Creating Great Gift Baskets from Thrift Store Goodies


You might think gifts courtesy of your local thrift store sound like a poor-- and even tacky-- solution to gift-giving occasions. But in fact, with a bit of planning ahead, some well-chosen items, and knowing your recipient's interests, it's possible to pull together lovely, unique gifts that are as meaningful as they are economical.

Like this housewarming gift.


Shirley, a fellow blogger (you can visit her blog, Proof Positivity here), recently had the good news that Habitat for Humanity would be constructing her a home of her very own, removing her family from the challenging and unsafe conditions they're currently living in. Shirley has always managed to look on the bright side of things, in spite of the significant obstacles put in her path. And it's the overall good nature and stick-with-itness she displays every day that inspired me to send her a little token of support and encouragement.

It all started by knowing Shirley's favorite color was blue-- and this cheery bluebird plate, found at the Salvation Army thrift store.


I liked the idea of a blue-bird of happiness theme-- something to signify this being the start to better days ahead for Shirley and her children. And the rest of the items seemed to fall into line from there. Like these happy bluebird drinking glasses...

A glass "art" bluebird to catch the sun... Some new, incredibly-soft dishtowels and dishcloths... A teacup, printed with delicate blue flowers... And all of it, to fit in a large blue vintage-style mixing bowl.

The real trick of assembling the basket was in not expecting to find all the right items in one day of thrifting. But for regular thrifters, making this sort of time is not only easy, it's a joy!

I've spoken in the past about the pieces of grape-patterned milk glass I've been accumulating for a family friend who'd wanted to supplement her collection.


I started early this year, thrifting interesting and useful pieces as I spied them at appropriate prices. In the end, I'll likely place them in colorful tissue paper within a large Rubbermaid tub, so the packaging will be just as functional as the dishes inside.

I'm making a list of the pieces I've found, so by the time Christmas rolls around, there will be a full set for at least 4. You can see here, I'm well on the way-- with four goblets, four snack sets with cups, a platter, two centerpiece bowls, a vase, candlesticks, cream and sugar servers, several saucers and sundae dishes and a few other odd pieces.

Another little gift collection is being assembled following the theme of author Frances Hodgson Burnett. The recipient collects dolls, and this little porcelain lady from the Red White and Blue thrift store looked very much like the character Mary from The Secret Garden. Assembled with a copy of the films "The Secret Garden" and "A Little Princess" and a book featuring the same tales, this-- and with, perhaps, some seeds, garden gloves and a trowel, will make a nice basket.


Another friend has, for some reason, become enamored with the character Hello Kitty. And given Kitty's recent big resurgence, this has empowered some very good Kitty-related gifting.


These post-Christmas sale Christmas ornaments were snapped up and put away for future gifting...


And this whimsical Hello Kitty printed purse will not only act as great built-in packaging for the ornament gift, but will likely give my friend a laugh.


For baby showers, there are a number of clever containers you can find at thrift stores and fill with brand new baby items. For a friend who was planning a Peter Rabbit theme for her child's room, I had fun repurposing Easter items into funny bunny decor...


I filled a metal basket made of bright orange "carrots" with fresh new cotton swabs. And the little ceramic rabbit below is a clever cotton ball dispenser!


The items were delivered to my friend in a small pine toy chest, which I woodburnt and painted with the Peter Rabbit theme. (You can read all about how that was done here.)


Lastly, the thrift store is ideal for delicate, one-of-a-kind vintage items.


The two pretty rhinestone covered boxes below contain vintage clip earrings in pink and blue. The luster cup reads "To a Friend," And the blue Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic book is a photo album that came from Goodwill. Even the packing material is a pretty vintage sheet, washed and cut to line the box. (You can read about that basket here.)

So whether you have sports nuts on your list, friends who adore vintage, fans of a particular cartoon character, or just someone you want to send some well-wishes, thrift stores can be terrific ways of pulling together smart, useful and even stylish gift baskets.

The only limit, really, is your imagination and a little time.

