Is It Okay to Give Thrifted Gifts for the Holidays?


A Get Rich Slowly post sparked controversy last year when readers were asked: "Is it Okay to Buy a Christmas Gift from the Thrift Store?" Yes! We cry, naturally! But consumers that stigmatize thrift stores had a different reaction. Here's feedback from people who would hate to receive a gift from the thrift store:

“Eww. No.”

"I think I would be slightly offended by a thrift store gift..."
"One word. Bedbugs. They’re back in a big way. I do not get anything from thrift, vintage stores that can’t be properly sanitized. Purses fall into that catagory so I wouldn’t be happy with a used handbag no matter how nice."
"i guess i’m spoiled but i would be horrified if someone gave me used thrift-shop purses and would probably spend the rest of the day crying (i get a little too upset over poorly-chosen gifts sometimes). my first thought would be if money is that tight that you’re gift shopping in thrift stores instead of proper stores, why couldn’t you have gotten something less expensive but new?"
I love to give and receive gifts from the thrift store. Who wants an ordinary item anyone can get from a retail chain when you can have something unique and thoughtful from the thrift? It came with extra effort, someone had to ambitiously hunt down that item for you!


Presentation is key...when you give a gift from the thrift, think of presentation. Don't gift an item with unflattering chips or dents. Display it nicely; details count. Think a vintage tin with homemade cookies inside, wrapped in a velvet bow, or a vintage planter filled with poinsettia flowers.

With beguiling presentation, even die-hard thrift store haters will overlook the gift's humble, inexpensive origins. And if your friends are mad that you didn't spend enough on them, find new friends!


Do This: Check out The Elegant Thrifter for gift-giving inspiration. His Gift of Thrift posts display creative presentation ideas and remarkable thoughtfulness! Then check The Non-Consumer Advocate. Katy gives thrifted gifts and thrifty gift ideas, Viva La RĂ©sistance!

Bonus: Last year I wrote up an Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide of thrifty and useful gifts.

Is it okay to buy gifts from the thrift store? Where do you draw the line?
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

43 comments:

  1. This exact question was running through my mind too. Of course I'm fortunate to say that any of my friends who are close enough to exchange gifts with also share the love for quirky, unique and downright wacky thrifted finds. As a matter of fact, my best friend who is soon to move into a new apartment actually requested gift cards to Goodwill for Christmas so she can hunt down kitchenware, furniture and decor.

    As for the naysayers: Bah, humbug!

    <3Jackie @ Let's Go Thrifting!
    http://LetsGoThrifting.blogspot.com

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  2. I'm all for thrift store gifts! In fact, I'm thrilled with homemade, handmade, secondhand ... new is nice ... but then so is a big hug (hard to wrap that though!)

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  3. Jackie: I'm also lucky to have some friends/family that appreciate a good vintage thrift store find. But my gift-giving is a mix of handmade, retail, randomness. Never consistent!

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  4. Meg: More than anything I just like spending time with friends and family...and food! Practical and consumable gifts are the best. Like food, soap, tea...

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  5. Of course, being part of the choir here, I love vintage/thrift store gifts too! Some of my best gifts from friends came from the thrifts. I also grew up with a Santa that gifted from yard sales, so getting a random box of used Barbies and cool assc. was not unusual. I actually am surprised by the comments (i.e. that ppl could be so offended by thrifted gifts). I mean, for example, who wouldn't absolutely love that cute owl and plant (and the presentation is lovely!)

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  6. Better know the person your giving the gift too.

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  7. Gina: You've gotta fool the non-believers with a pretty presentation! I hand-stamped that box (with a thrifted stamp and thrifted ink, of course!) My friend LOVED it and it cost me about $10 including plant and packaging.

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  8. MisterTrue: Nice blog, I love your bright, clear photos and excellent finds! Yep, it's especially important to be thoughtful when gifting second-hand stuff. Or anything, really...

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  9. OH I wish!!!!

    Ppl here can get offended like the quote up there. It sucks! I guess that the trick to get away with that one here would be getting something that doesn't look at al used, or just giving it away to someone who appreciates thrifted items. Still I think it would be a lil offensive for the ppl. :( :(

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  10. Lou: Befitting the status quo on the island, my family is Puerto Rico doesn't understand thrifting. But they'd earnestly appreciate anything I gave them. Lucky me ;)

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  11. My belief is that true friends aren't going to care where an item came from, how much was paid, etc. They're going to look for what you saw in the item that brought them to mind, whether it be a contribution to a collection they have, theme they like, etc. If they can't see what's IN the gift (figuratively speaking), they don't deserve a gift!

