I think we have gotten into our heads that Christmas presents need to be expensive, new and shiny, and that there must be a lot of them. But let me tell you, this is not the case at all.
Secondhand gifts may be a big no-no for some people, but for our family, they are normal. As a matter of fact, my family really does not care whether a gift is new or old, expensive or free. Our kids are thrilled with whatever they are given. And I’m happy for my bank account and the planet.
Lots of my kids’ clothes and toys were previously owned. Some I traded for, some we found on ebay, and some we bought from thrift shops. The best part is that they cost very little or next to nothing. And my kids are happy with them.
I truly believe that kids don’t see newness as a significant feature of a gift. They don’t want something from the thrift store that is broken, like a car with no wheels. But if it’s a good present from a thrift store, they love it as much as they would love a new toy.
Of course we have brought up our kids to recognize that the price paid for a gift is no indication of the thought and heart behind it. For example, my two boys have a car track that I traded for some of my homemade jam and oh, man, do they ever love this track. All three of our children have pre-owned bikes and skateboards, and our daughter has a secondhand American Girl doll as well.
In the middle of a pandemic, I do believe more people are worried about contamination from pre-owned gifts. First of all, everything we buy — new or used — has been handled and touched by someone. Sure, new gifts might come in a package, but not always. The recommendation is to leave items in the garage for 3 days, when they can be considered safe from Covid exposure. Also, items can be washed or wiped down with disinfectant to be extra safe.
The question is whether we can normalize giving secondhand items as gifts. Our family has done this successfully. And it’s not that we can’t buy brand new things for our kids or that we’re denying them new things. I considered the fact that I am MORE than happy to open a package with a great thrift gift inside. I am happy with some old clothes from a friend who doesn’t wear them anymore and thought of me. Buying everything new is not sustainable for the planet or for our wallets, and putting less waste out into the world is a good thing.
I have to admit, I felt a little guilty when reading this because some of my presents are brand new. When I started to think about it though, we do try to buy used first for most things. It’s a habit my children have grown up with. We do live in a rural community and some items are just almost impossible to find used. So we reserve holidays for the few things we have really wanted or needed throughout the year that are more expensive or so specific they’re difficult to find. I choose one item my children want, one they need, one to wear, and one to read and try to make gifts when possible which helps.