Gift Guide: How to Shop for Gifts at the Thrift Store

November 19, 2013

thrift store gift guide
'Tis the season for bloggers to start posting holiday gift guides.  There are gift guides dedicated to a variety of interests and categories: gardeners, bacon lovers, lumberjacks, and on and on, but I've yet to see a gift guide that's geared towards shopping for gifts at the thrift store.  So, I decided to create a blog series this holiday season to show you how to shop at the thrift store for gifts.  Without further ado, my first post in the series of gifts you can totally find at the thrift store: 
Clothing & Accessories
thrift store gift
These are in abundance at any thrift store I've ever been to. I tend to look for name brand ties like Brooks Brothers, J Crew, Land's End, Ralph Lauren, and always, always Vineyard Vines.  Another option is to look for really awesome vintage ties in wool or silk.  Seen here left to right: Brooks Brothers & a vintage silk tie.

thrift store gift
Quality leather handbags
Look for nice hardware and a classic shape.  I've recently come across quite a few vintage Coach handbags (as seen here).  A little leather conditioner can really revive a beautiful bag. 

thrift store gift
Fisherman/Irish knitwear
Always warm, always classic, and a very sturdy garment.  When gifting a thrifted item, it should really be free of any flaws, but give the knit a gentle once over with a sweater shaver just to get rid of any pesky pills.

thrift store gift
LL Bean boots
Another tried and true classic; these boots are just the best.  The beauty of this brand is if you happen to thrift a pair with worn out soles, LL Bean will replace the soles at no cost.  That's like the essence of being a Yankee: practical, inexpensive, and rugged.

thrift store gift
Pendleton shirts
Actually, Pendelton anything!  

thrift store gift
100% wool scarves
Another item that's quite abundant at the thrift store.  I tend to think vintage wool scarves are better looking than more modern ones.  And I like that most vintage ones have tags that indicate "Made in USA".

Other thrift store items to give:
Beautiful silk scarves or pocket squares
Quirky vintage t-shirts
Vintage costume jewelry, cufflinks, and watches
Men's button down shirts (to go with the awesome tie you thrifted of course!)

This goes without saying, but don't gift anything that's stained, ripped, worn out, missing parts, or smelly.  Obviously.

Another piece of advice: when possible, shell out the extra $8 to get the item dry cleaned, pressed, or professionally cleaned.  It will make a nicer impression.

Lastly, here's my disclaimer: Shopping for gifts at the thrift store is NOT just about saving a buck.  It's about being thoughtful, resourceful, and responsible with holiday shopping.  It's about using your noggin to come up with a great gift idea that someone actually wants or needs, doing it relatively inexpensively, and contributing to all the benefits thrifting provides to the community/planet.

Stay tuned for How to Shop for Gifts at the Thrift Store: Part II...


  1. this is a beautiful post and makes me mad I didn't try harder to thrift all of my christmas gifts this year. I am definitely going to for 2014; I totally get that thrifted items somehow have this special thoughtful quality to them that is missing when I go to the department store. I love thrifting in general, but I also often hesitate to thrift items for other people (usually clothes) because some people really dislike used clothing (for whatever reason) but I think if I shop smart I can find something for everyone. Thanks for this!

    1. Maria, I'm so glad you liked this post! Gifting from the thrift store is definitely an art; and like you said, it's totally about shopping smart and thoughtfully, which I think is always appreciated by the recipient. :)

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