Last year, Will and I got our kids’ favorite Christmas gifts on Craigslist.
We didn’t set out to have a Craigslist Christmas, but as we started doing our (modest) Christmas shopping, we realized we couldn’t find what we were looking for in a store.
vintage typewriter from Etsy shop the spectacled newt
Sarah had wanted an antique typewriter for a while. I loved the idea of giving her a useful item that would hold its value, but it didn’t occur to me until mid-December that this was an idea we could actually make happen. If I could figure out how.
Etsy had quite a few gorgeous, expensive, and difficult-to-ship beauties, but I wanted something closer to $30 than $300 (or more!) I called a few area antique stores, none of which had any in stock at the moment, but one kind employee told me to look on Craigslist. She even gave me a target price range for the style I was looking for.
We’ve used Craigslist in the past to buy and sell everything from jogging strollers to free weights to end tables, but it never occurred to me to search the site for my kids’ Christmas gifts.
Sure enough, our first search turned up several typewriters, close to home and for the right price.
Inspired by our typewriter success, we set out to find a vintage train set like Jack has always wanted. And again, we found what we were looking for, close to home, and—after a big of haggling—for the right price.
The kids were thrilled with their gifts, and we were thrilled that we loved them. It didn’t hurt that Craigslist prices are negotiable, and that we didn’t have to go anywhere near the mall.
In hindsight, I can see we got lucky with our Craigslist Christmas shopping. I know a few people who are geniuses at finding great stuff on Craigslist, and they all say the same thing about finding the good stuff: give it time.
It’s early November. We don’t have all the time in the world between now and Christmas Day, but we’re a far cry from last minute. Last year we started our serious shopping when December was well into the double digits, because that’s when we finally got our burst of gift-giving inspiration. This year I’m trying (no really, I mean it this year) to plan ahead a little better, and that’s even more important if we want to shop on Craigslist.
Many people shop Craigslist for the deals, but it’s also a terrific place to pick up gifts you just can’t find anywhere else, especially antiques, collectibles, vintage finds. (Note: those aren’t just for kids!)
If you’re interested in your own Craigslist Christmas—or just in giving a few unique gifts you can’t find in the stores—now’s the time to start looking.
Here’s your cheat sheet to great giftable items to find on Craigslist:
• any kind of collectible. Sarah’s typewriter and Jack’s train set fall squarely in this category. This category also includes things like action figures, cameras, clocks, tea sets, and dolls.
• kids’ sports equipment. (It’s not Christmas, but we just got Jack a new-to-him bike off Craigslist last weekend. True to the above tip, it took us months to find what we wanted.)
• toys, especially classic toys like Lego, Star Wars, Thomas the Tank Engine, American Girl. Craigslist is also a great place to pick up big items like train tables or play kitchens.
• DVDs and CDs.
• Books! Especially collectible books. I’m currently lusting after the vintage Penguin classics I saw on 5ftinf. I would be beyond ecstatic to find a few of these under the tree on Christmas morning.
We’re currently brainstorming what we want to get our own kids for Christmas, and when we think through the possibilities, we’re doing it with Craigslist in mind.
I’d love to hear about your own experiences with Craigslist, Christmas gifts, and collectibles. And if you have any good gift ideas for me, by all means, share them in comments. I need help!