Give the gift of thrift

How many gifts have you bought this year? Between friends, family and co-workers, the average Canadian household will spend over $1,500 on gift-giving, but you can cut that cost by shifting to a new way of purchasing presents.

Driving the news: People are transitioning their Christmas shopping to "Thriftmas" shopping—scouring second-hand stores for everything from decorations to stocking stuffers to gifts under the tree. 

  • It’s not just about the money either—there are environmental perks to buying second-hand and eliminating waste from packaging, which increases up to 25% during the holiday season. 

Why it's happening: Food, housing, and utility prices have shot up this year, leaving families with less disposable income to fund their holiday gift-giving. Thrifting is a great way to get something for everyone on your list without paying retail prices.

Why it matters: Thriftmas provides the joy of getting new stuff but allows people to save money for other things. For example, parents can thrift most of their kids' presents and contribute the savings to an RESP. (The burden of student debt might be hard to explain to a 9-year-old, but at 19, they’ll appreciate it.)

  • The thrill of opening gifts, regardless of the occasion, is unwrapping the unknown. No kid has ever asked to see the original receipt to verify that their present was purchased at retail price. 

  • It also slows down the shopping process, allowing you to give gifts with a lot more thought behind them—like a replica of your mom's beloved teapot you ruined with glitter as a child. (Still really sorry about that, ma.)

Yes, but: Thrifting does require a bit more time and patience than hitting the mall. 

Here are some tips to make it easier:

  • Make a Santa-level list. Write down several gift ideas for each person you plan on purchasing for so you have options while shopping and aren't focused on one must-have item.

  • Focus on their interests instead of just "stuff." Got a movie lover in the family? Maybe they'd love an old VHS player to rewatch some of their favourite tapes. 

  • Start early. You’ve still got a few days left, but consider this a tip for next year. The great thing about thrifting is that you can shop throughout the year, as second-hand stores constantly have new merchandise. 

Bottom line: Thrifting makes the holiday season more affordable, so you can splurge on one or two brand-new items that will really make an impact.