  • Missed last Wednesday's post on Crazy Hats, Cool Grapes and Crystal Settings? click here.
  • Missed Sunday's post where we went antiquing north of Pittsburgh? Join us here!

32 comments:

Da Old Man said...

You are so right. The key is time, planning, and effort. Very creative way to personalize and gift.

ThriftShopRomantic said...

Da Old Man- Why, thank you, Joe! And you know if I ever come across any amusing Richard Simmons related merchandise at the thrifts which you can use as blog fodder, you will be receiving a nice care package from me. :)

Homebody said...

This post precisely illustrates the joy of thrifting: finding just the right things for just the right people (or yourself)! Thrifting is always a treasure hunt for me, a quest and always lots of fun. Your bluebird gift basket is especially sweet!

ThriftShopRomantic said...

Homebody- I totally agree with you about the spirit of the quest. It never ceases to amaze me what it's possible to find. Thank you for visiting!

Rosemary said...

Hi Jenn,
Wow, great gifts!!
You never know what you might find if you keep at it. It's so much fun to find just the right things for people.
Great post!!!
Rosemary

Carrie said...

Careful,thoughtful selection is the key to gifts that will be appreciated and cherished by the recipient. You have shown us excellent examples in this post.

Sweet Somethings by Lois said...

Hi Jenn. Thank you!!! I thought that I was the only one who did up gift baskets using thrifty finds. I feel that there is nothing wrong with doing it. Recycling is the "IN THING" to do. Sometimes it can get so expensive to have to buy "new" to fill a basket. It makes more sense to recycle.
I just did 3 gift baskets that were used as raffle prize draws this past Friday at a stag/doe that we attended. I am always amazed at how people love putting their raffle tickets in the basket or bag to try to win that particular basket or box of goodies. I will be doing at least 8 more baskets up for a benefit fund raiser that I am involved in, in October. I love making them up and then watching people ohhhh & ahhhh over them. But you know what? Sometimes the best part is finding just that right "piece" for the current project you’re working on. The thrill of the hunt if you know what I mean, and I think you do. Anyway, I do enjoy your posts so much! So thanks again for sharing with us and have a good week.

ThriftShopRomantic said...

Rosemary- Ah, I know I'm preaching to the choir with most of you folks on this matter- as you're already veteran gifters! :) And you're quite right-- how fun it is to get just the right thing for someone.

Carrie- And that careful, thoughtful selection involves not choosing what you WANT someone to like simply because you like it, but what they're inclined to like. I think too often we see folks gift with the intention that they can change/"improve" someone's taste. A good gifter hopefully isn't concerned about that.

Lois- Isn't it funny how "in" recycling has become? Even talking about thrifting is more common than ever. While just 15 years ago it was absolutely taboo!

Your gift baskets sound amazing, and I hope they go gangbusters at your upcoming events.

countrygirl3031 said...

What wonderful ideas! I'm always thrifting for myself...now I need to do it for gifts for others! Thanks a bunch!

Hugz,
Michele

ThriftShopRomantic said...

Michele- Glad the ideas are of help! Obviously there are some folks who prefer things that aren't from thrift stores, so thrift gifting for them may not be appropriate. But many of the folks I know are perfectly happy to receive baskets of thrifted goodies. So it's always just good to know your audience, I guess. :)

Amy said...

I love your finds! The Secret Garden is one of my favourite books/movies!

Sher's Creative Expressions said...

I love thrifting too. What an adorable little blue bird of happiness grouping you have there.

Blessings,

Sher

Meg said...

I love all of these finds!

ThriftShopRomantic said...

Amy- It's a delightful film, isn't it? The more recent version (the one I bought) and the black and white version are both charming.

If you haven't gotten to see "A Little Princess," that's definitely worth checking out as well. I think it was made in the late 90s. Just adorable. And makes me cry every time.

Sher- Thank you-- the bluebird just seemed so right somehow. Funny how one plate can inspire a whole package.

Meg- It's been good fun putting the things together, certainly. I'll have to let you all know what the reactions are, come Christmas.

Shirley said...

Wow! I was going to take pictures but now I'll just redirect people!

