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Holiday Shopping at the Thrift Store: What to Buy

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Be sure to make a few stops to your local thrift store around the Christmas season. Even if you don’t want to purchase gifts from the thrift store, there are several holiday items to buy at thrift stores that will save you money!

I am a huge thrifter, why pay retail when you can get it cheaper at a thrift store? Christmastime is no exception.

Holiday Shopping at the thrift store

Christmas Items to Buy at Thrift Stores

Christmas Decor

What to Buy:

  • Ornaments – Look for Hallmark ones, limited edition ones, and Disney ones.
  • Wreaths – Look for ones with a good base. Make sure the boughs have enough needles. The fuller the wreath is, the better the quality.


  • Shop Early. A lot of thrift stores have Christmas items all year long, some don’t. My local Salvation Army puts the Christmas items out the day after Halloween.
  • Look at the Quality. Higher quality items will have straight paint lines and are detailed. The Dollar Tree has Christmas items but I am looking for better quality so I am saving money. Be aware of brand names that offer quality like Department 56, Disney Store, and Hallmark.

Christmas Dishes

For people who don’t bake and cook up a storm all year long, then buying the items you need for this season at a thrift store just makes sense.

Forget a casserole dish or pie plate at the last potluck? No big deal, it was just a dollar!

You were into snowman last year, but this year you are feeling penguins. Great spend $10 getting all-new dishes instead of spending $50 or more at the department store.

Christmas Dishes at the thrift store

Many times after the holidays I just donate all the items I don’t want to keep. I try to live a minimalist lifestyle and while I need the items now, I don’t the other 10 months of the year.

What to Buy:

  • Dishes. Look for complete sets. Sometimes the plates, bowls, and glasses are together. Sometimes they are not.
  • Gravy Boats. For me, a gravy boat is something I only pull out during the holidays. I don’t need a new one. Used is fine and usually, I can get a real pretty one.
  • Pie Plates
  • Punch Bowls
  • Party Platters
  • Trifle Bowls
  • Glass Casserole Dishes
  • Meat Roasting Pans
punch bowl

What to Avoid:

  • Ceramic items with chips. Cracks and crevices in dishes are ideal breeding grounds for bacteria that can contaminate your food, making you very sick.  Also, ceramic plates, glasses, and bakeware have a nice smooth finish over them — it’s not just for looks. That coating protects you from ingesting the lead that may be present in some dishes. Older dishes may have more lead since people didn’t know about the dangers back then.
  • Items You Don’t Have Time to Clean Properly. Some items such as brass cookware may be pretty and a great deal but you need to clean them and shine them up. Cast Iron needs to be cleaned and seasoned properly before use.

Christmas Clothes

What to Buy:

  • Ugly Christmas Sweaters: Cute and funky Christmas t-shirts, sweaters, dresses and more.
  • Cocktail Dresses. Looking for a sweet little black dress, or red, for a dressy Christmas party. Thrift stores usually have you covered!
thrift store Christmas shirt

What to Avoid: I avoid buying pajamas because I love the idea of matching family jammies during the Christmas season. It is a bit hard to find matching outfits at the thrift store.

Avoid buying clothing gifts at a thrift store. Clothes shopping for someone else is a tricky endeavor even when shopping for new items. With new items, a person has the ability to return and/or exchange the items for something more their size and/or style.

Gifts to Buy from the Thrift Store

I have a firm belief that gifts can be bought from the thrift store. I personally have received many gifts from thrift stores that I absolutely love and treasure.

Special Interest Gifts. Some gifts that I have received from thrift stores include a beautiful wooden jewelry box, a ceramic Disney collector’s plate, Star Wars comic books in great condition, and Disney knick-knacks. All of the above items have to do with things I am interested in.

If you know the person well enough you know of special interest and collectible items they may love.

White Elephant Gifts. Have a gag gift to buy, the thrift store will have you covered.

Containers for Baked Goods. If you are giving the gift of food like cookies, cookie mixes, cupcakes, snack mix, or pies then buy your containers at the thrift store. From Mason jars to cute & unique tins they are cheaper at the thrift store than they are at the Dollar Tree.

thrift store shopping what to buy

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