Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Thrifty Gifts: Is it Taboo To Hit Thrift Stores for Holiday Gifting?


Every year I'm curious about what my thriftiest friends are gifting for the holidays. Are they making gifts? Thrifting for gifts? Ignoring the whole season and going bahumbug? Furthermore, is it considered rude to give gifts from the thrifts? For the uninitiated, it's horrifying! Check out this quote from a thrifty gift giving post on Get Rich Slowly.
"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?"
Thrifted gifts are special. They required someone to hunt, and you're getting something no retail store could provide. This year I'm using the massive amount of stock I've acquired to create gift sets for friends and family and cooking massive amounts of delicious, healthy snacks to distribute. (Posts on this soon!)


Present it beautifully...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. Gift a vintage tin with homemade cookies inside 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 Résistance!

Bonus: I have 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.

39 comments:

  1. I agree with you that thrift giving may take more of a hunt than regular shopping. I did get permission from an old friend to give you a thrifted item, a Vintage nightgown, something she won't find anywhere else. I have another friend who is a thrifter and I know he has been looking for certain colors of towels for his new studio, and I've bought towels and wrapped in a matching pillow case. Thank you for your posts & I especially like the size font use. Sincerely. lanasdreameBay

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    1. I'm always asked by friends to have an eye out for something for them while I thift. Few read the blog or understand exactly how I make a living since blogger/reseller/freelancer/vegan chef is an unconventional title, but I feel lucky my friends understand a degree of my frugal ways and would appreciate a well-presented thrifted gift.

      My family (other than Mom) are the hard ones to give thrifted gifts too!

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  2. I think it really depends on the recipient. I'd be thrilled with a hard-to-find thrifted piece from decades ago; some people I know (won't mention any names) would be horrified if I gave them something "old." I like your "think presentation" idea! Great tip!

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    1. I have friends that are harder sells with the thrifted gifts, too. If I don't find the perfect thing second-hand I'll resort to retail a times. It's all about giving gifts that people will use and giving things that they'll really love.

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  3. I try to think about what the recipient would really love first and foremost.I don't go to the thrift store thinking,'Hey I'm going to buy everyone's present here.'
    I've found that almost everyone collects/has a passion for something.My mother-in-law collects sequin/beaded boxes...my mom loves her 'Butterfly Gold' dishes...my niece loves owls..you get the idea.Since I shop at thrift stores all year,I can be on the lookout for awesome stuff and save it for Christmas/birthdays.
    Anyone who would be horrified by a thrifted gift gets a generic gift that I found on sale.

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    1. That's another "pitfall" with thrifted gift giving, to find the right item for all you need to always be vigilant while thrifting throughout the year to find good ones.

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    2. Pitfall? I thought that was a bonus.
      "Honey,watch the kids.I NEED to go to the thrift store."LOL

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  4. I thrift for the individual, so it's a special thing, not just something 'used' for the sake of being used. And I keep a stash all year long, because one cannot thrift at the last minute. And it's more important to give to the individual a personalized, intentional gift, than a 'thing' for the sake of having a gift.

    When in doubt, alcohol, and everyone is happy.

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    1. I keep a stash all year long, it's easy if you're already a frequent thrifter. I didn't think of the alcohol, that's right, I have given that and the recipient is always happy! I'll be testing out homemade healthy treats this year too and seeing how it goes.

      Every year I try to craft more, but I don't want to make useless decor gifts anymore. I only want to gift/make things people will really use or love.

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    2. I love crafting things for my family too.Thank goodness for Pinterest.My nieces are always showing me handmade things they've pinned so it gives me a direction of what they'd like.

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    3. I'm lucky my nieces love hand-crafted items, too. Too bad it's hard to fit it into the schedule! But It my best to get neices/nephews something unique/educational they'll appreciate when they get older.

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  5. I agree with the comment that it depends on the recipient. While some of us love these little treasures, lots of people don't. My friends know I love to thrift, but their tastes and mine are so different. Say they see that I collect Blenko like decanters. They think "she likes bottles", and buy a random bottle. I'm not pleased (but I'm not like the "I'm spoiled" girl). You have to really know someone well, know their home style and tastes before you can thrift gift them.

    That said, I adore the planter you made!!

