what i got at our second hand christmas

You know what?  Our second hand Christmas was great this year.  Again. What I like about a second hand Christmas is that it really doesn’t matter how much money you spent.  The price isn’t the point at all.  What everyone appreciates is the thought behind the present.  With a second Christmas the presents you get are personal.  Someone has seen something that reminds them of you. And bought it just for you.

For example, here’s some of what I got:

  • 3 serving platters from my Mum and Dad.  White with blue stripes.  Matching my willow pattern china.  Love.
  • a dress from Mezzy and Pricey (it’s a perfect beach dress and just what I need –  and Mez told me with delight that she got it in a ‘bag of clothes for $1’.  So that made it like 10 cents or something probably).
  • an Elizabeth David cookbook (second hand), a cooking blow torch (new) and some little baking dishes (second hand) from Elise and Nick.  I think Elise is suggesting I make creme brulee?!  Perhaps 2015 might be the year to master french cooking?




All presents just for me.  I am super happy.

10 ideas for a second hand christmas

In our family we have a second hand or home made Christmas.  You might think second hand shopping for others would be hard, but in fact it is pretty easy to find great things for the people you love.  I usually see something and I think, yes, Dad would love that, or great, that’d be perfect for Elise, or wow, that green is Merryn’s favourite, she’d like that.

Here are some ideas (beyond clothes) that might inspire you to contemplate a second hand Christmas (which I can highly recommend, not just for the environmental cred. that goes with reusing and recycling).

NOTE TO PEOPLE IN MY FAMILY – if you prefer present surprises, maybe you shouldn’t read any more of this post … really!


1.  Toys

Toys are great. School fetes are the place to go!  For example some very lucky nephew aged either 3 or 4 (I haven’t decided yet) will be the recipient of this super fun but VERY ANNOYING crazy instrument toy. It only cost me $3 at North Fitzroy fete, so I can give it with the understanding that at some point in time, and probably sooner rather than later, the mother of the recipient will surely lose her cool with the incessant tooting and chuck it out.  And it won’t matter that much.


Or you could get a scooter.  That won’t annoy anyone.  Like this one I bought for $5, also at North Fitzroy fete.  My kids lost their first hand ones – I think they left them at school over the holidays.  I expect this one will meet a similar fate.


2. Bags

Back packs, kinder bags, lunch boxes, man bags, hand bags, travel bags, purses and wallets and toilet bags.  These are all great things to look out for second hand and give as a present for a second hand Christmas.  I couldn’t pass by this cute toilet bag recently, Mietta will like it don’t you think?

3. Jewellery or scarves

Necklaces are high on my list this year.  And scarves for my sister Merryn (she likes wearing them).  And brooches.  And cufflinks – someone I know wears cufflinks to court.

4. Garden accessories

Check out these garden tealight candle holders.  I got them from hard rubbish.  They’d make a great present for anyone with a garden, or a balcony with a big pot.


Or what about a teak outdoor setting. I got these two chairs on the side of the road.  Elise got 8 matching ones for $100 on Ebay.  They’d be a fab. present for the right person.

Or perhaps just a nice pot, with a plant in it.

5. Kitchen items

Salad bowls, salad servers, nice coffee cups or mugs, a teapot, a Bodum plunger (you sometimes see these at the op shop).  Wine glasses.  Serving platters. Funky salt and pepper shakers … interesting measuring cups.  These are all great.  Or you could venture into electrical ware.  Last year I bought Keely and Cade a ‘snow machine’ otherwise known as an ice crusher.

I bought these pots for Elise, to cook garlic mussels in – yum.


6. Books

Cookbooks, a pile of great novels, picture books, activity books.  These are all great for presents.  The year before last Elise bought India The Great Big Book of Tashi on Ebay.  And I was super impressed that even Clive’s Mum got into second hand shopping recently.  While in the UK she bought Scarlett a copy of  ‘Shadow The Sheepdog’ by Enid Blyton for her birthday because she couldn’t get it new.  It was out of print apparently. Scarlett’s loving it. We’re reading a chapter a night.


