Monday, December 04, 2006

Shoestring Christmas: Stealth shopping

I want to share the link to Mrs. Catherine's secondhand Christmas post--not to heap guilt on those who shop Target, but rather, to make less guilty those of us who don’t. For Santa gifts, I’m shooting for 100% used. The kids are young, and relatives will be sending a few new toys, as well. This year’s been more of a challenge than I expected. A four-year-old is highly aware of all covert activities involving toy shopping! I could have toy shopped for less at yard sales, but playing Santa is much more fun as a team.

Here’s how my husband and I shopped for toys—together--without hiring a babysitter. We have a favorite thrift store with a variety of toys (and more importantly, very tall aisles). One Sunday afternoon, we each took a cart; mine loaded with kids, his, with his overcoat. He shopped; I distracted. We met at the juncture of two aisles and swapped carts. I sifted through his finds and added a few I had spotted. His coat covered the loot until he paid for the toys ($19, in case you’re curious). After hiding the bags in the trunk, he returned with a triumphant smile. Let’s just say a certain little boy will be very pleased December 25th.

Later that night, we carefully inspected each box. (Do this in the store when possible.) Though I sometimes get burned with missing parts, the “wins” outnumber the losses. If you must, make your money back by selling the extra parts on Ebay. And don’t forget to recycle your old toys before the “new” old toys are unwrapped! I just resold some Discovery Toys on Craiglist for triple my thrift store price. That’s like getting paid $25 to play with the toys for a year!

For more, here's a post from the archives, When Santa spends $10.

6 comments:

Tessa said...

What I want to know is what toys did you get??

Anonymous said...

yep same question here...

i always bought used toys for play but not for gifts till i read the tightwad gazette and said ,....why didnt i think of that..last yr...santa brought a tonka helicopter for 1.99 even came with batteries i have yet to change a yr later...it retailed at the time 59.99 at walmart. hey this way i figure if it bombs as a gift santa is out 1.99 vs 59.99....but he's played with it everyday for a YEAR...

this yr...santa is bringinga nintendo ds....and a leapster (to entertain them when we drive 24 hr to visit in march) used....a little people castle and wiggles guitar...used....i turned my mother of limited means to this and she bought my son the coolest 4 wheeler toy.....for a buck....he doesnt care...he's happy with his gifts...i figure this way they learn that the gifts are equal whether new or used...that can only help later right??

Celina in Canada who apparently is long winded this morning...

Honey said...

I like this! :) Since ours are little like yours, we usually get practical things that they "need" or books which I find important (but there's the library) and let the grandparents give gifts. I used to get a LOT of used toys for them until we ran out of room. ;) I will keep this in mind for when they are older and have outgrown what we have.

Anonymous said...

ps..we also shop like you do with coats and 2 carts and come look over here..and kids look an elephant toy wow.......

i figure if i have to pay 20bucks for a sitter , i havent saved any money...that and well i love ebay...

celina in canada

Amy said...

I got gifts at our local thrift shop too. TRU actually had dropped off some toys (still in boxes) and I was able to snatch some of those up for gifts. The original price tag was thirteen, it was eight at the thrift store, then they subtracted half for a total of $4 since it was half off day.

We also are doing a book each day between now and Christmas. The books were purchased for a quarter from the thrift shop.

My son is also four and is becoming more aware, but maybe he will think that this is normal to have another kid's name in his book :) We can only hope!

Anonymous said...

whoo.

My son will be 13 this year. I have NEVER thrift-shopped for his Christmas, but this year I did! He desires 2 M. Night Shyamalan movies (a budding filmmaker) and I scored them both, used, for under $5 on amazon. They arrived perfectly, just no shrink wrap. I cannot imagine him being anything but thrilled.

debbie