This weekend, weather permitting, I’ll be up at the crack of dawn searching for bargains at garage sales. Over the years and thanks in part to my mother-in-law I’ve learned that garage sales are a great place to find inexpensive gifts for birthdays and Christmas.
A few years ago when we were getting out of debt I purchased almost all our Christmas gifts at garage sales. I dedicated one month to shopping every weekend and was able to find gifts for all my children and some of our extended family.
Because I had a plan and a list I was able to stay way under budget, find lots of new items, and my kids were thrilled with their gifts.
In order for your gift giving to be successful there are a few things to remember before you shop.
Make a List
It is possible to overbuy at garage sales so make a list of gift ideas. Even if you only spend a few dollars it might seem weird if one person receives ten items if everyone else receives one. If you can’t be that specific at least make a list of people that you will be giving gifts to this year.
Set a Budget
If you only have $5 to spend on each person that’s fine, but you still need to budget the amount you have available. A great deal isn’t a great deal if you can’t afford it.
Look for New Items
I’m always surprised to see so many items that are new in box at garage sales. Nonetheless, take advantage of this situation as you can often find great gifts for pennies on the dollar. Several years ago I went to one garage sale and they had the entire driveway filled with toys that were still sealed in their boxes. It looked like Toys R Us! They were all gifts that their children had received over the years that they never wanted to play with. I did almost all my Christmas shopping at that sale and spent less than $30.
Common garage sale items that are still in the box are small kitchen appliances, decorative items, toys, and candles.
Check Items Closely For Damage
I don’t mind buying something for myself that needs a little work, remember my bookcase find from a few weeks ago? But if I’m giving something as a gift I would like it to be perfect or close to it! Giving an item a wipe down after you purchase it is one thing, but giving a gift with missing buttons or a missing handle is kind of tacky.
Do Your Research
I’ve been to garage sales where people price items like they work at Target. If you know your prices you can negotiate for the best deal and walk away instead of spending too much. This is why having a list is so important.
If you know you want to purchase a coffee maker for your uncle and a new coffee maker costs $35, you probably shouldn’t pay $30 for one at a garage sale. Remember that stores will price items really low on Black Friday and throughout December so you can find great deals in retail. An item needs to be a really great deal for it to be worth purchasing at a garage sale.
Remember It’s the Thought That Counts
If you have a relative who would be highly offended at the notion of receiving a gift purchased at a yard sale then don’t do it.
In my family we like gifts no matter where they were purchased, but not everyone feels the same way. It isn’t worth hurting your relationship with someone over a few dollars.
Shop Like a Professional
Do you need a quick how to garage sale lesson? I’ve been shopping garage sales since I was a kid and there is definitely an art to getting the best deals. If you would like more helpful ideas for shopping at garage sales read my article on garage sale shopping tips.
What do you think? Do you purchase gifts at garage sales or would your family be offended?
Photo credit: Eastlaketimes