The holidays shouldn’t break the bank.

Let’s be honest: shopping for holiday gifts can put quite a strain on a person’s wallet, not to mention the planet. Studies show that American spend $16 billion on unwanted gifts a year, many of which end up in our landfills, contributing to an already-massive waste problem. While opting out of gifts altogether is a great solution to this problem, we’re exploring other options for more sustainable and affordable gifting this year, including secondhand gifting.

Secondhand stores are full of affordable and one-of-a-kind homewares, electronics, children’s toys, shoes, and clothing. Not only are these gifts cost-effective, but they’re also sustainable alternatives to buying new things for the holidays. 

Not only is secondhand gifting cost-effective, but it’s also a sustainable alternative to buying new gifts for the holidays.

Now, I understand that there’s somewhat of a stigma around the idea of gifting secondhand. I can imagine my own mother’s underwhelmed reaction if I were to give her something from the thrift shop for Christmas. However, buying used is a practical and effective way to share our conscious values with friends and family. And communicating this makes secondhand gifting all the more meaningful. 

Additionally, I’ve discovered that secondhand gifts can often be just as good as new gifts in terms of quality. Any seasoned thrift shopper will tell you that “secondhand” doesn’t always equate to “old.” I’ve found plenty of used items in thrift stores or online that are just like new, or otherwise still have lots of character and life left in them. Last year, I bought my sister a fully functioning 35mm film camera on OfferUp. I also bought my roommate a pair of roller skates that were in perfect condition at our local thrift store. 

If you’re interested in giving secondhand gifting a whirl, here are some tips on where to find those meaningful gems that your friends and family will love. 

Antique Shops

When people hear the word “secondhand,” they often think “thrift store.” However, odds are, your local antique shop is full of unique finds that are perfect for holiday gifting. Antique shops are brimming with funky mugs, vintage glassware sets, old school cameras, and timeless children’s toys. Not to mention all the little vintage knick-knacks that make for perfect stocking stuffers! For the old soul in your life, an item from an antique shop is the perfect present.

Tip: Film and Polaroid cameras make great gifts, but be sure to check with shop owners to ensure that cameras are in working condition before purchasing. 


The Internet is home to some of the most incredible vintage shopping out there. The mid-century modern lamp your brother-in-law has been looking for, or the Everlane pants of your best friend’s dreams could be mere clicks away on a secondhand website. Shopping online is also a great way to find like-new items for a much lower price. For furniture, electronics, and other home goods, I recommend eBay, Etsy, or—my personal favorite—OfferUp. For pre-loved clothing, check out these affordable places to shop secondhand clothing online

Tip: When browsing secondhand websites, be sure to check product descriptions for signs of wear and tear. If there aren’t any clear indicators of an item’s condition, message the seller before purchasing. And don’t be afraid to ask for photos!

Flea Markets 

Another great place to find quality secondhand gifts is at the flea market. Here in LA, there are tons of local flea markets selling vintage goods, including the Rose Bowl flea market and the Melrose Trading Post. If you’re not sure if there’s a flea market near you, take to Google to see if there’s one in your area. These markets are full of curated, retro clothing finds, as well as unique home goods, and the occasional electronic. Whether you’re looking to gift a vintage purse or a military-style chore jacket, the flea market is a great place to seek out trendy, secondhand finds. 

Tip: Flea market vendors are often willing to bargain on prices, so don’t be afraid to inquire about markdowns or bundle deals. 

When it comes to shopping secondhand for gifts, the possibilities are nearly endless. I’d recommend starting your search online, as a point of inspiration. Secondhand websites are usually updated frequently, so don’t settle for the first thing you find.

Your search may range anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, but don’t lose hope! Just keep those tabs open on your computer, and the right gift is bound to pop up. With a little patience and persistence, you’ll find the perfect holiday gift that’s meaningful for both you and your loved one.


Celeste M. Scott is the Social Media Coordinator at The Good Trade. She is a writer and photographer who is passionate about film and Internet culture. She can often be found sifting through the racks at her local Savers. You can find her work on her website and Instagram.