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8 Thrifty Gift Ideas To Satisfy Your Loved Ones’ Christmas Lists And Save You Money

antique/thrift store
Image CreditBogdan Novac/Pexels

There’s no time like the present to take your Christmas gifts from commercialized and mass-produced junk to classy and memorable treasures.


There’s no time like the present to take your Christmas gifts from commercialized and mass-produced junk to classy and memorable treasures.

If you’ve only got $20 in your pocket, like the majority of Americans who are living paycheck to paycheck this holiday season, then thrift stores, resale shops, garage sales, and antique markets are the place for you.

Secondhand shopping not only gives gently used items a chance at new life but also gives you a chance to check off your gift list without racking up record-high credit card debt.

Here are eight thrifty gift ideas that show your family and friends you care while protecting your pocketbook from the clutches of inflation.

1. Books

Books are among the top donated and discarded items in the United States, which is why local resale shops often feature a regular rotation of steeply discounted classics, mysteries, religious reads, fairytales, biographies, and coffee table books.

For book lovers who tire of the ever-increasing price of paperbacks, that’s good news. The wide-ranging and sometimes rare collections found at thrift stores should easily satisfy the appetite of any voracious reader in your life.

If your draw in this year’s Secret Santa exchange yielded the name of someone known for failing to finish novels, consider gifting them book adjacents like comics or hobby magazines that remind them of their childhood.

2. Classic Candlesticks

The revival of warmer metals in home decor means retailers are asking upwards of $100 for brassy candle holders. A quick wipedown and polish, however, will make any pair of thrifted brass candlesticks look as good as new for much cheaper.

Pair the shiny pedestals with any of the colored or lucite candles stashed on nearby shelves or make your own hand-dipped beeswax tapers, and you have the perfect present for cozy cottagecore friends, holiday hostesses, and antique lovers everywhere.

3. Gorgeous Glasses

Never underestimate the power of a good set of wine or cocktail glasses. Even the most well-stocked of wet bars is enhanced with the addition of matching or, for your more eclectic friends and family, complementary crystal glassware or decanters.

Purchasing thrift store crystal, which is a dime a dozen, isn’t just the frugal option. It also offers your giftee a more luxurious, elegant, and even tastier option for drinking than the cheap glasses sold by most kitchenware brands.

This gift pairs particularly well with a bottle of your recipient’s favorite alcohol (check out this wine from The Federalist’s Eleanor Bartow) and the promise of a cocktail night soon.

4. To-Die-For Dishware

Old dishware is cute, practical, and has quite literally withstood the test of time which is why it’s no surprise that vintage mixing bowls, fine china, and other pieces from your grandma’s kitchen cabinet are making a comeback.

It’s easy to get caught in the pricey kitchenware collectors trap by seeking out specific brands such as Pyrex, but your local thrift store or antique market is sure to carry similar plates, bowls, and tools that will make your kitchen more functional and fun.

A thrifted simmer pot filled with all the right ingredients for a Christmassy scent blend adds a nice holiday touch. My favorite finds are dainty teapots and teacups that look just as good displayed on a collector shelf as they do holding tea in your hand.

5. Vintage Vinyl

Secondhand stores everywhere are brimming with records waiting to be discovered and shared with the music lover in your life. Whether you enjoy searching through stacks of vinyl for mainstream hits or stumbling across old indie albums, the thrift store and record resale shops are the places to go.

If you’re overwhelmed by the plethora of record options in your town’s thrift store and not sure what the music lover in your life would go for, listen to Mollie Hemingway and David Harsanyi’s weekly recommendations during the culture segment of “You’re Wrong.”

6. Photo Frames

As vain as it feels to gift photos of you and your family to others, parents and grandparents will inevitably ask for a physical token of their legacy.

Don’t sell your gift short by simply printing off the photos and handing them over to your loved one in a Christmas envelope. Instead, take advantage of the picture frames at the local bargain store to tastefully accentuate the portraits your family and friends will cherish forever.

7. Retro Clothes

When it comes to thrift store clothing racks, the possibility of finding the perfect gift is endless. Whether your giftee likes leather jackets, rocking tees, designer shoes, hand-sewn aprons, or quirky, kitschy outfits, there are plenty of secondhand styles to go around. If you think your giftee might be wary of wearing previously used clothing, look for items with tags.

8. Handwoven Baskets

A good-sized wicker basket would cost you an arm and a leg at Target, Home Goods, and other woke, big-box stores but your local secondhand likely has a section dedicated to dozens of beautiful baskets of varying designs.

If you’re going the practical gift route, look for a basket that’s big enough to store blankets or hold a garden harvest. If you simply want to share the love, find an aesthetic weave that would look good as a dining room centerpiece or holding a plant.

Elevate your gift to a grab-and-go picnic basket by filling it with Christmas treats and mix-and-match dishes.

The Thrill of the Hunt

If thrifting isn’t your thing, do not fret. Check out the rest of The Federalist gift guides. Or consider gifting that special someone a subscription to The Federalist Community. For $4 a month or $40 a year, you get exclusive access to groundbreaking Federalist content, commenting on articles, and interacting with Federalist staff — all without ads!

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