Do your family or your friends scoff at giving or receiving holiday gifts that aren’t brand new? Some of mine do, but I am winning them over. Here are some of the thoughts I share to help convince them.
1. Two is better than one
I can give two thrift shop scarves (that I have laundered and ironed) for about the same price of one scarf purchased new -- more for the recipient to enjoy.
2. Unique is better than ubiquitous (unless it is a gift for some young people)
I can go to T.J. MAXX and buy a nice looking piece of art for $15 or so, or I can buy a piece of art for a similar price at a thrift shop. Anyone can own the T.J. MAXX item, but only one (or very few) will have the thrift shop find.
3. Amazing variety
Department and discount stores almost always display tables full of “Gift Ideas.” Each year they have the same types of items, and the displays all look pretty similar. I think these items are too generic for gift giving. To find items that my friends and family will love, I need variety.
Thrift shops are fantastic places to find variety. Some of the best used gifts I have given include a nearly new Dooney & Bourke handbag, beautiful cashmere, silk and mohair scarves, hand blown glass vases, a vintage amber drinking glass set, a handmade quilt in nearly perfect shape, woven baskets with lids for storage, a stuffed koala bear that my son still loves 20 years later, picture frames that I fill with new photos, amazing jewelry, and lots more.
4. Better for the planet
Every time we choose not to buy a new item and instead use an existing one, we help save the planet. Enough said, right?
5. Wrapped in style
I spend more time wrapping the used presents than I do the new ones because I enjoy making them unique. An inexpensive way of doing that is to buy gift wrap at a thrift shop that sell full or partial rolls (or sheets) of wrapping paper at very low prices. At Eastside Community Aid, we also sell bags of bows and lots of ribbon.
You can dress up a package by putting inexpensive ornaments on top of the box, tied with ribbon. ECA has many cute ornaments for 25-50 cents each, which could be used by the recipient to decorate a tree after adorning your gift.
A new box of about the right size helps makes a used gift more appealing. If I don’t already have the boxes I need, I go to stores (like Bartells) that sell packages of them inexpensively.
I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on used gifts and why they are so special.
Susan is a frequent volunteer at Eastside Community Aid Thrift Shop, where she sorts, prices, and stocks merchandise to her heart's content. Before retirement, she owned and operated a consignment shop for women's plus size clothing in Seattle. Through trial and error and talking with customers, she learned a thing or two. An avid "thrift shopper," Susan loves to buy clothing, especially when she gets good quality and value for her money.
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