Gift giving is all about making someone else smile. The right gift is thoughtful and unique. Thrift stores are amazing places to find gifts, but you just have to know what you are looking for! Wandering around a thrift shop aimlessly will start to feel overwhelming. Instead, get inspired before you start, and head into the stores with a specific item in mind. Need some inspiration? Here are twenty-five gorgeous gift ideas. Each one is made with thrift-store goods!
1. Baking Kit
Some old-fashioned cookie cutters made with tin or aluminum can date back to the 30’s. If you find a set while you are thrift shopping, snag them! They might be collectibles. Pair a set of sweet cookie cutters with a mason jar filled with the dry ingredients for sugar cookies. This gift will be sure to help your loved one travel down memory lane. Other ideas for your baking kit include rolling pins, mixing bowls, or vintage recipe books!
2. Silver Cake Server
Have you ever passed on silver items because they appear tarnished? Lots of people do. Good news! You can polish worn silverware until it shines like new. Here’s how.
Take a glass casserole dish and cover it with aluminum foil, with the shiny side facing upwards. Spread the silverware out in the casserole dish. Next, mix together a few tablespoons of baking soda and boiling water, and pour the mixture into the dish, until everything is covered, and let it sit just like that for 60 seconds. Then wash with liquid dish soap, dry, and you are all done!
See how they shine! A cake server is a traditional gift to bring to a wedding, for a good reason. When the couple cuts into their anniversary cake with your server, they’ll remember that special day.
3. Picture in a Frame
Friends and family love to be reminded of the best times you’ve had together. Dig up an old photo from your stash, or print one out! We all have so many photos on our phones and computers. It feels so good to find your favorites and share them. Make-over a second hand frame by cleaning the glass, and covering the frame with paint, ribbons, fabric, or (my favorite) colorful tape.
4. Tea Cup Candle
Single, dainty teacups are easy to find in thrift stores. I love the idea of filling them with wax and a wick to turn them into beautiful gifts. You will need some wax (soy wax is best), wooden skewers, and a wick. Follow the tutorial that goes along with the image above. You will come out with a stunning little teacup candle.
5. Jewelry holder
Take an old picture frame, and add your own collage of paper art around the edges. You could use wrapping paper, magazine images in colors that you enjoy, or old photographs. Once the edges of your frame are covered, paint the frame with a clear coating.
You could also paint the frame a solid color, if you would rather (like the example in the image). Next, remove the back of the frame and replace it with some vintage lace. Read up on tips for cleaning lace here. Lace is delicate!
6. Vintage Kitchen Book Ends
These bookends would make a great mother’s day gift to a mom who loves to bake! Or how about friends who just moved into a new apartment? The only reason I haven’t made any myself is that you need a saw. Otherwise, the steps seem pretty straightforward, and I love the finished product.
7. Kitchen Canisters
These crafty kitchen canisters would make a great gift. Clean, sand, prime and spray paint kitchen canisters from the local second hand shop. Then delight someone with this thoughtful gift!!
8. Mug Gift Basket
While you shop, keep your eyes open for amazing mugs. They turn up all of the time. At first, it can be easy to pass them by. The kitchen items in a thrift store are usually all jumbled together. Take some time to sort through the clutter. When you find a mug that you think is interesting, put it out on an open area so that you can see it on its own away from the mess. Do you love it? If you do, take it home and clean it up so that you can share it with a friend!
Tuck tea, coffee, or hot chocolate mix inside. Add in an antique looking spoon that matches the vibe of the mug. You can even print up a little poem or hot-drink recipe and put that in too. Wrap it up nicely and don’t forget the ribbon!
9. Pretty Little Fridge Magnets
People used to wear more pins. I swear, brooches were hot back in the day! But now those sparkly, colorful pieces of artwork sit in dusty thrift shop bins. Find a few that go nicely together and make a set of fridge magnets! Remove the pin hardware with a pair of needle nose pliers, and then use glue to attach a magnet.
10. Belt and Scarf Combo
This gift could work for men or women. Do you have a brother, father, or husband that might look nice in a handsome wool or cashmere scarf? If you find a scarf that is in good shape (no tears, fraying on the edges, or stains), just clean and fold it. It is like a brand new scarf! Be sure to use cold water and wash by hand. I love the idea of wrapping it with a belt to make a stylish package.
11. Zipper Bracelet
These zipper bracelets are such a fun gift to give to the people in your life who love designer style and are up for some funky fashion. Tara St. James is a genius when it comes to DIY fashion. The tutorial for this zipper bracelet is easy to follow.
12. Coloring Pages On A Clipboard
Do you have any artistic kids in your life? Clipboard coloring books make great gifts for birthdays or the holiday season. Whatever the occasion, light up your little artist’s life with this all-in-one activity kit!
13. Dress-Up Suitcase For Kids
Create a dress up suitcase, filled with heels, hats, scarves, and fluffy dress or two. When you hit the thrift stores with this in mind, it is helpful to have a list prepared. Jot down the items you need for your kit (suitcase, purse, necklace, dress, heels). Put about eight to twelve items on your list (it’s only one suitcase, after all!). This way, you won’t get overwhelmed or spend too much while you shop. See Sammy’s spending guide for more tips on smart shopping.
