Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thoughts on Thrifty Gifts

We're coming up on a season of gift-giving once again, and that always brings a conflict of emotions: we all want to get our loved-ones marvelous gifts, yet we also want to get a good deal, yet we don't want to look too miserly. If you have a large family or circle of friends, it can be especially tough to get everyone something special without breaking the bank. Usually, you solve your budget problems by shopping at thrift stores and such - but is it okay to buy secondhand goods as gifts?

Before you skip off to the swap meet and 99 Cents store to buy all your gifts, consider a few factors:

Are you shopping for someone who would appreciate secondhand stuff?
Some people love thrifted treasures. They love unique items with history behind them, and receiving something that took time and effort to choose will thrill them to no end. But some people think secondhand goods are haunted (don't laugh! one of my mother's friends was from a culture that feels objects are imbued with energy from their owners), and some people simply prefer modern designs to vintage ones. There's no right or wrong about this; it's just about choosing something in line with the recipient's tastes.

Is the secondhand item you're considering truly special? Or is it just cheap?
If I'm planning to buy a secondhand item for someone, it's usually because it strikes me as exceptional in some way. It's the prettiest one of its kind that I've seen. It goes perfectly with a friend's decor. It made me gasp or laugh out loud. It's of amazing quality and I can't believe that anyone ever parted with it and I wish it could be mine mine mine, but it would look so much better on my BFF. It's not simply a used version of a generic item you could find at any Target in America.

How much time do you have to shop?
I usually keep my eyes peeled for gifts at the swap meet all year long - but if December is suddenly upon me and I need to get that gift in the mail NOW, its too late to wade through the rough looking for a diamond. In this case, instead of choosing something in a hurry, without much thought, I'd rather buy a gift card and let the recipient take their time finding the perfect thing.

I've received some truly awesome secondhand items (including a fantastic vintage lion-head door knocker) that I went completely over the moon over - so, yes, believe me when I say that secondhand items can make fantastic gifts. Leave yourself plenty of time to sift through the used wares, keep the gift personal, and pay extra attention to quality, and your secondhand (read: vintage! antique! retro! lol) gift just might seem even more special than a brand-spankin' new one. Because, really, it is the thought that counts.

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