Gift Basket Articles

How to Create a Catalog System

By Shirley George Frazier

All of a sudden you notice a growth, and it’s not pretty.

Mounds of catalogs and untidy papers begin creeping up around your bed, on countertops and piled on anything horizontal. Welcome to catalog chaos.

Whether you make gift baskets for fun or profit, you are bound to receive catalogs at trade shows and by mail.

You bring them willingly into your home, vowing to review every page "when you have time." But when you create gift baskets, one hour passes like 10 minutes, and time will never again be on your side.

Are you going to keep your catalogs in piles, stacked so high that it falls the moment it’s touched, or is there a better way to organize this beast?

One of the best pieces of equipment ever created, and not with catalog containment in mind, are lidded plastic storage containers available at most department and discount stores. Sellers laud them as perfect for sweaters, toys and general home use. For the gift basket professional, these containers are great because most models have welled insets where hanging folders easily move back and forth on side slots.

The filing system that works well for designers is one that separates food catalogs from those for gifts and enhancements, with both systems in A-to-Z order. Each hanging folder holds about five catalogs, and each folder should be given a number.

For example, 20 catalogs with company names starting with the letter "A" might require four hanging folders containing five catalogs each. The first catalog will be tabbed "A1," the second is "A2," and so on.

One caveat to novice filers: if a company’s name is "The Cork and Fork," the catalog is filed under "Cork," not "The."

Separating foods from gifts and supplies helps you to find catalogs quicker than if you waded through the entire system. You shouldn’t have to look through foods when searching for ribbon. If a company sells a little of everything, it’s up to you to choose where to place the catalog.

Whether prepared by hand or computer, a complete catalog list should be posted in the first folder (in front of "A1"). Write the corresponding folder and number to the right of each catalog name. For example, a catalog for Ultimate Biscotti placed in the third of four "U" folders will be logged as "Ultimate Biscotti...U3." You will find the catalog immediately instead of searching through every "U" folder.

If you prefer a system that categorizes each company by name, have enough cash and space to organize each catalog in its own folder.

Plastic storage containers stack atop each other and are easily placed in a room’s corner until you need them. A traditional four-drawer file cabinet is also worth the investment if you’d rather buy that instead of containers. Cabinets don’t stack as well, but it’s another option.

If you organize now, you’ll find your source materials quickly and have less worry about where to store those darn catalogs when unexpected guests arrive. Happy filing.

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About the Author:
Shirley George Frazier is known worldwide as "the gift basket expert." Her guidance helps thousands of individuals create the lifestyle of their dreams with gift baskets. Shirley conducts classes, speaks at conferences, and is author of How to Start a Home-Based Gift Basket Business and The Gift Basket Design Book, the industry's best-selling books. Sign up for Shirley's free weekly newsletter at

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