14. Children’s Books
There are so many gorgeous books at thrift stores. Yes, you’ll need to look through a lot of stacks before you find the treasures, but they are in there. Classic books make a great gifts. Some stories are timeless! And the old fashioned pictures will charm parents as well. Give vintage books that are good quality and have no handwriting or scribbles in them.
15. Girl’s “Makeup Purse”
If you need a gift for a little girl, think about getting a classy clutch and filling it with fun “make-up” items from the drugstore, like candy lipstick, chopstick, a travel sized bottle of lotion, and a little comb. Girls love to be just like Mom! If you find a clutch that’s too cute to pass up, but you are shopping for an adult, think about filling it with real make-up goodies!
16. Yarn and Knitting Needles
For some reason, I always see yarn and knitting needles at second hand stores. Maybe it is because people think they will have time to knit, but then the hobby doesn’t stick? I haven’t done any research into the matter, but one thing I do know for sure is that the knitters in your life will love you for finding beautiful yarns for them.
A friend or family member might even take up knitting if you give them something to start with! For absolute beginners, include a beginners knitting book or magazine (you can find these at craft stores). This will help them get started in using the great gift you just gave them! Put it altogether in a nice wicker basket with a ribbon on it.
17. Retro Apron
Looking for a great bridal shower gift? How about a retro apron? Recently I was inspired by Amy’s collection over at the “Maker Mama” blog, and started to look for aprons in my area! After browsing for some retro aprons in my area, I found one that I am going to send to my sister. She just moved into her first house and has been cooking up a storm. I think she will get a kick out of the retro style!
18. Mason Jar Mix and Recipe
For the past two holiday seasons, I have made massive batches of granola. I put the granola into jars and gave it out as gifts to my family members, friends, and coworkers. People loved it (I think… I hope!). Find large, glass Mason jars at your local thrift store or Goodwill. Make your own labels, fill them up with goodies, and share!
There are lots of mixes that you could put inside. Here are a few ideas: cookie mixes (oatmeal, chocolate chip, sugar), cranberry scone mix, hot chocolate mix, five bean soup dry ingredients, or trail mix.
19. Washi Tape Vases Filled With Wildflowers
I think it is the nicest treat when a friend arrives at my house with flowers in hand. A gift of flowers makes me feel so loved! Surprise someone you love by showing up with a gift of flowers, even if it isn’t a special occasion. Make your gift even more amazing giving the flowers in a hand decorated vase.
20. Monogrammed Wall-hanging For Keys
This could be a great wedding gift, anniversary gift, or housewarming gift! The look is easy to create. Take a peice of burlap, canvas, or other neutral material and stretch it along the back of a frame. Chose a dark frame, or else paint it a dark color. Think espresso or dark chocolate brown. Stencil on the initials of the couple or single that you are celebrating. Last, screw in some simple hooks from a hardware store.
21. Mother’s or Father’s Day Photo Vases
Find your favorite photos of Mom or Dad, and make them look antique by using a simple photo editor to turn them either sepia toned or entirely black and white (I think black and white gives a cool finished look, with a single rose in it? Amazing!) Use an online editor like “Befunky.com” or “Picmonkey.com” for free, and print out your photos. Then apply them to the outside of a clean tall and narrow glass container with glue. Cover with a clear finishing coat.
22. Jewelry Box Photo Album
This one takes some work, but it’s worth it. I love taking photographs from the digital world into the material world. Those memories need to be printed out! Photographs are no fun when they are hidden away and forgotten on a phone. With this gift, you get to use an old jewelry box for something even more precious than rubies and pearls: Memories!
23. Bookmark Baubles
Do you know any serious readers? I mean the kind of people who always have a book near at hand. I certainly do! This bookmark is a great way to use those odds and ends pieces of thrift shop jewelry. Scour the shelves for little pieces that glitter and sparkle.
24. Vintage Jewelry
While you are looking through jewelry, you might find a vintage item that you want to keep just as is. Check out our Guide to Giving Stylish Vintage Gifts if you’re looking for more tips about gifting great vintage jewelry as-is.
25. Fancy Fun Key-chain
Sometimes you start looking through the earrings and see that some are only single! This great tutorial taught me how to make a key-chain out of one earring, from start to finish. It was really easy! Make a lovely key-chain for that special person in your life who deserves some sparkle.
26. Leather Journal Writing Notebook [bonus]
Maybe your friends love to journal! A beautiful vintage leather journal would be perfect for them!
Giving gifts made with items that you find while thrift shopping is a wonderful way to save money, re-cycle, and be creative. You get to have fun looking through second hand stores for just the right treasures. A crafty touch here and there, and “Voila!” you have a gift that will make someone smile. Not everyone knows how to find the diamonds in the rough in thrift stores like you do. So share your talent! Your family and friends will be grateful. Please leave a comment below if you have any ideas to add to the list!