Stockpiles: Our very own collection of essentials we've accumulated on the cheap. Nothing feels better than reaching into your stockpile for something you need instead of running to the store (and paying a lot more for it!). But have you ever tried reaching into your stockpile to make gifts for others? Here are six ways I use my stockpile to create gifts. Doing this has saved me hundreds of dollars on expensive special-occasion gifts!

1. Weddings

Wedding gifts can be so pricey! It becomes unaffordable to attend more than one wedding a year. So why not give those newlyweds things they will use instead of something that may sit in their closet? From my stockpile, I created a wedding gift basket with Kleenex, toothpaste, dish soap, and cleaning products. I bought some clear wrapping paper, added a ribbon and a card, and voila! A great, useful wedding gift! I will often add a pretty picture frame or something sentimental to make it a little fancier.

2. Get Well

Recently, my friend's husband was in a debilitating motorcycle accident. Some of her other friends organized a meal drive and opportunities to clean their home. I'm not much of a cook, and my schedule at the time was demanding and unpredictable, so I reached into my stockpile and put together a box of some things people often have to run to the store for: paper towels, toilet paper, dish soap, tissues, and cleaning supplies. I added a card and a book of stamps, and it was a very helpful gift.

3. Housewarming

Another friend of mine received a job offer that required her to move rather abruptly. I grabbed a gift bag and filled it with cleaning supplies, a candle, and some chocolate and added tissue paper to make it look nice. She loved it—"These are all things I would have to buy anyway!" she said. Who doesn't use a ton of cleaning products when they move? You have to clean the old home and then you have to clean the new home! Give your friend a head start on her investment. Be creative, and try to think of things she may have forgotten (a four-pack of toilet paper!). My friend also said the chocolate was a big help because moving is so stressful!

4. Donate

Do you ever see a deal on a product you don't use that is just too good to pass up? Think about other people in your life who would use it! Once I bought large packages of Dove Bar Soap for Men for just pennies. I just couldn't leave them on the shelf at those prices, and it is a basic necessity, so I knew someone would be able to use them.

I gave them to my friends, who in turn gave some to their friends. I also do this with baby-related deals: diapers, wipes, baby food. I can't use them, but I know lots of people who have babies! And as I'm sure many of you can attest, raising a family can get expensive! Also think about organizations like food banks, shelters, and churches that might be able to use the surplus of your stockpile.

5. Graduation

Here is where all of your savings from post-back-to-school sales multiply! Fill a laundry basket (or a mop bucket, mixing bowl, decorative basket, or other cute or useful holder) with school supplies from your stockpile: all those Post-its, pens, tape, staplers, and even hand sanitizer that you got for pennies back in September. Add some tissues and cleaning supplies. Top it off with something thoughtful like a poster, wipe-board calendar, or picture frame!

6. Bridal shower

Often a couple getting married after having "grown-up" jobs, houses, and possessions, will throw a gift card or cash-only bridal shower because they already have most of what they need. Sometimes, you just don't have the cash to give away! And that's okay!

I usually wait to shop the sales at retailers (like Kohl's) so I can purchase something nice without spending too much money on it. However, for a cash-only shower, there really isn't anything to purchase, so why not put together a cute, thoughtful gift from your stockpile? I have filled decorative baskets and laundry baskets with useful (and sometimes expensive if bought at regular price!) household items that any homeowner needs. Tie a ribbon on the handle and a note that says "Wishes for a 'healthy' marriage!" and you're off!

A few additional tips

  1. Always keep gift bags you receive! Reuse, reuse, reuse! I will never pay for a gift bag again because I always have one when the need arises (sometimes in a pinch!) to make a great-looking gift.
  1. I also have greeting cards that I bought in bulk, including many blank ones, so I am prepared for any occasion and don't have to pick up a $5 card on my way to a party!
  1. Be creative. Think about the things you would need in these situations (getting married, moving, etc.). If you have already gone to college, try to remember what it was like living in a dorm room so you can make a thoughtful graduation gift. What items might they overlook until the minute they need them?
  1. Use what you have. Look around your home. You probably have baskets, books, fancy teas or soaps, candles, picture frames, and lots of other things you could use to add something special and creative to your stockpile gift. Dress up your unused items with ribbons, bows, wrapping paper, or cards to make them into nice gifts or add them to your stockpile gifts.

This is a guest post by Staci F. from Pittsburgh, PA.