Giving second-hand gifts may be taboo for some people, but for our family, it works just fine. When our kids were very young, the excitement of a gift was unwrapping it. Sometimes it didn’t even matter what the actual gift was.
As they got a little older, they started paying attention to what came inside the pretty packaging, but because they didn’t really have a concept of money, they didn’t really care whether it was new or old, expensive or free. They were thrilled with whatever they found inside.
Now that they have an understanding of the cost of things, they themselves prefer shopping at thrift stores and yard sales to big box stores. They know that one of the ways to get the best deals on everything is to always consider buying second-hand first.
As it turns out, some of our kids’ favorite gifts ever have been pre-owned and cost next to nothing. An informal survey showed how kids don’t see the newness of something like a significant feature. To quote our nine-year-old, “It doesn’t matter if it’s new or not. I don’t think I’d want something from the thrift store if it was broken, like a car with no wheels on it. But if it’s a good present from a thrift store, it could still be awesome, just for less money.”
One of our boys said his favorite used present ever was a magic kit we gave him several years ago. It came from a thrift store, in a beat-up old box, definitely used. He didn’t care. He opened the kit and immediately decided that he was going to become a magician. He spent dozens of hours with that kit — studying the trick book, practicing his sleight of hand, putting on magic shows and showing other people how it was all done. It’s still at our house, outlasting many other toys that cost more or were actually new.
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Our kids understand that the price paid for a gift is no indication of the thought and heart behind it. One year when we were working hard to minimize all of our expenses so we could achieve our goal of being debt-free, we bought thrift store bikes for our kids for Christmas. We stayed up late the week before Christmas fixing them up so they were attractive and in working condition. Though we didn’t spend much money on the bikes, we poured lots of love into them. And the kids loved them. They didn’t care — or even notice — that they weren’t new.
Don’t be afraid to break the taboo and go against our commercialized culture. It’s not whether it’s new or old, or expensive or free. A used gift can, as my son said, “still be awesome, just for less money.”
Click to discover how to afford everything you want this holiday season.
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