What Are Your Thoughts on Used Gifts?

posted by Andrea | 09/21/2011


I’ve been thinking a lot about gift-giving lately. Partially because the holiday season is right around the corner, and  partially because I have a few baby showers coming up and I’m not sure what to register for.

So I wanted to ask…

What are your thoughts on used gifts?

Now obviously, by “used” I’m not talking about trash or something in ridiculously bad shape. I’m talking about something the person actually wants, needs, or could use, and is still in good to great condition. 

The reason I ask is because on the bottom of my baby shower invitations {which I’ll show you later — they are SOOO cute!} I asked my sister to include the phrase, “Andrea is NOT opposed to used gifts.”

And I’m not.

I’m committed to having this baby on a budget which is why almost 100% of everything I currently have for our baby is from Craigslist, garage sales, thrift stores, or from friends/relatives. I think the ONLY thing I’ve gotten brand new {besides diapers!} is this super cute baby robe and slippers that I found for $1.00 with coupon and sale at JCPennys!

I would absolutely love to get gently used girl clothes, children’s books, toys, etc. from my friends who have almost all recently had babies of their own. They know what they loved for their babies so if they pass those items on to me, I’m sure I will love them too.

Plus, by giving gently used gifts, they are clearing some of the clutter from their home, saving a bunch of money, and still giving me a great gift.


The same concept could apply to Christmas and Birthdays…

I know LOTS of people who spent LOTS of money buying their kids LOTS and LOTS of Christmas gifts that they don’t really need. Then, in April or May, they hire me to come help them clear out the clutter in their kid’s rooms, their playrooms, their living rooms, their basements, etc.

On several occasions, my clients have actually alluded to the fact that they are still “paying off their Christmas bills” even though their children are done playing with the toys and have moved on to bigger and better things.

How sad. 

{Me with all my Christmas gifts — I think I was 4}

We NEVER had a shortage of Christmas or birthday gifts growing up, but I’m almost positive that we got our fair share of used gifts. And this was the ONLY time we ever got anything brand new.

I think it’s one thing to want to give nice gifts to our children, family, friends, etc. but it’s another thing to go way overboard {and over budget} to buy expensive gifts just because they “want it” or because we want to feel good about ourselves.

I remember “wanting” lots of things as a kid, but not getting them. I still want lots of things as an adult, but I don’t always get them either! I’ll wait until I find a great deal on Craigslist… or sometimes, within a few weeks, I realize that I don’t really “want it” anymore!

So, under the right circumstances, I’m totally in favor of giving and receiving used gifts.Yes, there are situations where a used gift probably would not be appropriate, but many times, a used gift would be perfectly acceptable.

What do you think?

Also, just an FYI — the fall months are a great time to scour thrift stores and shop Craigslist because they have some of the best deals this time of year!


Filed under: LifeFrugal Living

Leave a comment


  1. Colette


    My husband and I have four grown children, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. We absolutely cannot possibly give NEW gifts to each of them, unless, of course, they were very cheap new gifts! I have been buying from eBay, Amazon, CraigsList and – yes – even yard sales to find nice items that are LIKE new, but at much lower cost than actually buying it new in a store. Many times, it is obvious the item is not new (no tag on clothing, unseal game box, etc.). I buy throughout the year as this is the only way I can meet my budget. I would like to believe that the recipients are not so greedy as to expect new, expensive gifts from us, since we are clearly not rich (not poor, either, but very clearly not rich). I do try to find at least one truly NEW item for teach great-grandchild – one that we can afford and that, I hope, will be wanted. And I try to find unique gifts that suit the recipient.
    I very much would like to know… about the 20- and 30-something people, how do you feel about this? Would you rather get a “used”, nice item, or a cheap new item?


  2. Jerilyn


    Hi, the whkle thibg is going fine her and ofcourse every one is sharing facts, that’s genuinely good,
    keep up writing.

    Here is myy page – vehicle graphics (Jerilyn)


  3. scooby doo birthday party ideas


    Great post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m impressed! Extremely useful info specifically the last part 🙂 I care for such information a lot. I was looking for this certain info for a long time. Thank you and good luck.


  4. cavemanklaus.com


    For most up-to-date news you have to pay a visit web and on the web I found
    this site as a best site for most up-to-date updates.


  5. How Do You Feel About Used Gifts?


    […] photo credit Share this post with others: Leave a Comment Filed Under: Frugal Living, Money Saving Ideas, Personal Finance Tagged With: frugal living tips, save money […]

  6. Ashli


    I am a huge fan of hand me downs and secondhand items. That being said, I think it depends on who is getting the gift. I gave my daughter an entire set of My Little Pony last year that I got off Craig’s List, being two years old she didn’t know the difference. If you’re asking the question though, you should probably err on the side of caution and go with something new.


