Low Cost Children’s Presents: Getting Creative With Thrift Store Gifts for Kids

You may have savings on hand for heirloom green gifts, but if money is tight this year, consider some creative thrift store gifts that any child would love. (They’ll be just as cherished and even more eco-friendly!)

  1. A Dress-Up Treasure Chest: Fill up a wooden crate with lovely secondhand ensembles.  Costume jewelry, scarves, purses, vintage hats, and princess dresses are all easily found while hunting for thrift shop treasures.
  2. A Real Tool Box: Find everything for an older child’s toolbox secondhand including a real hammer, screwdriver, wrench, screws, and nuts and bolts.  Throw in a few pieces of scrap lumber and a promise to help build a birdhouse sometime soon!
  3. A Stationary Set: Have you ever noticed how much kids adore paper clips, post-its and rubber bands?  Pick up an old tackle box secondhand and stock the sections with office supplies.  You can even throw in a hole punch and stapler for fun!  (For younger kids make it an “Art Box” and limit it to crayons, erasers, and other objects that are safe for little ones.)
  4. A Sporting Kit: Fill a plastic crate with all sorts of thrift store loot such as frisbees, soccer balls, bats, and whiffle balls.  If you’re athletically gifted, throw in some coaching coupons along with the gear.
  5. A Doll Bed: Pick up a secondhand basket, line it with a pillow case, and fill it full of whatever you can find in the thrift store toy aisle including stuffed animals, beanie babies, or baby dolls.   Make little cards telling the name and care instructions for each of the toys you include in the basket just for fun.
  6. Toys: Don’t underestimate what you might find in the toy aisle!  We have scored some amazing gifts for our son as people begin to purge their shelves to make room for incoming holiday presents.

The whole thrift store gift idea may seem downright depressing to you if you’ve never cruised through your local secondhand shop.  But used gifts offer an opportunity to give something that’s more personalized, less expensive and greener than just about any other option.  Plus, you’ll be able to purchase more on a limited budget. Have you braved the aisles of your local thrift shop lately?


  1. Great list, esp. #1 — that would be SO easy to do at a thrift store. I’ve found so many great toys (esp. games and puzzles) at thrift stores and on Craig’s List. If they look new, I can give them even to those who might not appreciate a thrift-store gift.

  2. Depressing????? Come on!! Thrift stores are AWESOME!!! How can you call yourself ‘green’ if you find thrift stores depressing.

    For my baby shower and my son’s 1st b-day we told everyone we only wanted gifts from thrift stores and resale shops. I included a list of all the children’s thrift shops in our area. Everyone had a great time going a the ‘hunt’ to find a cool gift. You never know what awesome treasures you will find.

    Shopping at thrift/resales shops:
    -Support local business
    -Keeps items out of the landfills
    -Reduceses massive amounts of new packaging materials (boxes, plastic wrap, styrofom)
    -Plastic toys have had much more time to offgas, so they are not as toxic.

    I work a national chilldren’s resale shop called Children’s Orchard. We get brand new stuff in our store all the time. Kids get toys and clothes they never play with or get to wear so it comes to us.

    Please check out your local thrift/resale shop!!! I’m sure you will find some great things!

  3. Amanda,
    I wholeheartedly agree! In our book, we spend endless pages describing just how glorious and green it is to buy secondhand gear. Still, beyond our dedicated readership, some people are really freaked out by the idea of picking up a children’s gift at a thrift shop. Luckily, my whole extended family is completely content with secondhand loot. I’m glad to hear it’s the case for your clan too!

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