HART (1-800-HART) said...

What a nice thing to do!

Jenn Thorson said...

Shirley- Heh, you wouldn't believe I almost forgot to take pics before I packaged it up! I just think it's fun to save photos of the different baskets for posterity. I just didn't want to share the pics before you'd opened the basket-- in case you stopped by and it would ruin the surprise!! :)

Heya, Hart- Aw... Shirley's such a good egg, I was plotting this for a while! Thanks for stopping.

Claire said...

Jenn you are so nice, it almost makes me puke!

In a lovely way though :)

You need to have your own gift thrift online store.

Jenn Thorson said...

Claire- Puking in a good way.... um, gee, Claire, I can't say anyone has ever used that phrase on me before. :) I don't know whether I feel flattered or a little bit queasy.

Robin Easton said...

Boy! I can see I've been asleep at the wheel. I should have been over here to your place ages ago. I LOVE LOVE LOVE thrift stores. My sweetheart and I get almost everything we need there. It is SUCH a good thing to shop at the local Goodwill store because it not only saves money (and we often get things brand new or near new) but it recycles (which we desperately need on the planet) and the money I spend goes toward a GOOD cause that helps people in need. Now in MY mind it doesn't get any better than that!!! Well, wait; it does, because on top of all THAT I never know what I will find. I have found antiques for mere dollars or cents. I have found vintage items that you can't find in any regular store anymore, and I don't get bored like I do in regular stores where everything is the same of old same old. I will shamelessly tell you that we probably go to a thrift store every week. AND we donate all our unused or no longer needed items to Goodwill as well. Thank you from my heart what you did for Shirley. You are a gem! Robin Easton

Jenn Thorson said...

Robin- Your words on thrifting encompass just all of the very reasons I love it, too. I know I never would have been able to have half of the wonderful things I do without the thrifts.

My goal here has been to let folks know that thrifted items don't need to LOOK or be cheap in quality. Thanks for chiming in with your passion for it as well.

Shirley has about the best attitude of anyone I know, and asks for so little. It's a joy to do something for someone like that. I've learned a lot from her example.

Bingkee said...

I love your ideas....they'e actually innovative and creative. Esp. the housewarming gift.

Sher said...

I'm in LOVE with that little bluebird plate! Great tips!

I've something for you over at my blog. Come on over and claim it! ;-)

Thrift Shop Romantic said...

Bingkee- Thanks a bunch! Hey, Shirley is happy with the housewarming gift, and that is the very best part of it!!

Sher- I thought that plate, too, had so much charm. I will have to go check out and see what you're up to. :)

Shirley said...

I am very happy with the gift :) And I thank you very much. Awww... thanks. I see that it worked directing my friends to you. :)

Jenn Thorson said...

Shirley- You certainly didn't have to do that-- putting the announcement on BC. It sure wasn't my goal in sending the package to you. But it was very sweet.

Shirley said...

I know. I just thought I'd send extra traffic. I get some other regulars too you might be busy commenting on this post for a while. :)

Ms. A said...

I covet that milk glass collection -- and have some of the same pieces too!

Jenn Thorson said...

Shirley- Heh, well, should they pop by, I'll pour 'em some virtual lemonade and tell them to pull up a chair. :)

Ms. A.- There is SO MUCH great milkglass out there!-- How do not have cabinets fit to burst? Since I've been looking for the stuff, I can't believe how much of it is around at good prices!

Dianne said...

Wow,you have some really nice finds.I love the greenlamp and its new shade.
Dianne

Debbie said...

Okay, last year I found this stuffed dog (a collie, to be exact) at a thrift store. Seeing that my sister was a huge collie lover and I remember having toys like this one as a child, I thought it would be a great gift to add to the expensive gifts that I got for her. I had no idea that it would bring her to tears! She had been looking for one like that for years! She was in the hospital as a child and our dad had given her the exact collie (well, it was not that one, but pretty darn close) and she had lost it over the years. She was asking everyone to keep their eyes peeled for it (except for me, I had no clue). She could care less about the expensive things, that thrift store dog made her whole Christmas!

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