How you can give so much more, by spending so much less!

A guest post by Anna MacFarlane from The Conscious Closet

For my first Christmas out of home, my housemates and I made a pact to spend no more than $20 on gifts for each other. There was one other condition: the gifts had to be either hand-made or second hand.

That Christmas eve, sitting around our makeshift Christmas tree, of artfully arranged branches that had graced our backyard, we exchanged our presents. It was probably the most exciting and fulfilling “present opening” ceremony any of us have ever experienced.

The reason was pretty simple. This wasn’t about consuming for the sake of it, we had all taken the time to really think about our relationships with each other, and had to engage with being thoughtful and creative by thrifting on a budget.

Recycle shop

Christmas shopping second-hand will not be for everybody. But, it can be so much fun and very rewarding on so many levels!

Here’s some reasons why, and some tips on how to shop recycled this Xmas.


Environmental Impact:

How many times have you been given a gift that through guilt you have left to collect dust at the back of a cupboard for a year (or more!) before putting in the bin, still in its original packaging?

The amount of new junk we gift to take part in the Christmas season is so incredibly wasteful. By choosing to shop recycled you are giving objects and garments the opportunity for a second life and minimising landfill. Yay!

Social Impact:

Xmas is the biggest time of year for charitable organisations to try and drum up much needed donations. For many, giving a monetary donation is just not a financially viable option, despite caring about the causes.

By choosing to shop at social enterprises you are not only getting a tangible gift to give, but supporting great organisations at the same time.

Imagine getting a beautiful item and knowing that the proceeds supported people (or animals) experiencing disadvantage or hardship?

Many social enterprises will also offer gift vouchers, so both you and the recipient can feel good about supporting a charitable organization, and have the opportunity and fun of shopping for just the right thing.

Really great stuff – you can get!

Yes, it may require more thought than just going into your local beauty shop and grabbing a nice hand lotion, but being given a gift by someone who has clearly thought about you, as an individual, is a precious gift in itself.

Coming across a mint condition Oroton purse for $10 for the glamourpuss in your life, priceless!



You do need to allow yourself time so that it’s actually an enjoyable experience to shop – remember, shopping can, indeed should, be fun!

If you leave it ’til the weekend before Christmas and expect to find exactly the right thing, it could become less than pleasurable (whether you’re shopping mainstream or recycled). By giving yourself the gift of time to shop, you may actually enjoy the process.


You never know what you may come across (that’s half the fun!) but having a vague idea – e.g. the recipient loves scarves – will help you stay on track and not wander off into the glassware aisle (maybe that’s just me, I’m a sucker for retro coloured glassware!).

Conscious Closet of Shirts

Most charitable stores are set out really well these days with accessories, clothing and other items in clearly definable spots. Use this to your advantage if you don’t have as much time as you would like to peruse every aisle.

Package it:

Buying second hand does not mean that your gift can’t be beautiful and luxurious to receive.

Take the time to clean or spruce up your item – second-hand glassware will look a treat once washed, shined and wrapped in tissue paper from the bargain store.

If it has been purchased from a store where the proceeds support a charitable organisation, ask if they have information on their charity to include with the gift. Or you could make your own little swing tag letting the recipient know that the proceeds of their gift went to a great cause.

That doesn’t sound all that hard, now does it? Give yourself a bit of time, and think about how happy you can make someone with a gift that keeps on giving.

This article first appeared in our monthly newsletter The Gazette. Sign up here and never again miss your monthly dose of good stuff.