Thriftmas: Thrifting for Christmas decor, books, clothes, and more

Merry Thriftmas! Christmas is simply the most wonderful time of year at the thrift store. Christmas paraphernalia pops up at secondhand shops like clockwork after Halloween. I think this happens because holiday cheer is mostly concentrated in November and December — by mid-January, everyone is pretty much over the yuletide spirit and desperate to declutter their sparkly tinsel and flashy ornaments. After tucking Christmas goods into storage for a good nine to 10 months, thrift stores pull out these festive pieces just in time for the holidays. 

Thrifting for Christmas goods is not only great for the environment but also your wallet. You’re (hopefully) getting excellent prices for high-quality items, which are typically brand new or only gently used. The deals are usually exponentially better than those paltry Black Friday sales, too! Since my budget has been tighter this year, I’ve been cautious about racking up too many holiday expenses. This year, it’s been a balance between staying frugal and indulging my love language of gift-giving. Being mindful about what I buy and thrifting whenever I can have helped minimize my holiday spending so far.

So what exactly can you thrift for Christmas? Here’s my guide to secondhand shopping for holiday goods! 

Thrifting for Christmas books, movies, and music

Searching for specific titles at the thrift store might be tricky, but there’s always an abundance of Christmas- and holiday-related books. From children’s Christmas books to non-fiction holiday references, bibliophiles can celebrate the holidays on a budget. If you check your local thrift store or used bookshop, you might find vintage holiday craft and recipe guides, which make for perfect coffee table books to skim. 

Some secondhand holiday books I’ve picked up over the years include A Christmas Carol, Christmas at The New Yorker, and countless Christmas-themed cozy mysteries. You might also have luck finding holiday literature at your local library book sale aisle — personally, my library book sale nook has a whole section dedicated to Christmas reads.

I also recommend checking out movies and CDs at the thrift store. You’ll typically be able to find titles like Elf, White Christmas, Love Actually, and A Christmas Story collecting dust at the thrift store — grab them for your holiday viewing! Christmas music is also often  available at the thrift store. Personally, I’ve been hoarding audio cassette tapes this past year, but CD might be the preferable format for most people. In either case, no pesky Spotify ads! Just double-check for scratches on physical media. 

Thrifting for Christmas decor

As someone who has religiously hit up Dollar Tree and Target during past holiday seasons, I recommend heading to the thrift store for Christmas decorations. Thrifted Christmas decor is often cheaper, better quality, and more unique. You’ll find ornaments, garlands, figurines, LED lights, stockings, and so much more. If you’re looking for a faux Christmas tree, you might even find a great deal at the thrift store. A few Christmases ago, my dad tracked down a 6-feet pre-lit tree at Goodwill for $30!  

Thrifting for Christmas tableware and kitchenware

Put down the $10 holiday mug from TJ Maxx (and I say that as a mad Maxxer). You can usually find Christmas mugs, bowls, trays, and plates at the thrift store for a few bucks. (At my local Goodwill, secondhand mugs are only a quarter!) To give your dining table extra pizzazz, also look for holiday candles and table runners at secondhand shops. If you’re looking for evergreen pieces, consider collecting silver and gold pieces instead of getting anything too overtly Christmassy. 

Thrifting for Christmas toys and games

From Elf on the Shelf to holiday plushies, Christmas toys are part of the holiday fun. If you’re only going to play or display these pieces for a season, it might be a good idea to thrift them. Give them a thoroughly disinfecting wash or wipe before you or your kids play with them. Thrifted toys can make for great seasonal stocking stuffers to complement main presents. 

Thrifting for Christmas clothes

Personally, I never understood the appeal of ugly Christmas sweaters because, well, why would I want to own something ugly? But if they’re your thing, you’ll find some festively fugly sweaters — no need to run to Target to pay full price for a 100% acrylic sweater. Some thrift stores even have whole racks dedicated to holiday apparel!

If you’re in search of beautiful clothes for the holidays, you’ll find plenty at your local thrift store, too. (Well, hopefully.) Think metallic sheaths, luxurious velvet midis, sparkly earrings, classic tartan skirts, posh wool suits, and chunky cable sweaters. Give your thrifted Christmas clothes a good clean in the wash (or a spin in the dryer with Dryel) and turn heads at your next holiday party. For lazy holidays in, you can usually find holiday-themed PJs, too. 

Thrifting for Christmas presents

If your intended recipient feels comfortable with secondhand gifts, the thrift store may even have better finds than upscale department stores. My family and I share thrifted gifts all the time, and I’m personally trying to scout secondhand presents for everyone this year. Just make sure that you find things that are clean and in decent condition. If you’re going down the secondhand route, start thrifting for gifts as soon as possible! Just bear in mind that it may take you a few rounds at the thrift before you find the perfect presents. 

Thrifting for Christmas gifting accessories and supplies

The thrift store is a treasure trove of wrapping paper, gift bags, ribbons, bows, and cards this time of year. Everything is usually new or in good enough condition to reuse. Even if Christmas gift-wrapping supplies are pretty cheap at Dollar Tree, they can add up pretty quickly, and Dollar Tree quality can be pretty hit or miss. If you’re giving away lots of gifts, get your Christmas gift wrapping gear in bulk at the thrift store. 

The holidays are about spending time with loved ones, but a few beautiful, celebratory trinkets and treasures can’t hurt. Of course, remember to be mindful of the pieces that you’re thrifting — if you’re getting something for yourself, can you imagine reusing this next Christmas or even throughout the year? Keep an eye out for high-quality Christmas pieces at the thrift store, and you’ll be able to get in the holiday spirit without breaking the bank.