Wednesday, December 2, 2009

On the subject of gifts...

I don't get why people sometimes turn their noses up at items that came from Goodwill. I've heard so many people say that they think things bought from thrift stores, especially clothes, are icky. I really don't get it. Emma left a great comment on my last post about how much they try to use freecycle for gifts. I think it's great. I also love the idea I read about a few years ago of doing a toy-swap among your friends with kids. You can make it a party by getting babysitters to stay home with the kids. You gather up all the toys your kid has outgrown or simply grown bored of, take all the toys to the party, put everything down in the middle, have some booze, take new toys home that your kid would like. Heck, wrap 'em up and put them under the Christmas tree even. I probably won't have time this year to do it, but next year, I fully intend to host one of these parties, assuming I can get enough folks on board who won't turn their noses up at used goods.

I recently went to a baby shower for a mom-to-be who is so uber-cool and thrifty (you know who you are). I have never had so much fun putting together a baby gift. Truly. She set up a gift registry with something called The Alternative Gift Registry. Sure, there were a couple of big-ticket items they needed but most of the gift ideas were requests for your favorite children's books, home-made burp cloths, donations to charity, and even mix CDs of your favorite music for kids. It was the most awesome thing I had ever seen connected to a baby shower. I pulled out a box that once held my favorite pair of rain boots and walked around our house, putting things in that once belonged to Abe. I tossed in a copy of one of my favorite parenting books and another cool book for moms, both of which I got at Goodwill. I knew this friend wouldn't mind; just a few Saturdays before, we'd gone to three thrift stores looking for kid supplies.

I don't mean to sound like we never buy anything new for Abe. We do. But rarely. We're very lucky, I know, because we live in a town full of consignment stores for kids. I can walk to three of them. Not every city has so many, so I don't mean to sound preachy. I just wish there weren't such stigma attached to things that were used. One of our neighbors gave Abe a birthday gift this year of a huge stack of children's books, all of which she had bought at a yard sale that morning. She took them home, wiped them down with windex, and I thought she'd broken the bank on a two-year-old's birthday gift. She whispered to me apologetically where she'd gotten them, apparently not knowing me well enough to realize that the books' yard-sale status actually made them more valuable to me than if she'd bought them brand new.

Now let's see if I can pull together a holiday toy exchange...


chris_tina brown said...

Lori, I would love to know the name of the three consignment stores near you. Chris and I are slowly gathering items for our little one. I just went to a thrift store in Roseburg (while home for Thanksgiving) and found several pairs of maternity pants for $3 each. I am always on the lookout for children's books at Goodwill. When we are on vacation, we always check out the thrift stores in town. It is always an adventure. You never know what treasures await. There are so many products produced every year...we are happy to reuse.

Unknown said...

I am SOO with you! Why spend a ton of money on something that kids will only use for a short time!! My sister and mom think I am terrible for buying clothes for my boys at OUAC. They look good, that is all that matters!
My cousin just put together a toy swap in her area, too bad I didn't live closer! I just may have to do one in my area too!

Eryn said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE these idea. I thought that was THE coolest shower idea EVER. I don't know why i'm shouting.

For Christmas gifts for all my neices and nephews, I made little book bags and bought books in like new condition a the goodwill. It kills me to pay full price for things I know I can find at the Goodwill or thrift shops. They Toy exchange idea is so so great! So sad I missed the shower. :(

Emma said...

I would encourage every one to search online for a freecycle group in your area. I got BAGS of playclothes as well as a few beautiful dresses for my 1 1/2 year old this fall. You post what you want to offer and you can also post what you are looking for. Everything must be free. If you are throwing out a bookcase - post it for a week or so first and you might have someone take it. If you need baby boy clothes, post a request and someone may find a box of them in the attic. I love it

Goodwill and Salvation Army are great because money goes to charity. Icky? I don't think so.

Sara said...

Couldn't agree more. But, two years ago, I wouldn't have been so thrifty. It took my husband being out of work for 9 mo. (and counting) and an adoption from Ethiopia to open my eyes to what really matters. And spending money on "stuff" isn't something that really matters to me anymore.

Melissa said...

