How To Have a Secondhand Christmas

Whether you want to save money or cut down on waste, there are plenty of reasons to have a secondhand Christmas. We take a look at how you can make that happen, from gifts to decorations to even your Christmas dinner.

Connor Campbell Published on 01 December 2021. Last updated on 17 December 2021.
How To Have a Secondhand Christmas

Gone are the days of secondhand meaning second-rate. The rise of premium reselling stores online, growing awareness of the damaging effect wasteful consumer culture has on the environment, and a need to save money when times are tough have all contributed to pre-owned gifting losing its stigma.

And with global supply chains still struggling with the effects of Covid-19, many brand-new items may not be as readily available as they were in years past, prompting a switch to secondhand pressies.

But how can you turn the season of giving into the season of re-giving? We have a bunch of tips designed to help you find the best pre-owned presents for the perfect secondhand Christmas.

» MORE: How to cut your environmental footprint this Christmas

Where to buy secondhand Christmas gifts

Most people will be familiar with the bargains to be found in charity shops, or the vast array of items for sale on eBay.

However, there are a number of specialist secondhand retailers that can help save you money this holiday season, while still trying to find what is on your loved one’s wishlist.

Where to buy secondhand clothes online

Fuelled by the environmental consciousness of Gen Z, the last few years has seen the rise and rise of online secondhand fashion retailers such as Depop and Vinted.

Preferring the term ‘pre-loved’, these sites offer high-quality, pre-owned ‘vintage’ and designer clothing through their online marketplaces.

And though this doesn’t necessarily always mean the items are cheap, it does mean they are part of a circular economy that is trying to combat the harm done by fast fashion.

Secondhand toys

One of the biggest talking points each Christmas surrounds what will be the number one toy that holiday season. However, some people may feel more plastic isn't necessarily what the world needs right now.

That’s why it can be handy to have a look at sites such as eBay to see which toys are already out there waiting for a new home.

And if you live in London, Selfridges has partnered with charity The Toy Project for a pop-up toy store dealing in pre-loved toys. The Toy Project also has its own store in Archway, north London.

Pre-owned video games

Some of the most requested presents this Christmas will be for video games and consoles. But they are pricey!

One way to try to save some money when buying video games is to look to pre-owned video game retailers such as CeX. Now a familiar high street staple, it also has an online store that will source items from locations around the country – so no need to trawl through city centres to find that game your kid has asked Santa for.

On top of games, CeX also sells a range of secondhand electronics, including consoles, smartphones and laptops.

Game, both in store and online, similarly has a robust selection of secondhand games, as does Amazon Marketplace and eBay.

Vintage homeware

Among its homemade and craft elements, online retailer Etsy has a significant amount of vintage – often a fancier way of saying secondhand – products, including used homewares.

It is a great way to find a unique present for a loved one, say for their kitchen or living room, without necessarily breaking the bank.

Secondhand vinyl

Vinyl is back in a big way. If someone in your life is looking for a new LP to put on their record player, then there are numerous online stores hosting classic vinyl from all genres.

These include the aptly named Secondhandvinylrecords.co.uk, Vinylnet.co.uk, and Discogs.com.

Secondhand books online

Little can compare to finding a book you are after in your high street charity shop. However, there might not be the time at Christmas to find that perfect present in your local Oxfam.

Luckily, there are a wealth of secondhand bookshops online, which are likely to have the literature you are looking for.

These do not only include Amazon Marketplace and eBay, but sites such as Wordery.com, World of Books, AwesomeBooks.com, AbeBooks.co.uk, and Alibris.co.uk.

Upcycling at Christmas

Upcycling is a fantastic way not only to give a secondhand present at Christmas, but to add that extra special touch.

It is a process that involves giving a second life to an old, unloved item. This could be by sprucing it up and redecorating it, or by transforming the item’s purpose into something new and quirky.

A very simple way of incorporating upcycling into your Christmas is in how you wrap your presents. From old shoe-boxes to newspapers to scraps of fabric, there are many ways you can reuse old materials and create something personalised.

Secondhand Christmas decorations

Of course, Christmas isn’t only about the presents. New decorations can cost an arm and a leg – or branch and a stump – only to sit in a box gathering dust for the rest of the year.

Online marketplaces, such as eBay, Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace and Preloved can be treasure troves for baubles and trinkets, as well as secondhand Christmas trees.

Etsy similarly has a great selection of vintage decorations, alongside homemade ornaments.

How to have a sustainable Christmas dinner

Although it might stretch the concept of ‘secondhand’, there is a way to try to make your Christmas dinner as sustainable and waste-free as your gift-giving.

The amount of food thrown away by restaurants and supermarkets is shocking. And a huge part of that happens around Christmas. Food waste apps are trying to change that.

Surplus food apps, such as Too Good To Go and Olio, put you in contact with ‘surplus’ food. This could either be by buying these goods at a discounted price, or picking them up for free.

It is an alternative way of thinking about how we eat at Christmas, which could help you save money and do your bit for the planet at the same time.

Image source: Getty Images

About the author:

Connor is a writer and spokesperson for NerdWallet. Previously at Spreadex, his market commentary has been quoted in the likes of the BBC, The Guardian, Evening Standard, Reuters and The Independent. Read more

If you have any feedback on this article please contact us at [email protected]