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Erin Huffstetler

Second-Hand Gifts

By November 21, 2008

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Buying second-hand gifts is a great way to keep those holiday costs down, but how do you feel about it? Is it acceptable? Is it unacceptable? Is it just plain tacky?

I, for one, do it and think it's fine . . . but I put a lot of thought into how I do it. That antique or collectible that would fit perfectly into Aunt Gertie's collection is a go. But that puzzle with the missing pieces? Not going to happen.

Several people on my Christmas list will be getting second-hand gifts this year. How about yours?

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November 21, 2008 at 7:56 pm
(1) Dawn says:

Absolutely, all but one of my gifts is second hand, either bought at the thrift store or bought online at ebay or the like.
I even got a gift card second-hand from ebay for a few pennies under the value with no shipping.

November 21, 2008 at 9:32 pm
(2) Sue says:

I tried to encourage my large family to embrace a ‘second-hand gift exchange’… I find so many perfect gently-used or never used gifts at goodwill, garage sales etc… Their response was lukewarm. guess they haven’t had a paycut yet! Maybe next year!

November 22, 2008 at 10:11 am
(3) Juli says:

I have very high end taste however, I am such a bargain hunter that it actually pains me to know that someone paid full price for a gift for me. For past Christmases, I have asked for money instead because I can make those dollars stretch far more than anyone I know. You can buy me a cashmere sweater from my favorite catalog for $150+ OR you can give me that same amount in cash and I’ll turn it into 3 cashmere sweaters at the thrift stores + a pr of 2nd hand pants on Ebay (I might even be able to eek a pr of new Ebay shoes too)!
Part of my Christmas checklist:
-A GC for Mom to a high-end consignment shop that we love (where she’ll spend it on 2nd hand stuff)
-A magazine subscription for Dad (I need to find a deal on this)
-A GPS for the in-laws that was refurbished and we purchased for a fraction of the original cost.
-A collectible die-cast for brother’s collection on Ebay where I’d pay far less than retail
-My kids will receive slews of Legos, Polly Pockets and Rescue Heroes which were purchased at yard sales (so what if they’re “used” they’ll get far more than if I paid retail. They’re smart enough not to care!)For their new toys, I shop all yr long and use online coupons or shop Ebay.
-Hubby wants new work-out shoes & sweats. Those will be new but I’ll use my coupons at the outlets for those.
I pay full price for nothing!

November 22, 2008 at 2:09 pm
(4) julie says:

Thankfully my family and in-laws are all very frugal.We pride ourselves on how cheaply we can get things all year long;not just for gifts.Everybody knows if I can’t make it(and I can make quite alot of things!)they will not be getting it from me if I can’t get a good deal on it and I would be pretty horrified to discover they got me anything that wasn’t at least on a really good sale!

November 23, 2008 at 5:59 am
(5) SEA says:

I bought a box full of wrestling figurers, used, but still in very good shape. A box full of miniture cars. A huge box of old combined sets of Legos, An outside playhouse for a little girl. All taken home and scrubbed down, and santitized. Boxed up and wow! what a gift! In bulk! The girls playhouse was easily spray-painted over the faded plastic, and had a new look!

November 23, 2008 at 6:57 am
(6) Lynn says:

You can get great deals on used DVDs on Amazon. Even with the postage, it’s a good bargain.

November 23, 2008 at 9:06 am
(7) Jennifer says:

I buy secondhand gifts for my kids at the consignment store, but I seldom buy secondhand for others unless the item looks new.

November 23, 2008 at 1:44 pm
(8) Michelle says:

I bought some nice biographies at Goodwill for my Grandparents, very inexpensive.

November 24, 2008 at 3:49 pm
(9) Little Red says:

Unless I knew for certain that the recipient wouldn’t mind, I wouldn’t buy a gift secondhand. But if I did buy secondhand, I’d still make sure that it looked brand new.

November 24, 2008 at 7:01 pm
(10) cw says:

I have no problem either giving or receiving second-hand gifts. This is especially the case with books. I frequent used bookstores and love giving my friends and family a book I think they will enjoy.

November 26, 2008 at 2:55 am
(11) Colleen says:

I have no problem with getting or receiving second hand gifts. I buy a mixture of both, as long as the new item was a great deal or the used item looks like new and both fit the taste of the recipient. The only time I have a problem with second hand gifts is if the gift is not to the taste of the person to receive it. I try to never give someone a gift just because I got it at a great price, It needs to be something that person would really enjoy.

November 26, 2008 at 3:55 am
(12) Julie says:

I have been giving used or remaindered books from used book stores or thrift stores for a long time. It is not like you can read the words off the pages. I also get yarn and other craft items at thrift stores to make presents. I only get clothing for my mother at thrift stores because she has Alsheimer’s and refuses to wear new clothing. I’ve also gotten a lot of postcards, note cards, and Christmas cards at thrift stores for a few pennies each. I go through a lot of cards since I send one every day to my mother. Used exercise equipment for my husband, musical instruments (make sure the former owner was talented, smile), sheet music, CD’s, DVD’s. Thrift stores are great for putting together treasure chests, dress up trunks, and craft kits for kids.

