Secondhand Presents: The Gifts That Keep on Giving

Tips for Buying Secondhand Presents This Holiday Season and Where To Buy Them

By Kristina Ang

We live in a world accustomed to buying and receiving shiny and newfound presents during every holiday season. In fact, our minds are built to be attracted to the concept of novelty and the idea of new experiences. But despite the exhilarated feeling you get when you’re gifted a brand new sweater from your favorite clothing brand, the repercussions that come with it are far worse than people think. People are consuming now more than ever from a market that sacrifices quality for fast production and greater quantities. Not to mention that buying new items contributes to more waste in landfills, more resources used and wasted, and let’s not forget, more pollution as well. 

Person holding gift wrapped in kraft paper

Photo by Kira Auf Der Heide

As secondhand shopping becomes increasingly popular due to a society more conscious about minimizing their environmental impact, holiday shoppers are still sceptical about the act of gifting second hand. But let me be the first to relieve you of your worries in saying that secondhand gifts are extremely acceptable and oftentimes better than anything you could ever get brand new. Secondhand gifts are likely to be thought of as more novel and special, which is what makes them the perfect option for this holiday season and all that follow. Here are some tips for buying secondhand presents that will up your gifting game and make your presents just as exciting as the new ones:

  • Look for pre-owned items that are unused. A lot of people go into the act of secondhand shopping with the notion that all secondhand items are used, but in actuality, there are a lot of sellers and vendors that offer pre-owned items that have either never been used or were gently used. Finding items that were pre-owned and unused is not rare or impossible, and it makes good use of an item that was not given attention to by its previous owner. 
  • Look out for gifts in their original packaging. Again, used items aren’t the only thing you’re going to find when you’re secondhand shopping. You’ll find that more often than not, there will be brand new items resold and oftentimes with a lower price tag than the retail offering. So keep your eyes peeled for items that were kept in their original packaging whether that be shoes, clothes, electronics, etc. 
  • Check product descriptions for signs of wear and tear. When buying secondhand items, it’s especially important to pay extra attention to product descriptions and disclaimers provided by the seller. So if you’re one of those people who tends to gloss over the descriptions in an effort to save time, I highly suggest you take time to read into them for any signs of wear and tear or flaws that the person selling it has made you aware of. 
  • Try bargaining for a better price. The best thing about the secondhand shopping experience that you won’t get when buying new is the flexibility to negotiate with the seller or vendor. If you’re not too happy about the price, don’t be afraid to reach out to the seller to ask for a better one or even inquire about a bundle deal. It’s not being cheap, it’s being smart about spending! 
  • Look for practical secondhand gifts. I always find practical gift giving to be a much more exciting experience for the receiver. A great practical secondhand gift idea would be the gift of an old school film or polaroid camera. Gifting old school cameras are not only thoughtful and unique, but they’re a fun gift idea for those who want to get crafty and creative. Pro tip, make sure to get confirmation with the seller that the camera that you buy is good and in working condition.
  • Clean secondhand items before gifting them. Considering that you’re gifting a secondhand item, you should make sure to thoroughly clean the gift before giving it to the person it’s meant for, especially when it comes to purchasing clothing and accessories that were pre-owned. But just in general, you should be cleaning any gifts that you buy because you can never be too safe when it comes to the pandemic. 
  • Buy vintage or antique items. Typically vintage or antique items are more valuable than their newer counterparts. The best thing about gifting vintage pieces is that they’re usually one of a kind and can’t be found elsewhere. It’s no surprise that newer items are made with quantity and not quality in mind, whereas older pieces are typically more durable and resistant to the test of time.
Whether you’re going for that vintage piece your friend’s been eyeing all year or just regifting an item you already own, we really hope you consider trying something new and buy a secondhand gift this holiday season. If you don’t know where to start looking for your secondhand presents, try simply browsing online for options that are just a click away. Some common online vendors that offer amazing secondhand shopping experiences are Ebay, Depop, Poshmark, ThredUp, The Real Real, Vestiaire Collective, Tradesy, and Grailed. But if you’re able and willing to step out for some festive holiday shopping, vintage and antique shops as well as flea markets are great places to look for secondhand gift options as well.  

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