Secondhand doesn’t mean second best. Here are my favourite secondhand gift ideas that anyone would love to receive.
Picking the perfect gift for Christmas or a birthday can be tricky. But when you add in trying to find an eco-friendly gift, that fits your budget then it can be even harder.
That’s where shopping secondhand comes in. Compared to buying new, shopping secondhand is an even more sustainable way to treat our loved ones at Christmas, for birthdays or other special occasions. And it can be gentler on our bank balance too. Yet there is often a stigma around secondhand gifts, that prevents more people from giving secondhand.
I always maintain that when it comes to secondhand gift ideas, there is a world of difference between a bobbly, misshapen jumper, or dog-eared book, compared to a well-thought-out piece that’s perfect for your recipient.
It’s important to remind ourselves that secondhand does not mean second-best. There are a wealth of ideas for preloved gifts, that would be a delight to receive.
The Best Secondhand Ideas for Sustainable Gift Giving
I’ve set out seven of my favourite secondhand gift ideas. I’ve also shared ideas on where to shop for them. In most cases, I’d recommend starting your search online, in order to gather inspiration.
Your search might take you minutes, to a few days or a few weeks. However secondhand websites are usually updated frequently, so the right gift is bound to appear. With both patience and persistence, you’ll find the perfect gift within your budget, that’s meaningful for your loved one.
Use the quick links below to jump to a specific section – where you’ll find recommendations on where to find each item – or keep scrolling to read the full post:
- Vintage vinyl
- Vintage jewellery
- Preloved toys
- Vintage homeware
- Preloved accessories
- Unused & unboxed items
- Vintage artwork
1. Vintage Vinyl
Preloved gifts that work especially well are gifts that people expect to be old. One of these is vinyl. Vinyl records are enjoying a huge revival right now. In fact, vinyl now outsells CDs.
If your loved one is into vinyl, a vintage record from one of their favourite artists would make for a great secondhand gift idea. You may have to ask some prying questions first to discover the gaps in their collection, but it’s worth it to avoid buying something they already own.
Once you’ve worked out what record they would love, it’s time to get searching. Online eBay, Oxfam Online, and Discogs are great places to look for secondhand vinyl. Check out my eBay buying tips if shopping there.
If you’d rather shop in person, then locally, you might have a secondhand record shop near you. Alternatively, Oxfam has five dedicated brick-and-mortar secondhand music shops across Scotland and England that are a joy to browse. Your local charity shop may have a dedicated vinyl section too. These have the added benefit that your purchase benefits a good cause.
2. Vintage Jewellery
Vintage jewellery is another thing that people expect to be old. And the great news is there is a ton of choice out there. From ostentatious costume jewellery to elegant and refined vintage pieces, you name it, and I guarantee you can find it.
I always think there is something really special about vintage jewellery. I think it’s the idea that the piece has had a whole life of hidden stories with someone else. For that reason, I think it makes for a great secondhand gift.
Etsy and eBay are good places to look online, as is Oxfam Online. Charity shops and antique shops are also a delight to browse for vintage jewellery. And if you have a specific piece in mind the shop may be able to call you if something comes in matching your description.
3. Preloved Toys
I’ve been buying my kids secondhand toys for their Christmas and birthdays since they were little. We look for things that are in good condition. Before gift wrapping them, we give the toys a good clean. Then we wrap them up prettily in a box with a big bow on top.
Toys that we have found that work well as secondhand gift ideas include things like Playmobil, Lego and Duplo. I’ve also had success with wooden toys. Just check the paintwork isn’t chipped.
We’ve also had success with dolls. Although less so Barbie dolls, because their hair and costumes don’t always stand up to kids’ play. Preloved board games have worked well too. Just check all the pieces are there first!
Refurbished bikes have also been a hit. We’ve bought these from specialist bike recycling charities. This means they have been fully refurbished and safety checked by experts, and come with a three-month guarantee.
Charity shops, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, and Gumtree are all great places to look. I’m having the most success with Facebook Marketplace at the moment – prices are reasonable and many sellers are open to negotiating on price.
4. Vintage Homeware
I’m not a person that buys a lot of clothes. Instead, my Achilles heel is vintage homeware. I cannot walk past a charity shop without popping in to look at their homeware section. There’s not an antique store I don’t love. And I’ve been to a lot!
Right now the secondhand holy grail for me is vintage marmalade jars. They look so pretty in a group on a shelf. Plus you can pop flowers in them or use them as storage. I’ve got about five different jars but it’s not enough!
I’m also all about the vintage mirrors. They add character to my home. Meanwhile, I’m also partial to a bit of vintage barware. There’s something so sophisticated about sipping from a vintage cocktail glass!
If this sounds like your loved one, then a piece of vintage homeware is a great choice as a secondhand gift idea, as long as you are certain what style and which era they are into.
You could even make a bespoke gift package. Vintage cocktail glasses, for example, could be gifted with a bottle of Prosecco to make them extra special.
If you are pressed for time, then I find Etsy the best place to look online for vintage homewares. Both eBay and Facebook Marketplace can be a bit hit or miss, however, there are bargains to be had in both places if you get lucky. Charity shops and antique shops can be enjoyable to browse, but there are no guarantees you’ll find what you are looking for.
5. Preloved Accessories
Secondhand accessories can make for a great sustainable gift for someone who’s into fashion. Whether it’s a preloved designer handbag or a designer scarf or watch, shopping secondhand also lets your money go that little bit further – you might be able to stretch to a brand you wouldn’t normally be able to afford new.
6. Unused and Unboxed Items
It’s a sad fact that people get given gifts that they don’t necessarily want or need. In the UK, we receive over £2 billion worth of unwanted gifts, many of which are never opened, and donated to charity or sold on. An eye-watering figure if ever there was one.
Gifts are unwanted for a number of reasons. The item could be the wrong size or style, or just not to the recipient’s taste. It could be a duplicate of something they already have. In other words, just because it’s unwanted, doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with it.
However, someone’s unwanted gift could be another person’s treasure, so it is worth keeping an eye out in case it’s the perfect thing for your loved one.
Charity shops and Facebook Marketplace are good places to look for unused and unboxed items – just check the box hasn’t been torn or ripped. eBay and Depop are good for clothes that still have their tags on them but haven’t been worn.
And if you are looking for more inspiration, then here are my top places to shop for secondhand clothes online.
7. Vintage Artwork
Finally, if your loved one is into art then some vintage artwork might be right up their street. As long as you are certain of their taste in art, then a painting or sculpture could make for a really great secondhand gift idea.
Like vinyl, art is something that people often expect to be old, so no one tends to bat an eyelid at being gifted a piece that is older than them!
What would you add to this secondhand gift ideas list? I’d love to hear!