Why you should give second hand gifts

Looking for some second hand gift ideas? Look no further.

Last updated: 10 May 2023

Let’s cut to the chase and get this question answered straight out of the gate. Is it cool to give a second hand gift? Absolutely.

Gifting doesn’t mean presenting your loved ones with battered and bruised items that really belong in the skip.

We’re not talking old socks, a semi-functioning lawn mower or half used tube of mascara. Think more like near-new ceramics, furniture, handbags, bikes, homeware, power tools, anything vintage, records, sentimental items that can’t be found easily anymore, LEGO, and even as-new refurbished tech – just to name a few.

Secondhand doesn’t need to mean ‘used’ anymore, and there’s a lot of unwanted stuff in the world that can be repurposed, reloved, or revived.

Is it OK to give this stuff as a gift? We say yes, and here’s why…

Reasons why you should give second hand gifts

Second hand is the new new.

1. Sustainable gifting can save the world

The world is becoming a more conscious place, and we reckon this should extend into gift-giving too.

Take a minute to think about the lifecycle of the products you’re buying. Are they going to be in the bin a year from now? How are they made? What are they made from? What’s the environmental impact? Is there an earth-friendly alternative?

Gifting pre-loved items can give new life to things that would otherwise be thrown out. Finding quality products made from more sustainable and long-lasting materials not only guarantees that your gift is going to be next-level quality, it’s also a more considered purchase. And the world needs more of that.

Other great sustainably-focussed reasons to buy secondhand include:

  • It typically means less plastic packing (compared to buying new), that will inevitably end up in the landfill and/or the ocean. #savethewhales
  • You can be sure you’re buying local – be it a small business or just someone who’s keen for a clear out.
  • It’s also likely to be cheaper, which is a bonus.

Long story short – save the world, buy second hand.

2. Homemade is where the heart is

There's nothing like homemade.

Secondhand, homemade, and DIY gifts can be, and often are, far more meaningful.

It’s easy to get caught up in the bright lights of shiny new things, especially at this time of year. And while buying new is still a lovely way to go, sometimes there's a time and place to consider a second hand present.

Gifting is a way of communicating care for someone in your life, so it’s not so much about where you get it or how new it is, but more about the consideration and effort you’ve put in.

Let’s paint a little picture for a minute… your mum took up cross stitching during lockdown and it’s stuck, and you want her to have a place she can sit in the sun and enjoy a little ‘her’ time. A chair for her living room seems like the perfect thing.

Sure, you could pop out and grab a new and mass produced chair from a store, but where’s the joy in that? Instead you have a hunt around on Trade Me, finding a preloved armchair that’s in need of a new home. Some fabric and a quick ‘how to refurbish stuff’ Google search later, and you’ve got yourself a pretty sensational gift.

At the end of the day, finding a ceramic bowl like your grandmother used to have, or hunting down that hard-to-find vinyl album will win by a country mile when pitted against brand-new equivalents.

3. It’s just really cool

Who wants to receive the same present that everyone else got?

Be the individual. Be the favourite.

Who wants to be like everyone else these days, anyway? Finding a one-of-a-kind item is always going to be a cooler way of gifting. And these days, vintage, pre-loved items are actually sought after.

Second hand items are things that have been loved. They have character embedded into them already, and that’s not something you can buy brand new. We guarantee that spending time finding that individual piece is going to light up your giftee’s face, because the effort and thought will be reflected in what you pick.

From vintage leather jackets to a decorative typewriter to antique tools – someone’s favourite Christmas gift is in there somewhere, you just need to find it.

Your secondhand Christmas gifting guide

Happy secondhand shopping.

There’s a bit of a knack to finding the perfect second hand gift, so we’ve pulled together a few tips that should help knock it out of the park.

  • First and foremost, remember who you’re buying for: If the person you’re giving a gift to would be genuinely offended by receiving something secondhand, it might be best to look for something brand new. If secondhand is their jam, bloody brilliant – go forth!
  • Use filters: There’s a ‘new’ and a ‘used’ filter on Trade Me, if you hit new and hunt around for what you’re looking for sometimes you’ll find a secondhand item that’s never been taken out of the box. It’s a great way to shop for those people who aren’t that keen on secondhand while getting a bargain and keeping something perfectly legit out of the landfill.
  • Get your game face on: Buying second hand can often mean bidding wars, and there’s strategy involved in winning. Make sure you know what time the auction closes, utilise the auto-bid tool, and ask any questions with plenty of time to spare. Full disclosure: the thrill is addictive. You’ve been warned.
  • Search is key: Try searching things like ‘as new’ or ‘perfect condition’ in the categories you’re after. Key acronyms like ‘BNWT’ (brand new with tags) can also be a game-changer.
  • Wrap it like you mean it: You’ve put a lot of thought into the gift you’re buying, so why not wrap it the same way. Scarves, newspaper, and old, un-ripped wrapping paper (yes, saving it isn’t just a thing your grandmother does anymore) are great, more sustainable options. They also look awesome.

So there you have it. Several, very-hard-to-argue-with reasons why shopping secondhand is where it’s at. Happy shopping, e te whānau.

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