I Shop My House For Gifts For My Kids (and Partner!), and It Never Disappoints


I’ve been called a cheapskate and a killjoy for what I’m about to tell you, but I don’t care anymore. This year, especially, many families are cash strapped and uncomfortable going into stores or spending all their hard-earned money at big-box retailers.

Before I ever shop for gifts for my immediate family, I shop my house first. Never heard of it? It is essentially using your home as a shop before ever going to an actual store or browsing online for things to buy. I began doing this a few years back. One of my children has a November birthday, the other has a January birthday, and with Christmas smack dab in between, we end up getting a massive influx of gifts all in a two-month period. It’s a privilege to be able to receive so many thoughtful items, but unfortunately, many of them get lost in the shuffle. A select few captivate their attention, but the rest are shoved in a closet or buried in a bin.

Before I ever go to a store to shop for gifts for my immediate family, I shop my house first.

One year, I was cleaning out the playroom and discovered a few puzzles that had never been opened. They were still developmentally appropriate, so I wrapped them up and gave them to my kiddo for her birthday. She ripped open the packaging, emptied the pieces on the floor, and began putting it together right then. She loved it. I don’t think she even remembered having gotten it before, not that it mattered. In years since, my kids have gotten things that I consider “rediscoveries.” They’ll shout, “Oh, I remember this!,” and excitedly begin to play with it.

I even began doing it with my partner. He is not the most organized and will sometimes forget about genuinely good gifts. A cookbook he had actually requested and a novel he’d never cracked open. A gift certificate to a brewery that somehow was left to collect dust in a sock drawer. A board game we’d never gotten around to playing.

Related: These 5 Words Changed the Way My Kids Receive Gifts

He usually knew they were shopped at home, and whether or not he secretly found them being wrapped up for him to reopen as a symptom of his wife’s frugality, he at least finally made use of them.

Still not sold? Here are the main reasons I shop at home.

It keeps costs down.

Yeah, yeah, it’s cheap. Why is that always such a bad thing? But please note, this doesn’t say “it’s free.” I have never exclusively shopped from home for a birthday or holiday, though there’s nothing wrong with that. Usually, however, I buy a gift or two using more traditional methods, but only after having rummaged around the house to be sure we didn’t already have something that they’re finally the right age to enjoy (I’ve got some “for ages 8+” gifts packed away, still waiting to debut, and this Christmas, some of my much-loved art supplies will make their way into the kids’ stockings) or something that is already on their wish list (no joke, my daughter once begged for a unicorn wand that we had in her dress-up box already).

It prevents waste.

We live in an apartment with limited storage, so I’m constantly trying to figure out ways to minimize all of our stuff. This is one of them that actually works. I also don’t want my kids to assume things must have a short shelf life. Just because a certain amount of time has passed doesn’t mean we need to replace all of our playthings like clockwork. However, if at a second unveiling of a gift, the recipient still isn’t interested in it, we do our best to donate it.

It helps us enjoy what we have more.

It’s natural to become blind to what’s around us each and every day. Sometimes the most amazing toys, books, or trinkets blur into the background. By changing things up and shopping at home, I’m forced to see them again and help the rest of my family do the same. Plus, the lesson it gives my kids – to appreciate what you already have – is the best gift of them all.

If this isn’t for you, or if you think it’s tacky or a buzzkill, that’s fine. Don’t do it. But I’ll be the one doing some last-minute holiday shopping tonight, and I won’t have to pay a cent in express shipping.

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