Goodwill is great. Especially for toys that have been dicontinued (like Rescue Heroes) or clothes. I bought a beautiful wool winter coat for 11.99 just last month. And my sister has been looking for the old-style Fisher Price school house for ages, which I just happened to stumble across for $7. And it's in great shape. Combine that with a Playmobil class room bought online and I have an awesome Christmas gift for a mere $20. You may as well buy used, because kids change so quick and the good toys are built to last. Good post.

More Dorrs said...

Preach it!

I heart Lori Rooney!

Lori Rooney for President!

Serioulsy, though, you know my affection for all things previously loved.

Someone giving me something of theirs? That is true giving. To take from yourself to give to someone else. Generosity at its best!


graceling said...

We love hand-me-downs, and Abigail love love loves going to garage sales. All of my kids' clothes (except things that are gifts, socks/underwear, and sneakers) come from Goodwill or consignment shops. Toys and books, too. I will buy new if one of them wants something that I know I will not be able to find used (for instance- the new Disney princess- Tiana?) or occasionally for the convenience factor (I needed to find gold glitter shoes for them to wear for the wedding- totally worth it on Amazon due to the time constraints of looking for these things in stores, etc.) But otherwise, it will be "used" the first time they wear or play with it, so what is the difference? They don't know. Abigail's favorite pair of jeans right now is a pair of Gap Kid jeans I got at Goodwill for $2 (minus 40% for their back to school sale in September. Score!)

I also agree with pp that there is just so much "stuff" out there... why contribute to the consumerism of my generation- and my kids generation- by buying it from these huge retailers? Don't get me wrong, I love my bulk toilet paper from Sam's Club (how do 4 people- one of whom is not potty trained- go through so much TP?) But neither I nor my kids actually need or would use 17 different spatulas or tiaras.

Okay, this is rambly, so I will simply say Amen, Lori.

More Dorrs said...

Forgot to mention this idea I read about a couple of years ago and hope to start!

This mom, knowing how sparse their Christmas would be, decided to start a new tradition. Instead of the traditional Advent calendar of candies everyday, she decided that she would do a storybook every day. She had her kids pick their favorite 24 books from among their many books. She then wrapped them up individually under the tree. Every night, the kids would get their pajamas on, come downstairs, and pick one 'present' (book) from under the tree to open. They would read the book in front of the Christmas tree. The did this each night until Christmas.

For Christmas morning, she had purchased (used) one book for each child, wrapped it, and placed it under the tree. They made cinnamon rolls together when they woke up, and while they were in the oven, each child took a turn opening their new-to-them book and reading it together.

It filled the tree with presents during the month. It filled their Christmas morning with activities. The kids didn't notice the lack of gifts.

Ahh!!! I want to be like that!


Sara said...

I wish I were disciplined enough for Goodwill type shopping. You have to have a good eye and time to look for that perfect find. My mom finds all sorts of amazing things at her local thift shop (much of which ends up in my house or on my child) but when I go I never seem to find the good stuff. I guess I need more patience.
Happy shopping!

April said...

I LOVE thrift shopping! Most of Z- clothes are either from my sister (my niece is 5 months older than Z) or from goodwill. I sure wish we lived in Portland- I would love to go to a toy swap party!!

Anonymous said...

I love it - used and recycled gifts make me so much happier! My husband is one of 7 and there are 19 grandkids. I'm thrilled that everyone jumped at my idea to stop the gifts at high school graduation. And even then, you only buy for your God children, rather than everyone. And this year, we may even put a $ limit. It makes it so much more fun getting 2 special gifts rather than 35 "check it off the list" gifts. My brother has also made me swear never to buy his son anything new - just wrap something we're done with. He already gets all our clothes and I LOVE knowing they keep on going! Need to read more when it's quieter around here, but love this post for now!

Kerry said...

I bought my daughter a new coat yesterday at Old Navy. It was $1.05 more than the used Old Navy coat we had tried on that afternoon at the consignment shop. (And it was a better color and not stained.) But I still feel guilty, guilty, guilty. It is certainly not the $1.05, it is the consumerism, stress on the planet and unfair labor practices of buying something that is so seriously underpriced. I will pass it on and that will make me feel a little bit better. And I guess I can pretend to think it somehow helps the economy for me to buy new.
Used, used, used, it is the only way to go.

Anonymous said...

wow this is great i love reading your blogs!!!

-lauren bonturkey!