  7. Megan Camp


    I grew up wearing and getting used gifts along with occasional new gifts. Personally, I loved it because I could receive items that my family could never have afforded otherwise. My children receive almost all of their clothes and toys from thrift store, garage sales or hand-me-downs. For my son’s first birthday, he’s getting a red fire truck that I found on Freecycle. For Christmas, I am building my daughter a knock-off dollhouse from Nova Natural because I found an entire set of beautiful wood dollhouse rooms (about 8 rooms and an entire family) for a total of $4.00 at a garage sale. If I purchased these new I probably would have spent well over $250.00!
    If I have friends who I know would rather reuse items than waste money on new, I don’t mind giving used gifts. My gifts are usually either homemade, purchased used with that person in mind or occasionally purchased new with a good sale and coupon.

    I would much rather teach my children that they can get amazing things for a fraction of the cost than instill in them that they are somehow getting something worth less because I didn’t spend a fortune to buy it new.

    When I had my baby boy and my friends threw me a shower, I also had them include that I would love gently used items/clothing for him. I only had one friend actually pass on items from their family but they are precious and mean a lot because they were lovingly selected just for my son and they actually are much more memorable than a pack-of-brand-new onsies from Target (which are still very appreciated!).


  8. Ann


    I shop garage sales and thrift stores all year long for birthdays and Christmas gifts. I have used items ready for my daughter’s baby shower coming up. I’d rather give nice, quality used things that they need and will fit in my budget than a new cheap, poorly made thing that fits in my budget. I also take no offense if my items are re-gifted or given away. We live in a wasteful world! Read Little House on the Prairie books for perspectives on birthday gifts!


  9. Jo


    My son was 2 this month. For his present I bought him a bag full of Brio train track (v expensive new) and a play till for £3 combined at a car boot sale (the UK equivalent of a garage sale). Especially for kids, used items are fine as they grow out of things so quickly and they tend not to get too much wear and tear.


  10. Olivia @ Crossing Bridges


    I have a weird mental block about giving people gifts that *I* have used, but I definitely love gift shopping at thrift/consignment stores! And I’m definitely cool with receiving gently used gifts–doesn’t bother me a bit.


  11. sarah


    Both of my kids wear 98% used or hand-me-down clothing, that 2% is underwear, socks and gifts from grandparents. We love hand me downs especially when they come from beloved older cousins. While it doesn’t bother me if I’m given a used item clothing or other, it does bother me if it is something I won’t use. I have only a few and very petite closets that keep me on the purging of clutter and excess bandwagon. My clothes-horse self hates it but it’s neccessary, this way we use everything and wear everything.

    As far as giving used items, I make sure I knw my recipient well enough to know if this would be acceptable. Some people love it some are horrified.


    Andrea Reply:

    yes, I totally agree sarah — it depends on the recipient for sure! I’m careful about who I GIVE used gifts to — but will always accept used gifts!!


  12. Jenna


    Oh no. Please no! I understand where you’re coming from but the way to be frugal here is to buy high quality, NEW items in a gender neutral design. Trust me, things wear out. If you plan on having more than one child, you might be putting yourself in a spot to have to buy more stuff later when you don’t have a shower to benefit from.

    I understand you’re trying to accommodate people’s budgets. Let them get you smaller items as opposed to bigger used stuff. Did you know car seats actually expire? Warranties expire on all sorts of things and you really don’t know what has been repaired (perhaps not very well – case in point is a crib I’m selling on Craig’s List! I’m being upfront about the damage that I fixed, but who out there is not, KWIM?)

    Please let people buy you fresh new things that you can use for a long time. You deserve it! You’re worth it! Not everything has to be about reducing clutter, least of all other peoples clutter for your baby shower!

    Peace and congrats!! I’m a fan!


    Amy Reply:

    “Oh no. Please no! I understand where you’re coming from but the way to be frugal here is to buy high quality, NEW items in a gender neutral design. Trust me, things wear out. If you plan on having more than one child, you might be putting yourself in a spot to have to buy more stuff later when you don’t have a shower to benefit from.”

    I totally disagree on this one. Most of the baby stuff you get at showers is only used a few months. My kids ruined the majority of their clothes by spitting up on them, not by any type of wear and tear. Same for baby blankets, sheets, bibs…. Both my boys have used our jumparoo, bouncy seat, bumbo, strollers etc with no problem. They were all bought used. And if they do wear out before my kids are done with them, I will just look for another used one. Used baby stuff is not that hard to find.

    As for toys, I don’t spend much on those either. The little car I buy at a garage sale for a dime is often loved more than the fancy new toy that grandma bought for twenty dollars. I can make a heck of a lot of mistakes buying used toys and clothing and still come out far ahead of what I would spend buying new.

    I do agree with buying certain things new, like car seats and cribs for safety reasons. But I would also buy those used from a friend who I trusted to tell me about any issues with t hem too.


