Guide to Shopping for Secondhand Gifts

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How To Shop Secondhand Gifts For Everyone On Your List

Shopping for gifts can be an expensive affair at the best of times—for you and for the planet! Studies have estimated that over 21 million Brits receive at least one unwanted gift each Christmas. Plus, one in ten say they have deliberately bought someone a gift they know they wouldn’t like. 

But this crisis isn’t just at a national level. It has been found that American gift-buyers spend as much as $16 billion a year on unwanted presents. What’s worse, many of these gifts end up in landfills, adding to the global and rapidly growing waste problem.

One solution is to bow out of the gift-giving tradition altogether, but this isn’t for everyone. You may still want to give your loved one’s great gifts without hurting your budget or harming Mother Nature. Secondhand gift shopping is a viable, affordable, and sustainable alternative that everyone on your shopping list will love.

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The Charm of Secondhand Gifts

Secondhand shops and charity shops are full of cost-efficient, unique and memorable items, including homeware, toys, clothes, shoes, electronics and décor. Many of these items would make excellent gifts that nobody else could buy, reducing the chances of giving someone duplicate presents. They are also sustainable and eco-conscious alternatives to buying new items every time you need to give someone a gift.

It’s no secret that not everyone will appreciate a secondhand gift. There is a stigma around it, and some people consider secondhand gift-giving as being cheap, stingy or uncaring. However, there are probably people in your life that would love gently used gifts. Buying them is a practical and conscious way to share your values with your loved ones. 

Top Tips for Getting It Right

A handy tip for finding secondhand items that people will love to receive as gifts, is not to buy poor quality, heavily used or damaged items. There are plenty of gently used or even brand-new items in secondhand shops that work perfectly well and don’t look like they belong in a yard sale. Try to balance affordability and quality when you shop. 

Another piece of advice we have for you is to match your items to your recipients when shopping secondhand. Don’t just hand over any old gift that you have found at the secondhand shop. Choose something special and personal that’s in line with your recipient’s tastes and interests. And something you know they will appreciate. 

For example, your young niece would probably love a vintage dollhouse or a rocking horse, but not vintage toy soldiers or a drum set. Those might be better reserved for your nephew—depending on his interests, of course. Likewise, a family member who’s a foodie would likely appreciate a hand-painted cream jug, cake stand, or teapot set more than a dusty camera or a secondhand puzzle.

Here are some of the best spots to look for amazing secondhand gifts for your family and friends.

Antique Shop

Most people think about charity shops or a jumble sale when they hear the word ‘secondhand’. However, your local antique shop is packed with funky vintage items that would make perfect gifts. Keep a lookout for unique and valuable mugs, glassware and crockery sets, vintage cameras, classic art, and lovable children’s toys. 

If you’re buying a functional present like a Polaroid camera, remember to check if it works with the shop (and ask about buying film) before you splash out. If you want to buy clothing, accessories or shoes, try to find out your recipient’s sizes before you head out on your shopping spree to ensure you buy items that will fit them perfectly. 

It’s a good idea to match your purchases to your recipients’ home and room décor, especially if the items are for display. Aunt Maggie might not want a bright yellow and orange crockery set to add to her pale pink and bone china-white kitchen colour scheme!

Online Secondhand Shops

The internet is a gift-shopping haven, whether you’re looking for quirky cards, a unique dining experience, or a hard-to-find book. As an added plus, you can find plenty of vintage steals online too. There are thousands of collectors, purveyors and sellers of great quality secondhand goods on the web who make a living by selling items that would make excellent gifts. 

You might find bargains at much lower prices, as online shops don’t have to cover the same overhead costs as retailers do. Be sure to ask for plenty of photos before making any purchases, and ask sellers about wear, tear and damage on the items you’re interested in making sure that you know exactly what you’re buying. Check out sellers’ reviews before spending money if possible, too. Not every bargain advertised on the internet is truly a good deal, and it’s better to take proactive steps to avoid disappointment where you can. 

Charity Shops

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What if we told you that you could support needy charities and buy amazing gifts for your loved ones at the same time? Charity shops have an unfortunate reputation for selling cheap, heavily used items, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. 

You can actually discover some amazing finds at these shops, and most (if not all) of the money you pay for them will go towards good causes. Buy a gift from a charity your loved one adores to earn extra brownie points.

Flea Markets

It isn’t hard to find flea markets around, no matter which part of the world you live in. Many flea markets sell a wide range of secondhand and vintage goods, ranging from furniture and appliances to leather boots, wool coats, toys, kitchenware, and everything in between. 

Market stalls usually offer carefully curated retro items that suit specific themes, which makes it easier for you to find exactly the gifts you’re looking for. You can even ask the stallholders if they’re willing to negotiate on their prices, as you might score some juicy discounts. If you’re hunting for trendy, unique secondhand gifts, give your local flea market a try.

The Secrets To Secondhand Gifting 

Secondhand gifting isn’t for everyone, but if you do like the concept, it’s a very affordable and earth-conscious way to show people you care. Take care when picking out secondhand items as gifts; they should be personal, in good condition and quality, and free from visible or functional damage if possible. 

Clean them up well before wrapping them and you’re virtually guaranteed to become everyone’s favourite quirky gift-giver!

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