November 26, 2008 at 5:26 am
(13) Jenni says:

Here the Last Stop CD Shop, you can sell your CD’s, and such, and get used there, along with a lot of other stuff. I got there. Next door a pawn shop, has since been advertising doing the very same thing, but pawn shops are different.
I check out those kind of places first, so you can get something that is already made, than buying new, and adding to the pile of stuff. Since buying new, encourages new stuff being made, and adding to the landfills. So, I do what I can. And my family is the same way, mostly.

November 26, 2008 at 8:35 am
(14) Gail says:

This has been my practice since I retired 12 years ago. I do put a lot of thought into it as well and the presents are worth a lot more than I could ever afford to give people. I do notice that I do not get back presents and I may give more presents to people who would not want to give back a present of equal value. I just give what I like or have that is collectable or an unused valuable item. i.e I gave my brother a nice black leather briefcase for his laptop which I had bought and found too heavy. He loved it and it was just right.

November 26, 2008 at 9:24 am
(15) Julie Hensley says:

I feel sorry for anyone that would be ‘miffed’ at a secondhand gift. I thought the idea was to be delighted that someone decided to give you something…not to be judgmental of the gift and the gift-giver.
Sure the people around me might let me know in any number of ways the things they’d love to have and their interests, but in selecting that gift, I consider it a matter of who I am and my resourcefulness. Clearly, it makes it easy for me to figure out who my friends are if they are going to cop an attitude over my ‘source’.
As referenced before, 2nd hand stores make a great resource for gifts that you’ll make. Few years ago I made great, ‘designer’ blazers for everyone by buying rather plain jackets at the thrift store and then jazzing them up with braid, beads, buttons, etc. I realize that is passe’ now, but there are still so many ways to knock off the latest trends that it’s a bit embarassing to even shop at the outlet malls IMO.

November 26, 2008 at 1:59 pm
(16) May says:

I have to say that unless I could find something that looked brand new, and I could package it in a unique way that looked like I purchased it brand new, I would not buy second hand gifts for anyone other than my children. I have given second hand gifts before and the response was cold and awkward…”Oh, did you already cut the tags off for me”? etc… I feel that these gifts were never used and so, even if the price was a great deal, it was still a waste. I find it odd but when speaking with co-workers they expressed disgust in wearing used clothes, so I fear now that I am really offending someone if I give a used gift.I would on the other hand make gifts-cookies or jams. In all, I find if I take the time to really look around for the person I am buying a gift for, I can get something new at the price I want to pay–or perhaps they just get a “Happy Holiday” from me!!

November 26, 2008 at 5:40 pm
(17) Cynthia says:

I always buy some secondhand gifts. I’ve found that I have better luck finding a gift the recipient will enjoy if I buy at a thrift store than new. There’s just so many more options. For example, there’s a commercial from the 80s that my dad loved. When I was growing up, he would find an excuse to use the slogan on an almost daily basis. I was thrifting the other day when I found a glass with the slogan on it for 5c. It’s going to make a fabulous stocking stuffer that I wouldn’t have been able to find new.

November 26, 2008 at 6:35 pm
(18) Annie says:

I am rather perplexed by folks who would turn up their noses at a second hand gift. Besides showing poor manners, it shows an amazing lack of perspective. The world is running low on raw materials. Living like we are all entitled to every brand new thing we want is leading us toward ruin. Christmas has become just an opportunity for businesses to make money. Perhaps instead of shopping we would be better off spending time with loved ones.

November 26, 2008 at 9:31 pm
(19) Bridget says:

My hubby and I are having a very frugal holiday this year – like many – and we’ve decided to have a “competition” to see which one of us can get the other the “coolest, cheapest, most-creative, NOT new” gift! garage sales, thrift stores – heck, even the curb the night before trash day is acceptable. Wish us luck! It’ll be fun anyway!

November 27, 2008 at 10:18 am
(20) Dawn says:

Do not hesitate to give a used gift this year!
Just look at the current economic crises. You will be sharing with those you love a way that they can save money and live a better, more frugal lifestyle. This is a good way to get conversations going about everything you do that is frugal. The knowledge they gain from this may well be the greatest gift of all this year.

November 27, 2008 at 2:47 pm
(21) Karen says:

I have often given someone a present that is second hand. So what as long as it is something they can use and haven’t been able to find! One of my favorite places to shop for these articles is my secret: SAVERS

November 27, 2008 at 4:08 pm
(22) Debbie says:

Most of my favorite gifts and things I have purchased come from consignment shops . My house is pretty much decorated with things I’ve purchased from Goodwill or consignment stores. People are always complmenting on things I have and I’m never ashamed to tell them where I shop ..

November 28, 2008 at 2:23 am
(23) ChelseaTE says:

I shop for birthdays and Christmas all year at garage sales, thrift stores, etc. Sometimes the hardest thing is to remember what I’ve already gotten and for whom. Sometimes I give items way before the birthday or holiday in question – life is uncertain, celebrate today. Makes me happy to do it, makes mehappy to know someone is thinking about me and doing the same.

