So, how do you get out of this annual stress cycle? Beat the pressure by creating a gift drawer (or closet, or even box under the bed!) in your apartment or home. Here’s how this life-changing idea works.

Identify a dedicated gift drawer or space at home

A gift drawer is fairly easy to create, even in a small apartment. Empty out one lower drawer, since you won’t be using it every day. Can’t spare a drawer? You can use a large storage box under your bed, instead, or a box in a closet or even that weird storage drawer underneath your oven.

A sturdy waterproof tub in an outdoor closet could also work, but limits you on heat – or cold-sensitive items like electronics. Ditto for a box in the trunk of your car – but it’s an option!

Identify the people you typically buy for

Think about the people you buy gifts for in any given year. That list rarely changes. And you know these folks! You’re familiar with their habits, their lifestyles, maybe their favorite color, if they like to cook, whether or not they have pets.

If it helps, create your gift recipient list on your phone, so you can refer to it later. But odds are, you won’t need the list. The fun really comes when you buy an item that actually reminds you of someone specific.

Buy when you’re inspired, not when you’re told to

Don’t rely on ads to remind you a holiday is coming up. The dates are the same each year. So, just keep your gift drawer in mind any time you’re in a retail environment, especially if there’s a sale. And if you see something that reminds you of someone, buy it! That way, when the special day arrives, you’re already prepared.

It’s honestly much more satisfying to buy a gift for someone when you’re inspired to do so, when something reminds you of them in that moment. And honestly, if you tell the gift recipient you’ve been saving their present for months, they’ll feel even more special that you thought of them on a “regular” day of the year.

And if you happen to find something when you’re traveling or attending a special event, you can share those details as well, making your gift even more special to the recipient.

Start your stash

Your last step is simple and really fun – start tucking away your finds in your dedicated gift space. An empty space is inspiring. Put your first gift in the drawer or box and congratulate yourself on getting started.

Not only have you created room for something important, you’ve just guaranteed some future savings, and the chance to avoid future pressure. Your next holiday can be focused on getting together with family or friends, instead of shopping.

Odds are high you’ll also be pleasantly surprised at some point in the future, by rediscovering items you’ve purchased and forgotten. Sorting through your own customized gift stash is fun. If you have little kids in your life, or a roomie who can’t resist temptation, avoid labeling any box with the word “Gifts” – that’s a dead giveaway.

Enjoy the day

Once you’ve spent the first year (or even the first few months!) working on filling your gift space, then when Mother’s Day, a birthday, Christmas or any other special day rolls around, you can just go shopping right at home. You’ll be able to pull out something you’ve already selected especially for the honoree. There’s no money to spend, no pressure to shop, no traffic to contend with – a win/win.

Start during post-holiday sales

If you have any cash left after Christmas, definitely shop the post-holiday sales. Having a few items to kick off the new year will motivate you to clean out a dedicated space. A year from now, you’ll be so in the groove, you’ll never have to shop on the spur of the minute, saving you time and stress.

Having a dedicated gift drawer makes each holiday more joyful, and keeps more money in your bank account. It’s a true quality-of-life upgrade.

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