Thrift Store Christmas Challenge: Shopping for the culturally aware

8 Dec

Have a culturally snobby person in your family?  Come on, I bet you have at least that one quirky cousin, crafty sister, musically inclined niece or movie freak of a brother. And since you probably can’t buy them the iPad that they want (because you are using cash and a budget for Christmas), you are going to have to get creative.  And that is where the Thrift Store Christmas Challenge comes in.  Thrift stores actually have plenty of options for a lover of all things artsy.  But to take the Christmas Thrift Store Challenge you need to be willing to look long and hard for the right gift.  Intrigued and up to the challenge?  I thought so.  Right this way.

For the Movie Buffs:

For the movie lovers in your life, thrift stores hold a wealth of hidden opportunities. Don’t believe me?  That’s ok!  Read on and I may just change your mind.

DVD’s: Most thrift stores have a selection of VHS tapes at the very least.  But lately I’ve seen more and more DVDs joining the piles of thrifty items.  If you do want to scope out the Thrift store scene for DVDs here’s a few things to keep in mind.

  • Expect a selection similar to the $5 bin at Wal-Mart, but with less redundancy and more randomness.  If you find a great choice, snatch it up, it may not be there when you get back.
  • Go in with a low expectation that is the best way to be pleasantly surprised.
  • Real life example:  Last weekend I found Juno for less than 10 bucks (a great find in my book).

Let me assure you, your quirky cousin will thank you for your efforts.

Movie Posters: Can’t find the perfect movie?  Maybe the store has a collection of old movie posters.  Although posters may be your decorating nightmare, a well placed Braveheart poster will make your bachelor and movie savvy brother very happy.  And if you or one of your family members are lucky enough to have a room dedicated to a big screen TV and comfy chairs, then movie posters are the most logical and savvy thing to hang.

Real life example:  I found a very striking framed Godfather poster this weekend.  That was a deal I (almost) couldn’t refuse.

For the Music Lovers:


Ok I admit it, music selection is usually slim at thrift stores.  And CD’s, as we all know by now, are easily scratched.  My thrift store jaunt this weekend unearthed a very uneven showing of CDs.   But if you know some who really loves bubble gum pop, you will be in luck.  Plus if the price is right, it might be nice to fill out your NSYNC anthology, you know, for history’s sake.


The real music star of thrift stores are the records.  If you can find a store with a good selection, you have struck gift potential gold.  I’ve heard my sister-in-law say she wants to create a headboard out of record covers.  Maybe you have a hip music loving sis as well.  You could help her start her record headboard or collage or whatever her artsy mind desires.


Finally, and you would be very lucky to find this, some thrift store sell instruments.  My husband got his banjo through this exact scenario and the small price is grandpa paid for the instrument was completely worth it.  If you have a niece who wants to try her hand at playing an instrument, a used one is the perfect option.  If she practices it once every 5 years, you haven’t wasted that much money.  But if she does end up taking to the instrument, you have officially given her the priceless gift of music. Can’t beat that my friends.  Or if the instrument is unplayable, it could still make an interesting wall hanging for your musically inclined aunt.  Be creative and open to what the thrift store has to offer!

For the Readers:

Books are actually the one item that I am most willing to buy used.  Unless it is missing pages, a book will serve you just as well as it did its last owner.  And you can nab used ones for a much better price.  Thrift stores are usually swimming in books.  Search their shelves for everyone in your family.

Children’s books:  Just like the gift of music, a gift that instills a love a reading is priceless.

Cookbooks:  Have a niece trying her hand at baking?  I bet you could find a simple cookie cook book.  There is nothing better than getting paid back in sweet cookie goodness (except of course, getting paid back in cold hard cash).

Decorative or collector’s items books:  Even if you don’t find that perfect book your uncle has been dying to read, you may find a great looking book.  I know it sounds silly, but books work well as decorative pieces.  Stick them under lamps, or on a desk to add that perfect pop of color and bookishness to a space that your intelligent and savvy pal yearns for.

There you have it!  I have solved Thrift Store Christmas shopping for your culturally savvy family.  That is my gift to you.  And it cost me nothing.  See how budget awesome I am?

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