Whether it’s giving season or you simply want to get a loved one something special, giving gifts is a regular part of our lives. If you’re on a sustainability journey, however, you may know that gift-giving isn’t always sustainable. Many of us give things that aren’t needed or aren’t sustainably made. One way to make gift-giving a bit more sustainable is to choose secondhand gifts.
In this guide, we’ll cover 21 secondhand gift ideas that make it easy to give more thoughtfully this year.
Why You Should Choose Secondhand Gifts
Choosing preloved gifts is one of the most sustainable ways to shop. New items — even if it’s a more eco-friendly item, still has an impact.
Meanwhile there are plenty of wonderful used items that need a home. While many of us donate the things we no longer need, this doesn’t necessarily mean anyone is buying them — they can still end up in a landfill somewhere.
Choosing secondhand gifts can help reduce current waste while also minimizing the need for additional production (and the associated resource use and impact). It’s also a fantastic way to find unique, one-of-a-kind items and to get vintage pieces from big brands that you may not want to buy, or afford to buy from, otherwise
Where to Find Secondhand Gifts
In addition to checking out your local vintage or thrift shop, there are now a wide variety of online retailers to find secondhand gifts.
Some great places to find preloved gifts include:
- Your local secondhand, thrift, vintage, or consignment shop
- The RealReal: A great marketplace for vintage designer items.
- eBay: One of the best sites to find collectibles, rare items, and a variety of products.
- ThredUp: Has a wide selection of thrifted and consignment goods.
- Tradesy: Another platform for vintage and designer preloved gifts.
- Poshmark: Great online store for used items from individual sellers.
- Garage Sales: These still happen locally and you can find wonderful, unique items at a great prices.
- Flea Markets: A fun way to score unique, antique, and vintage items. Check for local flea markets in your area.
- Facebook: You can join your local buy and sell group or scour Facebook marketplace for used products.
- Etsy: There are numerous secondhand and vintage sellers on Esty.
Below you’ll find some of our favorite secondhand gift ideas that are useful, thoughtful, and fun:
1. Funky Mugs
Who doesn’t love a cute mug? A holiday staple gift, mugs are some of the easiest things to find secondhand. Used mugs are often in great condition and you can find unique, one-a-kind mugs to match the style or personality of your loved one.
2. Classic Dishware
Another easy gift to find secondhand is dishware or dining items. You can find wonderful vintage plate sets, quality silverware, and ornate glasses at most secondhand shops. Look for used placemats or tablecloths to complete the set.
3. Beautiful Vases
For your loved ones that always have a fresh bouquet of flowers around the house, finding a beautiful, unique used vase could be a thoughtful gift idea. Secondhand stores often have vases laying around in pristine condition.
On a similar note, if someone is more into succulents or plants, why not find a preloved ceramic pot to store their next plant? Ceramics make fun and useful gifts. You can find a variety of ceramic items secondhand from artwork to dish sets to pots and decorative plates.
5. Decorative Frames
A wonderful low-waste gift idea is to print thoughtful photos or artwork. You’ll need a frame to complete the gift and thankfully, frames are easy to come by secondhand. This way you can find a high-quality, stylish, and personal decorative frame they’ll treasure for years.
6. Storage Baskets
A useful yet creative used gift idea could be a storage basket. If you know someone who is moving or always in need of more closet space, look for a storage basket that will match their style. There are usually numerous high-quality decorative baskets available at thrift stores including woven, wicker, or cloth options.
7. Unique Lamps
Lamps are fun items to look for secondhand. You can find ornate, stylish, retro, or minimalist lamps readily available. Used lamps are easy to locate at garage sales, antique or consignment stores, and online.
8. Elegant Trays
Whether it’s a serving tray, charcuterie board, or decorative storage tray, you can probably find better trays used than new. This is a wonderful statement gift that can be a stylish yet useful addition to anyone’s home.
9. One-of-a-Kind Home Decor
Home decor is one of the easiest things to find used and one of the best secondhand gift ideas. Be it wall decals, decorations, candle holders, ornaments, napkins, pot holders, or other fun knick-knacks, the options are endless when it comes to home decor.
10. Vintage Jewelry
One of the best secondhand gifts to give is vintage or used jewelry. You can find incredible designer and vintage pieces secondhand, especially on online retailers like The RealReal. Plus, you can find high quality vintage jewelry that won’t show wear in the same way clothes might.
11. Secondhand Wallets
If you’re on the hunt for a high-quality unique wallet, you’ll surely find plenty of preloved options. Just like purses, designer or vintage wallets are easy to come by at secondhand retailers and you can often find ones that show minimal wear.
12. Designer Scarves
A beautiful yet useful accessory to give someone is scarves. Thrift shops often have a large selection of vintage scarves, including from designer brands. Scarves are a beautiful timeless accessory that can be worn in a variety of ways, making them a wonderful eco-friendly gift.
13. Used Books
Did you know that you can find used books at secondhand shops? For any book lover in your life, used books are a sure-to-please gift. You can even find rare books or signed, collectible copies at online used retailers, especially on eBay.
14. Rare Artwork
Artwork can be a tricky item to give if you don’t know someone’s personal taste. If you do, however, buying artwork secondhand makes a wonderful sustainable gift idea. You can find one-of-a-kind artwork and vintage items like posters easily secondhand.
15. Statement Belts
Belts are a great, low-risk accessory item to give since you don’t have to worry too much about sizing. They’re also a wardrobe staple so they’re likely to get worn. Thrift shops typically have a wide variety of belts to choose from, including designer and vintage options.
16. Difficult-to-Find Handbags
Another wonderful gift to find used is handbags and purses. There’s usually a wide variety of handbags available secondhand, including from designer or luxury brands. For the fashion-forward loved ones in your life, choosing secondhand purses is a more affordable and sustainable way to gift luxury items.
17. Old-School Games
If you’re shopping for game enthusiasts or children, board games can be a fantastic secondhand gif ideat. Shopping used can also allow you to find rare games that are no longer sold or special edition games that are harder to find.
18. Kids’ Toys
Kids’ toys are common items that thrift shops have in surplus. Most of these items are made from plastic, which means buying them secondhand is particularly sustainable when you’re preventing toys from going into landfills. Plus, much like used games, you find vintage or rare collector toys which make truly special gifts.
19. Decorative Rugs
Whether it’s a doormat, bath mat, or a decorative rug, you’re sure to find beautiful options secondhand. Rugs or mats can spruce up any home and still serve a purpose. This makes them a beautiful and thoughtful used gift.
20. Vinyl Records and Record Players
For the vinyl lovers in your life, there’s no shortage of vinyl records at your local used record shop or second-hand store. Record players are a little harder to come by these days, thanks to their resurgence in popularity, but you can find them online with a little research. Pair these items together for an extravagant secondhand gift that any music lover will adore.
21. Sports Gear
Sports equipment is one of those items you can find secondhand at a very affordable price. Exercise equipment, tennis rackets, roller skates, hula hoops, ping pong tables, soccer balls — you name it, and it’s probably available used.
Not interested in giving any of the items above or you already have a gift idea in mind? An easy way to give sustainably is to first check to see if it’s available secondhand before buying new. You may be surprised at the preloved options already available.
More Gift Guides:
About The Author:
Alicia Briggs is a writer & editor specializing in slow travel & sustainable living. She’s worked in journalism since 2016 and currently writes for a variety of publications such as Sustainably Chic and Hidden Lemur. She has been a full-time traveler since 2018 and runs her own blog, Learning the Local Way, where she covers responsible travel & living tips.