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    1. You story reminds me of my mom. My mom collects unique foreign and vintage chickens, but many people see the collection and think, "she likes chickens!" and buy a contemporary piece that clashes. I have enough STUFF, I'd prefer time with friends and good food for my holidays gifts. Mmm...food... I so appreciate arts and crafts over conventional gifts.

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  6. YEp, depends on who it is. My mother would love it! My grandmother? Abhor it. But I would be just fine too!


    Marie @
    Lemondrop ViNtAge

    I am having a fabulous giveaway right here.

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    1. Yep, you can't push it on someone who would absolutely hate it.

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  7. I don't normally give "thrift finds" mainly because I think you really have to know the people who you're buying for.

    However, I'm giving some vintage vhs movies to some people in my family this year. They've requested certain movie titles that they never remade into dvd and only the original vhs exists.

    Overall, I think it just depends on the person whether it's acceptable to give thrift finds or not.

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    1. I love when people have specific requests, takes the guessing out of it.

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  8. As you say, presentation is everything when giving a thrifted gift. I wouldn't give something thrifted to just anyone, only the ones I know that wouldn't mind and know me and my thrifting lifestyle. That said, I'm also a couponer and I have been able to find lots of good deals at the stores using sales, store coupons, manufacturer's coupons AND gift card deals. I was able to get $75 worth of goods from Target and after coupons, paid only $2.49 AND got $20 in gift cards back for my next visit!!

    I have a sis-in-law with 3 kids and it's hard to find individual gifts for them, so instead, I make what I like to call, family gifts. A nice (thrifted) basket or bin, then I fill it with brand new (but free or cheap via coupons) games and snacks for Family game nights or switch it up and make a family movie night gift and get a couple of DVDs and put in a package of popcorn, hot chocolate and nuts and homemade cookies and fudge. It makes a really thoughtful gift without breaking the bank for me!

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    1. I love making specialized gift baskets as gifts. Great ideas. I've been reading about couponing and want to get in on it, but it's very time consuming. First, gotta list all this merch online...

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  9. I would only give a thrifted gift to a fellow thrift lover. This year I gave Mom specific instructions of things I would love to receive that can be found in thrift stores (pre 1950 cook books, vintage Christmas ornaments, candles) but not everyone gets the true value of thrift stores. I love the idea of combining a thrift item with something new - like a thrift found candle holder with a new candle or like you did - a thrift plant pot with a cute little plant.

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    1. I love making "thrifted gift sets" with like-items. I think I'm going to list my leftover Father's Day baskets on Etsy for the holidays and see how they do http://www.thriftcore.com/2012/06/gifts-for-guys-thrifty-vintage-fathers.html

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  10. It's so funny that you blogged about this today as I was just thinking about this same subject yesterday when I was dropping off some donations to our local Goodwill shop. I thought about paying a visit inside the store after drop off to look for some vintage Christmas treasures and then thought I really don't need anymore right now and then thought what about for gifts?? Is that appropriate? I really think it has a lot to do with the personality of the person who would be receiving it and, let's face it, it can't be a run of the mill little chochkee ( I never know how to spell that word!!). It would have to be something adorable and in good condition for its age. I, for one, wouldn't mind a thrifted gift at all. :)

    ~ Wendy

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    1. We pay more to shop retail for the convenient selection, thrifted gifting works if you're already hunting, but you can't just pop into a Goodwill and expect to finish your Holiday shopping in one trip, that's for sure!

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  11. I think it seems that if you'd be likely to spend all day crying because someone gave you a thrifted gift, you'd be crying just as much if they bought you some cheap piece of crap from Wal-Mart, wouldn't you? I think thrifted gifts can be some of the most personal, special gifts one can give! Besides, with Etsy and other online places to buy vintage, who's to say what came from a vintage boutique and what came from the local Goodwill?

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    1. I feel the same way. It's all a matter of perspective, Anne. I'd rather have a heartfelt gift from the thrift than a meaningless or impersonal trinket that someone spent a fortune on.

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  12. Taboo or no, that owl planter is CUTE! I'd be happy to see it come my way for Christmas. ;)

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    1. My friend Emily was very happy to receive it for her boutique's anniversary celebration, and even read the blog post where I wrote that I paid $3.00 for it and didn't mind :)

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  13. Yes, depends on the person getting it. I would be thrilled to get something thrifted, a nice Pyrex dish, however, I know people who would not like getting something thrifted. Not the cheap factor, the used factor. I am giving something to my sister that I have thrifted. I have 2, she likes it. I don't part with my items ... ever. This makes it more special. It's a wine carafe that says "Cheap White Wine", she drinks a lot of white wine. And I got her something from a discount bin from Urban Outifitters that I know she'll love (also got one for myself!). $20 off, so it was $9.99. A set of 3 photo albums. I think they'd charge more if it were sealed and at the thrift.

