Second-hand Gift Giving: Is It Okay to Give a Used Gift?

shopsmartSo here’s is the deal, I would say 60% of the gifts I give to people are second-hand items.

That number may seem high and/or crazy but it is no word of a lie. I am sure you may ask yourself after hearing this statement -is it really okay to give someone a used gift or is it cheap and tacky?

First off you have to know your recipient (the person you are giving the gift to). Most of the people I know “really well’ adore receiving authentic gifts – they appreciate being given something with vintage charm, that not from a big box store.

If I do not know someone well enough to determine their preference (on new and old) or if I have an idea they are passionate about only “shiny and new” I always purchase brand-spanking new.

For Bridal or Baby Showers (more formal events) I generally lean towards not giving used items unless I know the bride or mother to be’s stance and taste.

Most of the time I would say I give a 60/40 split of used and new items in the same bag. This just gives the feel of new and old which can be the best of both worlds. I personally like receiving only old and gently used.

These are the reasons why I have justified that receiving second-hand gifts can be better than getting new:

  1. Personalized & Unique: You can find something unique, not so cookie-cutter and really suitable for a dear friend. I remember I found a vintage silver circular engraved locket once that had the initial “L” on it. I gave it to my best friend Lauren in an old black floral vintage tin. It was probably one of my favourite finds. Something about it screamed her name and that is why it ended in her hands.
  2. Green Giving & Living: Help do your part for the environment. By second-hand giving you are reusing what is already existing and repurposing it – giving it new life. Plus older things always make a house look like a home. Sustainable can be stylin!
  3. Cost Savings: Used merchandise is usually available at a fraction of the cost. This can eliminate the stress or tension that comes with gift giving as there will be more money in your wallet at the end of the day.
  4. Value, Value, Value  -More for Less: I can place 15 used and equally awesome things in a gift bag for the price of one new tamer thing – generally speaking. If you compare dollar for dollar you as giver and them as a recipient get more. Stretch that dollar!
  5. Bringing History Back: What is fun about giving some old is you are bringing some of the great influences from the past back to light. You are also giving a conversation piece that may be the hit of the party. Especially if you have some history to share when giving the piece ex. this jewellery (accessory) was from an established home in this ritzy end of town. The women selling it was in her 90’s and said it came from…
  6. Branching Out Feels Good: It doesn’t hurt to branch out a little ex. give a funky shirt from the past because it may be fun for your friend to try a new style. If you are not spending a ton for a little fun -it doesn’t feel wasteful to stray from the ordinary gift.
  7. Depreciation Never Felt So Good: Some items are just better to buy used from a spending perspective. The second certain things are sold they depreciate in value. By picking them up second hand you may just be getting a better deal. I buy used books for friends all the time and they wouldn’t know the difference except sometimes they will find an old bookmark or entertaining inscription in their book. I think those finds along with a beaten cover are what make a book feel classic.

To each their own. If this is not your thing, I challenge you to think about why second-hand giving is not your thing.

I never thought of gift giving as a status symbol “look at the expensive & flashy thing I got you” for me it has always been about the feeling I provoked in someone I care about when they opened it.

After all, it is really the thought that counts.



Vintage Style: The Flapper Party Look

It’s the roaring twenties and you step out of your Lincoln L-Series Sports Phaeton with ornate cigarette holder gracefully held in hand.

A long pearl necklace gracefully drapes your neck and your short bobbed hair frames your face.

You stand up to reveal your sleek knee-length dress with dropped waistline and it moves in the wind slightly to reveal the sheer silk stockings and lace garter beneath it.

A quick dash is made to the ladies room to reapply your vibrant lipstick and dark eye make-up then you head to the stage with your high heel, button fastened Mary Jane’s. The lights are on and the music is fierce – the Charleston dance fills the floor. You break only momentarily to place your form fitting beaded cap and flirty fringe purse on the sidelines.

The Flapper look is sexy and comfortable making it often emulated. Want to know what to look for at your local vintage store to create this head turning look?

Buy a Dress:

Though it features a garçonne (vertical & boyish) shape it is still considered very feminine and tends to include a plunging neckline in both the front and back. Some of the dresses were made of flashy beaded and sequined material while others were more plain. They were all generally sleeveless and a bit more heavy weighted. Women often topped these off with a more voluminous shawl-collar coat.

Add Accessories:

The most popular accessoires were chandelier-style earrings, lighter coloured (or sheer) silk stockings, lace garter belts, narrow neck scarfs, long glass bead (or pearl) necklaces, intricate cloche hats or headbands with feathers. Shoes would of been comfy and classic for dancing the night away. Mary Jane’s were a dominant shoe. Don’t forget a pretty cigarette holder!

If you need help with 20’s make-up you should visit this Historically Accurate 1920’s Make-up Tutorial. For more on the full fashion of the 1920’s take a look at Pinterest’s Fashion and Apparel from the 1920’s. If you look through the fashion make sure to take note of some different hair options for those (like myself) who cannot pull of the Louise Brooks “Bob.”

To achieve this Great Gatsby look don’t forget to bring this shopping list I created to inspire you. Simply save the picture to your cell or computer. Check back often for more on vintage style and where to get it.

Flapper look shopping list
Flapper’s 20’s Look – Shopping & Inspiration List. Simply save the picture to your cellphone or computer.

Flapper: The term “flapper” first appeared in Great Britain after World War I. The exact origin of the word flapper is unknown. It is believed to have stemmed from a reference to a young baby bird that is learning to fly for the first time and flaps its wings. It was then thought to describe younger girls, not yet graceful in movement who had not come into womanhood yet. Adding to that in university campuses (post-World War 1) girls with unfastened rubber galoshes over their shoes often made the tops “flap” around.