    If they think less of me for financially spending less (even though the effort expended is often much greater than walking to a gift off the self in a retail store), I don't need them in my life!

    We will have a thrifty holiday around here....most of our tablescape and decor comes from various thrift stores, used books will be opened on Santa morning and I'm ready to rumble with brand-new-to-us eggnog glasses!

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  12. I just want to say, in case anyone believes those stupid quotes, that you can't get bedbugs from a thrift store item. Anything with cushions is required, by federal law, to be properly sanitized.

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  13. On the topic, though...I had considered giving some vintage board games to needy families and decided not to. I think that a worn out box, though everything inside is new and unopened, might seem tacky and unfair. I wasn't sure they'd recognize that it's vintage, which makes it cool and no longer available. I didn't hesitate, though, to give them handmade stuffed animals.

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  14. When I was a kid, my step-grandmother spent one summer yard sale-ing and gave every kid a HUGE garbage bag full of awesome stuff. She also gave us each one new thing. But that massive garbage bag full of hand-picked, yard sale finds was not at all offensive. It stands out, next to cabbage patches, as one of my fave gifts.

    Even now, when I'm traveling, I go to thrift stores first. I started hitting them up when I was traveling in Europe, and now I plan some of my visits around thrift stores. There is no better place to find vintage cameras, fake fur coats, old and awesome toys, etc. I can't think of anyone who wouldn't love any gift I found them, especially from the thrift store.

    I've also paid my models with wardrobe from the thrifts. It's hard, when organizing several shoots, to keep the wardrobe costs down. So I just started checking out the thrift stores and managed to find really great wardrobe. Not one of them has a problem with their wardrobe.

    I just don't think I'm friends with anyone who cares about that sort of thing.

    (Ok, promise, last comment!)

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  15. I think as long as it's a thoughtful gift (new or thrifted) it's the best!

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  16. Thrift Store Santa has always been a part of our Christmas for many years. Why, that new robe with tags is still with us and going strong (minus the tags of course)!

    Dj in PHX AZ

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  17. I always thrift my gifts, and I find that they are much more fun to shop for and receive! The look on my father-in-law's face when I gave him a 1930s Erector set was priceless- he was both surprised and excited :) I am a little surprised that those who are picky about thoughtful gifts have thrifty friends like us in the first place :)

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  18. I shop at a nearby consignment store for baby gifts regularly, where they only accept items in like-new condition. As for other gift-giving occasions, you have to know the receiver. I think the trick is to not make the person FEEL like they're getting something thrifted. If it looks dirty or smells gross, anybody would be offended. But if it's clean, in great condition, and something that the receiver might have purchased for himself at a store, then why not?

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  19. Yes, thrift it awesome, however with that said, you must know the person no matter what you are giving. If the person is not into anything "old" they no. To me a gift should be for the person and what they like no matter where you find it..thrift, consignment,online or box store.

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  20. I would not only be thrilled to get a thrifted gift (it means one of a kind, unique, chosen just for you) I give them all the time. Second hand doesn't mean second class. I would rather have something thrifted than bought first hand. It is the ultimate form of recycling! Really there is no reason to buy new things...everything already exists and thrift stores have it all! Viva the thrifted gift!

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  21. Wow, I ONLY give gifts from thrift stores!

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  22. i was struck by the comment about a retail store being a "proper" store. that perception is interesting given the poorly made crap that you can get at a "proper" store. i think no matter where you shop, you need to make sure that what you're giving is something that the person you're buying for would LOVE and that it's in good shape. i've been doing a series of blogs called the 12 Days of Thrift-hearted Christmas and this topic was one of the blog posts - everyone who responded said they appreciated giving and receiving thrifted AND re-gifted gifts.

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  23. Perhaps this is why I wear my thriftiness and non-consumerism on my sleeve. Everyone knows what to expect from me, and I scared off those who insist on new long, long ago.

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  24. i have gotten thrift store presents from tom and they are always the best! unique and awesome! he is just really good at finding great stuff. i am going to get my little nephew a bunch of clothes from the thrift store, he is just gonna mess them up anyways really. i saw yes to thrifted presents!
    xo,
    cb

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  25. Yeah, like a thrift store is so much unlike an 'antique store' or collectibles store...! >\;^]

    Dj

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  26. I like your point about presentation - this is key whether a gift item is new OR used.

    I think it's fine to give a thrifted gift if you know the recipient wouldn't mind receiving a gently used item. It's a matter of knowing the person who will be receiving the gift. I wish some people were open-minded enough to understand that even if an item is thrifted, the gift giver still put time, effort and money into putting the gift together. Some of those comments featured in the post sound really ungrateful!

