Find the best thrift deals for the holidays

‘Tis the season for gift giving and merriment and for avoiding the credit card bill, but is it possible to give unique, creative and unexpected gifts on a budget and avoid a massive shock to the pocketbook?

By shopping at the local thrift store or swap meet, yes.

From finding first edition novels to discovering vintage Christmas decorations, thrifting can solve a lot of shopping problems in the most pleasant way. Inexpensively.

Thrift stores and swap meet vendors recycle, reuse and repurpose many high-quality items. Of course, the secret to giving these gifts is to find the best examples. Don’t consider things with chips, stains and obvious wear. Instead, check out this lest of acceptable gifts to please even the most picky recipient.

Art makes a great gift. Limited edition prints, lavishly framed originals and classic lithographs are all welcomed collectible gifts for art and home decor enthusiasts. Even eclectic frames can be purchased and family pictures inserted for a unique gift.

Many people enjoy collecting specific things, such as elephant or cat figurines, first edition novels or shells. These collectors would be delighted with thrift store finds to expand their hoard. Find rare and unusual collectibles gathering dust at a thrift store, just waiting to delight a collector.

Gift baskets can be designed with creative things. Select items that coordinate with the recipient’s interests and shop thrift stores, swap meets and dollar stores for items to fill the basket. Even high-quality Longaberger baskets can be found at affordable prices and filled with such things as themed books, knick knacks, craft items and nonperishable foods.

Holiday decorations, garlands, lights, figurines and ornaments can be had at thrift stores and yard sales. Often, people move these things along as they declutter ever year. These new items end up at secondhand stores and other outlets at deeply discounted prices.

Vintage kitchenware makes a lovely gift. Many people love the feel and nostalgia that come with kitchen items from the earlier days of their childhood. Old name brands such as Fire King, Pyrex and Griswold can easily be found secondhand. The trick is to find these kitchen staples in excellent condition, so they may be given confidently as a gift to be treasured for a lifetime. Some pieces have become so popular that they command high prices, but deals can still be found.

Even new toys, completely sealed in the box, can be purchased at thrift stores at very affordable prices. Baby toys are especially popular.

Nowhere else will shoppers find as extensive an offering of interesting costume jewelry as they will at a thrift store. Baubles, brooches, necklaces, bracelets and rings can all be found at competitive prices. Some may even be vintage and collectible as well as pretty.

Other accessories may round out a gift. Vintage purses, belts and scarves are common finds at secondhand outlets and can be had in excellent condition. Even high-end designer brand names can be found at a fraction of the price.

Other places to find affordable gift ideas are online. Craigslist, eBay, Amazon, Facebook and many other websites offer incredibly low prices for just about anything, but gift planning must include shipping times and possible delays from some of these sources.

Shopping thrift stores and swap meets is fun, and shoppers can find almost anything, even things for that hard-to-shop-for person on a list. Be creative and flexible. Most people welcome gifts that are out of the ordinary and that reflect a true effort on the part of the gift giver.

It is always the thought that counts.

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