How to give pre-loved presents a touch of sparkle for sustainable gifting

We all know it’s better for the environment – and our wallets – to buy secondhand over new.

That knowledge doesn’t seem to have translated to our gifting habits, though, as recent research by Oxfam showed that around a quarter of us are scared to give secondhand gifts, thinking recipients would ‘turn their nose up’.

In reality, attitudes to pre-loved presents have changed over the years, and that same Oxfam study proved how unfounded our trepidation is, revealing that 42% of people are more open to used gifts now than previously.

Whether you’re doing so for eco-conscious or budget-conscious reasons, the key to giving previously owned presents – as it is when buying new – is the personal touch.

You can find your giftee the perfect vintage accessory, get hold of a first edition of their favourite book, or pass on a treasured possession. Or, you could get them something out of reach financially when new, so their dream gift can become a reality.

As long as it’s from the heart, the fact an item isn’t brand new shouldn’t matter. But to help you take the plunge if you’re new to secondhand shopping, we’ve enlisted the pros for some advice.

From how to find hidden gems when buying used pieces to ways you can wrap and present them for maximum wow factor, here’s everything you need to know about giving pre-owned gifts this Christmas.

Shop smarter for secondhand gifts

To find the best pre-loved gifts you’ll need to know where to look. If you haven’t already decided on specifics, a trip to a flea market or charity shop could see you finding hidden gems. The catch is obviously that you need to rummage, so take a day for thrifting and give yourself a time limit – then if you don’t see that perfect present, take to the internet.

For those who have more of an idea of what they’re after, Hannah Rouch, Chief Marketing Officer at Gumtree UK, advises a recce online first to see how much they’re selling for and get an idea of price ranges.

She then says you need to get secondhand savvy, using searching tricks on vintage or resale sites to nab what you’re looking for.

One of these tricks is to search with typos. Hannah tells ‘This might sound like an odd one, but we’re all human, and sometimes we misspell things – and sometimes autocorrect can let us down!

‘Who hasn’t spelt “baubles” as “baubels” before? By being more savvy than the rest of the crowd, you might just nab yourself a hidden find.’

Go for ‘Guci’ over ‘Gucci’ or ‘Harry Poter’ rather than ‘Harry Potter’ – you’ll might just be surprised at what it uncovers.

As well as this, she says looking past grainy or badly-lit images and chatting to sellers for more details is best, adding: ‘A thumb over the camera lens or a blurry image can put buyers off an ad, but if you can’t look beyond the façade, you might be missing out on your perfect item.’

Other shopping tips from Hannah include looking at combos or bundle listings and setting up search alerts.

‘Some things are hard to find as standalone items, yet they might be available as part of a set,’ she says.

‘You might be looking to give a loved one a coffee machine, but you’ll widen your chances if you look for it among kitchenware. Certain children’s books by the same author often come in a bundle. Bundles tend to be discounted, too, so you’ll get more for your money.’

Apps like Gumtree and eBay have a search alert function, and you can set up email round-ups on Freecycle or Freegle to get notified if that coveted present comes up.

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