November 28, 2008 at 12:15 pm
(24) deborah says:

New or used doesn’t matter to me. BUT if it is new you had better get a good deal! Homemade is always good. Homemade AND useable is the best! I don’t like getting or giving dust collectors.

November 29, 2008 at 6:17 pm
(25) a wife says:

Out of nessesity I have always given frugal gifts, and don’t mind being given anything second hand. However, my husband is another matter. In his family he is the only one given something second hand. All of his siblings are given nice, and often relatively expensive gifts while he is given things that were obviously second class. While frugality is great, it can sometimes be a way of saying that one person is less valued than the rest of the family. That is very hurtful.

December 4, 2008 at 6:47 pm
(26) Deanna says:

All my gifts will be handmade with recycled material or bought second hand. I am excited about this venture and what it means for the environment.

January 6, 2009 at 2:27 pm
(27) Anita says:

I have no problem with legitimate second hand gifts. What I do have a problem with is other people’s junk. This year I received opened, partially used moisturizer, a sample bag of beauty products that were so old the lotions were dehydrated, and a dead, dead, dead amaryllis bulb (crumbled in my hands). All from the same person. I would really rather have received a heartfelt “Merry Christmas” and a hug than her garbage, which I now have to deal with.

January 7, 2009 at 12:59 am
(28) Kathy says:

I think of it as a form of ‘regifting.’ This year, from my local Goodwill I bought a men’s cashmere sweater from Saks, several Robert Talbott and Mark Shale silk ties, and a Rowenta iron. Good and/or unusual used items are much more appreciated than cheap or impersonal new items!

January 13, 2009 at 9:29 am
(29) mcscrooge says:

Their is nothing wrong with saving money and watching what you spend but you have to draw the line at frugal and just being CHEAP!! If you want to buy a deal at a yardsale or thrift store for yourself, go right ahead.Don’t be so freakin cheap and buy your family members a 50 cent or 1 dollar item and give it to them for a birthday or Christmas especially if it still has the price tag on it!!Your family members frown upon this and often make fun of you for being so insensitive and down right cheap. If you can’t spend 5 or 10 bucks at your local Target or Kmart clearance rack to get something new then you have a problem!! Gotta go for now, I need to go count my piggy bank. LOL

January 13, 2009 at 12:22 pm
(30) Ebenezer says:

Didn’t Charles Dickens write a book on this topic? Remember how his “friends” and family made fun of him. When it is so obvious, don’t you think you will be treated as an outcast by your family? I just hate to see cheap when it comes to family. I believe family is more important than saving a few bucks.

January 16, 2009 at 6:33 am
(31) Joan says:

I don’t have a problem with second-hand gifts – I have seen some people do it very well and others do so badly they just come across as cheap and thoughtless. One of my friends shops second-hand shops and yard sales and she might even tell you if she bought it at one of those places. But she packages it or has fun with it so you share the joy of the find. Another, will just pick up any old thing from a dollar store or regift something given to her children but it is not age appropriate or gender appropriate for my children. That comes across as thoughtless and uncaring. Even re-gifting needs to have an explanation that makes that person feel the gift is special for them. I keep a gift box that is used to store bargains I’ve picked up shopping but I can’t always find something in there that is appropriate if I need a last minute gift. Settling just won’t do.

November 29, 2010 at 8:53 am
(32) pam says:

This will be the second year my family is doing a “second hand” Christmas. I have to tell you, not only was it the most difficult Christmas to shop for…it was the most THOUGHTFUL…we all really put our minds into what each of of us would like. I found a really pretty chip and dip bowl and a scrapbook…I collected a ton of dip recipes and pasted them in the scrapbook and gave them together. I also brought my fathers 1957 guitar into a music shop to be restrung and fixed and gave it to my brother..it was a nice way to pass down a piece of my father and remember all the music he brought in our lives. Think about it…its not cheap, or cheezy..its thoughtful and brings back what Christmas SHOULD be about.

December 1, 2010 at 11:05 am
(33) Sheril says:

One year, for Christmas, my daughter received a second hand, 10 year old, 2 owner coat from her father’s cheap mother. Thee ONLY new thing she got was a box of Little Debbie Brownies. I was VERY upset that my daughter got a”well used” coat while the favored grandsons got new toys. This made her feel very unloved and uncared for. Give second hand ONLY if the receiver doesn’t mind.

December 22, 2011 at 5:14 am
(34) Josie Tavern says:

I put a lot of effort into buying my wife a load of gifts this Christmas but when she discovered that some of them were second hand she just snubbed her nose at ALL of them despite the fact that some of them were brand new only that I had taken off the tags. I don’t get the point of spending 200 on just two gifts when you can spend 200 on 10 gifts! She only discovered that they were second hand because the shop had left a tissue in one of the pockets of one of the two jackets I had bought her, silly of them to do this but all in all……. To me, the whole thing is ridiculous! She originally jumped for joy when she saw what I had gotten her and was delighted but when she discovered that they were second hand….. different reception. I wouldn’t mind so much had I just gone into the shop and bought the nearest item to hand but I had spent 2 hours over two days trying to decide where as she spends 10 mins on me! Oh, I got a NEW jacket by the way! ….. that cost 200!

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