7.  Hobbies

My Dad likes golf.  I look out for golf things for him.  My Mum likes tennis.  I look out for tennis things for her.  Pricey likes yoga.  Last year I bought him a cool bag (well I thought so anyway, I am not sure he has used it) to carry his yoga mat around in.  Maybe I should suggest that he gives it back to me this Christmas – I could really do with a yoga mat bag myself …

The shirt above is for Dad.  It is a short sleeve Nike windbreaker type thing.  I think it will be super handy.


8. Holiday fun

We go to the beach for summer and so boogie boards, skiffle boards, blow up canoes and second hand wetsuits have all featured at Christmas.  Also beach tents and a variety of camping gear, including a hammock on it’s own stand for Clive one year.  And little torches for night walks.

The photo above shows a boogie board and a boogie board cover stored in the roof of the studio.  These both came from our second hand Christmas.


9. Board games and jigsaws

Boardgames are great to buy second hand.  Do take the time to check all the pieces are there though …  Same with jigsaws.

This Cluedo was a gift from someone last year – nice to see they took the time to take the $6 price sticker off!


10. Linen

What about a table cloth, some napkins, tea towels, beach towels or even a doona cover or sheet set.  A nice throw.  Some cushion covers.  These all make super presents.  I bought a couple of these towels above for the older girls for Christmas.  New but from the op shop.  And they are nice and thin (which is the criteria from a Mum who often has to carry all the towels home!)

So that’s it, 10 general second hand shopping ideas for great Christmas presents.  And I expect I will be able to add in some more ideas by next year!

10 great ideas for a home made christmas

In our family we have a home made (and second hand) Christmas.  So, you either have to make something for the present you give or purchase it second hand.  It’s about sharing the creative things you like doing and valuing each others skills, time and effort.

And if you get a second hand present, it is often a very thoughtful present.  Because someone has seen something that REALLY reminds them of you (like a nice golf shirt for dad).

Today I have put together a list of 10 great home made gift ideas.  They are tried and tested …

1.  Cook some food

Food is a great present.   For someone who has everything, disposal gifts are ideal.

Preserves are a great starting point.  Everyone uses tomato relish. Strawberry jam is good too.  Last year we had rhubarb in the garden and so I made rhubarb relish.  We ate it on Christmas day.  And I gave a jar to everyone to take home.  It was a great Christmas present.  And here are olives from our tree and tamarillo paste that I have packaged up nicely  – we have a tamarillo tree in our garden.

If one jar of jam seems a bit meagre, you can make a ‘home made food hamper’.  Buy a basket or a nice box and fill it up with jams and preserves and vinegars and cellophane wrapped biscuits.

Nick, my brother-in-law makes an annual gift of florentine biscuits.  I think he uses his Mum’s recipe.  He makes them with dark chocolate and my Mum loves them.

You can give these types of presents to anyone.  Neighbours, friends, teachers.

2. Make slime or playdough

While we are on a cooking theme, making something fun for the kids like slime if they are at primary school, or playdough if they are at kinder is a good present.  Package the slime in a nice jar, with a cute label.  It lasts for ages if you keep it in the fridge.  And playdough can look gorgeous in the right packaging.  You could make rainbow playdough.  Or you could add some Christmas glitter and package it up with some cookie cutters.  Or a tea set.  Or some wooden blocks. Or a packet of coloured icy pole sticks.  Playdough goes with some many things.


3. Knit or crochet something practical

Does someone in your family enjoy a cup of tea?  Why not knit or crochet a tea cosy.  You could buy a new teapot and add some home made love with a cosy.  Or you could jazz up a groovy second hand pot with a home made tea cosy.  A couple of Christmas’s ago I specialised in cosies (with roses on the top).  I got inspiration from some books I borrowed from the library.  I am sure there are loads of patterns online as well.


