The holiday season is upon us again, and along with it, the mass consumerism that results as we shop endlessly for fabulous gifts to please our loved ones. Shopping is great fun until you see how quickly your bank balance is dropping, or the huge balance when your credit card bills arrive. With our economy in such dire straits, do we really need to wipe out our own financial security to honor the season? It’s true that the Magi brought expensive gifts to the Holy Infant, but hey, he was the Son of God. And didn’t He instruct us not to lay up treasures on earth?
This Christmas season, why not consider doing some of your shopping at secondhand stores? Thrift shops and consignment stores offer some unique and interesting gift options. Buying secondhand is losing its stigma, and many consumers are going green and becoming more environmentally conscious, so why shouldn’t our gift-giving reflect this change in attitudes? Because we’re afraid we’ll look like a cheapskate if we give a gift that’s been used before, or if the recipient knows it was bought at a discount price! But there are ways to give secondhand gifts that will be loved and appreciated.
Consider the people on your gift list. What are their attitudes toward buying or using secondhand items for themselves? If your teen-age daughter absolutely refuses to wear anything that has been previously worn (like hand-me-downs or rummage sale clothing) then there’s no point in trying to buy her secondhand clothing. But what if you find a stylish leather jacket or adorable outfit at the local Goodwill store that looks like new? Wrap it in an attractive box and she may never know the difference. (Just make sure it’s the right size so she won’t need to exchange it…)
Friends and family members who make a habit of buying secondhand for themselves will appreciate that you’ve noted their environmentally-friendly lifestyle when you gift them with secondhand merchandise. They might love that unusual room divider that you picked up for a few dollars, or that unique Mediterranean table lamp that will go so well with their decor.
Children won’t mind gifts that aren’t brand new, as long as there are plenty of them. Thrift stores often hold back choice toys until the Christmas season. The less you pay for each toy, the more toys you can surprise them with! Or buy extra toys and donate them to a local toy drive for kids who may not have much else under their Christmas tree.
Friends with collections (of whatever) are so easy to shop for in a secondhand store! Shop for your vintage clothing collector at a consignment shop or thrift shop, where you can find some interesting and unique retro styles. Thrift shops are always loaded with figurines, glassware, and other collectible items, and you might find a lovely vintage piece you know your recipient will love to add to his/her collection. Vintage childrens’ board games and toys are often hotly collected, and are in plentiful supply at thrift stores.
If you are just too afraid of the “cheapskate” label to buy gifts at a secondhand store, at least go there for your Christmas decorations. Christmas lights, candles, gift wrap and tags, and ornaments can be expensive when you buy them new, but you may be able to buy a whole armload full of Christmas decor and accessories at the local thrift store for what you might pay for one good string of lights at a retail store. If you like giving home made jams, cookies, and other treats, you may find jam jars or Christmas-themed gift boxes and containers to present them in, at prices that make buying many of them affordable.
Not everything in a secondhand store is used. Mass retailers often donate overstocked or discontinued goods to the closest Goodwill store or thrift shop. And when you do your Christmas shopping at a secondhand store, you’re not only saving yourself money. Goodwill and most thrift stores put their profits back into the local economy, providing assistance and job training for people who are indigent or disabled. Shopping at your local thrift store is a way you can keep your money out of the pockets of corporate fat cats and get it into the pockets of those who truly need it.
It shouldn’t be the cost of the gift that counts, but the time and effort the giver puts into choosing and finding the perfect gift. Money comes and goes, but we all only have so much time. Buying secondhand gifts for Christmas may take a bit more time than your usual mall shopping excursion. In the mall you know where everything is and it’s easy to find what you have in mind (if you can fight your way through the crowds and it isn’t sold out already). Secondhand shopping is an adventure; merchandise in a secondhand store is rotated quite frequently, and you’ll never know what you might find from one day to the next. You may want to revisit each store a few times during the shopping season. You may even spot an item that you hadn’t even considered as a gift, but realize that someone you love, would love it!
For tips on how to find quality secondhand merchandise at the best prices, please read Ten Ways to Get the Best Bargains at Thrift Shops.