Going to garage sales has always been a hobby of mine. Something that is very cost effective is when people have new items that have never been used. It might not be something that I particularly use but get it and put it away for gift giving throughout the year. Then if there's an unexpected house warming or birthday party, you have a gift already to go.
Even if a friend is having a hard day, their face lights up with a little surprise that maybe cost me .50 (but they don't know that). I have also found beautiful gift bags and paper for wrapping. It saves money and is convenient when you need it.
By Fran from Meadville, PA
That is one of the best things about going out thrift hunting, you can buy second hand but it is not always "used". I find new things at thrift shops all the time, and do the same. I have a box marked "Miss Elaine Yus" (get it?) and put things in there for whatever comes up. Often, you can call ahead for some stores and find out if they have any new donations, get the days of the week things come out, etc. It saves time, gas, and money to know ahead.
Yard sales are the cheapest, as people don't have to pay for store and employee costs. I once got a gown that garnered me a pin, 13 pearlescent buttons, a zipper and four yards of lace for...10 cents! I calculated it because they had a "stuff a bag for a 1.00" and I got ten things in there. I have found sterling silver jewelry and flatware for .5 each that people don't know about but I snap up in a hurry. One lean year, I was able to buy for 15 people for 45.00 and some change. To this day, some thought I spent a small fortune but that is okay, too.
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I look for like new (some still have the price tags on them) items at garage sales: small tins, and containers, small appliances, pretty dishes, utensils, toys. I find ways to include these items in my gift baskets for a small portion of what I would pay retail.
Also, never underestimate how beneficial a quick coat of spray paint can be! Sets of shelves, picture frames, etc, can become like new again and may be perfect for a gift. (06/14/2002)
I use new and almost new garage sale items as gifts for my young children. Heck, they don't know the difference and it really saves a lot! (03/06/2006)