Thrifting for Christmas presents this year

I’ve resolved to thrift for Christmas gifts this year. After years of burning money on Black Friday impulse buys from online sales, I’ve decided that I want to pamper my loved ones with thoughtful, high-quality gifts this time around. I’m trying to make Thriftmas happen this December: No more flimsy polyurethane “leather” handbags and threadbare polyester blouses that still cost an arm and a leg anyway!

I’ve started scouring my local secondhand shops for gifts, and the finds have been gorgeous so far. If you know a recipient who wouldn’t mind a gently used treasure, I’ve put together a little guide on thrifting for the holidays. 

Note: These are really more so notes for myself, but maybe you’ll find them helpful as you browse secondhand gifts for the holidays. My focus here is more on thrifting for presents rather than regifting presents. (That said, I think it’s perfectly fine to rehome a present if someone else could put it to better use than you! Who cares if it’s a social faux pas if it helps you mitigate waste?)

Anyway, here are a few considerations I’ll be keeping top of my mind as I browse for thrifted presents. 

Time is of the essence!

Give yourself some time to thrift for presents

The beauty of thrift shopping lies in chance encounters. You might strike gold when you start shopping for presents the last week before Christmas, but it’s more likely that you’ll be completely out of luck by then. Personally, I’ve already started looking for presents in November, and I recommend browsing around, at the latest, early December. While you might discover more sales as stores try to push out their holiday stock, give yourself time to find the perfect gift. 

Book selection at Hope
Personally, I’d be overjoyed if someone grabbed me a bunch of cozy mysteries (which are always in abundance at the thrift store).

Stay open-minded to different gift ideas while being cognizant of your recipient’s lifestyle and interests

You can’t go to a thrift store with a specific list of gifts; secondhand shops don’t really work like Amazon or Target. What I love about thrifting is that it’s kind of like turning on the radio. You can’t choose songs or programs in advance, so you need to go in with an open mind. 

That said, the neurotic type A planner in me does need some semblance of structure, so I’m keeping in mind what my recipients love as I thrift for their presents. For example, my mom is really into lampshades and crafting supplies, so I’ve been on the lookout for those broad categories of presents rather than specifically seeking out Tiffany lamps and knitting looms. So far, I’ve managed to find Mom real pearl necklaces, crafting buttons, and a beautiful animal print blouse — all from the thrift store! 

Cross stitch set
I didn’t end up buying this new cross-stitching set from Goodwill, but it’s kind of a steal. Cross-stitch sets can sell for well over $20 at the craft store.

Look for brand-new items at the thrift store

As someone who suffers from mysophobia and health anxiety, I understand that there’s sometimes an ick factor with thrifting, especially if you go to a store that isn’t super discerning or sanitary about what it sells. I don’t mind gently used items, but not every gift recipient may feel the same way. 

The good news is, plenty of secondhand shops carry brand-new items, either directly from donations or bulk resellers. Many thrift shops, in fact, carry new (but discontinued) items from Target brands. Every so often, you’ll also find clothes that still have department store tags on them. 

Hope Chest thrift store front
What I love about Hope is that they have a different deal every day of the week.

Keep an eye out for thrift store discount days and holiday sales

Secondhand shopping is cheap, but you can save even more if you play your cards right. Most thrift stores have discount days where they discount a certain category of items or tag color. Throughout November and December, they might even put on holiday sales. Personally, one of my local thrift stores has been promoting 30, 40, and 50 percent off storewide sales throughout November. (Though, I love that store so much that I’ll even buy from them without the sales.)

Clean your thrifted gifts before you wrap them up

If you do end up finding gently used secondhand gifts, thoroughly clean them before wrapping them up. For example, wash or dry clean thrifted clothes and sanitize porcelain decor. Last Mother’s Day, I bought my mom a few decor pieces from the thrift store and gave them a good Clorox wipe-down and soapy wash before wrapping them up for her. 

Don’t forget to thrift for Christmas gift-wrapping accessories

There’s a good chance that your local thrift store has a whole holiday display this time of year. Take advantage of it! Besides browsing for ornaments, stockings, and holiday decor, look for ribbons, wrapping paper, gift bags, Christmas cards, and other goodies. I typically get these miscellaneous gifting accessories at Dollar Tree, but you’ll often find better-quality and more original items at your thrift store.

These are all of my tips for now! I do want to start a Thriftmas series, so keep an eye out for some holiday thrift shopping tips come December. I’ll go over how to celebrate the holidays thrifty style! 

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