a woman wearing a Vintage Silk Angora Puffed Sleeve Knit Cardigan

Secondhand Gift Ideas For The Whole Family

The most sustainable gift is the one that already exists. Let’s choose used this holiday season!

  • Liisa Jokinen

  • Dec 5, 2023

Cover photo: Lucia Zolea

Over 50% of Americans are ready to gift and receive secondhand items. According to Poshmark’s recent 2023 Holiday Trend Report, 56% of all the shoppers bought secondhand either for themselves or for friends last year, and 47% of people preferred to get a secondhand gift over a fast fashion item, says Poshmark.

The holiday sales are projected to be $1.6 trillion (!) so this can mean a lot of opportunities for small vintage businesses and independent vendors.

If you are not sure what to give, a gift card to any vintage or secondhand store is a great idea. Let the person choose themselves, and avoid not-wanted gifts that might end up straight in a recycling bin, or even worse, in landfill.

Here are sustainable gift ideas for all ages, genders, and styles.

Winter Accessories – Scarves and Beanies

Cozy and warm winter accessories like mohair scarves, hand-knit mittens, or beanies are great gifts. A trend-conscious friend or relative will love a plaid Acne Studios scarf or a balaclava – a face-covering ski mask born during the Crimean War in 1854 when British soldiers fought the Russian troops in freezing cold. After the covid mask mandates, people got used to having their faces covered and balaclavas skyrocketed in popularity.

A chunky knitted beanie makes a great gift, too. Or look for crochet hats, woolen berets, or ear muffs.

Luxury Sweaters – Cashmere and Merino Wool

In line with the big 2023 trend ”quiet luxury”, more deluxe materials such as 100% cashmere and merino wool have risen in popularity, reports Poshmark. Searches for cashmere have risen +151% year-over-year. Nothing warms you better against a winter chill than a quality cashmere or merino wool sweater. A bonus tip: include in your gift instructions on how to take care of and store your sweaters.

Jewelry – 14K Gold and Lockets

A piece of vintage jewelry is always a precious, elegant, and tasteful choice. Hide a love note or a photo inside an antique locket, look for timeless antique rings, or choose trendy pearl accessories. If you want to invest a bit more, choose 14K gold jewelry – they have seen 142% growth year-to-year on Poshmark.

A locket is a beautiful gift for someone special. The first lockets served a practical purpose: they were used for carrying herbs, medicine, perfume, or even poison. During the Victorian era, lockets became a “must-have” fashion accessory. At that time, mourning lockets became common, too.

And while we are discussing jewelry, let’s not forget pearls – a both trendy and classic choice. We love tiny pearl earrings, pearl neckties, pearl chokers and pearl necklaces – great gifts for all genders.

Photo: The RealReal

Leather Goods – Handbags and Wallets

Luxury and legacy brand, Coach, continues to be popular and is, therefore, a great gift for anyone. Their so-called hobo bags (slouchy and crescent-shaped) rose to popularity, propelling the more practical, sack-like bag into in-demand status with a +65% increase in growth this year, says Poshmark. Sounds like you can’t go wrong with this bag!

A wallet makes a lovely gift, too. For a minimal person, a simple cardholder will do. The next level is a two or trifold wallet, whereas a so-called continental wallet has room for several cards, a pile of cash, and even some extra stuff!

Historical facts: Wallets became popular after the introduction of paper currency in the 1600s. Before wallets, people used leather pouches for storing their coins.

Hair Accessories – Pins & Barrettes

You can never have too many hairpins and barrettes if you have long hair. There really is no reason to hit a mall and buy new: here are over 13k hair barrettes alone on Gem! There are even more options to decorate your hair: bows and ribbons, hair bands and scrunchies, headbands and hair wraps, or clips and beads!

80s-style crunchies have been trending for some years now. They are also easy to make at home if you have some fabric scraps and a sewing machine. 90s claw clips have also made a comeback recently and should make any fashion lover happy!

And let’s not forget the biggest hair trend of 2023: hair bows! Collect a bunch of ribbons and bands in different colors to gift a friend. Or make a nice DIY project, and accessorize a t-shirt or handbag with bows.

Ties & Bow Ties

Suddenly neckties are everywhere again – you can spot them on the catwalks and the teenagers hanging at Washington Square Park, worn not only with suits but also with button-up shirts or just plain t-shirts.

Women wearing neckties is nothing new. Already during the early 1900th century, some rebellious and path-leading women like French author Amantine Dupin sported neckties, writes Frances Sola-Santiago on Refinery29. In the 80s and 90s, style icons like Princess Diana and Diane Keaton wore ties with button-down shirts and high-waisted pants.

“Later in the Y2K era, others, like Avril Lavigne and Britney Spears, reworked it from business attire to pop culture subversion, pairing the accessory with baggy jeans, mini skirts, and white tank tops”, Sola-Santiago writes.