Green Living

Why secondhand finds make the best Christmas gifts

Fi suggests some pre-loved goods that would make ideal presents – and reveals her favourite places to go hunting for them

Let’s face it, not everyone likes vintage shopping, or has the time or ability to source the good stuff, so why not put your op-shopping skills to work on behalf of friends and family, and pick out something beautiful, and quite possibly unique, for them this Christmas?

Gifting used items can be hard as people’s styles are so personal and not everyone likes the idea of secondhand items. But if you choose the right pieces for the right people, and look to upcycled options as well, it’s possible to make both your loved ones and the planet happy this Christmas.

For the youngster

While it’s true that kids who always get hand-me-downs may crave something new, if they’re accustomed to new toys they’ll probably appreciate the uniqueness of a secondhand gift. Ornaments in the shape of animals or fairies have also gone down well. Board games are another good option and are easy to find secondhand on Trade Me or Facebook Marketplace – just check all the pieces are included.

For the interiors addict

Ceramics never go out of style, and many current pottery trends have a vintage aesthetic. So why not go for the real thing and score some New Zealand-made Crown Lynn or Temuka pottery at an op-shop? A vase, cute cup and saucer, or a set of plates are usually appreciated. Gifts such as a painting, a set of vintage glasses, a woollen throw or crystal decanter would also impress a decor enthusiast. To save sourcing time, head to vintage shops such as Babelogue or the Instagram shop @thislifein_objects.

For the culture fan

Books only get better with age and most op-shops have a great selection. Dedicated secondhand bookstores are ideal for rare or quality items. Try Smith’s Bookshop in Christchurch, Hard to Find in Auckland and Dunedin, and Arty Bees Books in Wellington. Records are experiencing a renaissance – head to Real Groovy in Auckland, Vinyl Countdown in New Plymouth, Relics in Dunedin, or scour markets, vintage shops and Trade Me. All of these shops have online stores, too.

For the foodie

Purchase a vintage jar or tin and fill it with baking, or search out secondhand cookbooks, cast-iron pans, vintage moulds or retro mixing bowls. Another idea is to find a basket at an op-shop and fill it with op-shopped plates, cups, cutlery, table napkins and a Thermos. Add some nibbles and voilà! A personalised picnic basket.

For the secondhand sceptic

If you are gifting to non-vintage lovers, look for ‘new’ or nearly new secondhand items – you can find items still in their packaging or with tags attached on Trade Me. Alternatively, choose an upcycled present. You’re still saving stuff from going to landfill, but it’s newly packaged and presented. Patch converts offcuts of artificial grass into cool doormats; Saucy Box makes condiment holders and chopping boards from salvaged timber; La Luna sells bags, scrunchies and food wrap made from upcycled fabrics; and Sweet Charity offers bags and hats made with repurposed fabric in collaboration with designer Maggie Marilyn.


Words by: Fiona Ralph. Styling by: Catherine Wilkinson. Photography by: Wendy Fenwick.

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