Updated: Mar 30
I love thrift store shopping and garage sales! While I am eagerly waiting for it to be "garage sale season" here in Washington, I am already thinking of fun projects and gift ideas with thrifted treasures! Here are some ideas and tips for what to look out for when you are secondhand shopping!
Thrifted Baby Gift Ideas
Plain White Onesies are perfect canvases for your creativity! They can be customized and decorated using tie dye, fabric paint, cross stitch, embroidery, or an adorable patch! These would make a unique and one-of-a-kind gift!
What to Look Out For: Be sure to check for stains not just on the outside, but on the inside of the onesie, too. Staining will normally happen at the collar (from drool, food, spit up, etc.) and near the bottom or lower back area. Make sure any buttons, snaps, velcro, and zippers are functional. Take note of the type of fabric as well. Cotton shrinks with washing, so if it says 3-6 months, it may actually fit only about 3 months if it has shrunk.
Baby Books are a beautiful gift to give! Not only are the stories and illustrations fun, but books are also a wonderful way to spend quality time with your loved ones.
What to Look Out For: Check for chew marks, missing "lift the flaps" on pages, and any loose pages. Some damages can be easily repaired such as page rips and blemishes (on wipeable surfaces). Also, check for squished bugs between the pages. If the books happened to be in storage for a while, there's a chance a squished bug could be in the pages (yes, I have run into this before). A little TLC can bring a book back to life to be enjoyed all over again!
Stuffed Animals are adorable as nursery decor, play toys, or snuggle buddies!
What to Look Out For: Depending on the type of material that the stuffed animals are made out of, they are generally pretty easy to clean. I normally wash any secondhand teddies in my washing machine before I give them to my kids because there could be unknown allergens on them either from household pets or dust from being in storage. If the stuffed animal has beaded or button eyes or nose, always check to make sure they are secure- especially before giving to younger children. If they happen to become loose and fall off, they become a choking hazard. Check for any tears, holes, or areas that seem to have a lot of wear on them. Some parts can be easily sewed or even restuffed with stuffing fluff!
Thrifted Gift Ideas for Toddlers
Plastic or Good Quality Wooden Toys are great secondhand gifts! Plastic can easily be wiped down as well as most wooden toys. Most of the time, they look good as new after a little cleaning and care!
What to Look Out For: Depending on the kind of toy, make sure any wheels, buttons, or small objects are secure, otherwise they could be a choking hazard if they become loose and fall off. If a painted wooden toy needs a little touch up, you could use some non-toxic paint to cover up small blemishes. If it's a plastic toy that requires batteries, open the battery compartment first to make sure there's no corrosion. Check for loose or missing screws as well.
Clothes are always on my list of things to look for when I go secondhand shopping. My mom is a professional at scoring on good quality clothes for everyone in the family! A fun project for some secondhand jeans would be ironing a patch on them, or even sewing a cute design on the pocket!
What to Look Out For: Always check for stains inside and outside of the clothes as well as rips or holes. Some holes can be repaired by either sewing the sides back together again, or by covering the hole with a patch. Also check for areas that would have high wear on them such as knees, ends of sleeves, collars, and the underarm areas. Make sure zippers, snaps, and buttons function properly.
Outdoor Toys are one of the most exciting secondhand shopping finds for my kids! Whether it's a tractor or a bucket and spade, they are always excited for outdoor play and adventure!
What to Look Out For: If you score on rideable outdoor toys, check the durability first of the toy. If it has been super worn, it may not hold up as well to future use. For other outdoor toys, check for cracks, missing parts, or holes. Considering these are "outdoor" toys, there will most likely be blemishes on them, but you don't want considerable damage to them where it can break or cause harm.
Thrifted Gift Ideas for Big Kids
Lightly Used Sports Equipment such as balls, mitts, hula hoops, or sports gear are awesome gifts for big kids! They inspire outdoor play and exercise!
What to Look Out For: Check the sports balls for leaks. If they are just low on air, they can always be pumped up again. Lightly used sports gear would be best to look for because something that is heavily worn could negatively effect it's safety factor. Worn down helmets or knee pads may not be as safe and protective as brand new.
Chapter Books are an awesome find at thrift stores and garage sales! My son and I started reading chapter books together and I love the time we spend together reading.
What to Look Out For: Just like with baby books, check for loose pages, blemishes, and rips. Also check the spin to see if it has been bent or has a lot of wear to it. Too much wear could cause pages to fall out or get loose. Be on the lookout for squished bugs, too!
Legos are great gifts for age-appropriate kids! I have found some random grab-bags of legos before, as well as some sets while secondhand shopping.
What to Look Out For: It's a good idea to sanitize the legos first. I like to sanitize mine with some vinegar and warm water and then I let them air dry. While cleaning them, check for broken pieces or yucky stuff jammed up into the bottoms of the pieces.
These secondhand gift ideas are all great ways to save money, have fun, and spend good quality time together with your kids. The choice to purchase secondhand is also your own little contribution to being Earth-Friendly!