Poppin’ Tags

Your guide to thrift gifting this holiday season

Malls are a terrifying place during the holidays. Okay, maybe my opinion is biased, as I am by no means a mall rat. I would much rather be shopping online, while wearing pajamas at 11:48 pm with a glass of wine in one hand and a heady joint in the other.

But during the holiday season, the mall lures you in with the intoxicating smell of apple cinnamon candles and the promise of unbeatable questionable deals: “BUY FOUR UGLY SWEATERS, AND THE FIFTH IS FREE!” And once it gets you in its slimy grip, it drains your account, maxes your current credit card and leaves you with three new store lines of credit you did not need. 

Fear not, this nightmare can be avoided, and I am not talking about hours and hours of browsing the overwhelming options found on Amazon.

It’s time to channel your inner Macklemore, pop some tags and get your thrift shop on.

If you know how to navigate your local thrift stores, you can find thoughtful, unique gifts that won’t leave you panhandling for bill money and that do not contribute to consumerist hype.

There are two types of people in this world: those who are creative and those who are creatively challenged. Identifying which side of the fence you are on is very important to how you map out your thrifting gifting adventure. 

Let’s start with our creative geniuses. When you have a closet full of hot glue sticks, paint and more — the thrift store is a limitless melting pot of possibility. That picture frame on aisle four? You can refinish that and put your favorite childhood photo in it to flood mom with memories. Or, you can use whitewash and replace the glass with chicken wire for your aunt who is obsessed with the modern farmhouse stylings made popular by Joanna Gaines. If you use your imagination, you can certainly wow with ultra unique, upcycled wares this holiday season. 

Moving on to those without a creative bone in their bodies — have no fear! You too can master the art of thrifting gifting. 

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to really dig in to those aisles. A stack of mediocre things can often conceal an incredible treasure. Wins can always be found at the jewelry counter and the handbag wall. A personal favorite of mine is wading through the coffee cups looking for some out-there quirky sayings like “cats before boys” for my feline obsessed little sister. 

The coat section can also be pretty fruitful. You may be surprised to find that brand new Columbia fleeces end up on the racks. I find them quite often at our local St. Vincent De Paul. 

If someone on your list loves art, carefully delve through the 87 stacks of paintings. If your grandpa loves fishing, check the sporting goods aisle and you just may find a set of antique fly lures. For the nature lover stuck in the city, a Mason jar terrarium can be whipped up by visiting the kitchen, pet and craft aisles. 

Need a box? Every secondhand store I have ever been to has an aisle filled with wooden things, and among these, boxes can be found. A wooden box makes such a whimsical presentation that you will certainly pique their curiosity and leave a lasting impression. Plus, it’s like a double gift. They now have a box to reuse for someone else, or a place to stash their keys or weed. 

If you can’t find the perfect old whiskey box to place the best gift your giftee will ever receive in, consider using recycled papers to wrap up your presents. May I suggest issues of Eugene Weekly? The top-notch cover art makes for graphic pops of color sure to delight and stand out under even the most festive of trees, and note this very gift guide cover is custom EW gift wrap! 

For those feeling a little more rustic, brown paper bags coupled with jute twine make for a romantic country vibe. 

It will involve a magical mix of research, perseverance, imagination and second trips, but gifting with thrifting is an art anyone can master. You can give the perfect gift that will spark all the joy — without breaking the bank, or contributing to the over consumerism and waste of the holidays.