You can save a bundle by buying items second hand.
Buying gifts second hand works really well for toddlers and babies, since they couldn't care less if a toy or item of clothing is new or not. Also, clothes and toys for small children are often outgrown so fast that they don't get much wear and tear.
For older children and teenagers, it may still be reasonable to gift a second-hand item if it's for something they really want, and it would normally have a larger price tag. For example, when I was in high school, I took a photography class one year. I borrowed a 35mm SLR camera for the class. But I really wanted to have one of my own going forward. So the following year, my parents bought me a second hand SLR camera and I was thrilled with it.
If you gift outside of your own children, use your judgment as to whether family members and friends would welcome this. My sister is into the environment and stuff, and would be perfectly happy receiving second hand items for her kids and has in fact specifically requested them before ... especially for items that would otherwise be more costly, such as an infant swing.
Buying second hand for adults can be a little trickier. But antique shops or white elephant tables at church bazaars could still yield some great vintage gifts. Or you might pick up some inexpensive baskets or bowls to form the basis of a gift basket.
Buying second hand shouldn't be restricted to gifts, though. There are lots of items for the holiday season that you may be able to pick up second hand. Decorations, serving dishes, candles, and table linens can help you decorate your home for a fraction of the cost. And you can also save a bundle on holiday outfits for the kids, or a new cocktail dress for your husband's work party by checking out your local consignment shops and thrift stores. Many church and community bazaars and craft sales offer second hand jewelry and accessories for a fraction of what things would cost new, and sometimes you can find some real gems among the costume jewelry.
Have an example of a great second hand buy? Share it with us!