Parenting

Have Yourself A New-To-You Christmas

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With massive supply chain issues and bare aisles everywhere, it might not be a holly jolly Christmas this year — I mean, WTF, Wal-Mart was out of salt the other day. Freaking salt. Of all kinds. Because apparently this happens now. So unless you made a list, checked it twice, and traipsed through your holiday shopping in August like a good little elf, heeding all cautionary tales and warnings — then we hate you and your stupid elf face — you’re probably hitting the panic button sometime about now. But there’s a solution to hyperventilating and gifting Dollar General socks. It’ll not only get you what you want, it’ll help the environment, too. Rather than punch your way through Target shoppers for the last X-Wing LEGO set, have a new-to-you Christmas.

This sounds weird, I know: sort of like regifting, but with that weird thrift store smell. You know that smell.

But Christmas is coming, so quit snarking, Karen. Supply chains suck; fast fashion is killing our environment; and your right hook isn’t good enough to score that last Olaf stuffie. Gird your loins and let me take you through your 2021 New-To-You Christmas Options.

New-To-You Option 1: eBay

Want a Nintendo Switch? New ones are hitting upwards of five hundred bucks on eBay right now. Willing to take a used one with a guarantee? Think $330 for one that doesn’t look used. If you’re willing to accept one that looks beat-to-hell, you can pick it up for $229. There’s no shame in your kid opening a used game console for Christmas this year, especially if it comes looking new.

You can pick up all sorts of new-to-you stuff on eBay, from computers to gaming consoles to electronic drum kits. The vast majority come with a guarantee. With supply chain issues this year, prices are jacked higher than usual, but the stuff is still there that you can’t find in stores.

But what about other kinds of toys? Your toddler will not know that her Elsa dress came from another child, I promise. Just wash it first. If your kid wants Jurassic Park dinosaurs, do you think she’ll care if they come in shiny boxes — especially if you can afford more of them? Unless there’s a very specific dinosaur she wants, you can pick up a dino herd for the cost of a single mosasaur. By buying new-to-you instead of new, you’re not only circumventing supply chain issues, you’re also saving yourself some cash.

What About LEGO?

The au courant for families: LEGO Rooms. Ditch your formal dining room, which you never use anyway, and morph it into a free-for all LEGO Room. I did it. One of my in-laws did it. And if you’ve already got a LEGO Room, you already know this secret, but for those of you in the dark: BrickLink. Different sellers upload not only sets for sale, but also LEGO parts and minifigs. There are currently over 17K sets for sale on BrickLink, including 800+ Star Wars sets, 400+ LEGO Friends sets, and… do the math up to 17K. These aren’t used sets, either; these are brand-new.

Kids have too many freaking LEGOs as is? BrickLink has MOCs: creator-made LEGO sets with directions. Theoretically, you could wade through the directions for a super-cool Mining Guild Tie Fighter and dig out pieces your kid does own, buy the rest from BrickLink, stick them all in a box, print out the picture, and show them where to find its directions online. They’ll have a cool LEGO set different from anyone else’s; you’ll have bought used and used what you have. Win-win. It takes a little bit of work, but it’s super fun.

Clothes, Clothes, Clothes

When it comes to clothes, you can go back to eBay. You can cruise ThredUp. You can also peruse PoshMark. All three sites allow you to shop new-to-you for exactly what you’re looking for — from a particular pair of John Fluevog Angels to a furry green Sam Edelman coat I’ve been drooling over since I saw it in an episode of The Magicians. If you want clothes for someone on your list, it’s best to know exactly what you want before you go a-thrifting online. Don’t leave it to chance. Do they want jeans? Awesome. What brand, size, and cut? Get specific. But if your tween just wants “buffalo plaid,” you can buy her a lot more of it on eBay — think $14.99 pre-owned from Hot Topic — than you probably could at sold-out stores, anyway.

But be sure to be specific. If you know what you want, you won’t be disappointed with what you get.

New-To-You Can Mean Vintage

Best birthday present ever: an original David Bowie Reality Tour poster, which I may have bought for myself, sometime around my birthday. Possibly using my birthday as justification. Doesn’t matter. Point: new-to-you doesn’t have to mean “Woe is me, supply chains suck, and I cannot find the perfect toy for Braden/Brayden/Braydan/Bradan.” Buy your kid a vintage Chewbacca action figure. Buy your teen a vintage pop punk T-shirt (I picked up an awesome MxPx tour shirt for ten bucks on eBay once, including shipping). Buy your spouse that vintage fur coat she’s always wanted. Dress him up in aviators, cowboy boots, and a vintage leather jacket.

And don’t just check eBay — check Etsy, too. Bonus with Etsy: people may have modded vintage stuff. Type in “redone flannel shirt” and tons of results pop up.

Seriously, the possibilities are endless.

New-to-you doesn’t mean grubby secondhand toys (not knocking all secondhand toys: my kids have had plenty). It can be $75 redone flannel shirts off Etsy, or a Bowie tour poster, or a new LEGO set, or a barely-used game console. Your kids won’t care that someone else has played with their plastic dinosaurs before them — because unless you tell them, they won’t know.

And it shouldn’t take supply chain issues to force us there. Real truth? We have a lot of stuff sitting around. We’re not using all that stuff, so we should redistribute all said stuff to people who will use it rather than chucking it in a landfill. Every time you buy used, you help with climate change: you use less fossil fuels, less water, less plastic. New-to-you is simply better for our environment than from-the-package shiny. And usually, you’re giving money to a person or small company, rather than a giant corporation.

And wouldn’t we all rather support a small company rather than a gigundo corporation?

But seriously. Shift the stuff. Buy new-to-you instead of shiny. It’s cheaper, it’s environmentally conscious, and you won’t miss prying open plastic packaging.

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