    I personally won't be buying any holiday gifts from thrift stores, because my family wouldn't appreciate it, but if someone gave me a thrift item that I would love, I'd be delighted to receive it. :-)

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  27. My mother in law routinely is the recipient of my antique mall or thrift store gifts and loves them!

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  28. Considering the amount of junk and lasts-only-a-few-months-crap you get in "proper" stores, I would prefer carefully thrifted gifts over them! And with the huge waste flowing around our seas and clogging up landfills, please thrift, especially for Christmas, when everyone is talking about peace and a better world!

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  29. Amen, Huldra! For this reason, I do NOT like new gifts.

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  30. Shannon & Panamama: Agreed, what's most important is that you give something the recipient will want and will use, regardless of whether it’s from a thrift or not.

    Fenn: I loved your comments! There’s a place for new and unused gifts, new things.

    DJ: I love the finds with tags still on them! They’re ample at thrifts, too!

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  31. Amanda: Sometimes I forget that there are non-thrifters out there who only buy new things, too ;) Some of these people are our friends.

    Stephanie: Babies outgrow clothes so quickly that you can find an ample amount of quality clothes at the thrift

    Karen: I agree. My dad and I both adore toys, I couldn't find vintage ones he would like so I bought him the new Tron toys. He LOVED them :)

    I don't think gifts should be about what's "most expensive" but you should want the recipient to love them!

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  32. Eartha and Amber: I'd give all-thrifted gifts I coulds! Mine are always a mix as ecclectic as my friends and family are. I'm lucky my neices even request handmade stuff. Ur..need to work on that black whale plushie soon...

    Thrift Shopper for Peace: I really do forget about the non-thrifty perspective most of the time ;)

    Laura: I have no idea how I haven't scared off non-thrifty friends yet, but they do let me have it with "cheap" jokes when I save my leftovers or beat myself up over buying something new for $1

    cb: I love thrifted clothes for kids because you really do find new kid's clothes at thrifts often.

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  33. hiphopmuse: I bet the comments above could learn to love thrift stores if they frequented them enough ;)

    KV: My mom loves them, too. But she's a thrift queen!

    Huldra: All good points .You can spend more on a gift from a retail store, but that doesn't make it better quality.

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  34. I thrift gifts sometimes, but I think it's all about knowing your audience. A gift is meant to be a reflection of your esteem for a person. "It's the thought that counts" is tossed around a lot, and usually not in the way it was intended, but I think it's the key. If you are focused on what will make a person smile, you can usually know whether they'll see a vintage Vera scarf in their favorite colors from Goodwill as an extra thoughtful gesture or one of those things they tolerate about you because it's cool to have a quirky friend. At least I hope so, because I'm testing the theory this year for some friends, and blasted it out for all to see on my own blog!

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  35. This year my family and I decided we are ONLY giving gifts purchased from thrift, vintage, flea markets, hand made and local...it's been fun to find the prefect vintage camera, or jewelry piece for my niece and nephew. I'm having more fun this Christmas than I've had in years! I'm actually looking forward to opening gifts!

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  36. Kim: I bet your friends will love their gifts. I didn't get all-second hand/handmade this year as I'd strived to. Maybe next year!

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  37. vland: Last year I came pretty close to doing only local, handmade, and vintage/thrifted. Changing things up keeps the season fun, I didn't get in the mood 'til I started wrapping gifts creatively today.

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  38. Those comments in the post made me sad :(

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  39. Megan: The non-thrifty among us. They're out there. ;) We forget, but they are.

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  40. Van - thanks! I didn't do much of the thrift-gifting this year (last year I made thrifty terrariums for several people), but I sort of happened upon an item that cried out these friends' name. I know they'll like the gift, and I'm pretty sure at least the husband will love the idea that I got it for $0.13 (plus shipping). But yeah, I wouldn't have done it if it weren't something pretty unique, and pretty uniquely "them".

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  41. Kim: .13 cents plus shipping! Good deal! I'm personally even more impressed when someone finds me an item that is extremely low-cost and perfectly "me".

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  42. I'm giving 100% thrifted or handmade this year, (at least 90% is thrifted). I'm only giving thrifted items to people who don't mind getting something second hand and who know it's thrifted. I think the trick is knowing the person's tastes. I'm even giving thrifted presents to my daughter this year. She's completely obsessed with the Care Bears and I found a 1983 Care-A-Lot play set, Avon Care Bear collectible plate, and an old school Care Bears tin. She's only two so I know she's not going to mind that her gifts aren't new.

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  43. little big: You found amazing Care Bear goodies, and for so cheap, too! I know the gifts will be loved.

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