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    1. The "Cheap White Wine" gift sounds perfect, hilarious gag gift, and a sweet observation about your sis that makes it personal. Nice to keep it in the family! And I've noticed the same thing, a lot of the time you can get items cheaper in retail clearance sections than you can at thrift stores these days...

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  14. I thrift-gift to certain recipients but it's usually something I've upcycled or enhanced in some way or it's something specific I know they collect and want. I agree about presentation -- well-wrapped first impressions create excitement about what's waiting inside.

    I also agree w/ Sir T-A-L -- the 'used' factor isn't for everyone.

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  15. If I had a friend who freaked over the used factor I'd understand. Luckily I don't seem to have any. Maybe they'd freak out in my house since nearly everything in it is used. Actually, nearly everything in this world is used- don't use public transportation- poison! Horrors! ;)

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  16. Oh my gosh, that poor person crying over that thrift store purse. I give mostly second-hand gifts. Of course, they're not torn, stained, dented or sad..so that helps. I wouldn't give anyone anything that I wouldn't want to receive myself. That owl planter = LOVE. To me, it takes more thought and insight into what a receiver would want if you give them second hand love. It's pretty easy to tra-la-la down the aisle at Target and fill up a cart with multiples of the same thing for everyone that you know. Giving great vintage or second-hand is an art form and shows real love if you ask me. And it shows even MORE love if the item is really superb and it hurts to seal it up inside the box and give it away.

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    1. I love unique gifts best, this year presents will be handmade, souvenirs from Puerto Rico and Japan, and thrifted. My nieces and nephews are getting new things selected with care from local toy shops as I didn't find the perfect things for them while hunting all year.

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  17. My friends and I exchange Christmas gifts that we've gathered throughout the summer at garage sales and thrift stores. We've been doing this for years, and it's so much fun to see what we've picked out for each other. I think it all depends on the recipient and how well you know each other.

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  18. When I was in 4th grade (I think), I received what is possibly the best Christmas gift of my entire life : My step-grandmother had spent the summer yard saleing and collecting for each of the grand-kids. She presented each of us with a garbage bag full of various used items and one special gift. My special gift was a lamp with a teddy bear base, and my garbage bag (it was an actual garbage bag, not individually wrapped stuff) was full of the most amazing treasures.

    Who the fuck cares if your gift is used? I mean, honestly. It's not like someone is going to give you some nasty, brokedown, ugly piece of something you hate, right? But basically, this sort of talk, the questioning of what is acceptable for gift giving is one of the reasons I don't celebrate Christmas anymore. What a waste of money and a waste of energy.

    Every year, I give two sets of gifts : To my brother and sister-in-law, I give them used books for Christmas. To all of my friends, I give them a mix cd if they come to my birthday dinner. No one complains, but then my friends and relations aren't known to be shallow or greedy.

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    1. This year has been my least festive to date, the gift-giving and shallow greediness of the season really gets me down. I don't even have a tree up! I'll try to be more festive next year. I don't blame you for not celebrating.

      This year my family is getting a bounty of healthy treats made by me with love and a few carefully selected items. It's been liberating not to worry about empty gift-giving "just because."

      Besides, I give the people close to me little gifts and nice things all year as I encounter items that are perfect for them. Why not celebrate with and treat the people we love all the time?

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  19. My gift intentions are to say 'I love you and was thinking about you.' It's not to necessarily give someone what they desperately need or would have picked out of a catalog. I'm disappointed when I hear someone say they didn't like a gift they received, and why didn't they get a gift or gas card instead? I buy from thrift stores and make as many of my gifts as I can. People seem to appreciate what I give, on my meager budget. If they didn't and chose to regift or give away what they've been given, that would be up to them. I'm tired of all the materialness of the Holy Season. I won't pull out a credit card and go into debt for a holiday that has turned into a commercial frenzy. God's blessings to all of us :)

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I love reading your comments. Thank you for adding to the discussion! I always reply to any and all questions.

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