handbag? A book, a torch and a blanket for a rainy afternoon? These are all items that I regularly find in second-hand shops.


If you’re like me, you will have a Present Box containing things that you have bought for no other reason for buying except “Ohh, I might give that to someone someday” (Note: this is not an option for me anymore as my Present Box was exploding. I now have a strict ‘Must-Have-Someone-In-Mind-Before-I-Buy Policy’). If you don’t have a Present Box I recommend getting one. It doesn’t have to be big and it doesn’t have to be fancy. To be honest my Present Box is two empty nappy boxes which fit easily on a shelf and are also a good disguise from the kids. Keep a log of all your unallocated gifts on the ‘Present Box Contents List’ sheet.

Now, check your Present Box and if you find something that fits perfectly for someone, write the item down in their corresponding ‘What Have I Got?’ column on the ‘Present Brainstorming List’ and write their name next to the item on the ‘Present Box Contents List’ sheet. You can cross it off this page once you actually get around to wrapping and giving the gift.

Depending on what your preferred tipple of second-hand shopping is, jump on eBay or Gumtree for example and get shopping for any birthday gifts you have ideas for. Alternatively hit the second-hand shops, second-hand bookshops, markets, vintage stores, whatever is easiest for you.

You will be surprised how quickly you will find what you are looking for once you have your plan in hand.

Each time you pop into a second-hand shop or are online, think about the birthdays later on in the year and if you see something buy it, put it in your Present Box and add it to your ‘What Have I Got?’ column.

Turns out you didn’t get invited to that birthday party? Poor you. But no worries, it becomes a spare gift and will definitely get used when the next unexpected party pops up. It’ll never be forgotten because you also added it to your ‘Present Box Contents List’ sheet when you bought it.

I generally try to focus on the next three months birthdays at any one time as people’s interests can change – you never know when Ben-10 or Dora is no longer cool. This means that rather than constantly shopping for gifts, you are only spending three or four times a year really trawling for gifts and the rest of the time they’re coming straight out of your well stocked and handily accessible Present Box.

And don’t forget to add your Pre-Loved Gift Tag to let people know the gift is second hand but more importantly why it is second hand.

What staple gift ideas do you fall back on that are always a hit?

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