The Blog

Second Hand: Is This The Way To Save Money This Christmas?

Rather than coming from the North Pole or even a toy shop, these gifts were actually found while you spent a Sunday morning pottering round a car boot sale, or a lunch break scrolling through Freeads for a furry friend for the kids.

It is Christmas morning - the snow is falling softly from the sky as the kids wake from dreaming of Santa. They jump out of bed and run downstairs, their eyes darting around the room. Eventually their gaze settles on the sack of presents sitting beneath the tree that twinkles with fairy lights.

Little do they know that these gifts are neither from Santa nor are they brand new - but do they care? No! They are blissfully unaware as they squeal; "this is the best present EVER!"

Rather than coming from the North Pole or even a toy shop, these gifts were actually found while you spent a Sunday morning pottering round a car boot sale, or a lunch break scrolling through Freeads for a furry friend for the kids.

You have made your child's Christmas and, at the same time, saved a significant amount of money that can be spent elsewhere during the Christmas celebration.

Did you know the average Christmas spend per household is around £500? This includes food, presents, travel and decorations, among other things.

There are many costs over Christmas and, as a result, one in four of us will overspend or go into debt during the festive period.

While budgeting from January will mean you have money for Christmas - one of the biggest expenses is presents. According to research by Halifax the 18 Christmas presents you buy before your child becomes an adult cost an average of £3,186. And, each year, parents spend an average of £177, with half of parents buying between six and 15 presents for each child.

But, do you need that specific gift to ensure a perfect Christmas? Does the perfect gift need to be brand new? Why can't a gift that has already been played with, loved and eventually outgrown by another child now be perfect for your child?

There is often still a stigma around buying second hand gifts - but why?

Emma Waight, a Visiting Lecturer at Winchester School of Art, who explored second hand gift giving as part of her PhD research and subsequently blogs on the topic of purchasing second hand items, thinks it is important because "it is more sustainable; environmentally, economically and socially." She goes on to explain, "I hate waste and the throw-away consumer society that we have. Second-hand items have more authenticity - I like that they have had a past life. It's a bonus that they are cheaper too."

Talking about the part of her research she found most interesting, she explains, "a couple of people I interviewed felt that if they bought something second-hand for their child, the fact that the previous owner had used it and was selling it on they saw as a recommendation. So in this instance second-hand was a positive, and allowed people to share their experiences of parenting in material form."

New mum, Kate Jones, whose daughter was 6 months old last Christmas agrees, explaining that she bought her a mixture of new and second hand presents "I mainly buy the second hand toys as stocking fillers. Last year I bought baby toys second hand including electronic toys like the VTech Crawl and Learn as well as a bundle of musical instruments, toy telephone and sensory books."

Kate, who spent around £20 on gifts for her daughter last Christmas, says "I don't see the point in spending lots of money when she doesn't know what's going on. I will continue to buy second hand for a while as children's toys can really mount up in price and they grow out of them so quickly - it would be too expensive to keep buying new toys"

Kate, who plans to stop buying second hand when her child becomes a teenager, says "I think it's a balance between giving them 'nice' things and spoiling them - which comes completely down to personal opinion. Our general idea as she gets older is to buy her one main present a year (probably for up to £50) and then get just little (mainly second hand) toys as stocking fillers."

However, Ailbhe Leamy who buys second hand for her 11 year old and says she will do even more so as they get older. She says her best buy was "a knitting machine for £5. It would have been hundreds new, completely impossible for a child's gift." However, she doesn't see it as saving money "the budget is what it is and we use it. Buying second hand means we get more for it, possibly, but we'd have the same budget either way."

While presents are a big part of Christmas day for kids, the festive period is about far more than that - and the last thing you want to do is stress out and even risk debt to put a smile on your child's face when they can easily be spoilt without having to the break the bank. So, why not shop second hand this Christmas and give another child's discarded toys a new lease of life.