    Jenna Reply:

    I guess when I think shower gifts, I think of the big stuff like car seats and cribs.

    Here’s are a few good articles about the former:




    Toys and clothes are a different story. There’s nothing wrong with hand-me-downs with that stuff.

    Maybe I just come from a different part of the country (Chicago) but I wouldn’t give that stuff as gifts. Use it, sure, or pass it along to someone who needs it, fine. But for a baby shower *gift*? Can’t see doing that.

    To each her own 🙂


    jenna Reply:

    *Make that Here ARE a few good articles. . . . forgive my typo!


  13. brooke


    I absolutely LOVED this post (as well as the timing of it… with the holidays approaching, as well as one of my munchkin’s bdays, and many more family members bdays coming up).
    When I married my husband, his family bought gifts for EVERY SINGLE member of the entire extended family. It was crazy (in my opinion). They don’t have a large family, by any means… but, there are many more adults than children (5 children total… and now one has started her first year of college… ). I understand buying for kiddos, and especially at Christmas. But, adults… it seemed silly to me… as the first Christmas we were married, I discovered very quickly that everyone was somewhat scrambling to even THINK of something everyone would need, let alone want. I remember that first Christmas, watching everyone (including myself) opening gifts, and realizing that there was a whole lot of wasted money on unneeded, unwanted gifts.
    So…. the following summer, I proposed that we all draw names for adults, and then buy for each of the kids. His family LOVED the idea! Now, every labor day weekend we draw names ~ and that is the only person “you” buy for, besides the kiddos (and your own little family). We also set a limit of $30 or less p/gift, as well as having each family member fill out a small sheet regarding what they’d like (it’s more specific, as in favorite colors, sizes, fav. authors, movies, etc.) It works out so great…. especially in that I’m not finding myself buying something just to buy something to gift. I’m actually thinking about the person who I “have” that year… and taking the time to find something that I know they’ll love. Again, we still buy for the kiddos (and kiddos include those in school ~ however, if they decide to not go to college after HS, and are working… they fall into the “adult” category… I know, I know… probably too many rules… ), but the limit is also $30 or less p/kiddo.
    I can’t tell you how much financial and stress relief this has provided for each “little” family, within the whole big family.

    As far as birthdays go… it’s really hard. I’m all in favor of “no gifts” for my kiddos bdays. They are only 3 (soon to be 4) and 2. I know that they are the most excited about having family & friends, playing, eating cake, and the balloons. They, honestly (at least at this point) don’t really care about the gifts ~ and the parties in which our friends/family have brought gifts, my kiddos have shown no interest in opening them. I do realize that some find this to be rude, or poor etiquette.
    However, I feel that kids should be taught that their birthdays are really special days, and that means celebrating and having fun with loved ones. Not sitting around (awkwardly for most) taking time that could be used other ways, opening gifts. Needless to say, I’m in complete favor of no gifts, or loved gifts.
    I really like the idea of “…. is not opposed to used gifts”.
    So… after my (novel length comment – apologies!) I am wondering… how could I put this in place for my son’s upcoming bday party? He is in his first year of preschool, so now friends at school are in the mix of the party (and it’s not just soley close family/friends). I don’t want anyone to feel that they need to bring a gift, or spend $. Does putting that at the bottom of an invite, assume that everyone brings a gift, used or not?
    GAH!!! Why can’t I just put “no gifts”…? Oh, b/c my hubby and family think it’s not ok to do that, and it’s unfair to our kids … you know, the ones who have everything they could every want, need or dream of having….


    Ann Reply:

    My kids have been invited to birthday parties as early as 6 years old when the invitation requested that the only gift we bring is a donation for…. And they specified something close to their hearts. I thought this was a terrific way to celebrate life!


  14. Kate Sins


    oooh, i would definitely love used gifts. i hate the amount of waste there is. my son received books from the op-shop (aussie word for thrift store) for christmas and had no idea. my second son wears so many hand-me-downs.

    i’m not sure about as a gift though. it would depend on the person. if it looked new and you couldn’t tell then definitely!

    yay for you having that on the invitation.

    hope you have a lovely baby shower! 🙂


  15. Amy


    Yes, I am a used gift giver. If I am giving gifts within my immediate family I will give gifts that are nice but that you may be able to tell are used, especially if it is something I know the other person wants and I could not afford it new. Sometimes I will also do this with close friends that I know would be fine with it. Outside of that, I will give used gifts if they appear new. Most of my extended family believes that being frugal is a disease.

    We do not give our kids new gifts even at Christmas and birthdays. At this point they are both under 3 and don’t know anyway, but they get plenty of new stuff from aunts, uncles and grandparents.

