5 of the Best Gifts to Buy Secondhand

Best Gift Ideas to Buy Used & Thrifted

The hunt for creative and thoughtful gifts for the most important people in our lives can be enjoyable...until you hit that mental roadblock and begin frenzy-Googling “best gifts for [insert lucky recipient].” We’ve all been there.


Our advice? Buy it second-hand. While the concept of “re-gifting” gets a bad rap, intentionally seeking used, vintage or antique items is an entirely different ballgame. 


With the help of some experienced thrift-gifters, we’ve pulled together a list of five types of gifts to help you find the perfect thing for that perfect person by scouring thrift shops, antique stores and online estate sales.


1. The Nostalgic


Gifts that conjure happy memories are some of the best gifts you can give. Tired of the photo book or personalized mug? A great alternative is to choose an item that has attached meaning. 


“When I was a child, one of the best tasks of making cookies with my Grandmother was being able to operate the nut grinder. It was a simple device where you put the nuts in the top and turned a crank. Every time I made cookies, I would share this story with a friend and say how sorry I was that I didn't have that nut grinder. She managed to find one for me in a second hand store in Michigan and now I treasure that nut grinder because of the memories it brings of both my Grandmother and now her.” 


- Bridget Shannon, A French Tulip


While a nut-grinder may not trigger happy memories for everyone, maybe it’s a vintage Pyrex bowl that was a favorite at Grandma’s house or a favorite book that was loved as a child to be shared with their own son or daughter. The options are endless!




2. The One-of-a Kind

While there’s certainly nothing wrong with furnishing your home with the new, interspersing secondhand pieces can really make a home “yours.” 


“For first-time homeowners or apartment owners, so many necessities need to be purchased so quickly. As a result, a new home can look beautiful but cookie-cutter. Give a new homeowner a unique gift with history that they probably wouldn't splurge on themselves. Whether it be a painting of a place that reminds you of a trip you took together, an antique silver service set, or a hurricane candle to provide a warm glow, these gifts will be treasured for their one-of-a kind-properties.”


- Bridget Shannon, A French Tulip


“Framed mirrors and art at estate sales are usually better quality and price vs the big box stores and make great gifts and accessories for the home or office.”


- Dawn Totty, Dawn Totty Designs




3. Upgrade the Amateur


Buying for someone with a specific interest? If so, it’s the perfect opportunity to find something that they’ll treasure. Think: a vintage decanter for the vinomaniac with a nice bottle of wine. Or a vintage teapot for the tea-lover coupled with some high-quality teas and vintage table linens. 


 “We afternoon tea goers love to celebrate our thrift store teaware finds, and we treasure being given family heirloom china, teapots or serving trays, especially because afternoon tea dates back to the 1840s. Giving a vintage piece is very special. In the recipient's eyes, a second-hand teapot can have more value than a brand new one because it dates back to the era of afternoon tea or is rarely found today. It makes your afternoon tea table feel more authentic and precious.”


- Angela Renals, Destination Tea




4. For the Collector/Hobbyist


Buying for a serious (or semi-serious) collector? Second-hand, vintage items would be appreciated by most. 


Sports enthusiast? Autographed items or mementos from big games or iconic stadiums would be great choices. Trains? Vintage cameras? Spoons? Nothing says “thoughtful” like valuing someone’s personal passions and helping them build a drool-worthy collection.




5. The Budget Friendly

Setting budgets for gift-giving is a common practice among families and friends to ensure comfort with the price point and to limit those uncomfortable “you did way more than I did” moments. 


“While very wise from a financial standpoint, it can be difficult to find gifts you'd like to give in the price range. Second-hand stores and estate sales are the perfect place to find high quality gifts at low prices. My mother found the most beautiful antique brass container at a second-hand store for $10. She filled it with flowers and for a very low price, it looked like it was worth so much more.”


- Bridget Shannon, A French Tulip


Wondering where to start your search for the perfect gift? Kick off the hunt by browsing estate sale auctions in the AuctionNinja marketplace and share your finds using the hashtag #AuctionNinjaFinds. Happy hunting!


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