Or knit a dish cloth or two.  I have given these away with a bottle of fancy dish washing liquid.  Or you could look out for an interesting dish washing brush. Everyone washes dishes.  Everyone could do with a home made dish cloth.


Or a hot water bottle cover.  I made these quite a few years ago now.  I knitted one for myself, one for Elise and one for each of Clive’s parents.  These were all the people I knew who unashamedly advertised that they used hot water bottles (I didn’t want to give them to people who might think they were daggy!).


4.  Decorate some salad servers

I am always happy to get a set of nice salad servers.  Buy some plain timber ones and add some personality.  I recently bought a whole heap of salad servers and painted them black or white.  I used acrylic paint and then waxed over the top.

You could give these as presents by themselves or with a salad bowl or platter if you wanted to add something extra.

5. Grow a plant and pot it up

As already mentioned, we have a tamarillo tree and Clive is sure that everyone else in the world needs to own one of these trees as well.  I quite like tamarillo paste with cheese and biscuits, but he eats them when the are ripe and loves them (I find them a bit too sour).  I agree it is a handy tree to own.

This year he saved some seeds from the fruit and he has been growing tamarillo plants for Christmas presents.


And Elise is busy taking cuttings from her favourite indoor plants and growing some for presents as well.  She was inspired by Ali.  I can see it is going to be a ‘green’ Christmas at our house this year.

6. Make a family calendar/video

Every year for the last 5 or 6 years someone in our family has made a calendar for every family.  Merryn is currently carrying the mantle.  She uses Snapfish I think. The calendar is super.  She puts in everyone’s birthdays (so there’s no excuse for forgetting) and she loads it up with photos taken in the previous year and places them in the calendar in the month relevant to the birthday boys and girls (ladies and gents).  The kids love to get to their month and look at all the photos from the previous year.

And last year my aunty had some film footage that my grandpa took about 45 years ago converted to digital.  She gave everyone a DVD for Christmas. It was of her and my mum playing with their cousins at the beach when they were young.  And all the extended family that I didn’t meet or don’t remember except through photos.  That really was a great present.

7. Make a quilt

Like quilting?  Make a quilt.  I have made 5 quilts for my own kids and some of my nieces and nephews over the years.   It is a big job to tackle. So I always give them at Christmas so that at least all the effort gets admired!  And hopefully the recipients will keep their quilt forever and remember who made it for them.


8. Give  a voucher

My Mum and Dad always give me babysitting vouchers.  They are such a great present.  It just means I can ask without feeling like I am imposing.  The one above I got for my birthday.  A weekend without children (hooray!).

Or if you like cooking you could give someone a dinner voucher or a series of dinner vouchers.  Or if you like sewing you could offer to make a skirt for someone.  Giving someone your time is an excellent present.


9. Make a Christmas decoration

Christmas decorations are something that your kids can make, or you can make.  Most years the kids make something for their Nanna’s tree.  And for their teachers.   It’s lovely to look back at the glass ball covered in fingerpainting that India made when she was a baby.  And last year we painted some pre-bought white plaster Christmas tree decorations.  They were good too.  I found them at Bed, Bath and Table Factory Outlet.

This year I am contemplatig making some strings of colourful dyed pasta.  But I might chance upon a better idea on Pinterest …


10. Make something for the garden

If people are fussy about the inside of their house they might appreciate a present that is for the garden.  You could get into the current ‘cool’ and make some concrete pots (I am seriously considering this idea).  Or get some copper paint and get into the copper thing.  Or macrame a plant hanger (it really is so easy).  Or make an outdoor mobile from driftwood (tick!).


A couple of years ago Pricey made a set of these garden stakes for us.  They are THE BEST.  I move them around and use them as I need them – to prop up plants, grow tomatoes or just to add some arty interest to the garden.