Buying Christmas gifts can be a difficult predicament for families on a budget. Purchasing them secondhand can make the holiday more doable, but are secondhand Christmas gifts really okay to give?
By Kristen Smith, Contributing Writer
I still remember that Christmas morning, opening up the game of Trouble. It was in an old beat up box, and in my 5-, 6-, or 7-year-old mind I just couldn’t understand what Santa and his elves were doing when they made it.
Where was quality control on this one? It was clearly not packaged in a sturdy, new, sharp-cornered box.
My sister and I were still happy to get the game, though I don’t know if the box was as perplexing to her as it was to me. I never voiced my concern for the elves’ work ethic, but it crossed my little mind from time to time when we’d play the game.
And then I grew up, had my own family, and learned about the magical reality of a budget. Ah, yes, the clearly used game of Trouble made a whole lot of sense then!
Thinking Through Secondhand Christmas Gifts
Obviously, secondhand Christmas gifts have a good thing going for them. Most obviously, they can potentially save families a lot of money! January need not bring painful credit card statements when gifts are bought secondhand.
Parents can shop for Christmas gifts through the whole year, always keeping an eye out at thrift stores and garage sales for items that their children would love and are in fantastic condition. The Black Friday madness can be avoided for the most part, as well, making holiday shopping so much simpler.
But all these benefits may not fully take away some nagging questions about secondhand gift giving.
- Don’t our children deserve the very best? And don’t the very best gifts require sacrifice? Is there really much sacrifice in secondhand gifts?
- What if Christmas becomes less special because these gifts aren’t brand new? Will our children look forward to it less? What happens when they realize that their gifts were bought at a thrift store?
- And above all else, do secondhand gifts really express love to our children? Won’t they feel less important to us when we buy their gifts secondhand?
Our Personal Decisions on Secondhand Gifts
Truthfully, when we were young parents with just a couple of young children, Christmas was an extremely small affair with no gifts. Our children were young enough to not know any different, and we didn’t have any extra money to spend.
Then as they became preschoolers and young children, we wanted to do something more for them. We wanted to make the day an expression of both our love for them and a tactical way to understand God’s love for all of us, but we still didn’t have a lot of extra income. We needed to keep Christmas gift-giving simple.
Enter thrift stores. I remembered my secondhand game of Trouble, and I knew that buying new need not be a must for us to make Christmas enjoyable for our children.
I have mostly bought clothing gifts for our children at the thrift store, though I’ve sometimes found great toys perfect for their interests at the time.
Even now that we have a more wiggle room in our budget thanks to my work from home, we still find secondhand gifts to be a budget-saver for us. Our large family continues to grow and any extra we can save is a blessing!
And our children haven’t minded one bit.
Making Secondhand Christmas Gifts Work
When buying secondhand gifts, I do try to keep a few things in mind:
- Is the item in like new condition?
- Will it be thoroughly enjoyed?
- If clothing, will it fit well and be comfortable? Are the seams and buttons tight?
- Could there be a negative reason why this item was taken to a thrift store?
These questions have made secondhand gifts a blessing both to our children and to our budget. No Scrooging allowed!