Are Thrifted Gifts Acceptable?

Posted by Mrs Money on December 15th, 2009

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I have a niece and nephew that I still haven’t purchased Christmas gifts for. Their mom (actually my best friend) said they need sweaters and maybe a bead kit for her little boy. I normally spend about $20 each on the kids. The other day I stopped by a consignment store that sold clothes for children. They had many quality used items for little girls my niece’s age. I had a handful of sweaters picked out (about 4-5) that would have totaled around $20 or so. They were so cute, and I was excited to buy them for such a great deal!

It then hit me: is it acceptable to purchase thrifted Christmas gifts for others? Just because I’m all about used clothing doesn’t necessarily mean other people are. I know that my friend bought her daughter (who will be 3 in January) clothes off eBay awhile back, but for Christmas? Is it really tacky to buy used?

The main reason I’d like to buy from the consignment store is that I can get so much more clothing for $20 than I can buying new sweaters at the store. I’d rather be able to get her 4-5 nice used sweaters vs. 1 new one. Plus, kids grow so fast that she’ll most likely only wear it this winter. My niece is too young to really care (I think) and I’d probably buy my nephew who’s 7 years old one sweater plus some new craft supplies that he requested. Sometimes gift ideas are hard to think of!

What do you think: are thrifted Christmas gifts acceptable?


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26 Responses to “Are Thrifted Gifts Acceptable?”


  1. Sage Norbury says:

    What a wise, wise woman you are. Of course thrifted gifts are acceptable. I’ve purchased many items for gifts at thrift stores over the years and the recipients have always been happy to get them.

    I don’t think there’s a rule anywhere that a present has to be newly manufactured, and not previously loved. Besides, what little girl doesn’t love more clothes!

    You go.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Aww thanks! I am so glad you feel that way. That’s what I think. She’s 3. She’ll be happy she has new clothes! :)

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  2. Kacie says:

    I think it depends on the recipient. If they never ever shop second-hand, they may be squicked out by it. But, if you find a new-with-tags or otherwise new item, maybe that would be ok?

    As for me, I would LOVE to receive something thrifted. But I’m a thriftaholic.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    That’s what I am thinking. I am going to ask my BFF and see what she says. I’m hoping she isn’t freaked out by it!

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  3. Catherine says:

    I think it is okay, as long as you know the person and that they are okay with thrift-ed items. Most of my family/friends would be okay with this – but my dad thinks that “someone put their butt on it”, so he would not be getting any thrift-ed items from me!

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    Mrs Money Reply:

    lol! That is so funny. I’m going to ask what she thinks. The clothes at the consignment store were in great shape!

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  4. Chris says:

    Do the items look new? If so, then who’s to know? Many times I’ve found kid’s clothes @ thrifts with tags still on. Those are new clothes in my opinion!

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    I’m going to look for some new with tags clothes or ones that look new. Kids hardly wear clothes that long anyway, right? ;)

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  5. I wouldn’t give anyone a thrift store gift. Ever. There are many other alternatives for less expensive clothes, like Dollar Stores, or TJMaxx, for example. I think you are sending a bad message with Thrift Store clothes. If one of my friends bought me a second hand gift, and it wasn’t an antique, I would be very offended.

    I grew up with second hand clothes, and pretty much even second hand everything (even gum from my mother!) and I would never like to give the message to anyone else that they aren’t worthy of new goodies.

    It doesn’t need to cost a fortune, it can even be home made, but second hand means second best.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Thanks so much for leaving your opinion! I appreciate it.

    I think I’ll ask my friend first and see what she has to say. If she’s okay with it I’ll probably do a mixture of new and used.

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    Tiffanie Reply:

    @cashmereclutch.com I totally see your side of things, however, I do disagree that it sends a bad message. TJMaxx is probably a good alternative but the Dollar Stores have very low quality things and Mrs. Money could get much higher quality things and a much better price by thrift store shopping. I personally would be more offended by receiving something from the dollar store. TJMaxx is a great store, but sadly, it is even over my budget. These are very hard times for some. Everyone is allowed to have their own opinion though, and as long as her friend is ok with it, everyone wins right? :)

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  6. Tiffanie says:

    I would agree that it depends on the recipient (in this case the recipent’s mom) If she’s your best friend, surely you can just ask her opinion..?? If she’s bought thrift store for the kids herself before I would imagine it would be fine, and if the clothing is nice, then I’d say, “Why not?!”
    Hope it all works out and you can get a steal of a deal!
    Merry Christmas!!!

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    I’m going to ask her and see what she has to say. I guess I just feel like I can get so many more sweaters for the same price if they’re used. I’d like for her to have more gifts!

    Merry Christmas to you, too!

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  7. J. says:

    Buying gifts from thrift stores can be a major problem:
    When I was in college, my mom bought me three sweaters from a thrift store as Christmas gifts. I don’t have any problem wearing thrift store clothing – the problem was that my mother had picked out two very ugly, unflattering sweaters and one sweater that I liked. When I asked her later (politely!) if she had the gift receipts, so I could exchange the two sweaters that I didn’t like for ones I did, she burst into tears and later got angry. Since she had bought them at a thrift store there were no gift receipts so they couldn’t be returned. It ended up being a waste of her money since the sweaters were so awful I wouldn’t wear them. She felt horrible and so did I. Don’t buy someone an item from a thrift store unless you are 100% completely, utterly sure they will like the gift. Wasted money is wasted money.

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    Mrs Money Reply:

    You reminded me of something- when I was younger my aunt had given me this gray sweater for Christmas. When I took it out of the box, I noticed it had HOLES in it. I was shocked!

    I didn’t end up buying them gifts from consignment. I just gave them cash. It was used, but they were okay with that. ;)

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  8. Money Funk says:

    Yes, they are…in my opinion. Especially sweaters. There are many greatquality clothes in a thrift store.

    I bought 4 like new Hawaiian shirts for my FIL at Christmas years back. I’ve bought brand new Carter baby’s clothes with the tags still on.

    Of course it should be exceptable if the items are in great condition.

    [Reply]

  9. assuming that the recipient is okay with it . . .
    I think that children’s ‘dress-up’ clothes could be a great item to buy from a thrift store (depending on the store). Dress up clothes can be pricey, and they might get worn once or just a handful of times. If the recipient/parent is okay with it – and if the giver is super diligent about checking for quality, stains, condition, etc., I think a dress-up outfit could be a wonderful gift.

    The trade-off for the giver is time. You have to be willing to do a lot of hunting because the inventory is unpredictable, checking of the item(s) to be sure they are in mint condition and confirming with the recipient that thrift store chic is acceptable.

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  10. Quinn says:

    I will add my name to those people saying yes to this. I actually received a wonderful a pair of vintage boots that came from our local thrift store.

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  11. Allison says:

    Thrifted gifts are welcome in my family. My mom searches thrift stores and yard sales all year long for christmas presents. We had so many presents this year since most of them were thrifted and cost only a couple of dollars each. It was great! One of my mom’s best finds this year was a mandoline (food slicer) that I couldn’t justify the high cost for a good quality one that she found a a yard sale I think that was one of the top quality one that now sells for almost $100 and she purchased it for less than $10!!

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  12. I personally think thrifted gifts are awesome. That said, if I was giving to a family who was opposed to the idea, I’d only buy a thrifted gift if it was in brand new condition. Better to keep family relations happy than to save a few dollars, I say. lol

    For my own kids and husband, though, thrifted gifts are completely kosher. ;-)

    [Reply]

  13. Jody says:

    We actually have one family Christmas that we are required to buy only used things for the gift exchange. It’s so fun!!! AND…we are able to give to many others due to saving money there….

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