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Buying Gifts – New or Used?

We seem to be talking a lot lately about buying gifts for Christmas and whether it’s OK to buy used (pre-loved) ones or even new ones from a Used site. Here are my thoughts on the subject if the recipient is not a close friend or family member:

  • Buy only new and unopened items. I’ve bought new items (hostess gifts and presents for children I don’t know well) from to stock my “I forgot to buy a gift and we’re due at the party in 1 hour” box. These are small items that I like to keep on hand for last minute events or poor planning on my part. This box is stocked with those nifty one-of-a-kind $10 items – like candle holders, seasonal platters and kid-crafty things. The Used sites also have lots of ads for homemade and handcrafted items that make great gifts.
  • If asked don’t hide the fact that you bought the gift from a Used site. Besides, why is this any different than buying a item on sale? Or buying something from the “Clearance” section at Something has to be pretty fantastic for me to pay full retail price – gift or not. Like the fabulous must-have leopard print Calvin Klein coat I bought a couple of weeks ago. I paid full-price but from a discount store, so that’s kind of like getting it on sale.
  • If you think the recipient would be offended, don’t do it. Err on the side of caution. But I personally wouldn’t be buying gifts for someone who’d get her panties in a twist over a gift purchased through classifieds instead of a major department store. My kind of person appreciates the thought and the deal.

If the gift is for someone you know well, a used(and maybe imperfect) gift is perfectly acceptable. I do it all the time. In fact a gentleman bought our old BBQ to give to his son for his Birthday. He was going to replace the burner and tadaa! – a perfectly good BBQ. He bought it from us for $20 and the burner cost another $40 so I think that’s a win/win/win. His son gets a BBQ, he didn’t pay retail, and it’s not growing moss and housing a family of rats our deck.

Used sites are a great resource for buying electronics for my kids.I know those gifts will be lost/broken/eaten/melted long before they die of natural causes- so I can’t justify spending a lot of money on them. That 5 year-old iPod that looks like it got ran over by a car is perfectly fine for my kids. I’d rather pay $20 and know that I’ll likely be replacing it within 6 months than spend $220 and have the kids so scared they might break it that they don’t even use it.

My friends and family expect things from They love the kooky gifts I find – like the Margarator from the summer of 2009. The Birthday hamster for my daughter. The Birthday TV for my husband. The DS, the DS games, the model cars, skis…all gifts for friends and family. If anything it takes more time and thought to search out the perfect gift from a Used site than it does to go to the nearest Future Shop. It’s more fun too!

I live in sweats and slippers. I drink too much coffee. I'm afraid of heights. I love to cook. I love to eat. Running is my therapy. My garden is my temple. My shoe collection is my pride and joy. My family is everything.

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