To some the thought of a “used” gift would be simply obscene or distasteful! And, in some regards I would have to agree. But, I am not talking here about a half used 20 year old bath set, or an old bobbly jumper. Nope, rather I am talking about good used toys, clothes or books etc that can offer someone a much wanted gift, whilst also being eco and budget friendly in the process.
On the whole, with this in mind, I am all for gifting secondhand at Christmas (and birthday’s too) if I find something suitable. And, I am grateful to be part of 2 families (my own and in laws) that also feel this way about secondhand gifting. This thrifty approach takes patience and thought but it is something I love – both for the thrill of a bargain, but also for the fact that it not only helps those selling (charity or person), but it recycles, re loves and saves us so much money too.
Over the years I have discovered that there are a lot of lightly used, like-new unwanted toys and possessions being sold for a lot less than the retail price (sometimes still with tags) and it is so exciting to find them. I always think “why not save some money on them and buy secondhand?”.
Here are some thoughts on both the benefits and approach to gifting Secondhand at Christmas.
Each Christmas we have a budget of about £500 for all of our gifts (sometimes about £550). This includes our 3 children, our parents, Nathan and I and then a sibling each on both sides (whoever we picked out in the secret Santa – so 4 adults in total). We then have 3 kids gifts on each side (6 in total) for the cousin secret Santa’s for the kids. This may seem tight to some (?) I don’t know – I don’t often discuss it with people. However, I am aware from reading and hearing conversations, that some spend thousands at Christmas – which of course is their prerogative and I am by no means judging that. For us though, this is our budget and over the last few year it has been ample for what we give!
For us it is partially to do with the fact that we don’t have tonnes to spend at Christmas anyway, but mostly because we know we can get so many lovely gifts for that budget for everyone and don’t see a need right now to increase it (I expect we might when they get older and as our circumstances and their needs/wants change). Overall though, we decided that we wanted Christmas to be more of a time to focus on giving to others, celebrating Christ, being with others and then looking forward to receiving some (but not tonnes of) lovely things. This is very much why I introduced the “Want, Need, Wear (changed now to create), Read” approach (with some new PJs, a little game and a stocking of treats on the side) for us – to help us all be a little more mindful in what we receive and keep it reigned in too, not be overwhelmed with loads of stuff and obviously it also helps us keep to a budget.
I really think it is so easy as a parent to want to buy loads of stuff for our kids sometimes and I have been tempted some years to just go get them loads, but it isn’t the sort of Christmas I want in our family and nor it also isn’t financially healthy either (unless you have the money of course then spend it how you like!). Nope, for us this approach has been lovely each year and brings the joy and balance we want for this season. It is one I do hope grows with them and a reasonable budget to treat our loved ones and family with lovely gifts.
With a simple budget like this it absolutely requires skill and self control in order to get the desired things and treats within it. And that is where I have found that buying things like playmobil, wooden toys, bikes etc second hand ensures the kids a fantastic and “wow” gift at Christmas whilst still keeping in budget.
Second hand books and nearly new outfits are also another way to cut cost whilst still ticking the box of the desired item. As I say, I have discovered in numerous places that there are a lot of secondhand, lightly used, like-new unwanted toys, clothes etc being sold for a lot less than the retail price (some still with tags on) and it seems silly to me to pay full price when it is available at such a delightful discount.
Recycle and Re-love
By buying second hand, it makes me happy to be able give new life to a pre-loved toy or piece of clothing. I like the idea that something a child has loved and had hours of fun with, can now be loved and bring more joy to my child(ren). I also love that it feels like a little treasure and is saving something (that has plenty of life left) from possibly ending up dumped and adding more tat and rubbish to the earth.
Children rarely notice whether something is brand new or nearly new and frankly if it is something I love, I don’t really care either (I am all about the vintage granny jumpers!). I just know there are so many unwanted things in this world and so many things that have barely been used or played with, so my advice is that before jumping into a toy shop or onto Amazon, always look first to find it elsewhere – in a good used or nearly new condition.
Recycle and re-love some toys, a book or dress – save it from being dumped and save yourself some money.
Where to look?
An obvious place if we didn’t have restrictions would be charity shops. Over the years I have picked up lovely books, wooden toys and dress up for the kids and relatives to gift on. A couple of weeks ago whilst in Oxfam books I bought 3 kids books – one was actually new for Alice (but the money is going to charity) one was a lovely Pipi Longstocking book for Megan for £2.50 (to read now) and then a £14.99 David Walliams book that Ethan wanted, which was only £3 and his Aunt is delighted to be able to gift that to him from her son. I also one year found a lovely down M&S coat which we gave to my mother in law for Christmas (like £12) She LOVES it and didn’t care one bit that it was second hand!
Facebook marketplace is rich with bargains too – especially right now as people are clearing out for Christmas. Lego, Playmobil, dolls houses etc can all be found at bargain prices on Facebook/Gumtree. I have just bought Alice a wooden Market which was £8 and metal shopping trolley & basket which was £5 – these will go with a wooden till and food I picked up in the Aldi special buys and make up an amazing gift for a 4 year old for £30 to have hours of fun with independently and with her siblings – combined with a new dinosaur jumper, a little game, a book and some stocking things, what more does a child need at Christmas time?
I also bought Megs her main gift from Facebook Market place this Christmas too. Her “want” gift (by the amount of times it was mentioned) was between more playmobil (which Grandma has got her) and another Build a bear. I found a plush new (to her) build a bear with its own wardrobe of outfits on facebook and picked it up Monday. This cost only £20 with a second bear (which my mum will be gifting to Alice with a couple of outfits), so it was more like £13 for me to buy for Megs.
£13 for a build a bear WITH outfits – what a lovely main gift for an 8 year old girl and what a bargain too! I know she is going to be delighted and love it as much as her others!
In the past I have got a wooden castle for E for £1 from eBay and last year Megan a massive Playmobil vet set for £20 on eBay. We have gifted bikes for the kids for under £20 each from Shpock and also a furnished Ikea dolls house last year for Alice (£15) that they all still love to play with. And, let’s not forget the free pram someone was getting rid of last year – ultimate deal!
You could also try places like CEX for secondhand games, devices or tablets. This year I almost bought the older 2 kids a kindle each from there as their “something to read” gift, but in the end we decided to wait a little.
A thought on wrapping…
Don’t forget that reusing wrapping paper, boxes and gift bags are all additional ways you can gift secondhand and help to save yourself a few quid. Just the other morning I folded up 2 sheets of brown paper and string that were round some dresses for the girls from grandma that I intend to use on small gifts this Christmas. Wrapping in more creative and reusable ways is another way to reduce waste, reuse and save money!
And once secondhand gifts are wrapped up lovely anyway, it provides even more excitement.
I cannot say enough, how many wonderful things there are available out there if you look beyond the go to big brands and shops. The saying is so absolutely true that one mans rubbish is another mans treasure and, the treasures we find at Christmas time are simply amazing! I would never gift something that looked used and tatty, and I still do buy many things that are new. But, when there are so many pre-loved things that are in immaculate condition and at such a significant discount to what they would be new, I am more than okay (and very happy about) buying and receiving second hand for Christmas. It makes it a little more special and our family light up at all the lovely things they receive – new or not!
Dare you try it?