Secondhand (Not Second-Rate) Gift Guide


I’ve always been the homemade gift type of person. Whether just a simple card or a larger undertaking like a painting or jewelry, I just think they’re more heartfelt…at least for me. But some people just aren’t crafty or simply don’t have time. For those people, there are still ways to give amazing, heartfelt gifts without spending a fortune. Your first thought may be, “secondhand gifts…I don’t want to be a cheapskate and give a tacky, pre-owned gift.” But trust me, it’s completely possible to give secondhand gifts that aren’t second-rate. I’ve been receiving secondhand gifts for most of my life, and I’ve always enjoyed and appreciated them. Here are a few ideas and tips so you can master the art of secondhand gift-giving. (Note: This post is written specifically with ladies in mind, but you can probably modify ideas or come up with ideas of your own based on this list if you are shopping for a gentleman or a kiddo.)

  1. Create a jewelry gift bag . Go to your local consignment/thrift store and I’m SURE you’ll find oodles of cute fashion jewelry and even some nice “real” pieces. Since they’ll probably have great prices, pick a few. Find a cute clutch, small purse, or cosmetic bag to put the jewelry in. Spending $20 on a few necklaces AND a clutch beats spending $20 on a single necklace at a department store!
  2. A scarf, purse, or other accessory . Consignment stores (at least the ones I’ve been to) ALWAYS have really cute, often new or even designer accessories…at amazing prices, of course.
  3. Gift basket . Grab a basket from a thrift store or the dollar store (or just use a gift bag) and fill it with all kinds of goodies from a consignment or thrift store. DVDs, picture frames, candles, jewelry, scarves, books…just go shopping with a specific person in mind and I’m sure you’ll find some stuff they’ll love. And with DVD’s likely not being more than $5 a piece, you can really fill that basket or bag!
  4. Look for items new with tags . If you’re concerned the recipient will be wary of the origin of untagged/unboxed items, you can usually find quite a few new items in consignment stores that are truly steals. Just hunt those down.
  5. A giftcard . Ask your favorite store if they offer gift cards. Obviously with this gift you need to be certain of the recipient’s stance on secondhand shopping.
  6. Have a little more time and a best girl friend who you love to go shopping with? Give your friend a shopping trip ! Offer to chauffeur her to your (or her) favorite consignment or thrift store, give her some cash, and have fun! Maybe even take her to lunch before or after. I did this with my best friend recently, and she had a great time (I didn’t pay for her purchase, but I did pay for the gas…the store was an hour away. And my sister payed for her dinner).
  7. DIY . I always use secondhand clothes to create my DIY items. A personalized gift is always awesome. See this and this for a couple ideas.
  8. Go explore …this is kind of the same point I made in idea #3. There’s probably an unexpected gem waiting at your local consignment or thrift store, so go look around. Who knows, maybe you’ll find something really unique that would be absolutely perfect for that person you have in mind.


Now go shopping! Not sure where to go?

  • Local? Here’s a coupon for Your Stuff & Kids’ Stuff Consignment Boutiques .
  • Try Buffalo Exchange if you’re lucky enough to live near one. There are a lot of them in the southwest US, but they’re scattered all over the country.They’re very trendy, and even have some vintage finds. LOVE! (Unfortunately the closest one to me is still three hours away.)
  • Plato’s Closet locations are all over the US. Their target audience is younger…preteens/teens, but they can vary a lot depending on where they are. For example, there’s one in Charlottesville near UVa, and they normally have quite a bit of super nice J. Crew stuff there. But there’s another I’ve been to in North Carolina that is huge and has packed racks, and honestly it’s a bit overwhelming…too much teenybopper stuff to dig through to be worth the time.
  • Uptown Cheapskate locations aren’t as plentiful as Plato’s Closet…just check the map. They also cater to a younger audience, but more so to young adults than Plato’s so I actually like them quite a lot.
  • Often, the best places to go are little local boutiques. Here is a handy shopping guide by NARTS (Association of Resale Professionals). You can use it to search for consignment and thrift stores in your area that are NARTS members (which are always top-notch stores). I’ve been to a lot of these stores (in Scottsdale/ Phoenix, Palm Beach, St. Louis, Dallas) and they will be COMPLETELY worth your time if you’re near any and can visit.
  • (note: all stores are linked to locations page)

I hope this is helpful to you and HAPPY SHOPPING! :)

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  1. Jane Bailey
    Posted December 13, 2012 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    Thank you for this article. I own a smal ladies resale boutique in Danville, Indiana and it’s great that you let folks know that it’s ok to buy gifts at resale shops!! Much appreciated!

  2. Posted December 13, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    Love these tips! I love shopping secondhand.

    <3 Melissa

  3. Megan
    Posted December 14, 2012 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    I love thrift shopping for Christmas gifts. I would much rather have something slightly used and unique than something way overpriced and new. My best friend and I always put together HUGE baskets for each other filled with little trinkets we found at thrift stores – it’s actually the gift I most look forward to each year :)

    • Maggie J.
      Posted December 14, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      That sounds like an awesome tradition!

  4. Posted December 16, 2012 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Thanks for talking a little bit about this smart way of shopping! I can buy 2 or 3 name brand designer or super-gorgeous vintage items for the same price that I’d pay for one junky “new” thing from China at the big box stores. Plus I get to shop local and support my favorite neighborhood spots. Keep up the good blogging :)

    • Maggie J.
      Posted December 16, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

      I completely agree! Plus, it’s so much more fun to shop for unique items…like a treasure hunt…than to go in a store where there’s twenty of everything.

  5. Posted December 19, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Great article! I am goint to post a bit of it on my blog with alink back to you for all the details.

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  • Hey! I'm Maggie, a graphic designer, crafter, devoted secondhand shopper, Doctor Who fanatic, and dog-lover. Stick around and explore!

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