Would you give a second hand gift for Christmas? Does the thought of thrift store Christmas shopping make you cringe? It’s kind of a controversial topic.
Today in our series of 25 Days of Christmas Cheer on a Budget we’ll talk about WHY you might consider doing some Christmas shopping at the thrift store and WHEN it’s okay to give a second hand gift (and when it’s not). We’ll also talk about WHAT kinds of things to look for at the thrift store as a potential gift.
If you ask around, you’ll find strong opinions on the topic of giving gifts purchased second hand, so some of you may be wondering WHY in the world you would want to buy Christmas gifts at the thrift store?
WHY you might want to shop for gifts at the thrift store
The most obvious reason would be because you have a TIGHT BUDGET. Your dollars will go much further at a thrift store than they will at a regular department store. You can cover Christmas gifts at a fraction of the price that you would pay if you bought everything new.
Another reason might be because you want to FOCUS ON YOUR FINANCIAL GOALS. Just because you’re frugal and choose to budget your money does not mean you’re broke. You might have the money to buy expensive new gifts but choose to buy more economical gifts instead so that you can reach your financial goals (like getting out of debt or saving for a house) faster.
You might also choose to shop for presents at the thrift store because you want to be able TO GIVE MORE. If you’re sticking to a certain dollar amount for each person on your list, you’ll be able to make those dollars go further if you consider second hand gifts.
As a society, we’re bigger consumers now than we’ve ever been. We have lots of stuff and we waste a lot! Shopping second hand is a way to BE MORE ENVIRONMENTALLY RESPONSIBLE than buying brand new stuff.
Plus, you can find some pretty UNIQUE TREASURES at a thrift store that you wouldn’t be able to find or afford at a traditional store. This makes for some memorable, one-of-a-kind gifts.
WHEN a second hand gift is the right choice
Is it socially acceptable to give a second hand gift? Can you go Christmas shopping at the thrift store?
The answer, of course, is… it depends.
It’s not cut and dry. Whether it’s appropriate to give “used” gifts as opposed to new depends on who the gift is for, so your answer will depend on the person and the situation.
In addition to providing something tangible for someone else, the purpose of a gift is to show love. If your recipient will feel love from a gift that is used, then definitely go for it!
If, on the other hand, for whatever reason you think a used gift would have the opposite effect for your recipient, then buying used may not be a good idea for that person.
When it comes to kids, it will depend on what precedent you have set. If shopping at second hand stores is a normal thing in your family, your kids probably won’t think twice about a Christmas gift that isn’t brand spankin’ new. In fact our kids have started doing some of their own Christmas shopping at the Thrift store. I’ll tell you more about that in a second.
HOW to find great gifts at the thrift store
Once you’ve established that a beautiful used gift would be appreciated by your recipient, how do you choose one?
There’s certainly an art to finding great gifts at the thrift store. Gifts from the thrift store often take more thought and time than just having something shipped from Amazon, but you will save a lot of money.
Let me share with you a few general tips for getting great gifts from the thrift store then I’ll share some categories of gifts that are great to look for at the thrift store.
My first tip is to START EARLY. Thrift stores are hit or miss. Shop all year long and pick up future gifts when you see them. Back on Day 6 of this series I mentioned taking a stroll past the game section of the thrift store every time you go in to see if there are any great games in excellent condition. Expand that advice to anything that you would consider gifting. Maybe the picture frame aisle is one you want to check out on a regular basis all year long.
My second tip is to KNOW WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR. If you’re just blindly walking through the store for a gift, you probably won’t find one. One of the huge differences between a regular store and a thrift store is how they’re marketng to you. In a department store you have signs and displays to grab your attention. Brands pay big bucks to have their product placed at eye level or on a prominent endcap.
At the thrift store you’re pretty much on your own to come with ideas of what you’re looking for for the people on your giving list. You’re way more likely to be successful when you’ve put some thought into the gift that you’re looking for.
INSPECT and inspect again. There’s nothing worse than thinking that you scored big at the thrift store then realize at home that that pair of designer jeans has a hole (where there isn’t supposed to be one) or that game is missing a piece. This is even more important when you’re giving a gift! Be super critical when you inspect something from the thrift store that you’re considering giving as a gift. You’ll want it to be in like-new condition.
Another tip is to ask yourself, “WOULD I WANT TO RECEIVE THIS?” Would the potential gift be something that you would happily receive? I’m much more likely to give a thrift store second hand gift than I am to regift something that was given to me. The reason is that I want to be able to stand behind my gift and give something that I love. If I’m regifting something it’s mostly because it was something I didn’t love. Unless I know the recipient would love it, then why would I give the recipient my castoffs?
WHAT to buy as a gift from the thrift store
Here are some tips about what to look for.
Books– You can find SO many great books in great condition.
Games/puzzles– Find ones that are either unopened or that you’re sure have all of the pieces.
Purses/Bags– You can often find high quality handbags in good condition for amazing prices.
Toys– Find toys that work, have all the parts, and will clean up nicely. Your kids won’t care that it’s not covered in plastic packaging.
Jewelery– You can find a huge variety of jewelery priced very inexpensively.
Sports/outdoor equipment– Look for items with little wear and use that were possibly donated just because the original owner didn’t use them.
Candles, home decor items– You’ll find candles that are brand new and a wide variety of beautiful home decor items.
Mugs– Add some hot chocolate mix and mini marshmallows for a quick gift.
Glassware, vases– Add some treats to a serving plate or flowers to a vase.
Frames– If you can look past what’s currently in the frame, you can find great frames at thrift stores. Replace what’s in the frame with a family picture, a chalk board or dry erase board or search pinterest for upcycled frame ideas
Clothing– You have to be careful buying clothes as gifts because thrift stores usually don’t have returns or exchanges if the item doesn’t fit. I probably wouldn’t buy clothes for most people, but for my kids and husband I totally would (and do) buy and gift clothes from the thrift store.
In the past our kids have done their shopping for members of our family at the dollar store. Before they had their own money, I would allot them each enough money for a gift for each person in our family. It was good practice thinking about what other people would enjoy and helped them focus on and get excited about giving. As our kids have grown and now have their own money to spend, they prefer finding gifts at the thrift store because they can get more for their money and give what they consider a better gift than they would otherwise be able to give.
This year one child bought another a pogo stick for $3.50 at the thrift store on half-off day. Another child bought some fun games for the younger kids. They also found some great books as gifts. And some of the clothes that I’ll be giving the kids are second hand.
If you haven’t thought of looking for gifts at the thrift store, don’t be afraid to give it a try!
How about you?
- Have you ever shopped for a gift at the thrift store?
- What are your thoughts on second-hand gift giving?