You there, boy! What day is it? What? It's November? Alright, well okay, I am obviously getting ahead of myself because we are technically two months away from Christmas. But that's fine. This is me as a person. I listen to Christmas music too early, and I memorize Christmas Vacation just enough to annoy anyone within six feet of me during the holidays, and I also once gave snowglobes to my parents, and these are the types of things I have to reconcile and live with as a human being.
Ultimately, though, I have gotten tired of one thing: giving gifts based solely on monetary value. Not to shame anyone here (including myself, who once bought everything for everyone at American Eagle because I worked there and got a discount and not because anybody actually liked or wanted anything from there), but gift-giving isn't supposed to be a $30 limit. Only the worst friend ever would look at something you gave them and said, "Oh, this is cool, but… um… wasn't it only $10? I saw it somewhere." Gifts are about saying "I like and/or love you." And that's all. So here's my guide to one-of-kind gifts. Because may we never relive the "oh, I got a 40% discount, so I got you this hoodie" again.
1. Used books
No, not "used" as in "you found a copy of The Hobbit from last year at a garage sale for $1." But antique markets, thrift stores, and even Value Village have awesome used book sections where you can find vintage books for little-to-nothing (my friend Steph found a book about moons and magic from 1914 with the most beautiful cover last weekend — and she spent about $3 on it), or books we were obsessed with as kids for the same price. (I found a book on Titanic and another on Jurassic Park within days of each other, and now everything in the world makes sense.) Used, vintage, and antique books can make for awesome gifts. You can also add-on to them with other pieces to make for a "themed" kind of gift.
Enter: collectables like plates, ashtrays, mugs, and tea sets. You can find some serious one-of-a-kind pieces at (you guessed it) places like Value Village (I've seen so many Diana/Charles ones lately I can't even make sense of my life or the plates within it), that can go hand in hand with a bag of loose leaf tea, or a book, or even a clutch. Bringing me to my next point:
We have all wandered into a store and held a clutch and thought, "Okay, yeah, I guess that will round out so-and-so's gift because it's $10 and that's how gift-giving works." But to that I say no more. NO MORE! There are room for clutches in the wide world of presents, but only ones that a) are something the person would actually use, and b) ones that are awesome. Whether at a vintage shop or antique market or Salvation Army, you can find clutches and bags from the '40s, '50s, '60s, and beyond — and ones that have withstood the test of time. The only downfall? You might keep them for yourself (but whatever, we all deserve gifts, too).
No, wait! Come back! I'm not about to tell you to buy that $50 "Christmas" sweater we'll see marked down two days after you give it to somebody. What I am about to tell you is there are ways of giving vintage pieces to someone for the holidays and not spending too much (without looking like you're just giving them an old shirt like Creed in that episode of The Office). Clothes, admittedly, are tricky. But if you're shopping for your best friend, you know what they'll like, and what will wear well. Follow the rules you normally would when vintage shopping: look for labels, fabric quality, and general wearability, then make sure it looks like it'd fit your friend. (Also, wash before wear.) Finished!
However, if clothing isn't really your style, head to the jewelry department: brooches, necklaces, bracelets, and even old watches are one-of-a-kind, and can be mixed and matched with pieces from today. Ultimately, thrift stores and vintage shops are your friend this season — and they'll be gifts from the heart, not just things you bought out of obligation.