Small Christmas Budget? Get More by Buying Used.

How to bring the holiday magic—the gently-loved kind!

A few years ago, my son really wanted a pirate ship toy, but it was sold-out in stores. Major bummer. But we got lucky—a friend of mine had the same pirate ship toy, but her sons no longer played with it. She passed it along to me for free. Score! And, of course, I agreed that when my son is done with it, we’ll give it away to another family.

It was such a great feeling to have the right toy that year, and I got to thinking about how funny it is that, under different circumstances, a secondhand toy might seem … well … shabby. Not to me, of course, we were ecstatic. Still, I know that there’s a stigma, sometimes, about gifting used items.

But, here’s the thing. The most important part of gift-giving is brightening the recipient’s day. All that really matters is that they’ll truly love the gift! There’s no need to rack up credit card debt or stretch the budget to create a joyful, happy Christmas for your family. Plus, as any mom knows, most small kids prefer the box and wrapping paper to the toy, anyway!

This year, save yourself some cash. Here are a few of my favorite places to find gently-loved gifts:

Craigslist or Facebook Yard Sale Pages

I look to Craigslist and Facebook yard sale pages for local gifts. They’re especially good resources if you need something easy or last-minute, and you can find some awesome deals. My husband and I recently purchased a like-new Nintendo Switch for less than the cost of a new one, and it came with two games and some accessories. Plus, I negotiated the cost down an additional $20. We got way more bang for our buck!

Community Swaps

It takes a bit more planning and coordination, but it can be really fun and fruitful to gather a group of interested friends and neighbors for a swap. These events serve double-duty because you’ll have to comb through your own house to figure out what you and your family members are willing to donate, which makes space for the new things you bring home!

You can hold swaps in-person, which makes for a fun gathering, or create a Facebook group and share them online. To ensure a successful event, let everyone know that donated items should be in good condition, with all pieces included (or a note that clearly describes any missing parts). And, if you like, you can make the swap a rummage sale by allowing people to charge.


This post would be incomplete unless I mentioned eBay. I love eBay because it can get competitive, which makes shopping more fun! Plus, the merchandise is typically cheaper, and there’s a money-back guarantee if the item isn’t as described. A word of caution: it can take longer for items to ship, so be sure to plan ahead.

I recently sold a series of books on eBay—all in mint condition—for just $4 per book. In stores, the same books cost $9.99 each, so my buyer saved more than 50 percent! And it warmed my heart to learn that she’d be gifting them to her daughter at Christmas. See? Great gift, great price, and I bet they have a great Christmas!


And, speaking of books, I have one more gem to share with you. If you haven’t already stumbled across it, you must check out ThriftBooks. They have a huge selection, and all of their stock is clearly labeled based on the condition of the book (including “like new,” a gifters favorite!).

You can also sign up to earn rewards for discounts on future purchases. It’s a great place to look if you’re missing one book from a series or to purchase an entire series at a really low cost.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle & Be Merry

One of the things I appreciate most about shopping secondhand is that it really helps me scrutinize every purchase—is this in good condition? Is it the right thing? Is it worth the cost? These are great questions to ask yourself, regardless, but they seem more top of mind when shopping for used items. It’s just one more way to keep the clutter to a minimum and to give a second life to the perfectly good stuff that may otherwise end up on the curb.

… and the best part is, my kids will never know the difference!