Will The Gifts You Give End Up At The Thrift Store?

My next-door neighbours have a yard sale at least once or twice a month during the summer.  I don’t know where they get all their stuff from, but I do have a bird’s eye view from my living room window and can see what they are trying to sell.

The items they are trying to unload are not antiques or collectibles or even gently used household items.  A lot of what I see are gifts – discarded gifts.  There are some very recognizable items I’ve seen on TV and in store flyers.

Those beautiful gift baskets filled with toiletries and gadgets lose all their attractiveness when they are dismembered and tossed into a box marked $.25 each. I’ve seen Chia pets, clothes that don’t fit or are not liked, kitchen gadgets and electrics that never get used, whimsical coffee mugs, singing bass and Santa’s (more annoying than funny) and a host of “as seen on TV” items.  If it was a popular gift item in the past, you can bet it was represented at the sales.  Funny gifts that can bring a wild round of laughter when they are opened quickly turn into another piece of clutter.  Some items never get out of the original packaging.

This has made me give a lot of thought to the whole matter of gift giving.  I can tell you that from now on gifts I consider giving will have to pass more than just the price test.  They will have to pass my garage sale test:  “What is the likelihood that this item will end up on a garage sale table or thrift store?”

Deciding on a Gift

When deciding on a gift my first question will be, “what is this person passionate about?”  Reading, gardening, travel, crafts or other hobbies are a few passions people have.  If I know the recipient well enough (or seek the advice of someone who does) I can purchase an appreciated item, or give a gift card for the person’s interest.

Safe bets for people I don’t know as well are gifts that are designed to be enjoyed for a limited time then used up, like food or flowers.  However, care must be taken to avoid scented lotions and candles for the sensitive, and food items that can cause allergic reactions.

A gift of money can seem impersonal but it could be the way to go.

I like to receive a “wish list”.  This is like having a gift registry for a wedding, only smaller and more personal.  That way I can try to find something that is truly wanted.  It may seem like not much of a surprise, but if the list is long enough, they don’t know which gift they will receive.

When I cleaned out my mother-in-laws’ home after she passed away, and recently my parents’ house, I found many gifts they had received over the years and never even used.

The constant yard sales are annoying, but they have given me a whole different view of gift giving.

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  1. PKamp3 on October 13, 2011 at 8:24 am

    Big fan of the Amazon wish list, if a person has set it up!

    You’re right – a gift card seems impersonal, but at least you aren’t giving them ammo for the yard sale.

  2. krantcents on October 13, 2011 at 8:34 am

    I end up giving to very few people, just family very close friends. One of the reasons is I don’t want my gift to just be another thing in the closet, particularly when I spend time and effort to get a gift.

  3. UltimateSmartMoney on October 13, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    Great post. This is the reason why it’s so difficult to pick out a gift for someone. The best thing to do is gift cards because the receiving end will like it and you will not be wasting a lot of time and energy looking for the perfect gift. Having said this, I never get gift card for my wife… hehe…

  4. Cass on October 14, 2011 at 3:08 am

    Never thought about gifts ending up at a garage sale. I also base my gifts on the person’s interest. But your post has given me a new perspective in gift giving. I think this has made shopping for gifts more difficult for me.lol But at least we can be surer now that the recipient will find the gift useful. 🙂

  5. Michael James on October 14, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Good post. It used to be easy to give gifts when I was young because everyone needed just about everything. But things have changed. Now everyone has everything (at least all the small inexpensive things they need). Gift-giving is hard and usually not useful for the recipient. We need some sort of new approach.

  6. Jean on October 15, 2011 at 4:20 am

    It is definitely quite a quandry to figure out the right gift for someone. While it is a lot easier for close friends and family whose cravings and desires you are a lot more familiar with, it can be a tricky situation figuring out the right gift for someone you don’t know too well personally.

    As a kid, I always preferred to receive cash or some sort of voucher on my birthday. Much rather buy what I wish that yet another tie or shirt that I don’t really need!


  7. SE Book on October 15, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    Great question I guess it depend on the type of person you are giving it to.

  8. albert on October 17, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    I think the key is not to wait until the last minute to buy a gift. If you give yourself time then you will be able to really think about the person and find them a gift they will appreciate. On a side note what about switching it up and giving some homemade gifts?

  9. Maggie@SquarePennies on October 19, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    Our grown kids like to use a wish list on Amazon. It takes some of the surprise away, but they really like getting something they actually want. I usually get them one item from the wish list and then a few small things that I’m pretty sure they would like to be surprises. Hopefully none will end up at a garage sale!

  10. maria jose on October 20, 2011 at 12:22 am

    Yes, I agree with this post that gift of money can be a amazing gifts for someone because they can use this money according to their choice where they want to use. You can also offer a gift registry for a wedding it can be smaller or more personal.

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