    This is the second year in a row we are doing a $100 Christmas challenge. I have $100 to spend on my parents, my 2 boys, my husband, 3 nephews and for DH to spend on me. Oh yeah, and all of my son’s teachers and therapists. If I did not depend on deeply discounted gifts everyone would get a pair of tube socks. My son’s stockings will be filled with bath toys, little cars, mega blocks, DVD’s and Fisher Price little people from yard sales. They each get one gift from us. I found my mom a black bag that has a plastic sleeve on the outside to put pictures of the grandkids in for $.50 at a yard sale. It looks new. I pick up Christmas mugs for $.10 to $.50 each. I fill them with a homemade bath salts or a hot chocolate mix for teachers. We’ve gotten free 8×10 prints of the kids throughout the year when Walgreens gives them away. They’re really cute in picture frames from garage sales. It takes all year to pull off, but it seemed everyone was just as happy with their gifts last year as they were when we spent a lot more.


  16. Maria


    I love the pictures on this post! You look like such a happy kid, and I’m amused how much the little Andrea looks like the big Andrea.

    For one of my bridal showers, people brought used toys and children’s books. I was delighted! With children, stuff doesn’t stay new-looking for long. And as far as used baby stuff is concerned, it’s all going to get drooled, barfed, and wet on, or worse. Let someone else pay full price for the privilege of having their child be the first to put their mark on new things.


    Andrea Reply:

    haha — thanks Maria!
    Before I cut my hair short, I looked almost identical to my child-hood pictures. Old teachers and classmates always say “you’ve never changed”!
    And yes, I totally agree that children’s things don’t stay new for long — so why waste the money! On the other had, my mom found a bunch of cute dresses and tights {3-6 months} for pennies at a local garage sale and they were all in perfect condition because the lady had way too many clothes. They were hardly ever worn — and now I get them for nearly nothing!


  17. Dawn


    For me, as far as giving, it depends on the person. I know some that would totally appreciate a thrift store find and others that wouldn’t. As far as receiving, I’m all for receiving thrifty finds!


  18. Karen @ Abundance on a Dime


    I love giving and receiving used gifts. I think it’s great that you explicitly stated on your shower invitations that you welcome second hand items!

    I have given my husband and sons many great gifts for birthdays and Christmases that I picked up at yard sales for next to nothing, most in excellent condition – often brand new with the shrink wrap still on! I can’t think of a Christmas at our house where there weren’t at least a few second hand finds under the tree.

    I have a couple of friends who I know welcome second hand finds; for others I will give second hand only if it’s in “brand new” condition. I have found many such items at yard sales, often with the original price tag still on (I just picked up a great Klutz craft book like this – they come with the materials needed to do the crafts in the book, totally untouched/unopened, I got it for 50 cents and price tag says 24.99.)


    Andrea Reply:

    Wow, sounds like you are the queen of “used gifts”!!
    It’s funny that you mentioned having the tags still on — because over 1/2 the baby clothes I’ve gotten {most for $0.50 or $0.75 from garage sales} still have the tags on them too! I guarantee they were more expensive from the store 🙂


  19. Julia


    I really do think that used gifts are fair game. I’ve found many a wonderful gift (tags on) from a thrift store in the past. I love used gifts. For my son’s first birthday my best friend gave him a grab bag of books her kids were done with. They are his favorite books. Other friends gave us second hand books for him as well, one of which he is obsessed with.

    I think it’s a blessing for our friends to know we appreciate any gift, not just those in new packaging. I could write a guest post on this topic lol! Thanks for the Craigslist heads up by the way.


    Andrea Reply:

    You’re welcome Julia!
    And I totally agree — it’s nice for others to know that we are fine with used gifts.


  20. Kathy Aho in MN


    If you are on the receiving end, you decide. The more used the better for the Earth’s environment. For giving to others–if they agree– I am in favor as long as the item doesn’t LOOK used. Furniture is an exception that I think is better for looking used most of the time. But other gifts should not look obviously used. Up to 20 percent used and 80 percent usefulness left is the max?? I say go for it. We are all way too wasteful as it is. I frequently look to Goodwill and Savers and Salvation Army for items like lovely picture frames, vases, new purses, etc to add to my gift giving stash. They clean up beautifully.


  21. Janelle


    I really enjoy getting hand me downs for my kids – but not for birthdays and Christmas. We set a budget and that is the time that they get something new that is theirs to use first. Maybe I need to change my thought process a little bit though! You really do have great thoughts on this!


    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Janelle — and yes, we got a good amount of NEW items for our birthday and Christmas as well. However, I’m positive that most of the time we never even knew the difference between what was new from the store and what was a “used gift”. As long as we got what we ‘wanted’ we were thrilled!!

    And as the oldest child, I can totally relate to your statement of “something new that is theirs to use first”. Now that we are older, my younger sisters definitely made it known {in a joking way} that they had more hand-me-downs than I did!!